Evel Knievel (film) - Production

Production

A script had been written by a writer, but George Hamilton was not happy with it. He offered to pay John Milius $5,000 to write some lines in the script. Milius says he went to Hamilton's home at Palm Springs to read the script "and it was terrible. So I threw the script in the pool and beat on it with an air. And of course the script was waterlogged, so I just wrote another one. He later told me he knew that if I got down there with that script I'd write another one."

Milius says Knievel "saw himself as the new gladiator of the new Rome, something larger than a daredevil. He saw the whole spectacle of civilization and the absurdity of what it's turned into, and he fit into that."

Milius later called Hamilton "a wonderful guy, totally underrated. A great con-man, that's what he really is. He always said, 'I'll be remembered as a third-rate actor when in fact, I'm a first-rate con man'."

The picture was directed by Marvin J. Chomsky and was released on September 10, 1971. The screenplay was written by Alan Caillou who had written the screenplay for Jack Starrett's The Losers also for Joe Solomon's Fanfare Films and John Milius. George Hamilton was producer and Evel Knievel worked as an advisor to the production. Much of the film was shot in Butte, Montana. Actual footage of Knievel jumping his motorcycle was used throughout the film. Additionally, Knievel performed a series of new jumps at the Ontario Motor Speedway for the production, including a spectacular record jump of 129 feet over 19 cars that was included in the film (Knievel held the record for jumping a Harley-Davidson motorcycle over 19 cars for 27 years, until broken by Bubba Blackwell in 1998). Knievel received a flat rate of $25,000 for his rights and the consulting fee.

The motion picture has fallen out of copyright and is in the public domain. The most common version of the film (available on DVD and various streaming media) is from a faded 16 mm print. Scratches on both the audio and video track are easily detectable.

The music is conducted by Patrick Williams. The title song, "I Do What I Please", is played throughout the film, including the opening and closing credits, and the montage of the real Evel Knievel's stunt riding.

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