MOTW: Five Popular "American Graffiti" Quotes

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A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college.
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
March 20th, 2013

MOTW: Five Popular "American Graffiti" Quotes

When "American Graffiti" came out in 1973, not only was it a huge critical and box-office hit but it also became an instant classic. Critics marveled over how perfectly director George Lucas captured the era of the film's action, which is set in 1962. It made Lucas an overnight success and gave him enough clout to get "Star Wars" made just a couple of years later. Although some tout the film as the one that made the legendary "Star Wars" franchise possible, "American Graffiti" is a slice of Americana that deserves its own place in movie history. It is fun to watch and infinitely quotable, making it hard to pare its great quotes down to just five.

"Hey man, I'm sorry if I scared ya!" - Falfa

Falfa (Harrison Ford) pulls up alongside Milner (Paul Le Mat) and Carol (Mackenzie Phillips) to try and goad him into a race. This is actually the start of a very funny series of exchanges between the two rivals, who take turns insulting the other one's car. Milner implies that Falfa has a field car, which is used to drop manure on farms. Falfa says that Milner's car has an ugly, puke-like paint job and that the vehicle belongs to his mother. These taunts are taken seriously because both men have hot rods that they value, so any insult against their cars would be worse than a personal insult.

"Your car is uglier than I am! That didn't come out right." - Carol

Carol sits quietly as Falfa and Milner trade barbs about their cars, until she feels that Milner needs some help, which is when she yells "Your car is uglier than I am!" at Falfa. He virtually ignores Carol because she is younger than he and Milner, though he does make a quick quip about her age. It doesn't take poor Carol long to regret what she said, but the damage is done.

"You know, it doesn't make sense to leave home to look for home, to give up a life to find a new life, to say goodbye to friends you love just to find new friends." - Laurie

Laurie (Cindy Williams) and Steve (Ron Howard) are having a discussion about what their mutual friend Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) said earlier that night while they were eating dinner. Curt clearly isn't sure what he wants to do with his life yet and would rather stay home and go to junior college instead of going far away to a traditional college. Unlike Steve, who has ached to get out of Modesto for years, Curt doesn't seem to be in any hurry to leave. This quote underscores the growing chasm between sweethearts Laurie and Steve, as well as between Curt and Steve. It also keeps with one of the themes of the films, which is about adulthood and expectations of teenagers who clearly aren't ready for the responsibilities of adulthood.

"Somebody wants me. Somebody's who's out there, roaming the streets, wants me ... Would you turn the corner?" - Curt

Curt is in the backseat of Steve's car, playing the third wheel as Steve and Laurie cuddle in the front seat. As they pull up to a stop light, Curt turns to his right and sees a gorgeous blonde woman in a pristine car, who smiles at him. She mouths something to him and then turns right as the light turns. Curt is immediately smitten, declaring that he just saw "the most perfect, dazzling creature," who then turned right. He implores Steve to turn around so that they could go after her car, because he is pretty sure that she mouthed the words "I love you" to him. He can't believe that someone out there, especially a beauty like that mysterious woman he's just seen at the lights, would want him.

"It only took me one night to realize if brains were dynamite you couldn't blow your nose." - Debbie

Although "American Graffiti" came out in 1973, this insult is still in use four decades later to imply that someone is dumb. The insult is uttered by Debbie (Candy Clark), who is mad at Vic (Joe Spano), a lout who had previously promised he would call her but never did. Vic tries his best to apologize and win her over, but Debbie is now in the company of Terry (Charles Martin Smith). She thinks Terry is much nicer than Vic, who only wants her for one thing. She lights a cigarette, throws the still-lit match at Vic's shoes, and then turns her attention to Terry after her very satisfying and insulting exchange with the cad. In response, Terry walks away promising to call her only if he is "hard up."