Evel Knievel

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Evel Dead
Day breaks upon Vegas as we gaze upon the splendor of the fountains in front of Caesars Palace. I choke back a sob upon realizing that even the Extras I write for this site will open with a shot of this blasted desert city and pay attention to the caption: it's apparently January 1,1968. Well, that explains why everyone's standing in front of a backdrop of Caesars Palace -- nobody's invented special effects yet. The crowd murmurs, and we see Evel Knievel kitted out in his white leather riding gear, setting a new fashion benchmark for the most obnoxious use of patriotic colors ever. His helmet has his name on it -- helpful for those post-crash moments when the blow to the head kicks in and he's having a hard time remembering his name, I suppose. Evel revs up his bike and commands his currently-silent friend, "Zip it!" This, my friends, is what we call "character development." The friend protests that he's done nothing wrong and Evel protests, "Yeah, well, you think too damn loud, Phil." Ah, more "character development." In other words, this is not a man who personifies grace under pressure. Phil walks off so he can go be alone with his presumably clamorous thoughts, and Evel makes a preliminary run. Since we still have the rest of the credits to get through, he'll be making that run in slow motion. Evel then heads to the top of the ramp from which he'll be launching himself, poses dramatically, and basks in the applause. The mob shuffles, and then we get a close-up of Evel looking all intent. Or going into flashback. Take your pick. The screen goes white, and when it comes up, some jukebox is playing one of those 1950s songs that makes people wonder how long it's going to be before the British Invasion, and we see a lit movie marquee against a night sky. The Wild One is playing. As some giant automotive monstrosity requiring the decimation of an entire species, its fossilization, and its subsequent transformation into crude oil just to turn over in the mornings pulls up to the theatre and honks, a hoody-looking little kid darts out and furtively strips the hubcaps off its wheels. Wait a minute. Evel Knievel is about to go flying over the Caesars Palace fountains and he's spending the pre-jump moments flashing back to a life of juvenile delinquency? Shouldn't he maybe be focusing on how to go hurtling through the air with the fewest broken bones possible? "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" plays, just in case the car, the clothing, and the marquee have you confused over what year it is. Perhaps the set decorator will haul out a bust of Senator Joe McCarthy next, as one of those subtle background cues. As the driver leans on the horn, the kid hustles to get the hubcaps off. Two women come out and get in the car just as young Bobby Knievel pries off the last hubcap.

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