Sunday, February 05, 2017

The Kid Stays in the Picture

Based on the autobiography by Robert Evans, The Kid Stays in the Picture is about the life and career of film producer Robert Evans who was the production chief of Paramount Picture in the late 1960s and early 1970s as well as becoming a successful producer of his own. Directed by Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen and screenplay by Morgen, the film is a documentary told by Evans himself through excerpts of his 1994 autobiography from his years as an actor to being one of the top producers of the 1970s. The result is a stylish yet mesmerizing film from Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen.

Robert Evans is a man that is considered a legend in Hollywood as he was running Paramount Pictures in the late 1960s where he would take the studio and put it back in prominence through hit films such as Rosemary’s Baby, True Grit, Love Story, and The Godfather while becoming a producer in the 1970s for films such as Chinatown, Black Sunday, Marathon Man, and Urban Cowboy. Evans was also notorious for his liaisons with many women as he was briefly married to actress Ali MacGraw in the early 1970s before she left him for actor Steve McQueen. Though he started off working for his brother Charles Evans in the Evans-Picone fashion company, it was a moment where he was swimming in a pool and taking phone calls at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1956 that changed everything where was discovered by film legend Norma Shearer.

Shearer would give him the chance to star as her late husband Irving Thalberg for the film Man of a Thousand Faces as he would also be hired for an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises against the wishes of Hemingway and the film’s stars in Ava Gardner and Tyrone Power. Yet, it was then 20th Century Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck who liked Evans and told them “the kid stays in the picture”. Though his acting career was brief, Evans’ knack for finding projects for studios did get him a job working at Paramount Pictures which was going through a very dire period of flops and management shake-ups once it was purchased by Gulf+Western. Through one of its executives in Charles Bluhdorn, Evans would be made head of productions as he would get the studio out of its funk with the help of journalist Peter Bart who would be an executive at the studio.

The film doesn’t just play into Evans’ rise as a prominent figure in Hollywood as Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen choose not just pictures but also some archival interviews into how Evans would become this revered figure in Hollywood. Even as there’s some rare footage such as a presentation filmed by Mike Nichols for the people at Gulf+Western into what Paramount Pictures was to do in the 1970s. The film also has many new images shot inside Evans’ Woodland home with the aid of cinematographer John Bailey who would bring in elements of beauty into the lighting for its scenes at night as it was Evans’ own paradise. Especially as Evans describes the time he invited Ali MacGraw into his home where she went into the pool and they fell in love that night. Aided by visual effects supervisors Yorgo Alexopoulos and Jason Stoff in bringing color and 3-D images to the photos, Burstein and Morgen would showcase many of the good things that was happening to Evans in the 1970s despite his split with MacGraw in 1972 as it would crash in 1980 when he was busted for cocaine trafficking.

Editor Jun Diaz help create montages as well as gather footage of archival interviews Evans has made throughout his life and career including footage of the Roy Radin murder trial which Evans was unfortunately tied to due to the fact that he met Radin who helped finance the 1984 film The Cotton Club. Sound designer Claude Letessier and sound editor Ahmad Shirazi would help gather many of the audio from the audio book that features everything Evans says about his life as it help add some humor into the film as well as unique personality. The film’s music by Jeff Danna is very low-key for its usage of strings and piano to play into some of the lively moments and dark moments involving the Radin murder trial while music supervisor Anita Serwacki provides a soundtrack that feature a lot of the music from the 70s that played into Evans’ rise in Hollywood.

The Kid Stays in the Picture is a phenomenal film from Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen. It’s a documentary that doesn’t exactly play by the rules in telling the life of Robert Evans where it has the man himself telling everything including all of the good and bad that he’s done in his illustrious life. In the end, The Kid Stays in the Picture is an incredible film from Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen.

© thevoid99 2017


Dell said...

This is yet another candidate for my Blind Spot list for next year. Been meaning to see this forever.

thevoid99 said...

It's a really fascinating doc that is quite fun to watch. Especially for someone who has really bad tastes in ties.