Thursday, January 27, 2011

MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI

More American Graffiti



More American Graffiti

Theatrical release poster
Directed byBill L. Norton
Produced byGeorge Lucas
Written byBill L. Norton
StarringCandy Clark
Bo Hopkins
Ron Howard
Paul Le Mat
Mackenzie Phillips
Charles Martin Smith
Cindy Williams
CinematographyCaleb Deschanel
Editing byTina Hirsch
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date(s)August 3, 1979
Running time110 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Icelandic
Budget$3 million
Gross revenue$8.1 million
Preceded byAmerican Graffiti
More American Graffiti is the 1979 sequel film to George Lucas's hit film American Graffiti. Whereas the first film followed a group of friends during the summer evening before they set off for college, this film shows us where the characters from the first film end up a few years later.
Most cast members from the first film returned for this sequel, including Candy ClarkRon HowardPaul Le MatCindy WilliamsMackenzie PhillipsCharles Martin SmithHarrison Fordappears in a cameo appearance. The notable exception is Richard Dreyfuss.

[edit]Plot

The film, set over the four consecutive New Year's Eves from 1964 to 1967 depicts scenes from each of these years, intertwined with one another as though events happen simultaneously. The audience is protected from confusion by the conceit of a distinct cinematic style for each section. For example, the 1966 sequences echo the movie of Woodstock using split screens and multiple angles of the same event simultaneously on screen, the 1965 sequences (set inVietnam) shot hand-held on grainy super 16 mm film designed to resemble war reporters' footage. The film attempts to memorialize the 1960s with sequences that recreate the sense and style of those days with references to Haight-Ashbury, the campus peace movement, the beginnings of the modern woman's liberation movement and the accompanying social revolt. One character burned his draft card showing a younger audience what so many Americans had done on the television news ten years before the movie's release. Other characters are shown frantically disposing of their marijuana before a traffic stop as a police officer pulls them over, and another scene shows the police brutality with billy clubs during an anti-Vietnam protest.
The listed fates of the main characters at the ending sequence of American Graffiti were updated again at the end of this sequel. In More American GraffitiJohn Milner was revealed to have been killed by a drunk driver in December 1964 (reminiscent of the death of James Deanin 1955 though the accident involving Dean did not involve a drunk driver), with the ending scene of the movie driving his trademark yellow Deuce at night along a lonely highway toward a swerving vehicle, and is never seen going further, hinting that was the crash. Set on New Year's Eve 1964, it is never actually shown that his tragic end comes after his racing win on the last day of the year. The anniversary of John's death is mentioned in both the 1965 and 1966 sequences. Terry "The Toad" Fields' classification as "missing in action" is not explored in greater detail since the movie shows that he faked his own death. The ending sequence would have read "killed in action" had the story ended there. Terry is believed to be dead by his superiors in 1965 and by his friends - Debbie in 1966 and Steve and Laurie in 1967. Joe Young(the leader of "The Pharaohs") is Toad's war partner, and vividly meets his death with a sniper's bullet to the chest in one scene after having promised once again to make Terry the Toad a Pharaoh once they get back from Vietnam.
The relationship of Steve and Laurie is strained by Laurie's insistence that she start her own career, though Steve forbids it saying he wants her to be a mom to their young twins. Free-spirited Debbie "Deb" Dunham has turned from Old Harper to marijuana and has given up herplatinum blonde persona for a hippie/groupie one in a long, strange trip that ends with her performing with a country-and-western music group.Wolfman Jack briefly reprised his role, but in voice only. The drag racing scenes for More American Graffiti were filmed at the Fremont Raceway, later Baylands Raceway Park, in Fremont, California.




[edit]Cast






[edit]Production

The movie was written and directed by Bill L. Norton who was picked by Lucas as being suitable due to his California upbringing and experience with comedy. Lucas was involved in the production by acting as the executive producer, editing both Norton's screenplay and the finished motion picture, and even manning a camera for sequences set in the Vietnam War.

