Revisiting things a few years later can be perilous and More American Graffiti is maybe a very good example of this. Even lacking most of the creative team from the first movie American Graffiti still manages to spawn a weird alternate reality sequel to American Graffiti (1973) that comes out a year later called The Hollywood Knights.
Knight Time is the Right Time
Of the two, The Hollywood Knights is the much more beloved. In writing this episode description I finally cracked the code. I was shocked that an uncredited writer for Two-Lane Blacktop and Aloha, Bobby and Rose would end up making this movie however Floyd Mutrux worked at Second City and, realistically, The Hollywood Knights feels like a very produced graduation improv show where they find a story somewhere in there among all the antics.
This movie 100% has Hot Rod credentials. I mentioned Project X and I had known it mostly as a Hot Rod Magazine car because Popular Hot Rodding was on the decline but it, indeed, was the car of Popular Hot Rodding for some time. All of these brands have been eaten up by Motortrend, it seems. The T bucket “rail job” was a cool and very authentic car that rarely shows up in movies.
More Isn’t Better
I wish it was, though. There was some heart and thought put into this movie but I think that the hand of Lucas weighed heavily on the steering wheel of development and production. We can, in hindsight, see that it was inevitable as we’ve seen the saga of Star Wars but it’s unfortunate that it had to be that way. Bill Norton didn’t have a prolific credited writing career but was a journeyman TV director. He wouldn’t necessarily show up on the list of people who would push back on that as More American Graffiti was at an early point in his directorial career. In a weird tie-in to car movies in general, Monte Hellman was assistant director to Bill Norton on Cisco Pike (1971).
Milner was racing what we, today, call a “sling shot” and wearing those masks to not die from the nitromethane fumes was definitely an eye-catcher. Racing was wild back then but these racing scenes, for the most part, are very staged and slow. Other movies have done racing much better (even American Graffiti) but I guess they saved it up for that one last shot. Filming everything for Milner at the track makes it basically a “bottle episode” so I guess that was one way to save some money.
So the commonality here is the music. A ton of hits. An actual ton. More American Graffiti definitely goes into the later protest songs and hippy movement music while The Hollywood Knights stays in the pockets with The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean (the other The Beach Boys), The Four Seasons, The Chiffons, The Supremes, etc). I think THK shows a bit more range, culturally, than More American Graffiti (which very dedicated to Vietnam and its protests) especially when Newbomb Turk farts “Volare”. Interestingly, and I hope it was intentional because I, in my head canon, really want this connection to be real and strong, The Hollywood Knights ends with Martha & The Vandellas’ “Heat Wave” and More American Graffiti opens with Martha & The Vandellas’ “Heat Wave”.
For the Audio Enthusiasts
Used the WA-47 Jr (cardioid pattern) on the UA Volt 276 with the compressor and vintage modes on. No additional compression was used on the main part of the episode (there was limiting on the whole thing but it was fairly conservative). Stereo section was Rode M5s into a Zoom F6. There was severe wind noise so I cut out a lot of the low end. I did need to run a little bit of voice de-noise because I guess I wasn’t speaking very loud and the noise levels around me were wild. The errata part was a Rode VideoMic Go II and I did get rid of some room tone on that one as well.
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