Grand Theft Auto


“See the Greatest Cars in the World Destroyed!”

Intense drama … meaningful dialogue … intellectual stimulation. These are just SOME of the things you won’t find in Grand Theft Auto, the Roger Corman-produced car chase comedy specifically designed for the 12-year-old in all of us who likes to see stuff blow up real good. Famous today as the directorial debut of Ron Howard (who at the time was keeping busy playing the totally square Richie Cunningham on Happy Days, but who has since gone on to direct a few other films that some people have heard of), Grand Theft Auto is in many ways the quintessential PG-rated ‘70s drive-in movie: plenty of semi-wholesome fun involving the mass destruction of public and private property, and every now and then someone says “the S word” to liven things up. And yes indeed, it’s surprisingly satisfying to see a whole lot of cars get smashed all to hell. Poor boy Sam Freeman (Howard, following up on his similar role in the previous year’s Corman classic Eat My Dust!) and rich girl Paula Powers (Nancy Morgan) are in love, but her wealthy daddy disapproves. So our two star-crossed lovers steal the Powers family Rolls Royce for a Vegas elopement, Paula’s uptight ex-fiancé puts a bounty on her head, and from there on you can just forget about the plot and watch a zillion automobiles crash into each other, not to mention some motorcycles, a couple of helicopters and an ice-cream truck. So fast-paced it’s over almost before it begins, Grand Theft Auto (no relation to the video game) is loaded with corny humor, dopey redneck stereotypes, kooky cameos (including Ron’s brother Clint Howard, as well as his Happy Days co-star Marion Ross, aka “Mrs. Cunningham”), and a staggering amount of vehicular carnage (more than Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run combined) performed without the aid of wimpy digital effects, culminating in a delirious demolition derby climax that probably made Burt Reynolds soil himself. (Dir. by Ron Howard, 1977, USA, 84 mins., Rated PG) Digital