Sunday, March 31, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Corvette Summer (1978) **

PG, 105 min.
Director: Matthew Robbins
Writers: Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins
Starring: Mark Hamill, Annie Potts, Eugene Roche, Kim Milford

I know it’s a little early to be going over summer movies, but I saw this forgotten flick from my youth on TCM, and I just couldn’t help watching it. I didn’t really remember a thing about it except that I remembered being disappointed with it as a kid. That could’ve been for any number of reasons. The only reason this movie was on anyone’s radar was that it was a starring vehicle for Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. I’m sure I was disappointed that he didn’t just cut down the guys who stole his Corvette with a light saber.

Whatever the reason I was disappointed as a kid, I could look at the film now with more clarity. It’s still disappointing. It involves a lot of scenes with Mark Hamill running after a car driving freely through the streets of Las Vegas. It’s not very likely that any of those times he has any chance of catching the car on foot. It’s even less likely when he steals someone’s bike to chase after the stolen car, since he can’t cut through back alleys and across rooftops on a bike.

Speaking of the stolen bike, there’s an unusual amount of casual criminal activity displayed by the hero here and his love interest, played by the ubiquitously charming Annie Potts. Her character’s big dream is to become a prostitute? Huh? Is that what young women dreamed of in the late 70s?

Anyway, there’s very little sense here that any of the developments in the plot of this film were really thought out too much by the filmmakers. It all pretty much seems to exist as an excuse to have this kid build an unusual looking Corvette and then have to chase it (on foot) throughout Las Vegas. That’s not much to hang a movie on, even though Hamill gives it his best.

This film is often misidentified as the movie on which Hamill suffered face-altering injuries. Hamill was actually injured one day before filming some pick-up scenes for “Star Wars”, requiring the use of a body double in the land speeder scenes they were filming. This was just before production began on this film. Coincidentally, Potts was also injured in a car accident just prior to filming. Hamill’s injuries required immediate surgery on his nose; Potts’ required pins in her legs.

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