KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE, THE
Film producer Robert Evans narrates the story of his rise, fall and resurrection in Hollywood. Discovered by Norma Shearer at the Beverly Hills Hotel pool in 1957, Evans follwed his short-lived acting career with spectacular success as Head of Production at Paramount Pictures from 1966-74 where he was responsible for hits including Rosemary's Baby, Love Story and The Godfather. After his marriage to Ali McGraw failed, Evans' declining fortunes and drug problems culminated in his arrest for conspiracy to buy cocaine and his involvement in the financially disastrous and scandal-plagued 1984 film, The Cotton Club. But he stayed in the picture. . .
Review by Richard Kuipers:†
If anyone is qualified to talk about heaven and hell in Hollywood, it's Robert Evans. In this superbly assembled documentary based on his 1994 memoirs, Evans lets it all hang out and the result is the most startlingly candid account of life in Tinseltown ever committed to film. Style and content are dazzlingly mixed in a riveting confessional where we hear but do not see narrator. Sounding like a film noir gumshoe recalling a bizarre client who's kept him on retainer for the best part of 50 years, Evans dissects the details of his life and career with an irony that never becomes bitter. 'Had it all, lost it all, got some of it back' is how he plays it. That we never see the now 72 year-old Evans only heightens the mystique surrounding his travels through Hollywood from the dying days of the studio system in the late 50s to the drugged-out excesses of the 70s and 80s. The omnipotent aura of his gravely voice has a similar spellbinding effect to that of the Sex Pistols, whose middle-aged faces were blacked-out by Julien Temple in his equally brilliant documentary The Filth and the Fury. The Evans we do see here is revealed in an astonishing display of archive collection and treatment. Ultra-rare footage like the career-saving sales pitch he filmed on 35mm and presented to a hostile Paramount board is worth the ticket price alone. Just as impressive is the technique applied to hundreds of stills and newspaper headlines that fly by. Images separate, pivot in 3-D and travel across screen - making them appear as 'alive' as the moving footage and perfectly complementing the tone of the narration. Evansí first acting role was playing legendary movie mogul Irving Thalberg in Man Of A Thousand Faces in 1957. This supreme example of documentary illustrates vividly how Evans lived his own version of the mogul's life and has survived to tell the tale. His story would make a great dramatic movie but would it survive the Hollywood filtration process? Probably not - and that makes the real thing even more valuable and
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Hereís a cinematic lesson for filmmakers: a drama-ridden, colourful and extraordinary life Ė amidst the shenanigans of Hollywood to boot Ė told with great flair in some 90 minutes. It CAN be done. And it IS riveting. Robert Evans narrates his own professional life, entwined as such a life in showbiz always will be with the private life, with more candour, more feeling and more zest than you would expect from a 72 year old looking back on it. He, with the help of the inspired filmmakers, manages to almost recreate snatches of key conversations, whether on a phone or face to face, providing the extra shading that a third person narration could never accomplish. He also bares his emotions at critical moments in his life, so that we are encouraged to respond emotionally as well as intellectually to his roller coaster of a life. From a chance encounter by a swimming pool that launches him as an actor, to the deepest despair that drives him into an asylum (and out of it), Robert Evans lives his life as a mix of unselfconscious man of action - and gambler. Itís a great story. The film never talks down to its audience, and never manipulates its subject. It does, however, manipulate the images, and very well too. The treatment or style of a documentary is always a matter of balancing observation with introducing filmmaking artifice; this is a great example of how to get that balance right. For reasons we can only guess at, Evans prefers not be filmed in the present. If itís vanity, it certainly provides the necessity for the filmmakers to invent a process that visualises everything, and they used every available image, and a ton of creative ideas, to pull it off. The Kid Stay In The Picture is a great title and we understand early on why itís used; and perhaps after the end credits roll, we also begin to recognise the titleís second layer of meaning. The Robert Evans kid is still in the picture.
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Robert Evans with Roman Polanski
TRAILER ; FEATURE
Robert Evans and Ali Magraw
KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE, THE PG)
CAST: Documentary of Hollywood producer Robert Evans, narrated by Evans and featuring archival footage including Jack Nicholson, Franci Ford Coppola, Dustin Hoffman, Ali McGraw, Tatum OíNeil, and many more.
PRODUCER: Graydon Carter
DIRECTOR: Brett Morgen & Nanette Burstein
SCRIPT: based on Robert Evansí book, The Kid Stays In The Picture
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Bailey ASC
EDITOR: Jun Diaz
MUSIC: Jeff Danna
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jun Diaz (Creative Director)
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Arclight/Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 27, 2003 (Sydney; other states to follow)