Gas Pump Girls

| June 20, 2012

The MGM Limited Edition Collection just keeps cranking out the hidden gems, one of the latest being the 1979 comedy Gas Pump Girls. Unlike many of the films in the Limited Edition Collection, there has been a DVD release of Gas Pump Girls, but by all accounts the transfer on the previous release was an abysmal pan ‘n scan. This new transfer for the Limited Edition collection presents the film in its original 1.85 aspect ratio, likely made from a 35mm print of the film. It doesn’t look quite as clean as some of the other Limited Edition releases, but it’s definitely a vast improvement from the previous release of the film. So how does the film itself hold up?

Pretty damned well, as it happens. June (Kristen Baker) and her friends are disrobed at their high school graduation ceremony as a prank by the Terrible Vultures, a biker trio with somewhat bad manners. Ditzy April (Sandy Johnson) admits to her friends that she enjoyed being topless in front of all her friends, family, and pretty much everyone else in town; shrewd maneater Betty (Linda Lawrence) tells April not to let anyone know that she’s an exhibitionist and explains the workings of male and female relations, in which Jane (Leslie King) is totally inexperienced and January (Rikki Marin) seems already well-versed. When June’s Uncle Joe (Huntz Hall) has a mild heart attack, he can no longer run his tiny gas station, located right across the street from a station owned by oil conglomerate Pyramid. June enlists the help of her friends to get the gas station up and running again so Uncle Joe can resume work after he recovers.

Too bad for them the Pyramid station is run by evil Mr. Friendly (Dave Shelley), who will stop at nothing to drive Joe’s out of business. Luckily, June is able to wrangle some help with the garage at Joe’s from her boyfriend Roger (Dennis Bowen) and his friends, and even gets the Terrible Vultures to take over Joe’s towing service. Soon it’s all-out war between Mr. Friendly and the Gas Pump Girls, although it would seem there would be room in the market for both a standard gas station and one where customers have to sit in a line while the employees disco dance between the cars waiting for service instead of actually doing any work. It’s not really spoiling anything to suggest that the chances of a happy ending for Joe’s are pretty good, but the actual ending of the film is a genuine surprise.

Gas Pump Girls is a light, goofy teen sex comedy, and obviously doesn’t aspire to be anything more than that. On those terms, it’s a success, and worth seeking out. This is the sort of thing that would be regular programming on HBO late at night in the 80s, which should explain pretty much all anyone would need to know about Gas Pump Girls. It’s packed with disco music, tight shirts, tighter shorts, tube socks, and plenty of vehicle-related sexual innuendo. It may not exactly be a lost classic of the era, but it’s goofy fun, and it’s nice to finally have a good-looking transfer of it to watch.

Gas Pump Girls is available now from the MGM Limited Edition Collection. The disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

About the Author:

Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He is author of "The Unrepentant Cinephile," and a regular contributor to Daily Grindhouse and Film Monthly as well as a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. He is co-director of the Chicago Cinema Society and proud owner of 35mm prints of Andy Milligan's "Guru, the Mad Monk." Follow his long-form film writing on Medium:
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