[edit]Soundtrack

The movie also featured a thirty-three track soundtrack entitled More American Graffiti which has only been released in double Long Play and cassette form. The soundtrack originally released in 1979 as MCA2-11006 is presently out of print, and featured music from the movie along with voice-over tracks of Wolfman Jack.
A fictional band called Electric Haze featuring Doug Sahm appears in the film, most notably performing the Bo Diddley song I'm A Man.
Another album, also entitled More American Graffiti, was an official album sequel to the first soundtrack to the film American Graffiti. The album (MCA 8007) was released in 1975, four years before the film sequel of the same name was released. Like the first soundtrack album as well as the film sequel soundtrack, this one includes classic Wolfman Jack dialogue as bridges between the songs. While only one of the songs in this album was actually used in the 1973 motion picture this collection was compiled and approved by George Lucas for commercial release.

[edit]Reception

More American Graffiti opened on August 3, 1979 grossed $8,100,000 in the United States over its $3 million budget.[1] Despite its minor box office success, its gross was nowhere near as much as American Graffiti grossed.
Its critical reception was nowhere near as positive as it had been for American GraffitiRotten Tomatoes reported that 22% of critics gave positive reviews based on 9 reviews.[2]
Dale Pollack of Variety stated in his review that "More American Graffiti may be one of the most innovative and ambitious films of the last five years, but by no means is it one of the most successful."[3]

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RAY CHARLES: LOOKING BACK

As his 80th birthday approaches, a look at the life and legacy of the late Ray Charles.


"I just do what I do." That's what Ray Charles told Billboard in June 2002 when asked to assess his role in music history. Of course, Charles' self-effacing response belies a groundbreaking career and a legacy that endures today, as fans look toward celebrating what would have been the legendary artist's 80th birthday Sept. 23. Looking back at Charles' storied career, what comes to mind is the phrase "musical genius." In Charles' case, that's no hype.


Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity


In 1954, the artist's melding of gospel and blues yielded the pioneering hit "I've Got a Woman"-and forged an indelible imprint on R&B, rock and pop. His earthy, soulful voice graced a steady stream of classics after "Woman," including "Drown in My Own Tears," "What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Georgia on My Mind."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Hit The Road Jack" in São Paulo, Brazil on September 22, 1963.


Video below: Ray Charles performs "Then I'll Be Home" in Montreux, Switzerland on July 19, 1997.


Just as at home on the Hammond B-3 organ as he was on the piano, he also landed at the top of Billboard's R&B, pop, country and jazz charts-and even the dance chart, collaborating with childhood friend Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan on "I'll Be Good to You."

His final recording, 2004's "Genius Loves Company," made history when it won eight Grammy Awards, including album and record of the year for his pairing with Norah Jones on "Here We Go Again."

But what many may not know is that the inimitable Charles was also a genius when it came to the business side of music. In the early '60s he negotiated a rare feat after leaving Atlantic Records to sign with ABC-Paramount: ownership of his own master recordings. He also established his own labels. Tangerine (his favorite fruit) came first, which later evolved into CrossOver Records.

A songwriter who penned nearly 200 songs, Charles also operated his own publishing companies, Tangerine Music and Racer Music. For these entities, Charles and longtime manager Joe Adams designed and built the RPM International office and studios on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Ray Charles Memorial Library will open in the building this fall.

Charles also found time to manage the careers of other acts, including Billy Preston and '70s R&B group the Friends of Distinction. And way before it was de rigueur for artists to do, Charles set up what became a foundation to help needy children with hearing disabilities and later on support education.


He was an amazing human being," says Jones, 77, who became friends with Charles when both were scrappy teenagers in Seattle. "A true innovator who revolutionized music and the business of music," he adds. "Growing up, we only had the radio; no Michael Jackson, Diddy or Oprah. So it was hard to imagine today's entrepreneurial world. But that didn't stop us. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming about things that brothers had never done before."

"He really was a genius," says singer Solomon Burke, a former Atlantic labelmate. "He did things the way he wanted."

Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson Sept. 23, 1930, in Albany, Ga. As many learned through actor Jamie Foxx's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 2004 film "Ray," Charles became blind by age 7 and orphaned at 15 while growing up in northwest Florida.

