The Kid Stays In The Picture

Review Date:
Director: Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen
Writer: Brett Morgen
Producers: Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen
Robert Evans is the Narrator, Francis Ford Coppola, Ali McGraw
Based on his best-selling memoir, this is a documentary about the life and times of Hollywood producer Robert Evans, narrated by the man himself.
An engrossing documentary with a very cool title, this flick should appeal to anyone who either knows its lead subject or craves more insight into some of the biggest movie hits from the 70s (ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE GODFATHER, LOVE STORY, CHINATOWN). It would also help if you were into the whole “movie scene” yourself, which was no issue for me, since I am a huge movie fan and quite enjoyed hearing about this one man’s legendary life and his travails through a very volatile time in the film industry. But in my humble opinion, this picture ultimately felt more like a vanity project/tribute to the man than any kind of objective, well-rounded documentary. It even started to feel like an A&E biography at some point (although admittedly…with more juice!), but without the different perspectives from other people. And correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the whole point of a documentary to show the event/person in question as a “factual” thing, rather than just one man’s recollections? Strange. In this case, Evans himself is the narrator, so even though he sounds like a guy who has gone through a heck of a lot in his life, it’s really hard to take everything that he says as “fact”, which the film itself even acknowledges with its lead insert card: “There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth. And no one is lying.”

As interesting as this man’s life obviously was (and I use the term “interesting” with no specific “good” or “bad” connotation), I really wanted to get other people’s perspectives on him as well. What exactly was it about him that had two different people “discovering” him within six months? How did Ally McGraw really feel about him and how does she get along with him today? (or their son, for that matter) And how did the talent that he worked with over the years feel about him? (only Coppola got a word in here, and not a particularly good one either-the two went to court over THE COTTON CLUB at some point). Evans’ deep voice was also difficult to decipher at points, leading to mucho straining of the eardrums. The whole thing did move along pretty swiftly though, and it’s definitely put together in a really entertaining manner (video clips, photos, newspaper clippings, songs, etc…). I guess that I just wanted to hear more sides to his story, but alas…t’was not to be. Having said that, it’s still a pretty absorbing recap on the tumultuous life and times of this very lucky/unlucky gentleman as well as a nice behind-the-scenes retrospective on some of the bigger flicks from the day (the Sinatra phone call and Evans’ subsequent meeting with Mia Farrow about her part in ROSEMARY’S BABY was especially memorable). Oh yeah, one other thing that this picture did was to re-confirm something that I’d believed for years but finally concretized once and for all, and that is that Jack Nicholson is…one class act! PS: Stick around for the end credits because you will see one of the funniest impersonations that you’re ever gonna see by actor Dustin Hoffman. Neat.

Note: Some cool quotes from the flick include: “Luck doesn’t just happen, it’s when opportunity meets preparation.” and “Any man who thinks that he can read the mind of a woman is a man who knows nothing.” Touche!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

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