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Eat My Dust Way back in 1976, actor-director Ron Howard made a bargain withshlockmeister producer-director Roger Corman. It went something like this: Corman agreed to produce Howard's feature directorial debut, the 1977 Grand Theft Auto, and Howard agreed to star in another of Corman's pieces of drive-in fodder, the quirky Eat My Dust! Written and directed by Charles B. Griffith (a favorite screenwriter of Corman's who penned the original Little Shop of Horrors, among many others), Eat My Dust! is as wacked-out as anything to come out of the American International Pictures factory, and it is still surprisingly fresh and funny. Howard plays Hoover Niebold, son of a small-town, no-nonsense sheriff (Warren J. Kemmerling) and a prime candidate for dreary obscurity with his nowhere job and dull love life. Hoover takes a risk and asks out a popular girl (Christopher Norris), but after she demands that he steal the car of a professional racer (Dave Madden), the young hero abandons his innocence for a wild ride. Griffith hammers on the chase action sequences, bolting a camera to the car's hood to instill maximum vertigo in viewers, and constantly finding new and witty ways to jazz up scenes of speeding autos terrorizing the roads. But the real hook is the film's distinctive mix of youthful energy and comic irony, the latter exploding in Griffith's gallery of rural half-wits and neurotic, middle-class stereotypes. Grand Theft Auto Ron Howard directs and stars in this Roger Corman-produced feature-length car chase, and Grand Theft Auto was made to appeal to the 12-year-old in all of us who likes to see stuff blow up. Poor boy Sam Freeman (Howard) and rich girl Paula Powers (Nancy Morgan) are in love, but Daddy disapproves. They steal the Powers family Rolls Royce for a Vegas elopement, Paula's ex-fiancÚ puts a bounty on her head, and from then on you can just forget about the plot and watch a zillion cars crash into each other, not to mention a couple of helicopters and an ice-cream truck. In many ways this is a quintessential PG-rated '70s movie: plenty of wholesome fun involving the destruction of public and private property, and every now and then someone says the S word to liven things up. And yes, it is surprisingly satisfying to see a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud get smashed all to hell. The 25th-anniversary special-edition DVD includes interviews with Roger Corman and Ron Howard, audio commentary from Corman and Howard, and a reproduction of the original press pack.

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SF12464 Grand Theft /Eat My Dust DVD (1977/76/Ron Howard) $19.99 $17.99