The Kid Stays In The Picture

The Kid Stays In The Picture
Film and Book
a kate west favorite

In 1994, Robert Evans wrote "The Kid Stays in the Picture", a tell-all autobiography chronicling his mercurial rise to head of Paramount Pictures. Most fans enjoy the book-on-tape version, narrated by Evans himself, so they can hear his film noir gravelly voice reflect on things like different versions of truth ("Your side, my side and the truth. ")

To the delight of all, the book was turned into an innovative documentary of the same name in 2002. Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen put together a fascinating cinematic look at the inner life of an old school Hollywood Producer. Leaving in all Evans' phrasing and dialogue from the book, they cleverly add film clips, old interviews and still pictures interspersed with the strength of the Evans personality. It works wonderfully and the whole thing is riveting.

First of all, the life of Robert Evans is that of a fairy tale. A young executive type tries to break into acting. One of his first major roles is in the 1957 film "A Sun Also Rises", starring Tyrone Power and matinee idol Errol Flynn. Directed by Henry King, the production doesn't go well for Evans at first, as the entire production cast and crew (with the exception of Errol Flynn who just laughs and laughs) want him fired and even send a telegram to the studio. But he gets to stay after all the day that studio head Darryl Zanuck walks on set and announces, "The kid stays in the picture and anybody who doesn't like it can quit!'" That was also the day that Evans decided he wanted to be that guy - a producer, not an actor.

Around that same time, Norma Shearer spots the young former model lounging by a pool and casts him as her late husband, the formerly powerful producer, Irving Thalberg in "Man of a Thousand Faces", starring James Cagney as the versatile Lon Chaney. Perfect casting. Evans does well in both films and is also on his way to become one of Hollywood' most famous producers. Hired by Charles Bluhdorn to run Paramount Pictures, Evans life will never be the same. The "Godfather" sagas, "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby" are but a few of the epic films he mounted on screen.

To add to his bliss, he and his true love Ali McGraw (he produced "Love Story" for her) were happy for a time in his Beverly Hills Woodland Estate before she ran off with Steve McQueen (her co-star in "The Getaway"). Countless other women would enter his life, giving him his well-earned womanizer reputation. He had powerful friends too - to name but a few - Henry Kissinger and a mysterious close friend, Sidney Korshak, one of the most feared lawyers in the country who somehow knows how to get things done. Otherwise impossible things. Best not to ask.

Evans did start on a downward spiral, delving into cocaine and losing and winning back his beloved Woodland home. But it all turns out alright in the end, thanks to his buddy Jack Nicholson, who begs back the house for him. It's a fascinating life and a fascinating narration. Anyone remotely curious about Hollywood will love this saga. Old Hollywood at it's most powerful. Don't miss the surprise in the end credits either, you get me? So now you've got your choice of book, audio book, film and great soundtrack. What are you waiting for?

Cue satisfying Hollywood ending.
Slow Fade.

Catch the documentary?
The Kid Stays in the Picture

Start with the book?
You bet:

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