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Jordan Hiller on Film

The Kid Stays in the Picture

For Rich "The Godfather" Frohlich

Everyone lives an extraordinary life - that is, if you have the imagination to view it in the right way, with the proper lighting and some sharp editing. Robert Evans,ex-Paramount Pictures second in command and all around Hollywood player for the past 5 decades, has lived and continues to inhabit the extraordinary life, and it won't make a difference from what angle you look. In The Kid Stays in the Picture (an ungainly title, I admit, but relevant and apropos), a documentary produced from the autobiography written by Evans in 1994, we are privileged and uncommonly so, to be intimately ushered into the life, loves, wars, accomplishments, pitfalls, and psyche of a man who has truly tasted and sucked the marrow from Olam Hazeh. Forget that we, as believers in gateways and hallways and waiting rooms and all that, do not condone or support or respect (depending on your philosophy) people who clearly live for the “now”; individuals who live to create, explore, and shape the present, almost disregarding the long term or beyond - regardless, there is so much to learn from these case studies.

We can contemplate: What makes up the bounty collected by a Robert Evans who looks back on his days of scandal and triumph? How does he assess a life that mortal man can only dream about? Regrets? True happiness? Masked depression? Finding out requires you to track down a theatre playing this eye opening and craftily produced film and then figuring out what you believe to be the truth (New York City currently has only two locations). Mr. Evans gives you a heads up in this pursuit by way of a quote with which the film opens. Keep it in mind throughout. The obvious and most easily understood analogy for the movie is to think of it as an aggrandized and glorified E! True Hollywood Story, Biography, or Behind the Music. We get the intrigue, the rollercoasteresque ups and downs, and a more detailed look at a celebrity whom we may or may not have been interested by in the first place. The difference here is that Todd Bridges never single handedly turned a flailing movie studio into one of the greatest empires of its day, The Godfather, Chinatown, and Rosemary's Baby, would probably have been made if not for Leif Garrett, and the cast of Lost in Space never had Jack Nicholson buy them a million dollar home. Robert Evans truly is a rarity, a living legend dating back to the most recent golden age of Hollywood. He is, and I mean this with admiration, a relic of an uninhibited and daring era of filmmaking. He ruled with a salacious appetite at a time before the politically correct celebrities took over (No, Vin Diesel is not breaking any ground no matter what the poster for XXX says). I guess it is appropriate that this film and the new Austin Powers opened the same weekend. Both Evans and Powers have no place in the new millennium because, as Roger Daltrey once said (paraphrased), "it's better to burn out than to fade away".

The second and more difficultly understood model for the movie is in Memphis, Tennessee (difficult because you need to have been there). Elvis Presley's Graceland Estate (which I and the Galena brothers road tripped out to in 1998) is a most affecting and fascinating experience. The house, the grounds, they cradle you in their indulgent arms and rock you into a hypnotized state where hedonism is normal, extravagance is an afterthought, and barbarism is only a blink away. The beauty of the setup at Graceland is that not only are you walking through the house retracing The King's actual footsteps, but the fact that there is no square tour guide explaining the rooms and telling the tales. What you get is the soothing and Barbie-doll vacant voice of Priscilla Presley herself (via individual headphone sets) convincing you that Elvis was a good man, doing nice things, loved by all, living a happy and content life. You forget that the man died on the toilet, in an obese washed out body, after wasting the last ten years of his life sniffing dust and shooting up. At Graceland, we are under a spell and The King does no wrong in his kingdom. In Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgan's film, the voice speaking to us is Robert Evans'. He speaks out the cast of famous and influential characters, describes his thoughts, conveys the emotion (although his voice sometimes is a bit flat and dull - he does a dead on Sylvester Stallone simply because it isn't much of a stretch). He tracks his career from initial discovery, to acting alongside the likes of Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner, and Errol Flynn in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, to his success and wiliness as a producer saving Paramount and dealing with troubled directors such as Coppola and Polansky. Eventually we gloss over his downfall (unfaithful wife Ali McGraw and drugs) and finish with a minor redemption in the 1990's (Sliver, The Saint). Of course we have to take every nasty, juicy, gossipy bit offered with a grain of salt. After all, the entire movie is purely from Evans' own perspective and any baggage he carries, but it sure is a treat, especially for real fans of movies and Hollywood lore, to gain the perspective of such an influential man. The movie is sometimes unintentionally sad, sometimes ironically funny; it is angry and arrogant; it is self-deprecating, but also transparently exaggerated. The most prolific aspect of the film is watching and hearing a man present a life that is so astounding and gigantic, that it may even be hard for him to believe it has been his own, but thus is the nature of the extraordinary life.

JPA (Jewish Paranoia Award) - Robert Evans does a heavy, stereotypical Jewish European accent every time he imitates Paramount head Charlie Bludhorn. It really hurt my feelings. Boycott the film and the book. Bonus - Robert Evans, a Jew (what else?) was born and raised on the UWS

Have your own thoughts? Send your comments to Jordan himself at



FROM E. Benti, California
One would be curious to see your review of "Palestine Is Still the Issue." This of course is the documentary banned by the AFI from the Academy Awards last year. My family has rented and viewed Robert Evans video memoir, "The Kid Stays in the Picture."

This gentile is endlessly amazed at the overwhelming power Jews have in this world, the power to mold the public mind. (Out of sight out of mind, you know) And at the heart of this awesome gift, are venal, arrogant, egotistical beasts, like Evans, ready to "get my nuts off" by crushing or using people at their whim, exhibiting little in the way of a social conscience, outside of what they can do to further their own "self-assured" rapacity. Remarkably his "legendary" rise avoids examining the coincidence of his Jewish ethnicity in businesses (textiles and entertainment) where ruthless Jewish power is basically unchallenged. Upton Sinclair's expose of Hollywood Jewish mafiosi from 1934 makes for more honest education than Evans' unelightened self-praise. But that is a text absolutely certain never to see a Hollywood screentest! That your web-page on this advises to boycott the film for its "sterotypical Jewish European accent" when personifying Charlie Bludhorn, an advisory born of paranoia but not of an actuality thet Evans probably knows better than most, is misguided; The film should be avoided for those who would want their values untarnished, or seen by those who need a lesson in what not to emulate. Thanks for your time.

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