Daredevils of all stripes have always captivated American culture, perhaps no more so than in the 1970s. We of a certain age have fond childhood memories of staring in amazement at grainy, pre-cable television feeds—usually on ABC’s Wide World of Sports—as one man kept setting the risk-taking bar ever higher. Now, award-winning Denver filmmakers Daniel Junge and Davis Coombe are taking a warm look back on this golden age of stunts and its most famous star.
Being Evel chronicles the literal rises and falls of Robert “Evel” Knievel, who jumped just about everything imaginable on his motorcycle between 1965 and 1980—his skills on the bike surpassed only by his self-promotional instincts. The movie debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and will have its Denver premiere at the Sie FilmCenter on August 21, the latest entry in Colorado’s rich documentary scene.
Junge and co-writer Coombe dig into all aspects of the colorful Knievel’s life, detailing such hard-living exploits as the time he kidnapped his girlfriend in order to convince her to marry him; his notoriously aggressive business style—his day job was, of all things, selling insurance; and his success in breaking numerous world records, not to mention literally every bone in his body. These legendary exploits made him the de facto godfather of today’s wildly popular extreme sports landscape and inspired future generations of Jackasses. (Notable death-defying lunatic Johnny Knoxville is one of several protégées featured in the film.)
Coombe will be on hand Friday for a post-screening Q&A session, so if you want to see a true OG adventurer in action, get your tickets here.
—Follow 5280 editor-at-large Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.