Forget the video game. Long before Grand Theft Auto gained notoriety as a crime filled game about stealing cars and street racing, the Roger Corman School of Film gave birth to the movie that brought the action of car stealing, racing and crashing to life. However, behind all of the special effects and high stakes that make this film so entertaining, a young actor was given his first professional opportunity to direct a full-length feature.
Ron Howard at the time was a well-known actor starring as Richie Cunningham in Happy Days. In 1976, he nabbed a sideline opportunity to star in Roger Corman’s film Eat My Dust, which was received with such popularity that the following year, Corman approached him about filming a sequel. Yet Ron Howard had a plan of his own. He offered to not only star in the sequel for the same pay, but also to do an additional film for free…with one catch…he would get to direct. Corman looked him in the eye and responded to his proposal by saying, “you always looked like a director to me.” In that moment, Ron Howard’s successful directing career began.
After a few discussions about what direction to take the film, Corman suggested to Howard to title the film Grand Theft Auto, a title that had been discussed when naming Eat My Dust, and to go forward from there. The result…a fast-paced adventure that follows a runaway couple heading to Vegas to get hitched, and the many different people, enticed by a 25 thousand dollar reward, that will stop at nothing to capture them.
Here is the trailer of the film that launched Ron Howard’s directing career.
The Roger Corman School of Film is notorious for giving young talent the opportunity to launch their careers. Besides Ron Howard, other well-known directors such as James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese also began their directing careers working for Corman. Additionally, many prominent actors such as Jack Nicholson, Toby McGuire, and Mila Kunis can be found making their acting debuts in a Corman film.