on 30 April 2003
Robert Evans is a great character. He spares no-one in this tell-it-like-it-is autobiography - least of all himself. Evans must have packed more into his first 30 years than the rest of us achieve in 70: Certainly more marriages; more deals; more living on the edge.
Robert Evans has seen the highs and lows of Hollywood. The Paramount mountain remains a metaphor for his ups and downs as actor, producer and head of studios.
If you like Hollywood gossip, you'll love this - numerous relationships with a whole range of glamorous women from Ava Gardner to Ali McGraw to Raquel Welch (naming just three of many). Perhaps the most interesting relationships are those with men including Warren Beatty, Roman Polanski, Henry Kissinger and Jack Nicholson.
This book is more a series of anecdotes than a biography in strict chronological order. Some great stories and very entertaining.
It would be easy to say that Robert Evans is prone to exaggeration (some of the stories are a little wild), but he certainly has produced an entertaining book - perhaps the highlight of his creative life.
I enjoyed it, and it made me laugh.
The talking book is also worth listening to if you get the chance.
on 2 April 2014
I consider myself very fortunate to have met Robert Evans after reading this terrific autobiography, when he was in the UK doing a Q&A tour for the documentary made of the same title. He was around 75 at the time I think and had suffered a triple stroke a few years earlier, but I noticed that he still only had eyes for the ladies in room he graced, which amused me given his self-confessed and well-earned reputation.
This is the quintessential Hollywood Biography – with salubrious name-dropping on every page, and is very much a perfect companion piece to the (also excellent) Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, which documents the same era - from the late sixties to the end of the seventies. The era in which Bob Evans reigned at Paramount, taking it from bottom to top with films including Rosemary’s Baby, Love Story, The Godfather and Chinatown.
Much has been written about Robert Evans and his success and then long fall from grace, and in The Kid you get his side of the story – which he graciously admits is just one side at the very outset. However, I can’t help but feel that there is a lot of sour grapes out there with regards to Bob, as is the case when anyone sees huge success from out of almost nowhere. However, Bob’s friendship with (alleged) mob lawyer Sidney Korshak and other powerful people in the industry no doubt played a part in his meteoric rise. But, unlike so many others he had the charisma in the first place for those people to want to back him to the hilt – as well as film-star looks and a bed-post so notched with conquests that it probably raised his standing among the guys – ladies men such as Jack Nicholson – who became a life-long friend and confidant.
Robert Evans explains how he was discovered by Norma Shearer, coming out of a swimming pool one day, and how he was then then catapulted by her onto the silver screen alongside such legends as Ava Gardner and Jimmy Cagney. But, upon realising that he was a ‘lousy’ actor pursued the fashion industry with his brother before becoming a film producer after chancing $5,000 on the rights to a yet-unpublished novel that then became a #1 best-seller. Negotiating himself a 3 picture deal and an office at Fox, incurring the wrath of Sinatra in the process; it’s a story you could hardly make up and what with drug busts and serious implication in a murder enquiry (The Cotton Club Murder) there’s never a dull moment.
Success eluded him after that celebrated decade with films such as Jade and The Saint following, but his legend was revived with the publishing of his memoir and as the likes of Graydon Carter (Vanity Fair Editor) resurrected and celebrated his image he has gone on to become a veritable living-legend. To some he will always perhaps be a bit of a joke but the ego that is Robert Evans still has the ability to laugh at, and parody, himself – in incarnations such as the Comedy Central cartoon series Kid Notorious and with a new book recently published, The Fat Lady Sang, he is once again reviving amazing anecdotes from an amazing period in Hollywood’s golden past. I for one am both grateful that he is alive and still writing as he is a true legend, regardless of his failings and failures. Nobody from that period sustained any real long-term uninterrupted success – look at Bogdanovich, Cimino, Friedkin and Coppola to name but four. The Kid stayed in the picture – and he remains there to this day – a producer of incredible merit with a major track record behind him, not to mention the best little black book this side of Warren Beatty.
on 13 September 2009
This guy was a misogynistic wally, but seems to have had a natural instinct for the motion picture industry that cannot be denied, whatever you may think of his philandering and drug taking. The book contains an interesting piece of foresight into the career of Mickey Rourke incidentally, who, at the time of writing, has suffered a career death in Hollywood and was persona non grata around town. Evans predicts his comeback, and indeed it would appear he has been absolutely correct with Rourke now back on the Hollywood A list. A very interesting if not entirely likeable guy. Fascinating read.
on 9 February 2006
I've read a lot of film books, and this one immediately went to the pile of Best Ever, alongside other classics like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. Robert Evans is one of the most unique and entertaining narrators I've come across. You can practically hear his gravelly voice as you read.
It's quite a life he's led - produced Chinatown and Love Story, married to Ali McGraw who famously left him for Steve McQueen, busted for drugs, name dragged through the mud, pals with Jack Nicholson (who, when Evans was depressed and sold his house to a Frenchman, flew to France to beg the man to sell his house back to Evans again - who can say Jack is their estate agent?). I love this book because, whilst you don't quite believe all the facts you are reading, you completely understand how Evans got where he is today: through optimism and charm. It's catching. It's got a touch of the expose about it but really, this book is a manual to becoming the toast of Hollywood without really knowing what you are doing. As long as you've got the nerve. You really can't help but like him, the cheeky devil.
