“The Kid Stays In The Picture”

“The Kid Stays In The Picture”

Mar 20, 2011
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This 2002 documentary is based on Robert Evans’ 1994 autobiography of the same title. It tells the incredibly dramatic story  of one of Hollywood’s greatest producers, story Robert Evans. Starting with his acting career in the 50’s, check it continues through to the mid 90’s. It is engrossing, opisthorchiasis hilarious, heart-breaking and incredibly fascinating.

With Evans narrating the whole thing (what a voice!), you get this wonderful first person account of Hollywood through the 50-80s. He’s a great story-teller and the stories are even greater. From nasty dealings with Francis Ford Coppola to countless romances at his legendary “Woodland” mansion, Evans has lived enough life to fit into 10 lifetimes. Particularly heart-breaking is the story of his one true love, then famous actress, Ali MacGraw. While Evans has had six — count ’em, six — wives, there’s no doubt that his marriage to Ali was his truest. But, as with most of Evans’ life, all good things must come to an end and she left him in ’72 for the biggest actor in Tinseltown, Steve McQueen. His account of this in the movie is profoundly sad and moving.

But there are also lots of fun, amazing stories. Like Evans’ relationships with Roman Polanski, Jack Nicholson and the like. While he has had lots of skeptics, enemies and haters, he has certainly been blessed with a few very deep, true friendships. And the archival footage throughout the movie is amazing. You don’t just hear Evans talk about his friends. There is tonnes of footage, photo montages, etc…showing him chumming it up with people like Henry Kissinger, Kirk Douglas and Slash from G’n’R.

Throughout the film he recounts his seemingly ever-increasing moxie and luck. He narrates with pride and fondness of those times in his journey. He also speaks with authentic regret of the bad choices he made. Those often led to the hard times. Dramatic, life-changing hard times. Fights with studio heads, drug-busts and psych wards. His life plays out like a mad roller coaster. Yet throughout the film I couldn’t help but feel it’s an honest retelling. Well, as honest as you can get from a Hollywood autobiography. I’m sure there are moments of “embellishment”. But the storytelling is so good, one can forgive, even ignore, any potential fiction.

If you’re a fan of Tinseltown and/or enjoy exceptional autobiographies, this is one documentary you must see. Thoroughly entertaining, great archival footage and incredible storytelling.

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Craig the Critic

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