Corvette Summer (1978)

PG | 104 mins | Adventure | 4 August 1978

Director:

Matthew Robbins

Producer:

Hal Barwood

Cinematographer:

Frank Stanley

Editor:

Amy Jones

Production Designer:

James Schoppe

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
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HISTORY

       Although sources including the 2 Mar 1977 DV announced the title of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (M-G-M) film as Stingray, the 28 Jul 1977 DV reported that a different, independent film with the same title was shooting in St. Louis, MO. M-G-M expressed doubt that the other production would be able to find a distributor and hoped the smaller outfit would change the name of its movie. An article in the 1977 Sep 1977 LAT stated that although M-G-M had registered the title, Stingray, with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the agreement to avoid duplicating film titles that existed among the major studios did not extend to independent productions. Since the smaller film was scheduled to open before M-G-M’s production, the studio elected to change the title of its picture to Corvette to avoid confusion, noted the 10 Jan 1978 HR. A 5 Apr 1978 HR news brief announced a final name change to Corvette Summer.
       According to the 25 May 1977 DV, star Mark Hamill came to the attention of producer-writer Hal Barwood and director-writer Matthew Robbins when George Lucas recommended the actor to them; Hamill was featured in Lucas’s Star Wars (1977, see entry).
       Although the 16 Mar 1977 HR noted that principal photography would begin Jun 1977, New West reported on 20 Jun 1977 that the production was delayed due to Hamill’s need to recuperate from a car accident that required him to undergo facial reconstruction surgery. The filmmakers planned to conduct one ... More Less

       Although sources including the 2 Mar 1977 DV announced the title of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (M-G-M) film as Stingray, the 28 Jul 1977 DV reported that a different, independent film with the same title was shooting in St. Louis, MO. M-G-M expressed doubt that the other production would be able to find a distributor and hoped the smaller outfit would change the name of its movie. An article in the 1977 Sep 1977 LAT stated that although M-G-M had registered the title, Stingray, with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the agreement to avoid duplicating film titles that existed among the major studios did not extend to independent productions. Since the smaller film was scheduled to open before M-G-M’s production, the studio elected to change the title of its picture to Corvette to avoid confusion, noted the 10 Jan 1978 HR. A 5 Apr 1978 HR news brief announced a final name change to Corvette Summer.
       According to the 25 May 1977 DV, star Mark Hamill came to the attention of producer-writer Hal Barwood and director-writer Matthew Robbins when George Lucas recommended the actor to them; Hamill was featured in Lucas’s Star Wars (1977, see entry).
       Although the 16 Mar 1977 HR noted that principal photography would begin Jun 1977, New West reported on 20 Jun 1977 that the production was delayed due to Hamill’s need to recuperate from a car accident that required him to undergo facial reconstruction surgery. The filmmakers planned to conduct one week of rehearsals prior to a rescheduled start date of 20 Jul 1977, reported the 30 Jun 1977 HR. The 28 Jul 1977 DV confirmed that principal photography on Corvette Summer began 25 Jul 1977, with the 14 Aug 1977 LAT announcing that the film was scheduled to shoot for thirty-four days.
       According to production notes from AMPAS library files, the movie was shot almost entirely on location. Starting in Los Angeles, CA, filming took place at sites including Burbank and Verdugo high schools and an auto body shop in Vernon, CA. For the scene in which “Kenneth ‘Kenny’ W. Dantley, Jr.” first drives the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the 14 Aug 1977 LAT reported that a particularly challenging San Fernando Valley shoot captured the regular Wednesday night procession of customized cars parading up and down Van Nuys Blvd. Production notes stated that the production moved to Las Vegas, NV, in Aug 1978 and filmed at casinos such as the Riviera, MGM Grand, Aladdin, Stardust and Circus Circus. The next month, car chase and car crash scenes were filmed in the small town of Mojave, CA.
