The Van (1977)

R | 86-90 mins | Comedy | 13 April 1977

Director:

Sam Grossman

Producer:

Paul Lewis

Cinematographer:

Irvin Goodnoff

Production Designer:

Russell Schwartz

Production Company:

Marimark
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HISTORY

According to a 6 Jun 1977 Box article, car customizer George Barris and his team of twenty-four workers at Barris Kustom Industries, spent four weeks customizing the “Straight Arrow” van driven by “Bobby” in the film. It took two more weeks to create a duplicate, with a bare interior, that was used for crash sequences. Barris’ company also customized a third vehicle, “Van Killer,” driven by the antagonist, “Dugan.” Although the film utilizes Sammy Johns’s 1975 hit song, “Chevy Van,” as its theme, the “Straight Arrow” is actually a Dodge.
       A 26 Apr 1976 Box news item reported that principal photography would begin 8 Jul 1976 in Southern CA and AZ, with locations chosen to utilize gatherings organized by van clubs; however, a 2 Jul 1976 DV brief stated that production would begin 31 Jul 1976 and added NM as a location. On 10 Nov 1976 DV reported that production started 8 Nov 1976, and DV and Var production charts between 19 Nov 1976 and 9 Feb 1977 also listed an 8 Nov 1977 start date in Southern CA.
       The film was scheduled to play 360 theaters over the 4 Jul 1977 holiday, the largest number in the history-to-date of distributor Crown International Pictures, according to a 16 Jun 1977 HR article.
       The 30 Apr 1977 LAT review called the film an “amiable and laid-back ... More Less

According to a 6 Jun 1977 Box article, car customizer George Barris and his team of twenty-four workers at Barris Kustom Industries, spent four weeks customizing the “Straight Arrow” van driven by “Bobby” in the film. It took two more weeks to create a duplicate, with a bare interior, that was used for crash sequences. Barris’ company also customized a third vehicle, “Van Killer,” driven by the antagonist, “Dugan.” Although the film utilizes Sammy Johns’s 1975 hit song, “Chevy Van,” as its theme, the “Straight Arrow” is actually a Dodge.
       A 26 Apr 1976 Box news item reported that principal photography would begin 8 Jul 1976 in Southern CA and AZ, with locations chosen to utilize gatherings organized by van clubs; however, a 2 Jul 1976 DV brief stated that production would begin 31 Jul 1976 and added NM as a location. On 10 Nov 1976 DV reported that production started 8 Nov 1976, and DV and Var production charts between 19 Nov 1976 and 9 Feb 1977 also listed an 8 Nov 1977 start date in Southern CA.
       The film was scheduled to play 360 theaters over the 4 Jul 1977 holiday, the largest number in the history-to-date of distributor Crown International Pictures, according to a 16 Jun 1977 HR article.
       The 30 Apr 1977 LAT review called the film an “amiable and laid-back fantasy.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Apr 1976.
---
Box Office
30 May 1977.
---
Box Office
6 Jun 1977.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jul 1976.
---
Daily Variety
10 Nov 1976.
---
Daily Variety
19 Nov 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1977.
---
Independent Film Journal
24 Jun 1977.
---
LAHExam
3 May 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Apr 1977
p. 10.
New York Times
12 Jun 1977
p. 15.
Variety
11 Oct 1976.
---
Variety
9 Feb 1977.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Marimark Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus supv
Songs wrt and performed by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Equip services
Catering
Vans customized by
Post prod services
Prod secy
Van co-ord
Asst to the exec prod
Prod asst
Tech adv
STAND INS
Stunts co-ord by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Chevy Van," music and lyrics by Sammy Johns, performed by Sammy Johns
"Hey, Mr. Dreamer," music and lyrics by Steve Eaton, performed by Sammy Johns
"Country Lady," music and lyrics by Sammy Johns, performed by Sammy Johns
+
SONGS
"Chevy Van," music and lyrics by Sammy Johns, performed by Sammy Johns
"Hey, Mr. Dreamer," music and lyrics by Steve Eaton, performed by Sammy Johns
"Country Lady," music and lyrics by Sammy Johns, performed by Sammy Johns
"Early Morning Love," music and lyrics by Sammy Johns, performed by Sammy Johns
"Jenny," music and lyrics by Sherman Hayes, performed by Sammy Johns
"Ragdoll," music and lyrics by Steve Eaton, performed by Sammy Johns
"Hang My Head And Moan," music and lyrics by Sammy Johns, performed by Sammy Johns.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 April 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 13 April 1977
New York opening June 1977
Production Date:
began 8 November 1976 in Southern California
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
86-90
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Following their high school graduation, Bobby Hampton and his friend Jack drive around town in Bobby’s convertible Dodge Dart looking for Jack’s missing car. Jack inquires about the van Bobby has been talking about buying and they pull alongside a customized van driven by Dugan Hicks, a local tough guy. Bobby fantasizes about Dugan’s girlfriend, Sally Johnson, and Dugan challenges Bobby to a drag race. Bobby accepts, but forgets to put the car in gear and is left at the stoplight. Bobby and Jack then spot Jack’s girlfriend Sue and her friend Tina Eastman in Tina’s sports car. Jack and Sue have arranged a double date for that evening, but Tina is reluctant. Later, Bobby reports for work at a car wash and asks his boss, Andy, who runs a bookmaking business on the side, if he can leave work early. During his shift, Tina brings her car in to get it washed, and Bobby’s co-workers embarrass him by running Bobby’s Dart through the wash with its top down. After work, he goes to the dealership to complete the down payment on his new van. Sometime later, he picks the van up from a customizer named Roscoe, who has added a waterbed, a mirrored ceiling, a refrigerator, fog lights, a bay window, and a special paint job with the name, “Straight Arrow.” Bobby takes it for a drive, enjoys a sunset, and smokes marijuana, before visiting his friends at the carwash to show it off. As payback for the earlier prank, Bobby locks the door of the restroom, and serves his coworkers beer spiked with Castor oil. Later a green van challenges Bobby at a stoplight, but he instead ... +


