‘Corvette Summer’ Blu-Ray Review – A Love Story Between Mark Hamill & His Car

In the summer of 1977, a little space opera by the name of Star Wars hit the silver screen with a fervor and success that no one had anticipated. One year later, Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, made his first return to the big screen in director Matthew Robbins’ Corvette Summer. This fact alone put a huge spotlight on the film for those obsessed with everything Star Wars. Joining him for this newest slice of summer escapism was future Ghostbusters star Annie Potts in her theatrical debut. This added attention led Corvette Summer to having a pretty successful run at the box office, and even landed Potts a Golden Globe nomination. While not set in a galaxy far, far away, the film serves as an interesting slice of nostalgia for the period in which it was released.

Mark Hamill stars as Kenny Dantley, a high school senior with a love for cars living in Southern California. While on a salvaging trip with his auto shop class, Kenny falls in love with the wrecked body of a Corvette Stingray. As a part of a final project, Kenny helps rebuild it from a complete dump to a sleek, cherry red automobile with custom bodywork. Corvette Summer, at its core, is one of the most passionate love stories I have ever seen put to film. That love just so happens to be between Kenny and his Stingray. Even though the school owns it, Kenny is obsessed with this car and proudly shows it off whenever he gets the chance. When the class takes it out to show it off around town one night, the car is stolen, leaving Kenny to come unglued. Against the wishes of his teacher, Ed McGrath (Eugene Roche), Kenny sets off on a journey to find his beloved car. Kenny receives a tip that his car was spotted in Las Vegas, which sends him on an adventure he will not soon forget.

Corvette Summer

Kenny’s odyssey is where the film really gets cooking. While attempting to hitchhike to Vegas, Kenny is picked up by the lovable drifter, “Vanessa” (Annie Potts). Vanessa describes herself as a “prostitute-in-training,” and is on her way to Vegas to start her career. This scenario largely seems problematic, but, thankfully, Vanessa’s continuous attempts to get into the world’s oldest profession always seem to yield no results. Vanessa attempts to coax Kenny into her bed on more than one occasion, for a price, but Kenny is too focused on finding his car. The film stays light and fun as Kenny continues his search and bonds with Vanessa. It seems to understand the plot is more on the ridiculous side, and mines humor from the crazy scenarios the pair tend to get into. The one misstep the film makes is getting a bit too serious in the third act with unnecessary plot twists. The film is at its best when Hamill and Potts are playing off one another. The attempt at creating heightened stakes is appreciated, but simply not needed in a film such as this.

Corvette Summer is not an untouchable classic in the realm of 1970s filmmaking. Most of the jokes will not have you laughing out loud, but there is an underlying charm that makes the film very watchable. Annie Potts is a highlight as she plays Vanessa with an over-the-top personality and accent that is quite endearing. Hamill is able to be way goofier than he ever was in Star Wars. The audience knows the destination of this journey before it even begins, but the adventurous, carefree spirit of the film keeps things fresh. The film is a slice of nostalgia for a type of film that rarely gets made these days. It is a bit ridiculous and rough around the edges, but those up for cruising along and not overthinking things too much are likely to have a fun time.

Corvette Summer

Video Quality

Corvette Summer makes its Blu-Ray debut with an excellent looking 1080p presentation from a new restoration. One of the most notable aspects of the transfer is the eye-popping colors on display, especially from the candy apple red corvette. The car basically leaps off the screen with its lush paint job. The bright neon lights of Las Vegas by night and the desert skies of the day are equally vibrant and full of depth. The transfer maintains a nice amount of natural film grain, which lends itself to detailed backgrounds and clothing. The image is free from dirt or print damage as it maintains its natural film roots. Night sequences are noticeably hazier as a product of the source material, giving Vegas a dreamy quality. Skin tones look natural throughout the transfer. Warner Archive did not cut any corners with this transfer.

Audio Quality

The Blu-Ray disc maintains the films original audio aspirations with a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track. The split mono mix is impressive in its own right with a strong handling of dialogue throughout the film. There are a lot of sound effects and music present, but the dialogue always comes through clearly without being stepped upon. The musical moments from Craig Safan offer a nice burst of energy and weight to the proceedings. Although the action-packed car chases or numerous crowded scenes do not have multiple channels to creep into, the sound remains dynamic and exciting. This is a solid track that does the film justice. Warner Archive has also included optional English SDH subtitles for those who desire them.

Special Features

  • Theatrical Trailer: The nearly three-minute trailer plays up the excitement of seeing Star War’s Mark Hamill on the big screen once again with cool cars and a beautiful lady. It is a good encapsulation of the film, even if it leans into spoiler territory.

 

Final Thoughts

Corvette Summer is an entertaining lazy day film to put on and watch beloved stars such as Mark Hamill and Annie Potts have fun and be a bit over the top. The film is not brimming with laughs, but you feel good about the journey by the end of it. The movie is a good example of the type of disposable entertainment that was being produced in the 1970s. Warner Archive has given this title a splendid A/V presentation that enhances the movie greatly. If you are already a fan of the film, you cannot go wrong with this Blu-Ray disc.

Corvette Summer can be purchased directly through Warner Archive or various other online retailers.

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.  

Disclaimer: Warner Archive has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.