Tuesday, May 27, 2003


A Video Review of "The Kid Stays in the Picture"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Robert Evans is the stuff of Hollywood legend. Without him such classic films as The Godfather, Rosemary’s Baby and Love Story would never have been made. He ran Paramount Studios. He has been involved with some of the world’s most beautiful and famous (and not so beautiful and famous) women. The scandals of his life have been tragic and the talk of the town. He also created such dogs as Popeye and the remakes of The Saint and The Out-of-Towners. He is the inspiration for the Robert Vaughn character in S.O.B. and the Dustin Hoffman character in Wag the Dog. His personal exploits are mythic and his life has been immortalized in The Kid Stays in the Picture.

Unfortunately he is also the lord of bullshit. You can’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth. It seems like maybe he was still using the cocaine that led to his downfall when he wrote the book this film was based on. We are always treated to Robert Evans’ take, always his opinion, always his mix of myth and truth. The Robert Evans quote that opens the film states his philosophy on lying that it serves everyone differently. How true.

We start at the beginning following Evans’ career from his discovery by Norma Shearer at a Beverly Hills swimming pool to star as her late husband Irving Thalberg in 1957’s The Man with a Thousand Faces with James Cagney to his tragic downfall with the failure of The Cotton Club in 1984 surrounded by lurid cocaine and murder scandals regarding the death of filmmaker and drug dealer Roy Radin.

The details in between include his proving himself to Daryl Zanuck that he could play the bullfighter in The Sun Also Rises from which the documentary’s title is taken; Zanuck’s quote. We also see him get Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra divorced to finish Rosemary’s Baby, him bagging both Ali MacGraw and Love Story to save Paramount Studios, him battle endlessly with Francis Ford Coppola over The Godfather, the triumph of Chinatown and the failure of The Cotton Club.

The Kid Stays in the Picture is worth sitting through if only to hear Evans’ humiliating voiceover imitation of Mia Farrow. A fun drinking game can be made of how many times he says, "How could I have been so fucking dumb?" Hmmph. Easily. Did I mention he was the lord of bullshit?

No matter what was really true or really false kudos have to be granted to directors Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen because they have created a documentary so compelling you forget you’re watching a documentary. The graphics, clips and fades are extraordinary, the likes of which we’ve never seen. Bravo for making a masterpiece out of lies.

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