Funeral Movies: Grand Theft Parsons


This story is so extraordinary that if it did not actually occur, nobody would consider it. It includes two males, a hearse, a useless rock star, 5 gallons of gasoline, and a promise.

Keep in mind the influential nation rock musician Gram Parsons? He performed with Emmylou Harris, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Worldwide Submarine Band. Parsons died in 1973 in a motel room close to Joshua Tree Nationwide Monument from a morphine overdose on the age of 26.

The movie Grand Theft Parsons (2003) relies on the true story of what occurred to Parsons’ physique after he died. The film illustrates sure points that may be useful for beginning funeral or property planning conversations.

Previous to his loss of life, Parsons said that he needed his physique cremated at Joshua Tree and his ashes unfold over Cap Rock, a distinguished pure function there. His highway supervisor Phil Kaufman (who additionally managed Parsons’ drug and alcohol use as greatest he might) and he had a pact. Whoever died first, the opposite would take the physique to Joshua Tree and “set his spirit free,” that’s, set the physique on hearth.

Taking a Physique from a Hospital

In the beginning of the movie, Kaufman (performed by Johnny Knoxville) tries to acquire Parson’s physique from the small, distant hospital close to Joshua Tree. The nurse says as he is not a doctor or shut relative, he has no rights to entry the physique. He tries to steal the physique from the hospital, unsuccessfully.

Parsons’ physique goes to the Los Angeles Worldwide Airport for cargo to New Orleans for burial. Parsons’ stepfather organized for a non-public ceremony, neglecting to ask any music trade buddies.

Within the movie, Kaufman hires a hippie with a psychedelic hearse to retrieve the physique from the airport and bribes the air cargo workplace clerk to acquire Parson’s physique.

As soon as at Joshua Tree, Kaufman makes an attempt to cremate Parsons by pouring 5 gallons of gasoline into the open coffin and throwing a lit cigarette inside – leading to an infinite fireball. That a part of the movie stays fairly near the true story.

What Makes a Will?

The film provides snarky ex-girlfriend Barbara Mansfield (performed by Christina Applegate). She tries to money in on Parson’s cash and earthly possessions utilizing a handwritten notice on the again of a flyer commercial. She says it is his Will, however there is no such thing as a notarization or something that might make it official.

The notice says: “To whom it could concern: I would love it to be identified that it’s my want to depart Barbara Mansfield my belongings and belongings within the occasion of my loss of life. Signed, Gram Parsons.”

Kaufman tells her that is not a Will. She says it is a signed promise from Gram to depart her all of his issues. Parsons was married to a different lady on the time.

Utilizing this notice, she tries to acquire Parson’s guitar and music masters from Kaufman. She additionally tries to get cash from the financial institution. The banker tells her they’ve guidelines, the piece of paper is invalid, and they might no less than want a loss of life certificates for her to show that he’s really useless. She unsuccessfully tries to get a loss of life certificates from the county registrar.

Exterior of the legality of setting a physique on hearth in a nationwide monument, Grand Theft Parsons opens the door to discussing the next factors:

  • A hand-written notice doesn’t make a suitable Will, irrespective of how arduous a determined girlfriend insists it does. Get an property lawyer who is aware of what really makes a authorized will legitimate.
  • Hospitals won’t launch our bodies to “shut buddies,” be they highway managers or life companions with out power-of-attorney proof. In actual fact, those that wish to do their very own dwelling loss of life take care of a member of the family might have a troublesome time getting a physique launched to next-of-kin.
  • Bribing an air cargo clerk has acquired to be breaking some type of legislation, however this movie is about in 1973, method earlier than September 11 safety enhancements at airports took impact. Solely “Identified Shippers” can now deal with useless our bodies with regards to air cargo. You’ll be able to’t simply drive a psychedelic hearse as much as the air cargo workplace anymore. Sigh.

By the way in which, within the true story, police chased Kaufman and his good friend after setting the physique on hearth, however the pair acquired away. They have been arrested a number of days later. Since there was no legislation in opposition to stealing a useless physique, they have been solely fined $750 for stealing the coffin and weren’t prosecuted for leaving 35 kilos of Parsons’ charred stays within the desert.

Grand Theft Parsons is a enjoyable movie with just a few life-and-death classes sprinkled into the comedy. It may be rented on DVD by way of Netflix and bought on (as accessible). Rated PG-13 for drug references and a few language.

Supply by Gail Rubin


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