Urban Cinefile
"They even . have to kick-box a kangaroo in order to walk freely down the street."  -Hunter Cordaiy on Floating Life
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



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. Evans’ 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 unmissable. 

Review of Special Features by Louise Keller:
There is genuine interest in the red carpet interviews with Evans himself and people who knew him. These include Peter Bart – editor of Variety – who had known Evans since 1966 when they used to meet regularly for dinner as he was a producer. They had worked together at Paramount for eight years and according to Bart, Evans was the best boss he had ever known. The Truth according to Others include his son Josh Evans who explains that the feature really captures his father’s spirit; Leeza Gibbons who talks about his exuberance; Arthur Hiller, who first worked with him in The Out of Towners, as well as Matthew McConnaughey, Brett Ratner, Jack Valenti ‘It’s inexcusable to be dull’ and Richard Zanuck who gave him his first job in Hollywood.

Roy Scheider cracks up big time in the Marathon Man gag reel with Dustin Hoffman, and the interviews include close up and personal with Evans himself, director Brett Morgan, director Nanette Burstein and producer Craydon Carter.

Published September 18, 2003

Email this article


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 O’Neil, and many more. SCRIPT: based on Robert Evans’ book, The Kid Stays In The Picture

DIRECTOR: Brett Morgen & Nanette Burstein

RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1:85:1/ letterbox widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Interviews (Robert Evans, Brett Morgan, Nanette Burstein, Craydon Carter); Theatrical Trailer; Dustin Hoffman gag reel from Marathon Man; Celebrity Interviews about Evans


DVD RELEASE: August 13, 2003

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020