While writer-director George Lucas’ debut THX 1138 gave viewers an Orwellian nightmare in a distant dystopian future, his follow-up, 1973’s American Graffiti, offered an idealized look at a halcyon past recent enough for most of the audience to misremember right along with the auteur. With a tagline asking “Where were you in ’62?” Graffiti served up cinematic burgers,
fries and frothy milkshakes aplenty via roller-skating carhops. Drag races, doo-wop and Wolman Freaking Jack himself abound for an ensemble of fresh faces in a single, magical summer night between high school and college. Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, The Wonder Years, et al. would follow suit, and sequel More American Graffiti would put its blissfully ignorant innocents through LSD trips, marriage and the Vietnam War, but the original freeze-frames its cast of characters before the realities of adulthood and, tellingly, the assassination of John F. Kennedy have a chance to take hold. Thursday’s outdoor screening, featuring live music and a classic car show at the site of an old drive-in theater, has gotta be the best possible place to watch it in 2016. Free, 7pm Thu, Sept. 15, Mission Marquee Plaza, 3100 Roosevelt Ave., slabcinema.com.