The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)

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Released 27-Jan-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Featurette-On The Red Carpet - interviews with Robert Evans
Outtakes-Marathon Man gag reel
Trailer-Trailers/artwork of films made with Evans asHead ofParamount
Theatrical Trailer
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Trailer-The Safety Of Objects, Russian Ark, The Fast Runner
Trailer-The One And Only, Samsara
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 89:43 (Case: 91)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:02) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Brett Morgen
Nanette Burstein
Studio
Distributor
USA Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Robert Evans
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Jeff Danna


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each one differently."

    The Kid Stays in the Picture is a documentary about the life of Hollywood film producer Robert Evans, although as the above quote from Evans which prefaces the film implies, any similarity between persons living or dead may be purely coincidental.

    Evans was a New York clothing company executive who, while holidaying in Beverly Hills, was literally plucked from a swimming pool by Norma Shearer, former film star and widow of legendary producer Irving G. Thalberg, who asked him to test for the part of her late husband in the film The Man of a Thousand Faces. This film was a biopic of Lon Chaney starring James Cagney. Evans got the part, then after the film returned to New York. In a nightclub he was discovered for a second time by producer Darryl F. Zanuck, who cast him as a toreador in the film version of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. The cast and crew of the film, as well as Hemingway himself, objected to Evans being in the picture, and a group of them sent a telegram to Zanuck saying he should be removed from the picture. Zanuck's reply gives the film its name: "The kid stays in the picture, and anyone who doesn't like it can quit."

    After putting in a terrible performance in another film, Evans decided that he wanted to be a movie mogul like Zanuck, and so began to work his way up through the ranks of producers at Paramount. By 1966, he was head of production, and he produced a series of hits that turned the studio's fortunes around: Rosemary's Baby, Love Story, The Godfather and Chinatown among them.

    After branching out into independent production with Marathon Man, Evans' career hit the skids. A drug bust for cocaine in 1980, and the murder of an associate in 1983 during the production of The Cotton Club led to Evans' downfall. But his life and career took an upswing in the early 90s.

    The film is based on an eight hour audio book Evans made of his autobiographical book of the same name. In fact, the narration of the film by Evans was extracted from the audio book, and was not recorded with this film in mind. Two filmmakers, Brett Morgen and Nanette Burstein, decided to make a film about Evans, and in conjunction with producer Graydon Carter have fashioned this unusual documentary. The film is different in a couple of respects from the typical documentary. Firstly, Evans narrates the entire film, without anyone else involved with the story being given the opportunity to speak, except in archive footage. Secondly, the filmmakers have used special effects to animate still photographs, to give them a 3-D effect and motion. Much of the screen time is taken up with photographs, and this approach distinguishes the style of the film from the documentaries of Ken Burns, which deal with old photographs by panning and zooming the camera over them.

    The Kid Stays in the Picture is effectively a one-sided story about Robert Evans, and although he makes an attempt to be self-deprecating, in his eyes everything revolves around him. For example, his marriage break-up to Ali McGraw was his fault, not hers, even though it was she who left him for Steve McQueen. There is no mention of his five other marriages. Apparently also he was responsible for the success of The Godfather and Chinatown, more so than the filmmakers. While this aspect is a little annoying, the film moves quickly and mercifully does not dwell in self-serving fashion on Evans' problems with drugs or with his current Hollywood career.

    There is a wealth of old footage here, some of it quite amusing. Look out for the infomercial Evans was required to make as a result of his drugs case. Get High On Yourself is a hilariously bad example of attempts by Hollywood to warn of the dangers of drugs, with an sometimes embarrassed looking group of stars singing the theme song, including Bob Hope and Paul Newman. Also quite funny is the gag reel excerpt from Marathon Man shown during the end credits, with Dustin Hoffman doing an impersonation of Evans.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of the material presented here varies wildly. While the photographs and recent footage are both very well transferred, the older film and video footage ranges from good to average to bad. There appears to have been little in the way of restoration of the older footage. I suspect that not only was this outside the scope and budget on the filmmakers to attempt this, it may have been a conscious decision to retain the warts-and-all look of the older material to give an impression of the passage of time.

    The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Shadow detail is not really an issue with this sort of film. The picture is generally very sharp with the recent footage, and variable with the older material.

    Colours are generally truthful, though again this depends on the source material, some of which is black and white anyway. Don't expect the colour to be pristine throughout, as some of the older material is faded and washed out.

    I could not detect any film to video artefacts, but there are plenty of film artefacts in the archive footage, for example the presentation that Evans made to the Paramount board, which was taken from the sole surviving copy.

    This is an RSDL-formatted disc, with the layer change occurring at 57:02. It occurs during a natural break and is not disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks available; English DTS 5.1 , English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the first two tracks.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the default track. This track is pretty good, though the centre channel seems a little recessed in comparison to the other channels. Dialogue is a little difficult to understand at times, as Evans tends to mumble and has a gravelly voice. This makes the absence of subtitles unforgivable.

    The DTS soundtrack is much better, with a higher level centre channel signal. Surround activity, though not essential in this kind of film, is quite well done, with the original music score by Jeff Danna fitting in well with the images on screen, and music of the period well integrated. The sound image of the DTS soundtrack is more realistic than the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and sounds richer and fuller.

    There were no issues with audio sync in the main feature, although as most of the sound is music or dialogue from an unseen narrator, any issues would not be readily apparent.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    All of the extras are presented in 1.33:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0.

On the Red Carpet (12:27)

    This is footage from the 2003 Spirit Awards, where Evans receives an award from Larry King. There are red carpet interviews with Evans and his current wife; Arthur Hiller, Leeza Gibbons, Peter Bart, Josh Evans (his son), Mathew McConaughey and other friends and associates of Evans.

Marathon Man Gag Reel (7:21)

    This is the full gag reel from Marathon Man that is excerpted in the end credits of the main feature. Roy Scheider and Dustin Hoffman both impersonate Evans. Some parts are quite funny, though it does drag on a bit and the audio is a little indistinct. The picture quality is quite poor, being fairly dull and faded.

Theatrical Trailer (1:30)

    The original trailer for the film. Of marginal interest.

Interviews (9:13)

    Short interviews with Robert Evans, Graydon Carter, Brett Morgen (misspelled on the menu and on the case as Morgan) and Nanette Burstein. These are of marginal interest. The audio goes out of sync badly during the Morgen interview, and remains so until the end of Burstein's interview.

Madman Propaganda

    This comprises five trailers, for The Safety of Objects, Russian Ark, The Fast Runner, The One and Only, and Samsara.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There are several different DVD editions available worldwide.

    In comparison to the Region 1 and UK Region 2 DVDs, the Region 4 misses out on:

    In comparison to the Region 1 DVD, both the Region 4 and Region 2 DVDs miss out on:

    In comparison to the Region 4, the Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    In comparison to the Region 4, the UK Region 2 DVD misses out on:

    In my opinion, the presence of the audio commentary plus the substantially longer extras tips the balance towards the Region 1 disc, despite the absence of the DTS soundtrack.

Summary

    The Kid Stays In the Picture is an interesting and inventive documentary that is worth seeing at least once, though it may pale on repeated viewings.

    The video quality is generally quite good, though little attempt seems to have been made to restore or clean up the older footage.

    The audio quality is quite good.

    The extras package is interesting, though on paper it is inferior to the package on the Region 1 disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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