The Kid Stays in the Picture

Staring: Robert Evans
Momentum Pictures
RRP 12.99
Certificate: 18
Available now

A young man is discovered at a poolside and offered a part in a film. He goes on to star in another picture, but dreams of entering into production work. Finally achieving this, he works for Paramount, lifting it from number nine to number one company, and in doing so saving it from the brink of collapse. Now an independent producer, the future looks rosy. However, the police set him up in buying pharmaceutical drugs, and suddenly no one will do business with the man. When attempting to secure independent financing at the Cannes festival for his next film, he is named as a suspect in the killing of another producer with whom he had done business. Although never tried, and later proved innocent, he finds himself at rock bottom. He is ejected from the Paramount office, and sells his beloved home retreat. Contemplating suicide now, the man books himself into a sanitarium, but soon realises he is the only one who can get his life back on track. After a desperate breakout from the secure unit, the man strives to get back his house and recover his life...

With a rollercoaster plot like this, it could only be contrived fiction, right? Wrong. The Kid Stays in the Picture is the true life story of Robert Evans, at 35 years plus the longest running producer at Paramount Pictures. You couldn't invent such a turbulent history as this, or one with as much lucky happenstance and sheer excitement. At first I thought I was watching the making-of, rather than the main feature. The entire biopic is narrated by the man himself; there is next to no acted dialogue, and only a handful of old film scenes, the majority of the project being constructed of stills only. This may sound extremely tedious, but you soon find yourself sucked into a lifestory of glitz, glamour, wheeling, dealing, scheming, bullying, back-stabbing, and of course sex.

Most people will not have heard of Robert Evans, so here's a few high- and low-points of his career, some of which you might be able to connect with. He produced Rosemary's Baby, employing Roman Polanski as director. Frank Sinatra demanded that his wife, Mia Farrow, be released for his film, The Detective. She agonised over the decision, but when Evans showed her the dailies she decided to stay. Sinatra arrived on the set to serve her his divorce papers; Farrow had the last laugh when Rosemary's Baby was the smash hit of the summer, easily outgrossing The Detective. Love Story practically saved Paramount from self-destruction. Evans married the female lead, Ali McGraw, but later lost her to an illicit love affair with Steve McQueen. When Evans was at his lowest ebb, the new head of Paramount - a man to whom Evans had given his first break back in the sixties - offered the producer back his old job. And, stranger still, Jack Nicholson persuaded the owner of Evans' old house to sell it back to him. You couldn't make it up! At a book-signing he was attracted to a woman and asked her out for dinner. She laughed in his face and said, "You're 72, my last two boyfriends didn't add up to that!" Six months later they were married.

This will appeal to fans of Robert Evans' work and general followers of the film industry. There's some great extras for anyone interested in this sort of thing: a couple of award ceremonies, including the Lifetime Achievement Award; film of a personal pitch for Love Story; interviews with various film business people on their experiences of Evans; A gag reel featuring mainly Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man (another of his productions); and a theatrical trailer. If you're only looking for whizzes and bangs, look elsewhere. This won't appeal to a mass mainstream audience, but it is refreshingly different and worth seeing at least once.

Ty Power

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