Thursday, June 9, 2011

Film Review of the 1978 Release, "Corvette Summer"

Oh, I wish I was back in 1978. I didn't watch many films that year, and in retrospect probably didn't miss that much. Here is the review of Corvette Summer, a version of which will appear in my next book, Stealing Cars: Technology and Society from the Model T to Today.

1978 must have been a good year for goofy comedies about car theft, because that year "Corvette Summer" was also released.[1] Starring Mark Hamill as Kenny Dartley and Annie Potts as Vanessa, the film is to a point entertaining before it's slow pace takes over. The story begins with a high school shop class going to a salvage yard in order to pick up a project car. Kenny ends up saving a Corvette Stingray from the crusher, and soon he leads the class in what becomes a custom restoration of the shark-nosed vehicle. Kenny sees the final product as "perfect;" his shop teacher, Mr. McGrath, cautions his student not to get to involved with the car, as automobiles "always let you down." This viewer saw the car as one of the most garish creations in all of automobile history!

During a night of celebration at a local cruise-in, the car is stolen by organized car thieves, and while authorities are resigned to the loss, young Kenny refuses to give up and consequently begins his search for the vehicle, an odyssey that eventually takes him to Las Vegas.

On the road Kenny eventually meets a young woman who will become the love of his life, Vanessa, a wanna-be hooker who drives a customized love-making van. At first, Kenny resists Vanessa's come-ons, preferring the love his lost car to that of a young woman who was excessively thin before that thin was "in." Indeed, his love is for a car that is not his, but rather the high schools, and thus his obsession is with his work and creation, rather than with personal property.

After making it to Las Vegas and several sightings, Kenny finally tracks the car down to the Silverado Auto Body Shop where he discovers not only the car, but the fact that his mentor back in Los Angeles, Mr. McGrath, is a part of the stolen car ring. After a time of acceptance of the loss of the car and actually taking on work at the body shop, Kenny decides that the right thing is taking the car back to LA anyway, even though he has heard arguments that "a car is a commodity to be bought and sold," that "the crime was victimless," and that the insurance Company can afford it. Finally, after a chase scene in the desert outside of Las Vegas, and the return of the car to the high school, Kenny comes to his senses and walks off with Vanessa. In the end, the girl does become more important than the car, and human relationships triumph over one with a machine.

[1] "Corvette Summer,"DVD, 1978, Turner Entertainment.

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