|Mels circa early-1950s|
"As colorful marquees were scheduled for removal, it appeared to many local enthusiasts that Mel's success story was about to end. [sic] The original Mels burger spot came to [Director, George Lucas's] attention and was leased prior to its demolition. Crews descended on the site and soon it was lights...camera...action...all over again. Mels was back in business, immortalized in 35mm."
Then Witzel erroneously states,
"As the bulldozers razed the last remnants of the historic drive-in and trucks carted off the debris, American Graffiti opened in theatres."In the author's defense, he may have been speaking metaphorically about the ending of an era, blah, blah, blah. The whole thing has a nice poetic ring to it. The problem is however, that many have taken these words literally and rephrased them and turned them into "fact." Do a quick Google or BING web engine search and you'll find similar statements all over the web. Even the Mels Drive-in website has quoted Witzel's book in their history section. Oy Vey!
|Mackenzie Phillips in the Mels parking lot during filming c. July 1972|
But, as the saying goes; A lie no matter how many times you repeat it is still a lie. As I've explained here before on my blog: The truth is that in 1972 when the location manager for American Graffiti, Nancy Giebink was scouting a location for a building to represent the drive-in called Burger City in the original American Graffiti script the Mels Drive-in restaurant located at 140 South Van Ness Ave.in San Francisco, CA was very much open for business. The original owners had sold it to the Foster's West franchise. Arrangements were made to lease out the restaurant for three consecutive evenings in July and then once more night in August to re-shoot some scenes. For more on this see Part 2 of my article, Mels Drive-in The True Story. American Graffiti was first released in late-August 1973 and the restaurant continued to remain open for three more years after the film's initial release. The, now legendary, eatery remained open and standing for almost 29 years before it was finally demolished in November of 1976. That would be about two years before Graffiti was re-released in theaters with 3 additional scenes and the soundtrack re-mixed in Dolby stereo. It's amazing the way historical trivialities such as these can get distorted. It kind of makes you wonder about the big things like, I dunno, was Kennedy really a Democrat?
Oh, I almost forgot, I mentioned the photo of Mels that Mr. Lecach shared with me at the beginning of the post which inspired me to write this well, here it is:
SAN FRANCISCO NOV. 16 -- NOW ITS A PARKING LOT
~ FINE ~