Good clean fun
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 07/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One thing you will always get when you watch a Roger Corman film is a healthy helping of cheese. It doesn't matter who stars in the film or what sort of genre film it is; you just know what you're about to see will exude that instantly recognizable low budget fragrance. "Grand Theft Auto" probably ranks in the top ten of Corman classics, not because it is better than any of the other schlock productions carrying the Corman tag but because it is the first film directed by Ron Howard. In case you just arrived on the planet, Howard played Opie Taylor in the rural themed series "Andy Griffith" before moving on to an even more successful stint as Richie Cunningham on "Happy Days." Nowadays, he's a big shot director and producer in Hollywood. Ron Howard's film career may never have gotten off the ground if it weren't for Roger Corman casting the young man in "Eat My Dust!" and "Grand Theft Auto." Howard got the directing job when he agreed to forego a salary if Corman would let him direct. The rest, as they say, is history. Regrettably, although I've had some enjoyable experiences with a few other Corman films-"Humanoids From the Deep," as an example-"Grand Theft Auto" is not a great film. It is, however, vastly superior to "Eat My Dust!" in nearly every aspect."Grand Theft Auto" once again finds Ron Howard behind the wheel of a car with a girl. In this movie, Howard plays the poor but saintly Sam Freeman, a guy who just wants to marry Paula Powers (Nancy Morgan), the daughter of a wealthy would be politician named Bigby Powers (Barry Cahill). When Paula comes home to announce her plans, the parents go through the roof. Dad goes so far as to forbid his daughter to marry such a common man, which results in the two making a run for it in Bigby's Rolls Royce. When Paula's rich former boyfriend, a goof by the name of Collins Hedgeworth (Paul Linke), finds out about his girl heading for the chapel without him, he calls into the local radio station and offers a hefty reward for their capture. Predictably, a whole assortment of oddballs hears about the cash prize and takes to the streets in an effort to bring Sam and Paula down. You've got Ace (Clint Howard) and his dorky buddy tooling down the highway in a hotrod, a gang of private detectives hired by Bigby Powers, a greedy preacher in a stolen cop car, and Collins's mother Vivian (Marian Ross!) all getting in on the chase. Too, the local disc jockey, Curly Q. Brown (Don Steele), oversees the unfolding fiasco first from his comfy studio and later from a helicopter circling above the madness.Car crashes, reckless driving, and bad attitudes towards law and order dominate "Grand Theft Auto." And really, would we want it any other way? Watch Collins Hedgeworth smash up several expensive cars chasing his love! Watch Marion Ross ham it up as the snobby Vivian Hedgeworth! Watch Ron Howard chuck his Richie Cunningham image as he actually raises his voice to another human being! Watch a truckload of hicks chuck dynamite at Opie Taylor! It's all in good fun, and it's done much better than "Eat My Dust!" Instead of endless shots of cars racing around the streets of a small town, "Grand Theft Auto" actually takes the action out on the freeway as the two lovebirds attempt to make it to Las Vegas before their enemies capture them. Just in case crunching metal and tires kicking up pounds of dust in the desert starts to bore, you get a subplot about the media feeding on other people's personal affairs with the heated exchanges between Curly Q. Brown and Sam Freeman. There's even the requisite we're-getting-married-no-we're-not-now-we-will-again thing going on between Freeman and Powers.It didn't take long to like this movie better than "Eat My Dust!" It's hard not to look at all the good movies Ron Howard has made since this one and not read some of that success back into "Grand Theft Auto," but this movie just looks better than most Roger Corman sponsored low budget disasters. Is it Ron Howard's influence as director that elevates this film above "Eat My Dust?" I don't know, but the pacing, editing, and production values look better here than in its immediate predecessor. Nancy Morgan is a better female lead than Christopher Norris was in the first film, Howard's character is more interesting, and Marion Ross's gimmicky inclusion in the cast does give "Grand Theft Auto" a certain charm. About the only drawback I had with the film is Don Steele, a supposedly famous East Coast disc jockey in real life who goes overboard here. He should have stayed out of sight; he's a geeky looking skinny dude with bad teeth in dark aviator glasses that adds little to the movie-except when he drives a car through a small house while giving a blow by blow description of the event.Yep, "Grand Theft Auto" is a lot of fun. It's not a great movie, not by any means, but it is a huge improvement over the tepid "Eat My Dust!" Extras on the DVD exceed the usual Corman disc release. You get a bunch of trailers, the usual Leonard Maltin/Roger Corman comments, a commentary track, and an interesting interview with Corman and Howard. Ron Howard always comes off as a nice guy, and he really comes across as someone who knows he owes Roger Corman a huge debt of gratitude for giving him the chance to direct his first film. "Grand Theft Auto" occasionally fails to click, but it's worth a watch."
Ron Howard's First Film as Director
Bennet Pomerantz | Seabrook, Maryland | 10/01/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Producer Roger Corman had Howard in the film Eat my Dust, it made money. So Corman offer Howard another film-he worked it into his first directing job.
Howard's imprint was on this film. His co-stars were Nancy Morgan (at that time Mrs John Ritter), His Happy Days costars Marion Ross and Donnie Most, and Assorted friends. Corman films were done on shoe string budgets and this one isnt any different, but even if the shoestring-Howard showcased himself as a good director on his first time out
On the DVD, Howard & Corman do audio commentary over the film. If you ever wanted to get into filmmaker's Howard's head-this commentary shows how he made the film and he insights into what was right and also what went wrong
Go Get this
Bennet Pomerantz AUDIOWORLD
R. Swaleson | Tacoma, WA USA | 05/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fun movie! It's a Saturday Matinee "popcorn" type of movie. There's no "academy award-winning" performances here, just good fun watching car chases/crashes.Note: Why would anyone think a move made in 1977 would be based upon the video/computer game that's popular now? lol"
A real CAR-nival
Afrin Argon | New York, NY United States | 10/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is light-hearted, wholesome fun in which nobody gets hurt other than about 200 tons of Detroit (and at the end of the demolition derby scene) British automobiles. How can people disparage the 70's when they gave us a whole genre of movies that fetishized car wrecks to the point of turning them into a form of ballet? The acting and music in this are vaguely reminiscent of movies that were coming out at around the same time, but rest assured, this movie has a positive message at its core and that is that true love will conquer all, even meddling parents and dozens of loco mercenaries without any sense of restraint or decency. One guy even throws dynamite at a cop!Best line of the movie: "Get out of the way, you clown!""