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The Grand Escape
  The Grand Escape


A Hollywood studio executive is wrongly convicted of murdering his flaky mistress. He escapes from prison and leads the police on a thrilling chase through the Grand Canyon.


Devin Chandler, the President's biographer, is temporarily pulled off the White House beat and dispatched to Kaibab National Forest in northern Arizona. His assignment is to hook up with celebrity prison escapee David Stoner and write a book about the former movie executive's wilderness adventures.

* * *

Entertainment attorney David Stoner finds himself in the right place at the right time and is handed the helm of a major Hollywood movie studio. Once on top, the handsome, athletic, 45-year-old's luck continues to serve him well. His knack for always having a blockbuster movie waiting in the wings every time a big budget film flops allows him to hang on to his precarious position for nearly a decade.

Riding high, the conservative, married attorney is slowly seduced by the hedonistic perks of his Tinsel Town power. He sows the seeds of his destruction by having a tumultuous affair with a sexually uninhibited but mentally unstable young actress. The beautiful starlet's burning passion causes him to ignore her severe psychological disorders -- anorexia, bulimia, a violent temper, dangerously dark mood swings, and bouts of irrational behavior. Stoner, convinced that he's invincible, hangs in there for the great sex.

It all falls apart when the starving, 80-pound actress is savagely beaten to death in her apartment. The murder weapon, a bloody hammer, is planted in Stoner's garage. A motive turns up later. The actress was planning to blackmail her lover in order to snag a coveted role in a big budget film.

The sensational case receives unrelenting media attention. The tabloid newspapers and television shows cover little else as Stoner is indicted and tried. Despite his protests of innocence, the evidence stacks against him. He's convicted and sentenced to death.

Stoner is shipped to a prison in New Mexico where he grows sullen and depressed. He plots his escape and eventually pulls it off by altering his appearance and using his legal background to pose as an attorney. That enables him to stroll right by the guards at the gates. But getting out is only half the battle. Staying free becomes an even bigger challenge.

The fugitive movie executive decides to forego civilization and spend a year hiding in the southwestern deserts and forests until things to cool off. An Arizona native with some childhood knowledge of wilderness survival, he steals a car and drives to Flagstaff, a mountain city near the Grand Canyon. In Flagstaff, Stoner "kidnaps" author Devin Chandler by prearrangement. The two secretly work on Stoner's autobiography while they prepare for his long stay in the woods.

Meanwhile, the FBI tracks Stoner to Flagstaff and recruits hundreds of armed officers from various state, county and city police forces. The joint law enforcement army swarms into the Flagstaff/Grand Canyon area to try and capture the highly publicized escapee.

Hardened by his prison stay and pushed to the edge by the hopelessness of his death sentence, Stoner begins to feed on the thrill of the chase. Instead of disappearing into the safety of the canyon, he plays cat and mouse with the massive police force, staying just out of reach.

A dramatic near capture results in the addition of two real hostages, a geeky accountant and a pretty waitress from a local Denny's Restaurant. A subsequent attempt to hijack a family in a motor home leads to a sensational, high-speed chase and shootout in and around the narrow roads of Grand Canyon National Park. When the dust and gunpowder settles, Stoner has lost four hostages -- most of the camper family plus the accountant -- and gained one, a six-year-old girl.

To Devin's shock, the child uses the confusion of the chase to break from her family and remain with her kidnapper. Devin later discovers the reason -- she was sexually abused by her father.

David Stoner's wilderness family now includes Devin, the child, and the Denny's waitress. The waitress, a small-town girl living a dead-end life, falls in love with her rich, handsome, celebrity kidnapper. Like the child, she chooses to voluntarily remain with him.

The waitress's love and the child's needs break through Stoner's emotional shell and give him something to live for again. He tempers his risky behavior, realizing that his capture would not only lead to his death, but result in the girl's return to her vicious and perverted father. His death would also separate him from the waitress, whose loyalty and devotion has sparked his own love.

Devin finds himself increasingly drawn in by the deeply personal transformations that are now interwoven into Stoner's escape. Consequently, the tighter the emotional webs spin, the harder it becomes to maintain his stance as an objective observer. A bloody shootout at the bottom of the canyon finally forces his hand. In a split second, Devin must make the most physically and psychologically devastating decision of his roller coaster life. Go one way, and the lives of Stoner, the waitress and the child are destroyed.

Go the other, and he could destroy his own.