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Evel Knievel (1971)

GP  |   |  Action, Biography, Drama  |  10 September 1971 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.2/10 from 589 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 10 critic

Biography of the famed motorcycle daredevil, much of which was filmed in his home town of Butte, Montana. The film depicts Knievel reflecting on major events in his life just before a big ... See full summary »


(as Marvin Chomsky)


(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Doc Kincaid
Rod Cameron ...
Charlie Knesson
Turquoise Smith
Hal Baylor ...
The Sheriff
Sorority Girl
Sorority Girl
Ben Bentley ...
Man in Bar
Nurse #1 (as Alana Collins-Hamilton)
Joe Davis ...
Showgirl #2
Wrangler #1 (as Lee De Broux)
Roger Edington ...
Frank Ellis ...
Rodeo Clown


Biography of the famed motorcycle daredevil, much of which was filmed in his home town of Butte, Montana. The film depicts Knievel reflecting on major events in his life just before a big jump. Written by jmk

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


For Fame, Fortune and Broken Bones!


GP | See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 September 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Evel Knievel - O Rei das Proezas  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Did You Know?


Evel mentions to his wife Linda (Sue Lyon) about not being a bank robber and says "What kind of life would that have been, hiding out like Bonnie and Clyde". Actress Sue Lyon was considered for the role of Bonnie Parker in the 1967 movie "Bonnie and Clyde". See more »


[first lines]
Evel Knievel: [speaking to the camera] 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...
See more »


Referenced in The Big Box: Christmas Evil (2011) See more »


I Do What I Please
Music by Patrick Williams (as Pat Williams)
Lyrics by Bradford Craig
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User Reviews

This film is better than most of today's box office hits.
7 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Evel Knievel" doesn't pretend to be anything more than lightweight, escapist entertainment. If it takes liberties with Knievel's life, guess what--it's by no means the only such movie that's done so. Virtually every movie that's been made about an actual person(s) or historical event has taken liberties.

Most of the reviewers here seem to have taken a perverse satisfaction in beating up on a movie that Variety complimented for its "sheer comic relief." In fact, some of the reviews are so similar, it's difficult to believe that their authors have not taken "inspiration" from their predecessors, especially the first review, which offset every negative criticism with a positive one and made the word "mishmash" a must-use adjective for his successors.

This film is not a mishmash--it's a disappointment. Anyone who can't follow its storyline must still be reading the funny pages. The main problem is that half of this movie is good and the other half isn't. The good half is the flashbacks that deal with Knievel before he became the legend that he was when this film was released.

The film has its comedic moments, portraying Knievel as a man fearful of being hurt (he's afraid of needles, for instance) except when he's on a motorcycle. The filmmakers want us to like Knievel and realize that, in many ways, he's just like us. So, we end up with a semi-caricature, an ersatz imitation. But, this is most evident in the "present" time scenes, which are largely disposable, and serve no better purpose than filling gaps between flashbacks.

This was a low budget film, a quickie vehicle to make a quick buck, that has a movie-of-the-week quality at times. During the climactic jump, actual footage of the real Knievel is spliced with close-ups of extras turning their heads to watch the bike's trajectory, along with close-ups of what is supposed to be Knievel's bike suspended in air, are amateurishly staged. One particular highlight is a montage of Knievel stunt footage and, of course, the infamous Caesar's Palace jump.

Hamilton's performance is surprisingly good. In that sense, he is miscast but has a winning persona. The flashbacks are really not confusing. In fact, with few exceptions, they're the best parts of the movie. Perhaps it would have been better if the story had been told in a linear fashion. The biggest problem is when the flashbacks end and the movie returns to the present, where Knievel and his wife, Sue Lyons (who is basically window dressing and shares zero chemistry with Hamilton; and although the supporting cast contains a couple of familiar faces, they are lackluster) are spending the day behind-the-scenes at the Ontario Motor Speedway, where Knievel make a jump that evening.

Little of this material is good and is contrasts badly with the flashbacks. Hamilton's performance even suffers in the present-time scenes. He comes across as a stiff, pompous, bellyacher. Part of this is due to Knievel the iconic hero being portrayed as a high-maintenance griper, without the winning "bad boy" qualities Hamilton plays so well in the flashbacks, when he's a likable, non-dangerous hood.

His real private life became all-too-public and ugly at the height of his fame. A number of documentaries (with which Knievel cooperated) have shown about what the daredevil's private life was REALLY like, this is understandable (think of a boozing, out-of-control, sex-addicted rock star, besieged by groupies, enjoying a different woman every day and often more than one—his personal record for a single day was something like seven women). Unfortunately, the films suffers badly as a result.

This was another piece of merchandise cranked out when Knievel was a household name and an incredibly popular hero whose image was on posters, lunch boxes, his own cartoon series,and even an Evel Knievel, motorcycle-riding doll by Mattel. So we get a sanitized version of Knievel's life in keeping with the squeaky-clean public persona that never was. That's one reason why the flashbacks are probably more entertaining—they're closer to the truth.

Even so, Knievel is good, clean fun and I've always liked its theme song, although I don't know who sang it and it never charted.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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