Following their high school graduation, Bobby Hampton and his friend Jack drive around town in Bobby’s convertible Dodge Dart looking for Jack’s missing car. Jack inquires about the van Bobby has been talking about buying and they pull alongside a customized van driven by Dugan Hicks, a local tough guy. Bobby fantasizes about Dugan’s girlfriend, Sally Johnson, and Dugan challenges Bobby to a drag race. Bobby accepts, but forgets to put the car in gear and is left at the stoplight. Bobby and Jack then spot Jack’s girlfriend Sue and her friend Tina Eastman in Tina’s sports car. Jack and Sue have arranged a double date for that evening, but Tina is reluctant. Later, Bobby reports for work at a car wash and asks his boss, Andy, who runs a bookmaking business on the side, if he can leave work early. During his shift, Tina brings her car in to get it washed, and Bobby’s co-workers embarrass him by running Bobby’s Dart through the wash with its top down. After work, he goes to the dealership to complete the down payment on his new van. Sometime later, he picks the van up from a customizer named Roscoe, who has added a waterbed, a mirrored ceiling, a refrigerator, fog lights, a bay window, and a special paint job with the name, “Straight Arrow.” Bobby takes it for a drive, enjoys a sunset, and smokes marijuana, before visiting his friends at the carwash to show it off. As payback for the earlier prank, Bobby locks the door of the restroom, and serves his coworkers beer spiked with Castor oil. Later a green van challenges Bobby at a stoplight, but he instead takes the van home to show his parents; while his mother, Nora, is proud, his father, Henry, disapproves. Bobby later encounters the green van again and this time they race, but the green van slams into a police car. That night, at a pizza parlor that caters to van owners, Dugan challenges the driver of the green van to a race, betting a $100. Meanwhile, Bobby arrives, orders a beer, and unsuccessfully attempts to seduce several women, including Sally. When he finally convinces a girl to smoke marijuana with him in the van, his clumsy attempts at foreplay end things quickly. Jack arrives and as Bobby shows him the van, the guys from the car wash show up, seeking revenge. When Bobby and Jack narrowly escape, they see Tina and Sue driving and follow them. Bobby tells Jack that he is not that interested in Tina, but that does not stop him from fantasizing about her. When they pull over, Sue convinces Tina to go with Bobby in the van and Jack drives Tina’s car. The couples agree to meet at the beach, but Jack and Sue have other plans. Reluctantly, Tina spends the night in the van, fending off Bobby. When Jack and Sue return in the morning, Bobby feigns love-making sounds to convince his friends that he and Tina have consummated their relationship. Bobby takes Tina home and asks when he can see her again but she tells him not to hold his breath. Later, Bobby stops at Sally’s house, but drives off when he hears Dugan’s van. At a fast-food restaurant, Bobby seduces a full-figured girl, and the waterbed springs a leak as they make love in the van. As Bobby cleans up the aftermath, he brags to Jack about the encounter and Jack deduces that Bobby did not make love with Tina. Meanwhile, Tina confesses her wish that she were more free-spirited, like Sue. The boys arrive at Tina’s house to pick up the girls and their dates go for a drive along the coast, but Tina is not enjoying herself. The friends share a jug of wine and Jack and Sue frolic in the back of the van. At the beach, the couples join a gathering of van enthusiasts, where Dugan races the green van until it crashes. Tina loosens up and begins to have fun, but as she kisses Bobby, he moves too fast toward sex; she returns to the van and drives off with Jack and Sue, leaving Bobby at the beach. He walks home to find the van in his driveway. Later, at the pizza parlor, Bobby laments to Jack about losing Tina when Andy arrives despondent because he is indebted to a gambler. Bobby loans his boss the cash from his next car payment. As Bobby’s car wash coworkers show up to fight Bobby, he escapes in the van and the boys give chase followed by policemen, who crash their patrol car a second time. That night, Bobby becomes intoxicated and goes to Tina’s bedroom window, but she refuses to see him. He then goes to Sally’s house and she invites him inside for a beer. They exchange tales of woe and make love in the van. When they hear Dugan’s horn, Sally runs into the house and Bobby drives away, but Dugan catches a glimpse of the van. After a night at the beach, Bobby meets Jack and Sue at the pizza parlor, as Tina drives up. When Dugan walks in and accuses Bobby of messing around with Sally, Jack breaks a beer bottle and threatens Dugan, but he quickly backs down. Tina tries to leave, but Bobby guides her to the van and drives as the same pair of policemen give chase. As Tina begs Bobby to stop, the police car crashes and Bobby drives to a remote spot. He pleads with Tina to listen and confesses his love for her. She admits that she feels the same way and they make love. Later, Bobby visits the car wash to collect his reimbursement, but Andy does not have the money so the young man asks Jack to challenge Dugan to a race for $200. Tina tries to talk Bobby out of it because she does not understand why the van is so important. On race day, Bobby arrives late, drunk, and disappointed that Tina is not in attendance. He taunts Dugan by admitting that he was with Sally earlier. Andy arrives to report he has the money, but the race has already begun. Tina and Andy follow the two vans as Dugan rams Bobby. When they approach the finish line, police race toward them and Dugan’s van slides sideways, slamming into the police cruiser. Bobby's “Straight Arrow” swerves onto the shoulder, hits a berm and rolls over. As he is pulled from the wreck, Bobby is drenched from the leaking waterbed. After retrieving his money from Andy, Bobby climbs into Tina’s car and the couple drives away together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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