Corvette Summer (1978): Matthew Robbins’ Comedy Adventure, Starring Mark Hamill and Annie Potts

Owing its very existence to American Graffiti, George Lucas’ 1973 classic, Corvette Summer is an adventure comedy starring Mark Hamill stars as a California teenager who heads to Las Vegas to track down his beloved customized Corvette Stingray.

Corvette Summer
Corvette Summer.jpg

It was Mark Hamill’s first screen appearance after the unexpected success of “Star Wars” the previous year.

It co-stars Annie Potts, playing the quirky young woman he meets along the way, in her first movie role.

Corvette Summer was a box office success, making about $36 million at the worldwide box office, on a relatively high budget (for that era) of $9 million.

Kenny Dantley, a car-loving Southern California high-school senior, helps build a customized right-hand-drive Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with outrageous bodywork. Shortly after the new set of wheels is unveiled, the car is stolen in Van Nuys. After hearing that the car is in Las Vegas, Kenny sets out to take back the car. On the way, he meets the seemingly confident drifter Vanessa, a self-described “prostitute-in-training.”

Kenny finds work in a Vegas car wash, and spots his car on more than one occasion. He tracks it down it to a local garage, where he has an incident with the garage owner, Wayne Lowry, before being bailed out by Vanessa.

Kenny’s high school teacher, Ed McGrath comes to Las Vegas, and Kenny is upset to learn that the teacher he once admired had arranged for the theft of the Corvette to help supplement his low earnings. McGrath then begs Kenny not to take the matter to the police.  Kenny agrees, but secretly plans to take the Corvette back.

Kenny takes the car back, saves Vanessa from an unusual scenario in a hotel, wins a wild car chase, and returns home with Vanessa riding shotgun in the Corvette.

In the end, he gives the car back to the school, but walks away with Vanessa and his newly-earned diploma.

Scenes of Kenny’s high school were shot at Burbank High School in the San Fernando Valley, and Verdugo Hills High School outside of Los Angeles.

The novelization of Corvette Summer, written by Wayland Drew, was published by the New American Library of Canada in 1978.

The film’s theme song, “Give Me the Night,” was sung by Dusty Springfield.

Cast

Mark Hamill-Kenneth W. Dantley, Jr.
Annie Potts- Vanessa
Eugene Roche Ed McGrath
William Bryant Plainclothes Police Lecturer
Richard McKenzie Principal Bacon
Kim Milford Wayne Lowry
Philip Bruns-Gil
Danny–Bonaduce Kootz
Jane A. Johnston Mrs. Dantley
Albert Insinnia Ricci
Stanley Kamel–Las Vegas Con Man

Credits:

Directed by Matthew Robbins
Produced by Hal Barwood
Written by Barwood and Robbins
Music by Craig Safan
Cinematography Frank Stanley
Edited by Amy Holden Jones

Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Plotto Productions

Distributed by United Artists

Release date: August 4, 1978
Running time: 104 minutes
Budget $9,000,000
Box office $36,479,000

Note:

TCM showed this movie on September 3, 2020.