To date, no Chevy Corvette has been nominated for an Academy Award. Or even a Golden Globe. Even Pia Zadora has a Golden Globe. Since they first appeared in 1953, Corvettes have appeared in literally hundreds of movies for reasons both dramatic and comic.
Cars in the movies are as carefully cast as the actors: specific cars for specific story reasons. (Except, of course, when there's a product placement deal.) And when a story needs a Corvette, there's no substitute for a Corvette.
Chevy's two-seater says something about the character who drives it. It's part of that character's personality. Part of his image. Corvettes, both new and old, are great storytellers about the people who drive them. Or in some of these movies, the people who destroy them.
Here are the Corvette's top 10 most memorable movie roles.
10. Con Air (1997): The most memorable scene in the high-adrenaline tale of federal prisoners hijacking the C-123 in which they're being flown is when blustering DEA Agent Duncan Malloy's (Colm Meaney) '67 Corvette roadster winds up being dragged on a cable through the air by the plane. Of course things don't end well for the Corvette, as it lands in front of Malloy and good-guy U.S. Marshall John Cusack, cracked open like an egg and badly scrambled.
Yeah, some of the 20th-century CGI work isn't convincing, but this is still the best destruction of a Corvette caught on film.
9. The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999): In the first Austin Powers movie Mike Myers drove a Jag E-Type painted up with the Union Jack. Well, in the Austin Powers sequel, American CIA agent Felicity Shagwell drives the counterpoint to that Shaguar; a 1965 Corvette roadster covered spectacularly in the Stars and Bars.
It's the perfect low-key ride for an undercover spy and it's the second best sight in the movie after Heather Graham in a short-short jumpsuit and over-the-knee boots.
8. XXX (2002): Vin Diesel's follow-up to the original The Fast and the Furious is this trifle where he plays Xander Cage, an extreme sports superstar who becomes a tatted-up superspy. We know he's extreme and dangerous and insane because he keeps telling us so. And he steals a C5 Corvette roadster, loads it up with video equipment, pontificates for a bit while running from cops, and then drives it over a ramp left conveniently in the middle of the Foresthill Bridge over the North Fork of Central California's American River. He has a parachute. The Corvette doesn't.
7. Fast Five (2011): Nine years after XXX, Vin Diesel is back driving a stolen Corvette off a ridiculously high precipice to certain doom. But this time he takes the ride with co-star, the super-dreamy Paul Walker and doesn't use a parachute at all. The car was actually a Grand Sport replica body built by Mongoose Motorsports.
During other driving scenes in the movie, functional replicas from Mongoose were used. Built around C4 Corvette suspension components and a 502-cubic-inch (8.2-liter) Chevrolet big-block V8, the Grand Sport replica absolutely barked out its massive side pipes when Edmunds.com drove it. The Super T-10 four-speed's shifter needed to be manhandled to hit a gear, but the hard-core performance of the car makes it riveting.
It was fine in the movie. But it's better in real life.
6. Animal House (1978): It's the first thing Pinto and Flounder see as they approach Delta House (the worst fraternity at Faber College) for the first time. It's rush chairman and smooth operator Eric "Otter" Stratton's beautiful '59 Corvette. It's exactly the car a well-off college lay-about would drive in 1962. You know, the kind of car in which a guy could really score with a swinging older chick like the fetching Mrs. Marion Wormer.
Later Otter drives this beautiful '59 to the Rainbow Motel on Old Mill Road where the always-limp Greg Marmalard (who drives a yellow MGA), fascist wannabe Doug Niedermeyer and the other Hitler Youth of the uptight Omega House ambush and beat the living crap out of him.
Everything you need to know about life is contained in this movie.
5. King of the Mountain (1981): No hood, no rear window, no headlight doors, primer spots, side exhausts and slot mags. If Dennis Hopper were a Corvette, he would be this fire-breathing, street racing, big-block '67 coupe. So naturally it's his character who drives it in this cult classic chronicling the soapy existential crisis of a young racer (Harry Hamlin) addicted to the illegal competition on Southern California's Mulholland Drive.
The rough coupe is the nastiest-looking 'Vette yet put on film, and it meets a fiery end just seconds before the credits roll.
4. Terms of Endearment (1983): Buried in this weepy story of a mother and daughter's relationship is one extraordinary scene of a Corvette being wildly abused. Retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson) finally falls for his neighbor Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) and works on freeing her from her inhibitions. So he drives his '78 Silver Anniversary Corvette along the beach with his feet, gets bucked off, and parks it in the ocean.
For a moment Garrett and Aurora are free of their middle-aged angst and anxiety and young again. After that, everyone goes on to win Academy Awards, including a Best Actress Oscar for MacLaine and a Best Supporting Actor win for Nicholson.
This is the only film on this list to have won an Oscar for Best Picture.
3. Kiss Me Deadly (1955): One of the earliest appearances by a Corvette on film is this '54 driven by Mickey Spillane's hard-boiled private eye, Mike Hammer. It's classic noir from director Robert Aldrich who would later make The Dirty Dozen. Ralph Meeker remains the best actor yet to have played Hammer. And the '54 Vette looks fantastic around early '50s Los Angeles landmarks like the Angel's Flight funicular railway at Bunker Hill.
2. Boogie Nights (1997): Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) grows ever more addicted and broken during his journey through the Southern California porn industry of the 1970s and '80s. And alongside him is his "Competition Orange" '77 Corvette (complete with external luggage rack) deteriorating just as he does. The Corvette functions as a reflection of Diggler's corruption.
1. Corvette Summer (1978): Mark Hamill follows up his instant Star Wars stardom with this tale of a boy and his search for a stolen Corvette. Well, not just a Corvette but one modified in a spectacularly tasteless and excessive way. That includes conversion to right-hand drive in order to better ogle girls during cruise nights.
Rumors are the Corvette under all that excess is a '73, but two were reportedly built for the film and they could have been different vintages. It's the most Corvette-centric film yet made and a sweet-natured exploration of what matters in life, right up to the climactic and explosive face-off with a Trans Am.
Still the only large, general release movie named for America's sports car.