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The Van (1977 film): Wikis

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The Van
Directed by Sam Grossman
Produced by Paul Lewis
Written by Celia Susan Cotelo
Robert J. Rosenthal
Starring Stuart Getz
Deborah White
Danny DeVito
Music by Steve Eaton
Sammy Johns
Michael Lloyd
Distributed by Crown International Pictures
Release date(s) 1977
Running time 92 minutes
Country  United States
Language English

The Van is a low budget teenage comedy film made in the mid- to late 1970s.



The film tells the story of the high school graduate Bobby, who buys a custom made van (including a waterbed) with his college savings in order to use it to pick up women. This leads Bobby to some crazy experiences, sexually and otherwise. But his main goal is to pursue his arch nemesis' girlfriend, who he idolized back in high school, instead of "settling" on his current date. But will true love prevail?


Still recalling sabotaging the stage during their high school graduation, Bobby and Jack stumble across a scantily clad blond Sally - Bobby's secret high school flame. But they leave due to her once high school's bully boyfriend Dugan.

Bobby works in a car wash. Bobby's boss Andy (Danny DeVito) is also a bookmaker, who refuses taking a high risk bet from an old lady called Bertha. Meanwhile, Bobby's co-workers send his convertible into the car wash, but Bobby plans buying a van anyway - not just any van, but a custom van with items like a waterbed, a ceiling mirror, a refrigerator, a toaster, an 8 track and multiple television sets. Bobby avenges his co-workers by showing it off and then giving them and Andy spiked beers.

In a bar, Bobby unsuccessfully approaches women, including Sally. Finally, a pinball playing girl agrees sharing a joint in his van. Though going hand in hand, she objects his moves. Laughing it off, he tries raping her, but she runs off. Up next is a Mexican girl, who gets topless but demands payment. Another woman is also a prostitute and her pimp burges in for payment.

Afterwards, Bobby and Jack force two women - Sue and Tina - to stop their car. Sue drives off with Jack. Bobby again won't hear no, but Tina too runs away and into Bobby's van. Eventually, they share a joint. Bobby fakes having sex when Jack and Sue return.

After dropping Tina home, Bobby spots Sally with a see through wetlook in the car wash. After seeing her making out with Dugan, Bobby stops by a quiet take-out place. The take-out waitress praises his van, so he offers sharing a joint on the waterbed. Noting she likes waterbeds, she says she doesn't have time for a joint, but does have some time for a quickie. She steps out from behind the counter and Bobby gasps at her very large buttocks. Once she is nude in the van, Bobby tries a pickup line, but barely finishes it when she throws and mounts him on the waterbed. He protests, but she obliviously rapes him, breaking the waterbed in the process. Bobby mentions her buttocks' size to Jack, and notes he never knew love making could be so physical.

After tricking Bobby and Tina to join them to the beach, Jack and Sue have sex in the back with occasional voyeurs in their window. Bobby and Tina see other vans, before Tina is almost ran over in the local van drag racing. Bobby and Tina get close, until Bobby again tries getting physical. Tina drives off the van with Jack and Sue in the back, leaving Bobby to walk home.

When Andy reveals he got beat up for not paying for a winning high risk bet, Bobby volunteeers his van's down payment. After getting rejected when approaching Tina's window, Bobby visits Sally's house. Sally says she feels abandoned by Dugan and Bobby finds himself with her in his van. Unzipping him, she notes he is bigger than Dugan. Taking off her top, they proceeed to have sex.

The following morning, Tina runs across Bobby in a diner and agrees going together inside, where they meet Jack and Sue. Dugan then enters, lifts Bobby up and says he saw Bobby's van last night around Sally's place. Jack stalls Dugan, but Tina doesn't want seeing Bobby again. Refusing giving up again, Bobby kidnaps her. Dugan drive chases Bobby and the police joins in. Bobby escapes, but Tina pleads to get freed. Bobby finally stops when she agrees hearing his side. He says he got the van to succeed with girls, but it changed upon meeting Tina. Tina says she too could never play "the game" and they have sex.

Bobby drag races Dugan to regain his money, but not before mentioning he really was at Sally's place. Dugan tries crashing Bobby, but eventually crashes himself into a police car. In result, Bobby's van turn over. Tina, Sue, Jack and Andy are relieved when Bobby is neither dead nor injured. Jack notes Bobby even won.

Bobby leaves in Tina's convertible. Tina asks if he really was with Sally, and Bobby replies Sally said he is bigger than Dugan, but Tina just laughs.


The films shows stereotypical teenagers whose social lives revolve around getting high, drag racing and girls. The movie features music from Sammy Johns (most notably the song Chevy Van), and is representative of its time. It exemplifies the free sex of an era before AIDS awareness, and celebrates the cultural tropes of the time, such as the heavily accessorized van that provides the film's title and the van's obligatory 8-track player. The film is an early example of a new type of teen comedy which featured sexual situations, nudity and substance abuse; a far cry from the Beach Party films of the early 1960s. The Van helped herald a form that would be perfected in 1978 with National Lampoon's Animal House and later with Porky's.


  • Bobby Hampton - the movies protagonist, Bobby is a recent high school graduate who buys a customized Van to try and win the girl of his dreams, it is not uncommon to see him and his best friend Jack drag racing and spending time at the pub.
  • Andy - Bobby's boss, played by Danny DeVito, after getting stuck inside of a car in the front seat, Bobby helps him by stabbing him with a pin forcing Andy to wriggle free from the car and to safety. Gets into trouble after making a bet (and losing) with gangsters. He runs a gambling racket from within his Car Wash.
  • Jack Crandall - Bobby Hampton's best friend, Jack is the more sensible one between the two and prefers to settle for Sue, a girl from his high school and Tina's best friend, other than chasing girls all the time, Jack is attacked by Bobby's co-workers after Bobby pulls a prank on them by spiking their beer.
  • Tina - Bobby's girlfriend, opting to live a sensible life, getting good grades and have sensible sex, Tina eventually falls for Bobby after realizing how hard Bobby is actually trying to get her.
  • Sue - Sue is Tina's best friend, she is a lot more wild than what Tina is, expressing sexual freedom and partying, Sue tries to convince Tina to go out with Bobby after she starts to date Bobby's best friend, Jack.
  • Dugan Hicks - the movies antagonist, Dugan, known by his close friend as Dougy, is likely to be seen in the pub picking fights with people, lifting weights or drag racing (often in an unfair manner). Dugan dislikes Bobby because Bobby tries to sleep with Sally(Dugan's girlfriend). Dugan is put in his place after being beaten in a drag race by Bobby.
  • Sally - Sally is Dugan Hick's girlfriend, she is shown us being very sexually provocative, no-one dares to even talk to Sally in fear of Dugan's wrath, (on one occasion a basketballer simply says "Hi" to Sally and is punished for it by Dugan, after Dugan pours beer down the basketballers pants). Sally sleeps with Bobby on one occasion to prove how unhappy she is with the way Dugan treats people.


Although the movie was popular for its time, that popularity steadily declined after the 1970s had ended. Teen comedies with superior production values were prevalent by the mid-80s, and The Van was quickly relegated to the bargain bins after it made its appearance on VHS. The DVD copy can be found for around $2.20 USD.

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