Sidewinder’s View: Viva Knievel (1977)

This morning’s movie…

viva knievel

…starring Evel Knievel as himself, with Leslie Nielsen and Marjoe Gortner as the picture’s drug-importing villains. Knievel’s mechanic is played by Gene Kelly, but I didn’t even realize it was him. Lauren Hutton, as Knievel’s love interest, basically plays the same character she played a year earlier in Burt Reynolds’ picture Gator.

IMDb synopsis: “Motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel is offered a fortune to perform in Mexico. What Evel doesn’t know is that they’re planning to kill him and use his body to ship cocaine into the U.S.”

The movie reminded me of Billy Jack Goes To Washington, released (barely) the same year, in that it was a slick, widescreen vanity project featuring a lackluster script, a mixed bag of actors, both talented and not-so-much, and a wooden leading man who’s not so endearing after all.

Knievel really comes across as a surly, arrogant jerkoff. There are consistent, sickly sweet efforts by the filmmakers to portray him as an aw-shucks, kid-friendly hero, but Knievel only seems genuine when he’s sneering at people (which occurs frequently throughout the picture).

Apart from its mid-Seventies pop culture/kitsch factor, the stunt riding is the only reason to check the movie out.

And, yes, the caption across the bottom of this still from the movie is an actual line in the movie.

WannaSeeMyVan

Creeeeeepy Knievel!

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