Richard Dreyfuss-Curt Henderson
Ron Howard-Steve Bolander
Paul Le Mat-John Milner
Charles Martin Smith-Terry “The Toad” Fields
Cindy Williams-Laurie Henderson
Candy Clark-Debbie Medway
Wolfman Jack-Disc Jockey
Manuel Padilla Jr.-Carlos
Harrison Ford-Bob Falfa
Jim Bohan-Officer Holstein
This 1973 movie was made on a low budget. The total cost of the film was $750,000.00 and it introduced such stars as Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams and Charles Martin Smith. Ron Howard was familiar to people from his role as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show.
It was the first movie to use rock and roll music all through the soundtrack. One of the reasons for this was that the music budget was low and it was all George Lucas could afford.
The film is about a group of recently graduated teenagers and their stories during one night of cruising the streets the relative innocence of the summer of 1962.
Curt Henderson (Dreyfruss) and Steve Bolander (Howard) are bound for college the next morning but Curt is hesitant about going. Steve is determined to convince him that going away is the best thing to do. Meanwhile, Steve’s girlfriend Laurie (Williams) is trying to convince Steve to stay behind with her.
John Milner (Paul Le Mat) is the older, drag racing, car crazy member of the group. He seems to have no real goals in life. He’s the hottest racer in the valley and there is always someone trying to challenge him to a race–much like the top gunfighter in western movies. In this case, it is Bob Falfa (Ford) in his souped up 1955 Chevrolet that is looking for him.
Terry “Toad” Fields is the nerdy member of the group that drives a Vespa motor scooter. His fortunes change when Steve gives him the keys to his car and asks him to take care of it for him while he’s away at college.
John Milner, while cruising the streets, asks the girls in the car next to him if anyone wants to ride around with him. They tell him that Judy’s sister wants to and he agrees to it. When she gets in his car, he is astonished to see that she’s only 12 years old. He spends the rest of the evening trying to find out where she lives so he can take her home and get rid of her. He’s embarrassed to be seen with her. Her name is Carol (Mackenzie Phillips) and she keeps him in line by threatening to tell people that he tried to rape her.
Toad sees Debbie (Candy Clark) walking down the sidewalk and picks her up. One of the best scenes in the movie is when she talks him into buying a bottle of liquor. After numerous tries, Toad finally finds someone who agrees to buy it for him. The man turns out to have been going in to rob the liquor store. He throws Toad the bottle as he comes running out after robbing the store. The store owner then comes running out, firing a gun at the robber.
Another great scene in the movie is when Curt is sitting on the hood of a car, watching television through a store window. Three members of the Pharaoh gang show up and point out to him that the car he’s sitting on belongs to a friend of theirs. The leader, Joe (Bo Hopkins) accuses him of putting a scratch on the car.
This seems to be a typical gang of that era that settles disputes with their fists rather than with guns as the cowardly gangs do today.
Joe doesn’t know what to do Curt so he decides he’d better ride with them until he can make a decision. Curt protests slightly, of course, but he know he’d better go with them. They go to an arcade and steal money out of the machines for gas. Then Joe sees a police car in a parking lot and decides that a suitable task for Curt would be for him to tie a cable around the axle of the police car and then to a post. After Curt accomplishes this, they get the police car to chase them which results in considerable damage to the police vehicle. By the end of the ride, the gang is ready to induct Curt into the Pharaohs.
The story ends up where John Milner does race Bob Falfa and beats him. Steve decides not to go to college and Curt goes. Toad has to give Steve’s car back so he’s again stuck with his Vespa.
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