Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Evel Knievel

Cleveland Press July 16, 1971

It's like Columbus crossing the Atlantic, or the first astronaut on the moon the man says with some feeling. He even compares it with the Wright Brothers and their first flight.

What the man is talking about is jumping a motorcycle over 19 cars.

George Hamilton is the fellow doing the talking and he plays the title role in "Evel Knievel" which is all about a fellow called Evel Knievel who really does jump a motorcycle over a string of autos for a living. As of this writing he is still at it.

I don't know what the real Mr. Knievel is like but as played by Hamilton he is the total egotist, given to making turgid statements.

His speeches are about the most bombastic you have ever heard and Hamilton only makes them sound more ridiculous.

IT'S TOUGH TO assure an audience that you are the last of the gladiators of ancient Rome and that you are sure that your death will be glorious and make it believable. Hamilton isn't up to lesser speeches let alone these.

The most colorful thing about Hamilton is the white leather outfit he wears decorated with stars and stripes -- and open at the throat in what he hopes looks like Elvis Presley's shirts.

The actual jumps are shown in bits of old thrill show films that have been spliced into the movie with Mr. Knievel involved. They are a bad match with the newer film but this is a minor problem in a movie filled with major problems.

AWAY FROM the thrill shows Knievel is portrayed as a fun-loving non-conformist who blows up the city hall to steal money, baits the local police and who kidnaps his wife from a girls' dormitory at college.

He also is pictured as being very insecure in his day to day living though he has no concern about getting splattered all over the scenery and getting every bone in his body busted, things he does with regularity.

Sue Lyon as his wife is bland in a bland role. Movie buffs will appreciate a couple of minutes devoted to old cowboy star Rod Cameron who plays an old cowboy. Bert Freed is nicely acerbic as the doctor who keeps putting Knievel back together again.