Read the book. Watch the documentary. But above all listen to the audio book on tape. Bob Evans' voice is magic. A few years ago he did ads for the NFL, talking about how "Broadway Joe" Namath popularized the league by beating Baltimore in Super Bowl III. It was one of the best commercials ever. When Evans speaks, there is a richness and storytelling quality to his voice that cannot be taught. It is a combination of God-given talent and years of stories so wild, so crazy that no matter how outrageous they are, one still feels Evans is holding back because the real truth is just beyond the pale.
Evans' life is beyond comprehension. Luck above and beyond all belief, combined with talent and drive. The son of a Jewish New York dentist, Evans was a film buff and teenage stage actor. His older bro Charles started Evans-Piccone, the lucrative clothier, and Bob hitched along for the ride, wealthy in his early 20s and acting a part of his past. He travels to L.A. on business, and a famous actress sees him and decides he is the man to play the role of her ex-husband, Irving Thalberg, in an upcomng film, which he stars in.
Back in New York, he is discovered a second time, this time by Daryl Zanuck, who sees him in a club and says he is the man to play Pedro Romero in "The Sun Also Rises". Pictures of Evans reveal that these discoveries are no accident. The dude was so handsome that words cannot do him justice. Ernie Hemingway was non-plussed by Evans, as were his famous co-stars who conspired against him to get him off the movie. Zanuck arrives, sees Evans play the bullfighter, and says "The kid stays in the picture." The story of his life.
Stardom follows? Not so fast. Old footage reveals that despite his looks his acting talent was, in Evans' words,
"half-assed." So now what? Evans decides to become a producer. He buys rights to a book to film with Frank Sinatra in the lead and a promising producing career lies ahead. In 1966-67, he is hired to take over the failing Paramount. This is portrayed as an accident, luck, a fluke, but Evans does not give himself credit. He had brains, creative genius, charisma, looks and all the tools for Hollywood success, so his ascension is less remarkable than it would seem for a guy who is only about 30.
It immediately becomes apparent, though, he was hired to fail. The suits in New York just want a young face to deflect criticism of them as they fold Paramount. But Evans wins them over with a short of the upcoming "Love Story" and "Rosemary's Baby". Reprieve. In the '60s, Evans produces gems. Add to the above "True Grit", "Odd Couple" and other classics. Money rolls in, but Evans does not get super rich and is always on the hot seat.
He marries the beautiful Ali McGraw and has the world by the tail. "The Godfather" is given to him, and he decides Sicilian mob pictures fail because they lack Italian authenticy.
"I want to smell the spaghetti," he says.
Francis Ford Coppola, is the only Italian director at the time. It is tempestuous to the extreme, and when "The Prince" wins the "Patton" screenplay Oscar he cannot be fired. Evans claims he saved the film by making it longer, Coppola scoffs at the notion to this day. Two brilliant minds. Evans leaves Ali to the charms of Steve McQueen on the set of "The Getaway", and she leaves him.
"A man who thinks he knows the mind of a woman knows nothing," Evans opines.
His pal is Henry Kissinger, who Evans talks into coming to "The Godfather" premiere in the middle of the mining of Haiphong Harbor. Evans goes on to make "Chinatown", "Marathon Man" and most of the important films of Hoillywood's greatest era, the 1970s. He squires women who are so beautiful that it makes men drool. In the documentary, a TV host asks about it, and Evans claims to live like a monk with no life, working 24/7. As he says this a montage opf models, actresses and beauties on his arm puts the lie to this story.
Evans falls into a coke habit and gets involved with shadowy people associated with the murder of a Hollywood wannabe. He loses everything, almost including his sanity and life. Near-uicide. Drug addiction. Insanity. Debt. The loss of his house. Another Hollywood casualty.
But with the help of his pal Jack Nicholson, Evans comes back, gets his house back, again makes big pictures, and stays very much in play with the ladies.
The kid stayed in the picture.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism