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April 26, 2005

'The Kid Stays In The Picture' — The Robert Evans Story


What a wonderful movie, one I strongly recommend to anyone aspiring to a career in Hollywood.

Evans's life is like a story by Jacqueline Susann.

He's a young businessman in New York, a partner in a successful women's clothing business (Evan–Picone) in the mid–1950s, and happens to be staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Norma Shearer, the once-great film star and widow of Hollywood boy-legend producer Irving Thalberg, comes up to him and asks him if he'd like to be in a movie.

Sounds fake, right?

No way, right?


Evans ended up playing Irving Thalberg in the 1957 film "Man of a Thousand Faces" starring James Cagney as Lon Chaney.

Shearer had approached him because he'd reminded her of Thalberg and because of his good looks.

OK, so it was a fluke, right?


Around the same time, mogul–producer Darryl Zanuck sees Evans in a night club in New York and asks him what he does, not having realized or remembered he'd already been in a film.

Evans said the usual, to which Zanuck said phooey and hired him to play a bullfighter in his movie of Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises".

The filming starts in Mexico and the stars — Ava Gardner and Tyrone Power — and Ernest Hemingway himself send Zanuck a telegram telling him they'll all quit unless he dumps the inept Evans.

Zanuck flies down to Mexico to check things out for himself.

After watching a scene being shot, he stands up, takes a megaphone and bellows, "The kid stays in the picture."

And so he did.

Now, these events are just in the first half-hour or so of the 93-minute film, narrated wonderfully by Evans himself.

The rest is equally amazing and bizarre, from his ascension to the heights of Hollywood as chief of Paramount Pictures in its heyday, when it was putting out smash after smash, movies like "Rosemary's Baby," "Love Story," "The Godfather," "Chinatown" and others like them, to the implosion accompanying his cocaine bust.

Very, very absorbing and funny as heck.

There's a bonus extra of Evans's home movie clips, including a hilarious parody of him by Dustin Hoffman.

April 26, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink


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