From the beginning of The Kid Stays in the Picture legendary producer and narrator Robert Evans acknowledges there are three sides to every story, yours, mine and the truth. This film is clearly his story. At the screening I attended we were treated to an added bonus. The subject of the film opened up with a few thoughts on a life well lived. Moving a little slower but still resplendent hes a sight to behold.
A man whos led seemingly countless lives in the span of one, hes had more ups and downs than an elevator operator. Undoubtedly one of the greatest self-promoters who ever lived, constantly reminding you of his unprecedented string of successes hes also the first to admit he was a bad actor, a cuckolded husband and owner of a raging ego. A guy with leading man looks who ended up launching a clothing empire and then running a studio before he turned forty. At once wildly vain and self-deprecating, hes a study in contrasts.
The most fascinating chapter of his life begins when in his early thirties hes chosen by the mad Austrian Charlie Bludhorn, CEO of Gulf and Western, to run his newly acquired Paramount Pictures. A dog with fleas, Bludhorn picked it up on the cheap. Needless to say when the former pretty boy actor is chosen to run a major studio with virtually no previous experience the press smells blood. The headlines predict his demise is imminent.
Over the next several years Evans takes Paramount from ninth among nine studios to first, championing such films as Rosemarys Baby, Chinatown, The Godfather, Love Story and Harold and Maude. Does he make mistakes? About as often as he poses rhetorical questions. For example he readily acknowledges Coppola was not his first choice to direct The Godfather but his second in command, the legendary Peter Bart prevailed on him. So was Evans lucky? Sure, his whole life was a fairy tale come true. Was he shrewd? You bet. In Hollywood you dont best the competition with mere luck.
His fall from grace is nearly as spectacular as his rise. A gambler at heart eventually hes dealt some bad cards. His wife, Ali McGraw leaves him for Steve McQueen. Caught in a drug sting and later tied to a murder hes disgraced in the press and friends and associates shun him. But worst of all he begins to lose his touch, producing movies that flop. On the verge of suicide he checks into the psyche ward. At times verging on maudlin, Evans in unafraid to expose the unseemly details of his life.
A wildly entertaining picture from beginning to end, perhaps the best part is the last. As the credits roll Dustin Hoffman is shown performing a spot on impression of the legendary Mr. Evans. Complete with the nearly indecipherable, rapid-fire patter and over-sized glasses he proceeds to let loose with a hilarious stream of improvised shtick. The Kid Stays in the Picture is a self-addressed love letter to the king, long may he reign. Im Erik Petersen for Movie Magazine.
© 2002 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 8/21/02
The Kid Stays In The Picture
USA - 2002