Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto

D: Ron Howard (1977); with Ron Howard, Nancy Morgan, Paul Linke, Marion Ross, Don Steele, Rance Howard, Clint Howard. After working with Roger Corman on Eat My Dust, Ron Howard returned for this semi-sequel. He also used this film as an opportunity to jumpstart his directing career and collaborate with his dad, Rance, on the screenplay. It also marked an early credit for future director Joe Dante (serving as an editor here). Howard plays Sam Freeman, an easygoing environmental researcher who is engaged to an heiress, Paula (Morgan). In spite of the protests of Paula's conservative father, the lovebirds steal his Rolls Royce and hit the road for Las Vegas. Before long, an old socialite boyfriend, Collins (Linke), places a $25,000 bounty on Paula's return. Meanwhile, Collins' overprotective mother (Ross) offers $25,000 for his safe return. A slew of crazy, colorful characters are soon chasing each other across the Nevada desert. Hot on everyone's trail is loudmouth D.J. (Fabulous Don Steele), who is broadcasting the chase over the radio. There are some pretty decent stunts and, as expected, tons of explosive car crashes (without any injuries). The supporting cast of loonies is memorable and seem straight out of Mad magazine (a money-hungry preacher, mellow low riders, hot-rodding hicks, mobsters). Cameo appearances include producer Garry Marshall as a gangster and director/actor Paul Bartel as a horny groom. In all, more entertaining than other ensemble race flicks (i.e. Cannonball Run) and far less insulting.

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