The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)

My response to this film is an open mouth. Shock. Disbelief. Amazement.

You might not have heard of this film, especially if you’re closer to my age than my parents’, and that is a shame. I had to be coaxed into watching, as I was that unaware of its existence.

The Kid Stays in the Picture is a documentary narrated by and adapted from the book by Robert Evans, a legendary Hollywood producer. He tried his hand at acting (“The kid stays in the picture,” said Darryl Zanuck), but after that career imploded, Evans turned to producing. He had massive success, and I mean massive, releasing films like The GodfatherRosemary’s Baby, and Love Story, as well as catastrophic failures and debilitating scandals. And he’s telling us all about it, sharing private details like we’re the only ones to know—or the last. Making it infinitely better, he’s a bit pompous, so his version of his life is a true sensation.

You have little stories about Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra, a tale about his good friend Jack Nicholson, and something insignificant regarding a nuanced gangster film with an Italian-American director. You really can’t get much closer to the world of movies as you can here, and who would’ve thought? Not from a director, but a producer, somebody who watches it all from the sidelines.

It wasn’t until I saw his name on the credits for Chinatown that I truly understood the magnitude of this man. Only then did I recognize his name, never to forget it again. Robert Evans knows that his name will be tied to great, immortal films, and nothing could leave him more satisfied. Nothing could leave me more satisfied.

This is the kind of story you get when The Most Interesting Man in the World made his living in the Hollywood hills, and then decided to tell it to you. He had his ups and downs—peaks and trenches, honestly—and his sharing them has proven to be one of the greatest gifts in the history of film. You might not have heard of this film, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an essential one to see.

3.5 Green

The Kid Stays in the Picture is available on DVD and digital.

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