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 ju... Read allBiography 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.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.
In dissecting the movie and comparing it to Knievel's real life, most reviewers miss the real point of this film, I think. Knievel was at the peak of his popularity. Every stunt he did was to make money. He had a sense of showmanship about it. And, he had a huge ego. Already he had suffered many of the 300 plus broken bones in his life. He wouldn't be able to work as a daredevil much longer. So, the time was right for a movie on the legend.
I don't know how the Knievel and Hamilton connection came about. Surely, Knievel must have provided a lot of information for this film. His background and trouble with the law while growing up in Butte, MT, isn't ignored; but is treated lightly and with a sense of humor. Knievel was known to espouse some values for children – about keeping away from drugs. Whether or not that's how he truly felt, he did in fact issue his warnings in public. It may have been part of his showman persona, but it was effective in helping paint an image of a daredevil hero. Later in life, Knievel assaulted and badly beat an author with a baseball bat. The public soon learned that his private life was far different from his public persona.
But this movie is about Knievel's early life and rise to legend status. I think George Hamilton nailed the character in this film. He moves between deadpan seriousness, humor, and anxiety with ease. That must have been how the real Evel Knievel was – in the minds of viewers, but also in the glossy hype about the legend. Sue Lyon and Bert Freed do well in their roles. Most of the incidents in the film actually happened. But, how much of the details are fact or fiction – who knows?
Now, for the historic jump that took place three years after this film. I remember watching it on TV. I don't recall if it was live (closed circuit) or a news cast, but the program showed Knievel's jump across the Snake River Canyon about five miles east of Twin Falls, Idaho. His cycle looked more like a rocket ship than a motorcycle. It was built specifically for the jump. The canyon at that point was about 1,600 feet across – from edge to edge; but the jump trajectory was 3,500 feet. Kneivel rocketed from South to North and he actually made it across the canyon. But his safety parachute had opened right at lift off and the drag held him up enough that strong northwest winds carried him back over the canyon where he descended to the floor. He came to rest just outside the waters and walked out without a scratch.
I've been to the Snake River Canyon jump site. Today, a monument is located there. It's about five miles east of Twin Falls, ID. Take I-84 exit 173 and go south toward Idaho Falls about three miles. Watch for signs at the bridge over the Snake River Canyon. Follow the falls road to the jump site. While there, a visit to Shoshone Falls Park is a must. The falls are very impressive.
- Apr 2, 2014