Evel Knievel b. October 17, 1938 in Butte, Montana, d. November 30, 2007 in Clearwater, Florida.

Probably the most famous stunt motorcycle jumper ever.

Though he had been racing motorcycles informally for years, his career as a daredevil began in 1965 when he formed a troupe called "Evel Knievel's Motorcycle Daredevils." Touring at first with his troupe and later alone, he performed stunts like riding through walls of fire, jumping over live rattlesnakes and mountain lions, and being towed at 200 miles an hour behind dragster race cars holding on to a parachute. His jumps kept getting more dangerous until on New Year's Day 1968, he attempted a 151 foot jump across the fountains in front of Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Although he successfully cleared the fountains, his landing was a disaster, and his injuries put him in the hospital in a coma for 30 days.

Undaunted, he went on to perform even bigger and crazier stunts, climaxing with his Sept 8, 1974 jump over the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. He actually made it across the quarter mile wide chasm, but strong winds blew his parachute back into the canyon and he, once again, came very close to death.

He made a few more jumps, but finally ended his daredevil career in 1976. During a nationally televised performance of an attempt to jump a tank full of live sharks in the Chicago Ampitheater he struck and partially blinded a cameraman, while he himself broke both arms and suffered a severe concussion. He retired from major performances after that, but continued doing smaller stunts and supporting the career of his son Robbie.

Source: http://www.evel.com/, The Official Evel Knievel website.

Evel Knievel (1971) - My Rating: {>>--} (Whoo hoo!)
{{ Related films: Evel Knievel (1974), Viva Knievel!, Evel Knievel: The E! True Hollywood Story, Evel Knievel (2004), Absolute Evel: The Evel Knievel Story}}

Please note that this movie review is laden with spoilers.

I was born too late to actually experience any of the Evel Knievel phenomena while it was happening. But I did inherit some of the related toys and a whole bunch of comic books about him. Later on as an adult I even ended up owning the Evel Knievel arcade game (Stunt Cycle). But I never actually knew much anything about Evel himself.

I got my copy of this film on DVD. It was inside the mega compilation entitled 50 Movie All Star Collection. Basically it is a box of double sided DVDs with two films on each side, each of the movies star at least one person who was A-list at one time. I picked the Evel Knievel as the first movie I watched out of the collection (it also nicely shares a disc side with another stuntman movie called "Stunts").

Body count: 1. An aging rodeo star dies when he falls off a bull. Evel himself also falls off his motorcycle close to ten times, but he never actually dies. He does apparently break countless bones, and yet is still able to get back on his motorcycle and ride without any casts on any of them.

Plot Outline: This movie only has the thinnest bit of plot. It largely consists of Evel trying to jump nineteen cars, and having flashbacks of completely implausible events. This movie is what would happen if you let a 13 year old boy outline the plot of Evel's life with no knowledge of him other than his motorcycle jumping, and then you let William Shatner write it.

The first completely improbable event in movie occurs when Evel is just a boy. He is sitting there playing with his yoyo in his home town of Butte, Montana when a car drives up and starts honking, the car then falls through the ground and basically into the center of the earth. This was part of a bit about how Butte is full of holes. I'll skip the joke about the giant Butte Hole, as I feel the audience here is far too sophisticated for that sort of humor.

The next completely improbable thing to happen is where Evel walks into a bar, gets everyone to come outside, and proceeds to rob the safe in a sporting goods store using a clever plot that redirects the police elsewhere and makes him look like a hero. What he does is breaks in the store through an upstairs window, comes downstairs and unlocks the door, setting off the alarm. Then when the police comes everyone acts like they are waiting for the perp to come out. Evel volunteers to help the police officer, he borrows a gun and they go inside through separate entrances. Evel uses his gun to shoot open the safe, and the townspeople make the officer think that the perp ran out the front door. Evel then distributes twenty dollar bills amongst the masses.

Later a younger looking Evel meets his future wife. She is in high school and he is most certainly not. I cannot find a birthdate for Linda Bork anywhere, so I am not sure how wide the age gap actually was. He appears to have transformed from smooth criminal into motorcycle thug. He takes her for a ride, tries and fails to outrun the police. In jail he picks up his nickname. He later goes to her college during her first semester (once she goes away for college) and kidnaps her from the dorm. They are then married.

Later still Evel decides to rob the City Hall for the tax money using dynamite as a weapon. For a completely unexplained reason he cuts the town banker in for fifty percent. These criminal bits never seem to be fully explained, they don't mesh at all with the rest of the movie, and don't seem to be mentioned in any other biographies about him. Everything he actually was doing for money in the early days was completely ignored.

Eventually Evel successfully makes his nineteen car jump (I could do twenty-seven busses on his video game) and the movie ends with a bit about him wanting to jump the Grand Canyon.

Fun Quotes!

The Evel they presented in this movie absolutely loved to give long flowing speeches that were poorly written. He gave Shatner-esque speeches all the time, and had a real dislike for the film Easy Rider.

  • "A Roman general in the time of Caesar had a motto - "If it is possible, it is done. If it is impossible... it will be done." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I live by. " - Evel Knievel
  • "Ladies and gentlemen, you have no idea how good it makes me feel to be here today. It is truly an honor to risk my life for you. An honor. Before I jump this motorcycle over these 19 cars - and I want you to know there's not a Volkswagen or a Datsun in the row - before I sail cleanly over that last truck, I want to tell you that last night a kid came up to me and he said, "Mr. Knievel, are you crazy? That jump you're going to make is impossible, but I already have my tickets because I want to see you splatter." That's right, that's what he said. And I told that boy last night that nothing is impossible. " - Evel Knievel
  • I don't like a lot of these weirdos you see on motorcycles these days. They give biking a bad name. I don't need to get high, I am high all the time. - Evel Knievel

Lead roles:

Directed by: Marvin J. Chomsky

Writing credits: Alan Caillou and John Milius.

Tagline: I just take that bike up there and hope it all works out every time I jump...

Sources: The oh-so-wonderful IMDB, my head, and watching the sucker. A big thanks to weasello for the format used.

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