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GRAND THEFT PARSONS
UK: Redbus Film Distribution
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Christina Applegate, Michael Shannon, Robert Forster, Marley Shelton, Gabriel Macht, Jim Cody Williams, Sara Arrington, Dylan Bruno, Clint Culp, Paul Goebel, Michael Gregory, Tom McCleister, Alexa Motley, Mike Randleman, Jonathan Slavin
Director: David Caffrey
Countries: USA / UK
UK: 88 mins
UK Certificate: 12A contains drugs references and one use of strong language
UK Release Date: 19 March 2004
Gram Parsons was one of the most influential musicians of his time; a bitter, brilliant, genius who knew Elvis, partied with the Stones and led the Byrds to greatness. He had it all, and just as he embraced fame, fortune and glory; just as he reached for his place in history, it was torn from his grasp.
Gram Parsons died on 19th September 1973.
From his dying came a story, a story from deep within folklore. A story of friendship, honour and adventure. A story so extraordinary that if it didn't really happen, no one would believe it.
Phil Kaufman is Gram's best friend and road manager. Although he will go on to become one of the best known figures in music, Phil has one thing on his mind back in September '73: a pact which he made with Gram a few months earlier. Phil and Gram each promise to look after each other whichever one is to die first, by taking their body out into the desert that they both love so much, and burning it.
So when Phil hears the news of his friend's death, he gets busy. He calls in favours, he borrows a car, and he co-opts an accomplice. Then he does exactly what he promised his friend he would do. He steals Gram's body and he keeps his word.
GRAND THEFT PARSONS is a story about loyalty. It's also about two men, a hearse, a dead rock star, five gallons of fuel, and a promise.
And one of the most extraordinary chases of modern times.
On a shoestring budget with eleventh hour funding from Wall Street traders, GRAND THEFT PARSONS marks JACKASS star Johnny Knoxville's first leading role. Knoxville plays Kaufman, the fast talking, hard drinking, risk taking maverick road manager. A huge fan of Parsons' music, Knoxville pulled out all the stops to make sure the film got made, helping to seal a deal with the financiers in a late night drinking session and flying to meet the real Kaufman. The retired road manager was so impressed by Knoxville - as he says "it takes a smart ass to play a smart ass" - that he lent the actor the very same Sin City denim jacket that he'd actually worn all those years before when kidnapping Gram's body. Kaufman also agreed to act as an associate producer on the picture. The cast also includes Christina Applegate and Academy Award nominee Robert Forster.
The film was shot in the lightning quick time of 24 days using authentic locations. The team were granted permission to film in LAX where the body was actually stolen and at the Joshua Tree Inn in the very room where Parsons died.
While it has as its driving force the famous underground story of Parsons' desert cremation, GRAND THEFT PARSONS is a double buddy movie. As well as the defining relationship between Kaufman and Parsons, there's the burgeoning and comical bond between Kaufman and the man whose car he uses to steal the body - hippie Larry and his primrose yellow hearse. The film tests the limits of friendship and asks "how far would you go to keep your word?"
GRAND THEFT PARSONS features a blistering soundtrack that includes Bruce Springsteen, Starsailor, Primal Scream and of course, the duets between Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. The movie and its soundtrack album (available on Cube Soundtracks) will hopefully reinstate Gram Parsons as a leading talent of country music, opening up his music to a younger audience.