Released in 1977, Star Wars turned Mark Hamill into one of the biggest movie stars in the world. His character Luke Skywalker, graced lunch boxes, trading cards, t-shirts and more. Anxious to avoid typecasting, in 1978 Hamill appeared in Corvette Summer, co-starring Annie Potts (Toy Story) in her first film role. Not a box office failure per se–the film took in $36 million against a budget of $9 million–producers were undoubtedly expecting more and critics were lukewarm. Since its release, Corvette Summer has gained cult status. It ended up being the only film Hamill starred in before returning to the Star Wars universe for The Empire Strikes Back and Annie Potts has since achieved fame herself with roles in several films including Ghostbusters and Pretty in Pink. She is also well known for various roles on television.
California teen Kenneth Dantley (Hamill) loves cars. In high school shop class, he spends his time restoring a 1973 Corvette Stingray. Fully customized, the car looks like a futuristic hot rod. Shortly after the car hits the road, it’s stolen. Depressed and angry, Kenneth learns the car has turned up in Las Vegas. With no money, Kenneth heads out to Sin City determined to get his wheels back. On the way, he meets teenaged “hooker-in-trainer” Vanessa (Potts). Once in Vegas, Kenneth searches for the Corvette, but with Vanessa’s increasing attention, he begins to discover there’s more to life than hot rods.
The premise of Corvette Summer isn’t to dissimilar from the countless teen/angst/romance films that found success in the 1980’s. The idea of a teenager going on a no-holds-barred search to retrieve his stolen dream car is intriguing. Unfortunately, that never materializes because screenwriters Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins (who also directed), devote more time to ancillary characters than they to the search for the car. Sadly, the movie suffers from somewhat dull lead characters: Kenneth is a charming as a box of rocks; Vanessa is so wacky it’s annoying. The fact that Mark Hamill and Annie Potts have zero chemistry doesn’t help matters, I didn’t believe these two would spend five minutes together, forget about falling in love.
Given a supporting cast that included Danny Bonaduce, Wendi Jo Sperber, Issac Ruiz and T.K. Carter (all largely wasted in the background), it’s easy to imagine that Corvette Summer might have worked better as an ensemble comedy. But hindsight being 20/20, at the time, Mark Hamill was The MAN, so I’m sure the filmmakers thought they might have the next big hit. As it is, Corvette Summer does offer a couple of laughs and it features one of the coolest cars in cinema history.
Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Warner Archive Collection’s 1080p transfer really shines. Detail is strong throughout a textured image. Blacks are deep and inky. Colors are vivid, particularly reds and yellows. Skin tones look natural and consistent throughout. The image is clean, with no apparent artifacts.
The DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio is solid and serves the film well. It’s slightly lacking when it comes to low frequencies, but strong layering and a nice sense of depth make for a nice mix. The track doesn’t pack a lot of punch, but this is a tally film and dialogue is clean and clear throughout.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:44)
Corvette Summer (1977)
Movie title: Corvette Summer
Director(s): Matthew Robbins
Actor(s): Mark Hamill, Annie Potts, Eugene Roche, Danny Bonaduce , Philip Bruns , Stanley Kamel
Genre: Adventure, Comedy