Legend of the Falls: Revisiting the Evel Kneivel Story

An engrossing doc captures America’s original daredevil, warts and all.


Amid the disillusionments of the ’70s—the Vietnam War, racial strife, Watergate, lines around the block for gasoline—America needed a hero. And many, especially us kids, found one in the motorcycle daredevil Robert “Evel” Knievel. Boy, did my brother and I get amped for his audacious stunts (and epic wipeouts!), from the record-breaking jump over 19 cars at Ontario Motor Speedway to the ludicrous scheme to leap the Snake River Canyon in a star-spangled rocket cycle. Only later did I learn how deeply flawed our fearless showman was.

In Being Evel, an engaging documentary, director Daniel Junge supplements a wealth of archival and press footage with recollections from spouses, kin, and business associates—including promoter Sheldon Saltman, whose 1977 memoir of touring with Knievel prompted the incensed stuntman to attack him with a baseball bat. The film gives Knievel his due, but also strips away the layers to reveal a checked-out father, a philandering husband, and a complex American icon whose identity was subsumed by his camera-ready persona.

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate