‘A fountain of stories’
There’s not a dull moment in Max Evans’ life.
He’s best-known for writing “The Rounders” and “The Hi Lo Country” ? both of which have been made into feature films.
He was a teenage cowboy and eventually served in World War II and came back to New Mexico, where he struggled as a small-ranch owner.
The 94-year-old New Mexico author is the subject of the documentary “Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years,” which will have its broadcast premiere at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, on New Mexico PBS, Channel 5.1
The broadcast will also be shown on sister stations KENW in Portales and KRWG in Las Cruces.
New Mexico PBS will also air an episode of ”?Colores!” at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, that focuses on the documentary.
“It’s a big deal,” says Lorene Mills of the mulitcast premiere. “This means the local markets can emphasize the importance of Max.”
Max Evans writing in his studio in Taos in the 1950s.
Mills is the co-director of the film, along with David Leach and Paul Barnes.
She and Barnes also served as producers on the film.
Mills says the impetus for the film happened when her late husband shared a story of Evans in 1993 with her.
“I was a camerawoman at the time, and when I heard the story, I wanted to tell it,” she says. “Max has done 1,000 years worth of living.”
Evans was a renowned bar brawler, drinker and raconteur for most of his life. The success of “The Rounders” led him to Hollywood, where he developed a lifelong friendship with Sam Peckinpah, acting as a “script doctor” for him and other Hollywood directors.
He later was instrumental in forming the New Mexico Film Commission, the first such state agency in the U.S.
As a teenager, Evans was largely untaught and was highly influenced by reading Balzac, Chekhov, Tolstoy and Shakespeare ? copies of whose work he found on a rancher’s bookshelves.
His writing is in his mentors’ humanist, tragicomic style, not the standard Western shoot-’em-ups.
Mills says the film premiered in October 2017 and then went on a festival run.
A couple of years has passed since the premiere, and Mills stays in touch with Evans.
“He still has wonderful stories that I’ve never heard before,” she says. “I might still come home and write them down. I feel like I could do many more documentaries about Max’s life. We touched on a lot. He’s a fountain of stories.”
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