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The Icon: Robert Evans

The movie business runs on swagger.

Directors are allowed to cultivate a certain artistic schlubbiness, anyone who’s required to make deals has to be the most brazen, self-confident person in any particular room, with the clothes to match. When it works, it’s a thing of beauty.

And if you’re curious what that looks like, we’d direct you to Mr. Robert Evans…

Perfectly Embodied: The man could wear a three-piece. On lesser mortals, that kind of wide-tied getup might seem ostentatious, but Evans wasn’t pretending; in 1975, he really was larger than life. He was coming off the best run of his career, with Love Story, The Godfather and Chinatown under his belt. He was living in a palace and sleeping with the most beautiful women in Hollywood—and goddamn it, he was going to dress like it. As the years went by, the look got wilder and the reputation got worse, but he never let them forget his name.

Words of Wisdom: Cojones! Either you’re born with ‘em or without ‘em. Mine have done me as much harm as good. -Robert Evans

The Backstory: Evans arrived on the scene just as the old studio system was collapsing, and the industry was desperate for a new way of business. “New Hollywood” is the phrase you’ll find in film textbooks, but it wasn’t an artistic movement so much as a pitch—a pitch that had to be sold by sharp hucksters like Evans and his followers to convince the industry that there was money to be made in grand melodrama. (A three-hour mobster epic couldn’t have been an easy sell.) Of course, the magic didn’t last forever. The impressive thing is that the swagger did.

Here’s a firsthand sample: