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IN MEMORIAM: ROBERT EVANS(1930-2019)

hollywood producer, actor, writer, gadfly, bad ass

5 FAVORITE ROBERT EVANS PRODUCED FILMS(in order):

1.THE GODFATHER, PART II(1974)

 

The greatest sequel of all time and one of the greatest films of all time. As great as The Godfather is, Part II is like Mt. Olympus to its Mt. Kiliminjaro.

2.THE GODFATHER(1972)

 

The sequel is such a classic, maybe the greatest and most nuanced Shakespearean tragedy in American film history, that it overshadows how brilliant the opening drama is.

3.CHINATOWN(1974)

 

 

That Evans produced these three films in a row is so unprecedented it defies belief–and judging by the tenor of current Hollywood film making likely to never be repeated. The greatest of American film noir and the best film ever made about the origins and machinations of Los Angeles, it’s in the same category of American cinema as the above two entries.

4.URBAN COWBOY(1980)

 

 

A very controversial choice, but this is my list. A colossal flop which doomed Evans’ career; he never recovered as an A-list producer. Created a decade or so before live action versions of comic books came into vogue, it was probably slated to fail once Evans green lighted maverick director Robert Altman to helm it. Altman may have been as much an auteur as Scorsese, Coppola and DePalma, and he “owned” the Seventies just like they did, but rarely were his films genuinely popular beyond film critics’ screenings. There’s an American Fellini-esque quality to Altman’s cinema, a stylized, highly idiosyncratic way of looking at the world which is as painterly as a Jackson Pollock canvas if one has the patience for such a display. “American Grotesque,” you could call it.

Which is on display throughout Popeye. Turn the comic strip into a musical? Pure Altman. Hire the brilliant-yet-bonkers and equally difficult-to-categorize Harry Nilsson to pen the soundtrack? Pure Altman. Have the actors, including Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, sing as their characters and not lip synch to professional singers? Pure Altman(which he had done prior in his masterwork, Nashville, casting actors as country singers and requiring them to create their own characters and write their own songs). And instead of bright neon colors to lure in kids and their families, create a drab, grey, morose tableau more accomodating to post-World War Ii Italian neorealism. Absolutely Altman.

THE ESSENTIAL MEMOIR:

Not for the politically correct, not for the faint of heart, this is one of the most acclaimed books about Old Hollywood ever written. Evans spares no one including himself. It’s acute, appalling, self-aware, memorable, odious, redemptive, brazen, engrossing. In other words it’s a compelling yarn of its time. The title “the kid stays in the picture” became one of the memes of its day, long before of course anyone had heard of a meme.

And its companion documentary ain’t too bad, either:

 

Rest in peace.

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