American Graffiti (1973)
Directed by: George Lucas
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford
What went wrong: American Graffiti, George Lucas's pre-Star Wars project that first united him with Harrison Ford, was marred with problems from the beginning. Lucas wrote a story treatment for the film, based on his teen years in Modesto, California, and hired pal David Picker to write the screenplay. "It was overtly sexual and very fantasy-like," Lucas later said of Picker's script, which he rejected. He reworked the screenplay with different writing partners, but had difficulty finding the money to make it. (Eventually, Francis Ford Coppola came aboard as a producer and Universal Pictures backed the project.) The filming itself was laborious: A member of the production team was arrested for growing marijuana, location permits were denied, Ford was arrested in a bar fight and was drunk during most of his scenes, an actor set fire to Lucas's hotel room, Richard Dreyfuss' head got sliced open the day before he was set to film close-ups, and two camera operators were almost killed filming the movie's climactic race scene.