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Grand Theft Auto is a 1977 Americanmarker comedy chase film directed by Ron Howard. It was Howard's directorial debut and features himself as Sam Freeman and Nancy Morgan as Paula Rovers in the leading roles. The film takes its title from the crime Grand Theft Auto, which is committed a number of times by several different characters.


Two young lovers, Sam Freeman and Paula Powers, want to get married in Las Vegasmarker. When Paula introduces Sam to her parents they dispute their daughter's decision: they see Collins Hedgeworth (Paul Linke), the son of a wealthy family in the area, as her fiancée. Paula's parents are rich as well and her father, Bigby Powers (Barry Cahill), is planning to run for governor. They think Sam is marrying Paula for the money and call him a fortune hunter, which Paula fiercely disputes.

Sam is thrown off the premises and Paula is sent to her room. She escapes through the window, steals her parents' Rolls-Royce, picks up Sam and hits the road: this is the beginning of two runaway lovers in a wild explosive car chase and race towards Las Vegas. As news of their elopement spreads, several people start off after them to try and stop the fleeing couple.

Paula's father, Bigby Powers starts the chase by arranging his helicopter. Collins Hedgeworth leaves his stable and starts chasing his love interest like mad. When he calls to the TenQ radio station - to DJ Curly Q. Brown (Don Steele) - he offers a USD$25,000 reward for the ones who can catch Paula and Sam.As a result the chase becomes more and more chaotic as many people along and on the road try to stop the couple in order to claim the reward. A number of cars are wrecked and stolen, and a subsequent reward of $25,000 is offered for Collins Hedgeworth, who is wanted by the police for grand theft auto, after he stole a car.

With so many cars following them, Paula and Sam turn onto small, country roads to try and lose their pursuers. He wants to head somewhere else to get married, but she is set on a Vegas wedding. Paula's father makes an emotional appeal to her via telephone, but she refuses to listen to him. As they approach Las Vegas, Sam begins to have doubts about Paula's reasons for elopment, and questions whether she is genuinely motivated by affection for him or a desire to spite her father. She persuades him that she does want to marry him.

The chase is gaining increasing coverage in the news media, with live cameras following the chase. The pursuing cars become involved in a demolition derby, leading to a massive pile-up. The priceless Rolls Royce is totally destroyed, but Paula and Sam manage to escape. They eventually get married.


The film was made on a budget of $602,000. It was filmed in and around Victorville, Californiamarker. Roger Corman worked as an executive producer, along with Rance Howard, who also co-wrote the script with Ron.

Critical reception

The film was a commercial success, earning over $15 million at the box office, but critical reception was more mixed.

The film was released on Region One DVD in 1999, and re-released in 2006. A Region One edition was released in 2008.



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