       Originally reporting the movie’s budget as $2 million on 7 May 1977, the LAT later stated a revised figure of $1.7 million on 14 Aug 1977.
       Although a 2 Aug 1977 DV news brief announced that actor Renny Temple would make his feature film debut portraying a high school teacher in the movie, he is not listed in onscreen credits. Likewise, the 30 Aug 1977 DV reported that Sheila Pierson, Betty Woods and Mel Warkmeister would appear in Corvette Summer as members of the trapeze act “The Flying Michaels,” but they are not credited onscreen.
       An article in the 14 Aug 1977 LAT reported that the specialized Stingray designed by art director James Schoppe and built by local car customizer Richard Korkes cost $20,000, but in the 7 Sep 1978 LAHExam, Korkes stated that he built two versions of the Corvette for a total of $60,000 and served as technical advisor on the film. Korkes’s name does not appear in onscreen credits.
       As noted in production notes and the 14 Sep 1977 HR, the Stingray used in the film disappeared from the M-G-M studio lot one weekend and was discovered missing 12 Sep 1977, forcing a rearrangement of the production schedule. The police found the stolen vehicle later that day and production resumed. Corvette Summer completed principal photography five days later on 17 Sep 1977, noted the 19 Sep 1977 LAT.
       Although production notes stated that United Artists would release the film domestically, the studio’s name does not appear in onscreen credits. Corvette Summer opened 30 Aug 1978 at the Pix Theater in Los Angeles, CA, and the Westwood Theatre, in Westwood, CA. The film was scheduled to open in New York City on 4 Aug 1978, reported the 2 Aug 1978 Var.
       According to the 16 Jun 1977 HR, Corvette Summer served as the motion picture debut of actress Annie Potts. The 14 Aug 1977 LAT likewise noted that the movie was the feature film producing and directing debut of screenwriters Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins respectively. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Aug 1977.
---
Box Office
6 Feb 1978.
---
Daily Variety
2 Mar 1977.
---
Daily Variety
25 May 1977
p. 3.
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1977.
---
Daily Variety
28 Jul 1977
p. 1, 3.
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1977.
---
Daily Variety
30 Aug 1977
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jan 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 1978
p. 3, 11.
LAHExam
7 Sep1978
Section C, p. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
7 May 1977
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
14 Aug 1977
p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
19 Sep 1977
Section F, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jul 1977
Section F, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
30 Aug 1978
p. 13.
New West
20 Jun 1977.
---
New York Times
4 Aug 1978
p. 13.
Variety
24 May 1978
p. 27.
Variety
2 Aug 1978
p. 29.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Presents
A Plotto Company Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
Still photog
2d unit photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles & opt eff
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Casting
Unit pub
Customized automobiles by
Vanessa's van by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Filmed in
SOURCES
SONGS
“Give Me the Night,” music and lyrics by Craig Safan, sung by Dusty Springfield.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Hot One
Stingray
Corvette
Release Date:
4 August 1978
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 4 August 1978
Los Angeles opening: 30 August 1978
Production Date:
25 July--17 September 1977 in Los Angeles and Mojave, CA and in Las Vegas, NV
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 August 1978
Copyright Number:
PA9966
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® camera and lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25075
SYNOPSIS

