|Mackenzie Phillips writing graffiti on a Cadillac window|
After the commercial failure of his first feature film, THX 1138, George Lucas had given up on screenwritng. So, when he wanted to make his next film he contacted USC classmate, Willard Hyuck and his wife, Gloria Katz. Lucas talked to them about the various characters and story elements he had in mind for Graffiti and together they hacked out an idea about four characters who go on various adventures. After their discussions, Huyck and Ms. Katz worked out a 15-page story treatment that brought out the humor and pathos in the initial design. Lucas' agent, Jeff Berg took it to various studios to see if he could get them to finance a script. It took about a year to get the money together. Eventually, Lucas got the president of United Artists (UA) to give him $10,000 to write the Graffiti script.
|Writers Williard Huyck & Gloria Katz circa 1976|
Since the writing team wasn't available, Lucas resorted to paying a friend from USC, Richard Walters to write the script. But, when he read it, he was disappointed. The screenplay was completely different from the story treatment.
|Lucas directs Dreyfuss & Howard in the film's opening scene.|
Because he had no money left to pay for another writer, but had to turn something in to UA, Lucas felt he had no choice but to write the script himself. Using the original story treatment, Lucas sat down and forced himself to rewrite the entire screenplay. Working from eight in the morning until eight at night, the whole process took him about three weeks. However, after
|Lucas & co-writer, Williard Huyck at an awards ceremony.|
|Huyck & Katz wrote the Steve / Laurie story|
Lucas has said that Huyck and Katz' contributions were essential. In 1974 Lucas explained to Filmaker's Newsletter their contribution to the screenplay:
"They didn't change the structure, what they did was improve the dialogue, make it funnier, more human, truer. [sic] So though they improved it a great deal, it was basically my story. The scenes are mine the dialogue is theirs. But it's hard to be cut and dry about something like that because of course, they completely changed some scenes and others were left intact."By the time it was finished, the screenplay was too long. Ms. Katz recalls, "It was like 160 pages, and everybody was freaking out. So we got the tiniest type known to man, and it became 125 pages." Finally, with the writing problems solved, on May 10, 1972 Lucas had the shooting script he needed to begin filming. The screenplay had the working title,
|Marcia Lucas hard at work editing Graffiti.|
|Co-Writer, GLORIA KATZ|
|Co-Writer, WILLIARD HUYCK|
USED CAR LOT - TERRY & DEBBIE
A big greasy guy is pulling an engine out of a car with a wench when he hears somebody coming. He ducks out of sight quickly
Terry and Debbie come up.
Chuck? Chuckie? It's me
The big burly guy peeks around the car and then wanders over.
Hey, you gave me a start, pussycat. What's up?
Chuck, this is Terry.
Terry sticks out his hand and Chuck puts his greasy meat hook in it. Terry wipes his hand off on his pants.
Little short, ain't he?
Listen, Terry had his cherry Merc copped. And since you know about every stolen car in the Valley
Merc, huh? Got a Plymouth in tonight, but no Mercs.
Do you know where we might look for it. I gotta find it. That car's my whole life.
Chuck takes out a flask, takes a big pull on it and hands it to Terry.
Well, Terry, you sure stepped in it sounds like. Hopeful it'll be just a couple of joy riders and you'll find it somewhere in the morning. Now, if it's a strip job...well...also, some nut been taking 'em and burning them... Yeah, I'll keep my eyes open but I'm sure you'll find it one way or t'other.
One way or the other?!
He takes the flask from Terry, who looks off hopelessly.
Sure thing. Hey give me a little one.
Debbie kisses him and his arm goes around her, his big hand covering her fanny.
Terry looks around and sees this. He looks away sadly
Come on Debbie ... Debbie?
|Candy Clark (Debbie) with Pharaohs '51 Merc @ Petaluma celebration 2008|