In eight years at a state school for the blind, the young Charles learned how to read and write music. Leaving Florida in 1947, he headed for Seattle ("Choosing the farthest place he could find from Florida," Jones says), where he notched his first hit two years later as a member of the Maxin Trio, "Confession Blues."

Even then, Charles was an enterprising individual. "He had his own apartment, record player, two pairs of pimp shoes, and here I am still living at home," Jones recalls with a laugh. "His mother trained him not to be blind: no cane, no dogs, no cup. His scuffed-up shoes... that was his guide and driving force. He was the most independent dude I ever saw in my life. Ray would get blind only when pretty girls came around."

Signing with Atlantic Records in 1952, Charles as a West Coast jazz and blues man recorded such songs as "It Should've Been Me" and label co-founder Ahmet Ertegun's composition, "Mess Around."

Then he connected in 1954 with "I've Got a Woman," which set off a chain reaction of more hits capitalizing on his bold gospel/blues fusion. But Charles was just getting started. In 1958, he performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, accompanied by a band that featured such jazz cats as saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Hank Crawford. Further bucking convention, he recorded "The Genius of Ray Charles," a 1959 release offering standards on one side (including "Come Rain or Come Shine") and big band numbers on the other, featuring members of Count Basie's orchestra and several arrangements by Jones.


Video below: Charles' 1966 Coke commercial, "So Tired."



Leaving Atlantic for ABC-Paramount, a fearless Charles recorded the seminal "Genius + Soul = Jazz" album in 1961. A year later, his earlier dabbling in country music grew serious with the release of the million-selling "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."

Complemented by lush strings and a harmony-rich choir, he scored with covers of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Ted Daffan's "Born to Lose"-and spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.




For a black man to do this in 1962 was unheard of," says Tony Gumina, president of the Ray Charles Marketing Group, which handles the late artist's licensing affairs. "He was trying to sell records to people who didn't want to drink from the same water fountain as him. But this was one of his greatest creative and business moves: to not be categorized musically and cross over. Though he never worried about it, he was resigned to the fact that he might lose some core fans. But he thought he'd gain far more in the process."

Gumina was operating his own promotion company working with state lotteries when he met Charles in 1999. The two teamed up on a series of commercials for various state lotteries and also introduced a line of Ray Charles slot machines also accessible to the blind.

"Everything he did had a business acumen to it," says Gumina, who cites Charles' liaison with manager Adams as a pivotal turning point. Originally hired to be Charles' stage announcer, former radio DJ Adams segued into overseeing production of the singer's shows, lighting and wardrobe.

Together the pair designed and built Charles' L.A. business base, RPM International (Recording, Publishing and Management) studio. When he began recording there in 1965, the label rented the studio from him, so he made money on his recordings before they were even released.

To save money on travel expenses, Charles purchased an airplane to ferry his band around to gigs. A smaller plane was also acquired so that Charles could wing in to, say, New York to record a couple of songs before flying back out in time for a show.

"He understood the entertainment business enough to know that you may not be popular forever," Gumina says, "and you need to maximize your product. At the same time, he had as much fun as any rock star but without the sad money stories. There was a time to work and a time to play, and he knew the difference. He didn't have a bunch of homes or a large entourage. That's why he was able to save $50 million before he died."

Calling Charles an "incredibly smart man," Concord president John Burk says he learned a lot from the ailing singer while he was recording his final studio album, "Genius Loves Company."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "It Ain't Easy Being Green" in Trentnton, NJ on Nov. 7, 2002.


Going through "some sticky deal points, he was amazing," Burk recalls. "He had the whole agreement in his head. Without referencing any material, he knew all the terms we proposed and had the deal done for the album in two discussions."

Creatively, Burk says Charles was an artist dedicated to delivering "a true performance from the heart. Part of his creative legacy was his approach to singing. He opened the door to vocal improvisations, changing how people perceived you could sing a song. Many singers today are influenced by him and they don't even know it."


Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity

WHACKO JACKO - AN ODYSSEY

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