Newhall, California, high school teacher Ed McGrath takes the students in his automobile restoration class to the junkyard to find a car to refurbish. A senior named Kenneth “Kenny” W. Dantley, Jr., spots a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and insists they take it. Although all his classmates participate in customizing the vehicle, Kenny is especially dedicated to the project; he eschews dating and shows no interest in girls. When their work on the car is done, the students take it out for a test drive one night and it is stolen from them. Police later inform the class that insurance will reimburse them for the value of the vehicle, but Corvettes are in such high demand among car thieves that theirs has probably already been dismantled for parts and will probably never be recovered. In the face of Kenny’s disappointment, McGrath urges the boy to forget about the loss and suggests that the car is merely a commodity to be bought, used, fixed, then sold again. However, Kenny is convinced the Corvette is still in one piece and posts signs regarding the lost car. Sometime later, a customer at the gas station where Kenny works informs the young man that he saw the car on display at a Las Vegas, Nevada, casino, though he cannot recall which one. Kenny immediately hitchhikes to Las Vegas and accepts a ride from Vanessa, a young woman hoping to make her fortune as a prostitute. When they arrive in Las Vegas, Vanessa offers to make Kenny her first customer, but he declines and commences searching for the lost car, showing a photograph of the ... +


Newhall, California, high school teacher Ed McGrath takes the students in his automobile restoration class to the junkyard to find a car to refurbish. A senior named Kenneth “Kenny” W. Dantley, Jr., spots a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and insists they take it. Although all his classmates participate in customizing the vehicle, Kenny is especially dedicated to the project; he eschews dating and shows no interest in girls. When their work on the car is done, the students take it out for a test drive one night and it is stolen from them. Police later inform the class that insurance will reimburse them for the value of the vehicle, but Corvettes are in such high demand among car thieves that theirs has probably already been dismantled for parts and will probably never be recovered. In the face of Kenny’s disappointment, McGrath urges the boy to forget about the loss and suggests that the car is merely a commodity to be bought, used, fixed, then sold again. However, Kenny is convinced the Corvette is still in one piece and posts signs regarding the lost car. Sometime later, a customer at the gas station where Kenny works informs the young man that he saw the car on display at a Las Vegas, Nevada, casino, though he cannot recall which one. Kenny immediately hitchhikes to Las Vegas and accepts a ride from Vanessa, a young woman hoping to make her fortune as a prostitute. When they arrive in Las Vegas, Vanessa offers to make Kenny her first customer, but he declines and commences searching for the lost car, showing a photograph of the Corvette to various casino workers. The next day, Kenny spots the car, alerts the Las Vegas police, who promise to be on the lookout for it, and writes a letter to his teacher, informing McGrath that he found the Stingray in Las Vegas. While preparing to go to bed in an empty moving truck, Kenny sees Vanessa park her van nearby and notices that she has been beaten up. Vanessa admits that she looks cheap, so she was treated poorly. She now realizes that she must acquire a more sophisticated look to earn better money. Vanessa invites Kenny to stay in the van, deduces that he is a virgin, and offers to be his first lover, but Kenny chooses to sleep on the floor. In the morning, Vanessa throws Kenny out of the van, claiming he owes her $20 for spending the night, even though all they did was sleep. Meanwhile, McGrath receives Kenny’s letter and makes a phone call, reporting that the boy is in Las Vegas searching for the stolen car. Later that day, Vanessa reconciles with Kenny. As she explains that she took a job as a hotel beautician to earn enough money to buy nicer clothes, he spots the stolen Corvette again. Vanessa and Kenny give chase in her van but lose the vehicle. Kenny learns from the police that the Stingray has forged license plates, so they cannot identify its purported owner. That night, after Kenny and Vanessa share a tender moment in her van and make love, he wonders why he wasted so much time with cars when he could have been having sex. In the coming days, Kenny canvasses auto body shops but no one has seen the Stingray. One shop proprietor, Wayne Lowry, warns Kenny that interfering with car thieves could get him killed. When Kenny departs, Lowry orders his crew to retrieve the stolen Corvette in order to change its color. Kenny searches for Vanessa and finds her now working at a fast food restaurant, a job she took to help with his mission. Vanessa is certain she will eventually see the stolen Corvette because so many cars come by the restaurant. Sometime later, Kenny gets a job at a car wash and immediately recognizes one of the cars waiting for service as the Stingray, although the candy apple-red exterior has been repainted gold. When Kenny accuses the driver of stealing the Corvette, the customer drives away. Kenny gives chase on foot and then on a bicycle until he tracks the car to Silverado Auto Body, the shop that Lowry owns. Lowry has Kenny locked in a back room and menaced by one of his henchman, but the youth escapes that night and makes his way back to Vanessa’s van. The next morning, on his way to the police station to report the location of the stolen vehicle, Kenny runs into his teacher, McGrath, who takes the boy for a ride. As they drive to a remote desert location, McGrath explains that he is working with the car thieves to augment his meager teacher’s income. If Kenny reports Lowry to the police, McGrath’s livelihood and family will be ruined, but if Kenny says nothing, McGrath can provide the young man with a well-paying job doing car customization. The teacher warns that if Kenny refuses to comply, McGrath’s partner, standing nearby, will shoot him. Disillusioned, Kenny gives in and McGrath takes him back to town. After agonizing about the choices all night, Kenny goes to the auto body shop in the morning and agrees to work for Lowry. With his first pay, Kenny buys new clothes, takes Vanessa shopping and books them a nice hotel room for the night. When Kenny explains how he got his new job, Vanessa thinks he is planning to retrieve the Corvette by infiltrating the car theft ring, but Kenny demurs he is just going to take the money because it is pointless to get attached to a commodity like a car. Kenny offers Vanessa $50 for sex but she makes love to him for free. The next day, Vanessa’s van shows up at the auto body shop. Kenny accuses the driver of stealing the vehicle until he realizes that Vanessa had sold it. Kenny finds Vanessa at a casino working as an elegantly dressed escort. Refusing to leave, Vanessa claims she is finally getting paid what she is worth, just like Kenny. That night, Kenny works late at the body shop and after everyone leaves, he repaints the Corvette candy apple-red. When the other workers arrive the next morning, Kenny fights them and drives the Corvette to the casino, where he finds Vanessa in a hotel room preparing to make a pornographic movie. Despite her loud protests, Kenny carries Vanessa to the Stingray and they drive toward Los Angeles, California. However, they realize Lowry is pursuing them. Lowry shoots at them when he gets close enough, but Kenny eludes him and causes his pursuer’s car to crash. Sometime later, the couple drives onto Kenny’s Newhall high school campus, where Vanessa takes her leave. Kenny pulls the fire alarm and the building evacuates. He then informs the principal and McGrath that he found the stolen car but did not inform the police. McGrath takes Kenny aside and offers him money and another car or customizing job, but Kenny wants nothing from McGrath. Kenny leaves the Corvette behind to catch up with Vanessa. +

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

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