Attack the Doc: The Kid Stays in the Picture
Welcome to ATTACK THE DOC! A JoBlo.com feature that explores the world of documentaries and picks out the best among the best, among the best. We'll cover everything from subcultures around the world, to economic collapse, to music and trashy hillbillies from every walk of life. So pop a squat, turn off reality and sit back and enjoy a little slice of someone else's.
THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE
THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE is a 2002 documentary directed by Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen.
In the mid 60s, producer Robert Evans had his back up against the wall. As the new head of production at Paramount Studios, ranking last in succesful film studios, Evans scored one of his first hits with Rosemary's Baby, which proved to be a critical and commerical hit, despite the studio's ongoing financial problems . Unimpressed with the young upstart's success, the Board of Directors moved to remove Evans and shut Paramount's doors for good. In an attempt to turn the tide and avoid termination, Evans enlisted the help of friend and filmmaker Mike Nichols (The Graduate) to film a presentation detailing his vision of the future of Paramount and the movies currently in production. Evans then flew cross country with the reel (Losers, they didn't even internet then), gave his resignation to the Board of Directors and presented the group with a clip. In it, a smooth talking Evans shows production dailies of Love Story, explains how the company owns the rights to some great pieces of work including The Godfather and details what the company can expect with future productions of The Odd Couple and Harold & Maude. Finally impressed with the young producers vision, business sense and balls, the Board of Directors relents and allows Evans to do his thing. During Robert Evans tenure as head of production (1966-1974), Paramount went from earning five percent of the revenues of its parent company to 55 percent, bringing Paramount from the bottom to the top
THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE is the documentary version of Hollywood producer Robert Evan's 1994 autobiography of the same name. One of the great things about the book is that the prose is written for Evans' voice is very 1950s bad guy style, which makes sense since James Cagney was his hero and tried to emulate everything about him (Evans went on to play opposite to Cagney in a movie). The sentences are quick, descriptive, and to the point and bringing Evans' own voice to the narration, makes it all the better with his gravely, terse, New York Jewish accent. Evans details what he can in the amount of time given in the run time, peppering dialogue with different accents and relating anecdotes from his beginnings as a young actor that Ernest Hemingway hated to his relationship with Ali McGraw and their eventual fallout. By far, my favorite moments of the doc are the stories of how much of a pain in the ass Francis Ford Coppola was to work with on The Godfather, going so far as to fire him four different times during production. Granted, even Evans says "There are three sides to every story. Your side. My side. And the truth. And no one is lying." So you have to take his interpretation, as just that, how he sees the situation. We also get to explore Evans' relationship with "Irish aka Jack Nicholson" and the success/failures Evans had when he left Paramount, eventually leading up to his cocaine conviction in the 1980s. Hey, it was the 80s.
Because Evans started out as a young actor, and eventually moved on to be one of the top Hollywood producers, there's either footage or stills of him at different stages of his life, and that really pulls you into the doc and makes you feel a part of the world. While Evans gravely narration weaves stories from his past, we get to see the exact moments he's talking about, whether it's an interview he did, an interview with one of his actors, or a clip from a movie, stills flash across the screen in a kinetic scrapbook kind of way that keeps the visuals moving along with the narration in fast but easy pace. Keeping in mind Evans own quote about truth (see above), having images that match the stories really brings this whole movie to life in almost fairytale fashion, as if your sitting on your grandfather's knee and he's telling you his life story. That IS your knee, isn't it, Pop Pop?
THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE is not only my favorite book about Hollywood, but also my favorite documentary on Hollywood. Is it a great documentary? Without a doubt. Will you get wrapped up in the story? You bet your ass. Robert Evans is such a "bigger than life" character in Hollywood history, that his story means much more these days when empty, vapid twats like The Kardashians and their like are getting paid millions for doing absolutely nothing.
Robert Evans smooth talks Paramount into not shutting its doors.
|Extra Tidbit:||Bob Odenkirk molded his character Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad primarily on Robert Evans.|