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The Kid Stays in the PictureThe Kid Stays in the Picture

Starring: Robert Evans (kind of)
Directed by: Nanette Burstein & Brett Morgen

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Bluntly speaking? This riveting and stylish documentary on Hollywood shaker Robert Evans makes the multi-tasked life of meglomaniac Orson Welles look tame in comparison!

This wild (yet true) story starts...

We've all heard the urban legend about the young beautiful starlet that was "discovered" while daintily sipping a cherry soda at the five and dime downtown. She/he was catapulted into a film icon overnight with no training and of course without a droplet of sweat or spill of a tear. These legendary tales of instant unearned stardom keep the dreams of starving struggling actors alive and the buses coming chock full of hopefuls to Hollywood's beautiful hills.

The grand tales are usually ornate fables handed down from generation to generation over a cafe latte at Highland and Franklin. That is unless you are one of these few that these fancy yarns tell tall tales about; like businessman-turned actor-turned studio head, Robert Evans.

Bob's a guy that has his own version of the urban legend of instant stardom. And the best part is it actually happened precisely as this superb film tells it. Just ad water in his case. He wasn't discovered sipping softly but slipping seductively in and out of a tre chic Beverly Hills hotel pool. This tale is told not by a starry eyed newcomer but by the man, Evans, himself. He tells us a sexy movie icon noticed his manly man manner and approached him to play a long side a legend (James Cagney) in a small film (Man of 1000 Faces). Happens every day, no?

Robert Evans would go on to make the film without too much hubbaloo. Sure he got press. He's a good looking guy, but he decided it was a lark and headed back to his real job, selling women's apparel for his brother's line when it was all over.

That is until fate knocked again. This time a head honcho from a studio would "discover" the yummitini mixing it up on the dance floor at some super swanky nightclub.

And , this time the pixie dust that covered him included some disgruntled dundruff, err, studio stars that were none too happy about Evans' casting. They whined to the director and attempted to ripple the charmed man's pending destiny a bit. When the director/discoverer was confronted he simply pulled rank and simple told the pouting cast, "The kid stays in the picture."

Hence the name of this incredible truthful, not always flattering, documentary narrated by Evans. He weaves his personal tale as fantastic snapshots and special private film clips illustrate his remarkable story. It's an audio book extravaganza really. The story teller, editor and the director have made one helluva a film.

Sure the fact that Evans' life was charmed early on gave them oodles of material. In fact if his tales were not public knowledge one would question the film's reality level.

High drama prevails throughout; Evans left the screen, in it what appears to be, the nick of time and began to run Paramount Studios at a very young age; he was always on the verge of being fired. After all pretty boys have no brains right? Wrong. He believed in Ali McGraw's Love Story before it was a cultural hit. He waltzed with Maria Puzo as he birthed "The Godfather." And brought the dying studio back onto the top in film production. This guy has what they call "it."

Okay, admittedly Evans' life has such a surreal twist of fate and luck attached to it you may be inclined to start thinking Evans is nothing more then an old Hollywood blowhard wooing starlets with his yesteryear tales of gigantic proportions; a real-life Commander McBragg. But this man's extraordinary tale is pure non-fiction.

Not a dollop of malarkey is infused. Evans truly was "discovered" twice which should give any young actor reading this great portions of fairy dust filled hope! He really did, in his day, copulate with many of Hollywood's youngest and brightest. He really did make the transition from actor to film honcho thanks to a short article in the Sunday paper, which caught the fancy of a wealthy businessman. He really did have a knack for hits; besides mega hits Love Story and The Godfather he produced a film, Chinatown, which he didn't even understand but his instinct and ability to often feel a hit made him trust his writer and actor (Jack Nicholson) and plunk the money down on the film anyway. He's a gambler with steel balls baby.

Bottom line, even for someone who has no idea who Robert Evans is or what he's done for film, if you're remotely interested in Hollywood going ons this is one film you need to hunt down.

Snack Recommendation: Sugar free Humble Pie


 

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