The Van (1977) – Page 2 of 2
I should stop here for a moment and point out that The Van is obviously not a coming-of-age comedy about a virgin who tries to get laid. I mean, about halfway through the film that”s already happened! The only thing left for us to do is hope that Dugan beats him up and then he totals his van.
At the beach, Tina actually starts warming up to Bobby, even when he accidentally sprays a can of beer in her face. (I assume you can catch the metaphor there).
They only make out for about 10 seconds before he goes for the boobs, which is, of course, a mistake. Tina yells at him and runs off.
The next scene begins a subplot where Andy (thank God for Danny Devito!) runs into monetary troubles with the mob, and Bobby gives him his monthly van payment. Which means that Bobby needs to make money quickly… which I will touch on in a bit.
Trivia: Danny DeVito was actually in the movie Car Wash, which came out a year earlier. Unfortunately, his scene was deleted (bastards!)
After constantly striking out with Tina, Bobby goes to Sally”s house. Sally not only lets him in, but gives him drinks, and then seduces him (to the sounds of Sammy Johns singing “Country Lady!”)! She even tells him that he”s “bigger than Dugan is!” We now know why this movie is so groovy… because if a guy like Bobby can score with a hot blonde, then we all can! Yay, 70s!!
After some soft-core Skinemax action, Dugan shows up and Bobby takes off in his van. Dugan sees him leaving, and naturally becomes pissed. It”s all leading to the predictable van race where Bobby will get a chance to get some car payment money. But before that happens, Bobby kidnaps Tina and threatens to drive the van off the cliff unless she hears him out. Yes, kids, you didn”t think Bobby was repulsive enough? How about a little kidnapping?
The thing is, this being the 70s and all, it actually works. Tina believes his bullshit story about falling for her and she gets it on with him! And he was just with the town floozy last night! Folks, this van has magical powers!
By the way, a minor hit in this movie is Chevy Van by Sammy Johns. The lyrics are “We made love in my Chevy van, and that”s all right with me.” That”s great.. except Bobby drives a Dodge Tradesman! Hey, mellow out, man.. it”s the 70s.
Tina doesn”t understand why Bobby has to race just because of his van, which she hates. Of course she hates it – it was obviously created by some kind of wizard that gives the driver magic powers over women. This is the only explanation I can think of.
Bobby races Dugan the Dick, but not before telling him that he made it with Sally, and in addition calling him a turd. Dugan becomes enraged.. not over Sally, but because of the turd remark. Throughout the race, he will utter the phrase “Nobody calls Dugan a turd!!” over and over again.
Bobby manages to win the race, but not without flipping his van.
It”s alright, though, cuz Tina still loves him. The couple drive off while “Chevy Van” plays on the soundtrack, and they joke about how Sally says his pecker is bigger than Dugan’s.
The Van is total nostalgia for all those dudes who were of high school age in the late 70s. It has kind of a cult following, being that it is one of the first “teen sex comedies” that wasn”t outright porno, predating Porky’s by years. It was absolutely made for drive-in viewing (AKA the “passion pit”), and did respectable business. You might recognize Goetz from a Brady Bunch episode, which ties him to Maureen McCormick, who was in the immortal roller disco classic Skatetown USA. These days he does a lot of music editing for TV. Deborah White did television work and also appeared in Alligator II: The Mutation. Steve Oliver was a jack-of-all trades who was in Nam doing mine sweeping! He played the rough biker type in some earlier drive-in exploitation fare, and even came back to play Dugan again in Malibu Beach, another Crown International “gem”! (Unfortunately, he died in 2008 from cancer). As for Connie Hoffman – well, besides some “naughty stewardess” stuff she did in 1975, after The Van she never acted again. Her disappearance is a mystery to me. But then again, the whole decade is a mystery, which is why I enjoy it so much.
Drag races, supervans, girls that give it up at the drop of a hat. The 70s.
– Bill Gordon