Being Evel

Synopsis: The real story behind the myth of American icon Robert 'Evel' Knievel and his legacy.
Director(s): Daniel Junge
Production: Gravitas Ventures.
  2 wins & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
99 min


the following program

is brought to you

in living color.

( theme music playing )

tonight we have

evel knievel.

he's probably

the only man in history

who's become really wealthy

by trying to kill himself.

it's true.

he is somewhat of a legend.

he does incredible stunts

with motorcycles,

and he has broken,

i guess, more bones

than anybody in history,

and yet he keeps at this.

so let us meet the gentlemen.

here is evel knievel.

( lively music plays,

applause )

johnny knoxville:

i grew up in the '70s.

and evel knievel

was the '70s.

he captured my imagination

like no one else.

some of you may have seen

this film before.

this is a jump that you made

at caesars palace.

what happened?

the motorcycle

landed short,

ripped the handlebars

out of my hands,

and i bounced for 60 yards

into the dunes parking lot.


you're an incredible man.

i didn't think of him

as a daredevil.

i thought of him

as a superhero.

no one ever went for it

like that before.

he invented that.

since then, it has taken off

in a major way.

that's such a large part

of our culture now.

he inspired all that.

but there'll never be

another evel.

i know i've been called a lot

of things by a lot of people,

- a crazy man or a con man...

- carson:

...but when you head down

that long white line,

you better have had

made your peace with god,

and you better know

what you're doing

because a con man

ain't gonna get there.

i didn't know

the story of the man.

and it was, you know,

pretty complex.

california judge has ordered

motorcycle stuntman evel knievel

to serve out the rest

of a jail sentence behind bars.

i'm a grown-ass man,

and some of the stuff

is tough to reconcile.

it's a crazy story.

it's just fast, faster,

and disaster.

( t. rex's "20th century boy"

plays )

friends say it's fine,

friends say it's good

everybody says

it's just like rock n' roll

i move like a cat,

charge like a ram

sting like a bee


i wanna be your man


well, it's plain to see

you were meant for me

yeah, i'm your boy,

the 20th century toy


20th century toy

i wanna be

your boy

20th century toy

i wanna be your boy

( music fades )

i was a member of

the sportscasters association

of los angeles,

and we used

to have monthly meetings

on a thursday at a place

called red tractors.

anybody who was anybody came--

tommy lasorda.

billy jean king was there.

mohamed ali

when he was cassius clay,

first made his appearance here.

they were legitimate athletes

in their chosen professions.

all of a sudden,

there was this this commotion

on ventura boulevard.

there was this nutcase

going up and down

doing wheelies.

i didn't even know

what a wheelie was

until they explained it to me.

people didn't do wheelies

up and down the road.

i mean,

that was crazy,

on a rear wheel on a motorcycle

going 80 miles per hour?

( imitates motorcycle engine )

everybody stopped and would go,

"oh, look at that."

even the hard-bitten

sports announcers

of that day and age

were taken aback by this guy,

who of course

turned out to be evel knievel.

if you told me

that he was gonna be

world famous,

i would say you're nuts.

if you're going to try to

understand evel,

you gotta go back

to his childhood.

his parents split up

and left town,

and he was basically raised

by his grandparents.

bob rowling:
grandma and grandpa

did the best they could do,

and he was just rambunctious,

i guess.

maybe he didn't have

that attention as a young boy

when he needed it.

( chuckles )

truth is, i think,

that bobby was kind of angry

with his father because

he didn't get to stay with him.

that's what i think.

he wanted to be

with his father.

pat williams:
we were up

at my grandma's house,

and he and i

were wrestling around,

and i punched him

in the mouth.

and he lit on the back

of his head.

and i said, "bobby?"

and nothing.

i thought, oh, my god,

i killed him.

and instantly,

he had these wild eyes

'cause he knew

what had happened.

and across the kitchen,

there was a door

that was slightly open,

the pantry door,

and he ran at that door

and slammed it shut

with his head.

and that half-stunned him again.

and he turned around

sitting down,

and he pointed at me,

and he said, "did you see that?

nobody can hurt me.

you can't hurt me.

nobody can hurt me."

jim blankenship:
i think

growing up in butte, montana,

without a father would--

would be hard to handle,

i would think.


butte, montana,

was just a tough-ass

mining town.

when the mines were going full,

the bars were open 24 hours.

there was a lot

of prostitution.

there was about

3,000 whores at that time.

it was just miners

drinkin' and fightin'.

you had to learn

to cope in butte.

sometimes coping meant

with your fists.

you fought.

you stood up like a man.

you fought,

and you were taught that.

and that's part

of the butte credo

is you just don't back down.

knievel was a fighter

from the get-go,

even during grade school.

he'd get a little obnoxious

at times.

you know,

you'd have to settle him down.


you couldn't dare him.

if you'd dare him,

he'd do it.

i remember when bob

got his first motorcycle.

i don't know

why he had two tires.

he always rode around

on the back one.

you never knew what he was gonna

do with that motorcycle in town.

i mean, he'd be riding it

all over raising--

raising hell with everybody.

pat burns:
he liked to have

the cops chase him.

you just couldn't catch him

on a bike

when you were in a patrol car.

( rock 'n' roll music playing )

linda bork knievel:

one day i go run up

to the store,

and who's up there,

but big bad knievel, you know?

he was a character.

( laughs )

i was scared,

but i was kind of flattered,

you know?


he's paying attention to me,

and then one day he just said,

"you're gonna marry me."

( laughs )

the story

is that he kidnapped her.

well, i don't know

if he kidnapped her or not.

you know, that might have been--

that might have been something

that they were planning

together anyhow, who knows?

yeah, i guess i was kidnapped.

i think i was just walking home

from school that day

when he said,

"get in the car,"

you know?

( laughs )

i don't know, i was just--

something just almost like

overtook me,

and he drove me down

to dillon and, uh,

danged if we didn't

get married there.

he had some weird ideas

about how life should be lived.

and he--

he thought that he should be at

the top of the heap, you know?

i figure that's why he did

the stuff he did to make money.

he'd run 'em,

there'll be a shady side to it.

he was happier

if there was something

a little shady about it.

linda knievel:

he made up his own job.

actually, he started working

as a security officer at night.

he had a route

where he used to go around

at 2:
00 in the morning,

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Davis Coombe

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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