Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

July 22, 2011

A portrait of real Hollywood

Filed under: Have you seen this? — Rajeev @ 11:57 pm

The Kid Stays in the Picture is a captivating documentary that places a revealing camera into the life of legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans, and has him narrate his acclaimed biography in a gravelly-low, matter-of-fact tone. It’s a tale of enterprise, relationships, scandals and tragedy, yet what this film beautifully paints out for you is a real portrait of Hollywood, with all the glamour of its success and all the heartlessness of failure. Most of all, I ended up seeing the documentary as a picture of survival in the ruthlessness of tinseltown.

Robert Evans is a legend because he had the instinct and the chutzpah to produce classics like Rosemary’s Baby, Love Story, Chinatown and The Godfather. Yet he stepped into Hollywood quite by chance, discovered by actress Norma Shearer by a hotel swimming pool. Shearer spotted a spark in the good-looking go-getter and asked Evans to play her husband Irving Thalberg in Man of a Thousand Faces.  Evans’ acting career was short-lived but he realized he had a burning ambition to make movies. It all turned around when he got offered a plum position at Paramount Pictures; in a few years time, Evans would take the studio out of the doldrums and turn it into the Number One studio in Hollywood.

All of this is wonderfully told in a collage of photographs, newspaper articles, film clippings, and rare private footage, with Evans’s voice piecing together the story. The tone is all Evans but it works because it’s honest; and while the producer is proud of his accomplishments, he never pulls the punches on his mistakes.

And mistakes, there were many. After his remarkable climb to the top, we see the downward spiral. Evans was so involved with the shooting and production of The Godfather that he neglected his wife and the star of Love Story, Ali McGraw, literally driving her into the arms of movie star Steve McQueen. Soon after, he was arrested in a sting operation while he tried to buy cocaine, and even while he was trying to climb back from that fall from grace, Evans got unwittingly embroiled in a murder scandal. Banished from Paramount, the very studio he had built up, Evans was on the brink of suicide when friends from Hollywood, like Jack Nicholson, helped him pick up the pieces and make a comeback.

The Kid Stays in the Picture ends up as one of those documentaries that has to be a part of your movie collection. Where else would you see how Evans persuaded Mia Farrow to choose his film Rosemary’s Baby over her husband Frank Sinatra? Or how Francis Ford Coppola was summoned by Evans after viewing the first cut of The Godfather, and was ordered to make an epic out of the scattered footage on hand? This is behind-the-scenes Hollywood at its glorious best, and The Kid Stays in the Picture gives us an unforgettable glimpse of it.

1 Comment »

  1. I just watched it on your recommendation..it’s absolutely brilliant!

    Comment by Perx — October 23, 2011 @ 4:32 am

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