Robert Evans, I had heard about him via the gossip rags all related to one woman or another, nothing positive, mind you. It wasn't until Liz Smith spoke so knowingly of his auto biography that it rang any real interest. The book is twenty years old, and doesn't really ring any bells but it does read well.
He takes us from his birth and young days of a supportive and loving family. He wanted to go to an entertainment high school, but had to settle for a school near the bad side of town to show he could do anything and win. He started as a two bit actor, model, salesman of certain things, meeting the high and the low. The low, including the mobsters are glossed over, but the feel is that they were a lot more involved. His time as an actor in Hollywood sounds like he was the biggest star known, but, of course, not. Maybe some of the drugs inhaled over the years went to the brain. At any point, it sounds like he made it with every actress known to man, and, maybe so.
He names names, his wife, Ali MacGraw, who left him for another man, Phyllis George, another wife who left him, fourteen women in all, all now rich, he attributes to him. Politicos were many, even Henry Kissinger, who interrupted an important political event to be by his side. What did he gave on these guys? It is said he was to be part of Heidi Fleiss's trial for prostitution. It is an interesting portion of the book, but, I think represents exactly his above board ego. He is a great writer, but did he write this all himself?
He was a big man behind the scenes in Hollywood, without him, 'The Godfather' and 'Chinatown' would not have been made. A few stories from those films, but not enough to keep us interested. He gave away a little, but not much, which makes me wonder, if what he has is so big that he could not stay in thus town if revealed. What does come out, is the over powering ego, not to my liking, but, then, this is his book.
Recommended For The History. prisrob 01-27-14
on 6 January 2000
You may have never heard of Bob Evans, but you've almost certainly seen one of his films. He produced The Godfather, Love Story, and Chinatown, to name but three. In his youth he was also a star, acting alongside Jimmy Cagney and Ava Gardner. But it's his off-the-screen activities which make for such entertaining reading. He lived the 60's and 70's Hollywood lifestyle with aplomb: sex, money, gambling. He was married to Ali McGraw and a former Miss America, among others. He got involved with the Mob and used his friendship with Henry Kissenger to get him out of trouble when a suitcase full of drugs went missing. His friends included Douglas Fairbanks, Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman and Jack Nicholson; and all the famous names of Hollywood from the 50s onwards make cameo appreances in this book. At times Evans seems a Zelig-like character, popping up in the most unlikely situations, such as being awarded the key to New York City just before his bust for possession of cocaine. What makes this book stand out is that, despite his shallowness, vanity, greed and sexual promiscuity, Evans recalls all the events with a frankness which reveals his obviously extensive charm. He never hesitates to blame his own cupidity for his downfall and displays a lack of self-awareness which would make Bertie Wooster blush. And it's written in a breezy, dynamic prose which perfectly captures the voice of the man who built - and was broken by - Hollywood. This book makes a perfect companion piece to Peter Biskind's excellent "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls", in which Evans is one of the most entertaining characters.
on 7 March 2003
This has to be one the best inside Hollywood books ever written. Robert Evans Actor turned Paramount Production head turned the studio around from the dark uncertain days of the mid sixties to the glory of, Rosemary's Baby, The Godfather Pts 1 & 2 and Love Story. Evans cuts a path through Hollywood like a man possessed with a desire to see Paramount rise from the ashes of its bloated existence. The cast list is far greater than any Hollywood epic before or since as Evans counts Jack Nicholson, and Warren Beatty as close friends. His use of Godfather terminology and the importance of his brother highlight his passion for loyalty.
Although Evans has lead shall we say a full life the cost of this on him personally has been great. Divorce (many times), Public Disgrace on a murder charge that he had nothing to do with, and a predatory attitude towards women which is at times far from honourable. He counts his son Joshua as his greatest production but saw the breakdown of his marriage caused by a movie. This man was married to the movies and no-one else.
If you love the movies then by this book. It will certainly open your eyes to the goings on behind the scenes and in the ivory towers of Hollywood and one mans struggle to make great movies.
on 6 November 2011
This book is a fascinating insight into the workings of Hollywood
and the life of one of its most famed producers ...Robert Evans.
Hardly any stones are left unturned and Mr Evans seems to have been
under a lot of them ! Cocaine , beautiful girls and tons of money...
he had it all and lived life to the full. Maybe its me but he seemed
a happier guy before he rose to the top of Paramount . With the onset
of class A's and the picking of some sleazy friends Evans sure got
himself into some scrapes. But he's still here , in his 80's now and
no doubt still spinning tales like in the good old days.
Robert Evans, what a hero. I love flamboyant showbiz stars and Robert Evans is a genius. He made films like The Godfather, Love Story and Harold and Maude, and the way they got made is as fascinating as the films themselves. For example, Evans persuaded Mario Puzo to write The Godfather to pay off his gambling debts. Coppola is a hopeless drama queen, it was Evans who put The Godfather together. It's gossipy, cavalier stuff, with high highs and very low lows. A really good insight into how the film industry works. And I wish I could manage Evans's success with the ladies, he's just insatiable.
on 6 January 2011
I got this for my partner for Christmas, as he'd really enjoyed Easy Riders, Raging Bulls some months earlier. He read it in two days and even cross referenced it with Easy Riders...to get different points of view. This is one he'll keep!