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Sunday, May 27, 2018

'The Fabulous Allan Carr' VOD: The Fat Gay Kid Stays in the Picture

Documentarian Jeffrey Schwarz awesomely celebrates Gay Pride with the June 5, 2018 VOD release of the aptly titled "The Fabulous Allan Carr." This portly and flamboyant caftan-clad producer of camp classics "Grease" and the Village People faux biopic "Can't Stop the Music" truly was large and in charge. The pedigree of Schwarz includes films on two other gay role models; these documentaries are "I Am Divine" and the (reviewed) "Tab Hunter Confidential."

Like "Confidential," Schwarz bases "Carr" on a biography of his subject. In this case, it is Party Animals by "Carr" talking head Robert Hofler. "Carr" also warrants comparison to the 2002 documentary "The Kid Stays in the Picture" about "Godfather" and "Chinatown" producer Robert Evans in that both Carr and Evans deeply embraced both the films and every excess of the '70s.

The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Carr" provides an excellent overview of the subject and some sense of the terrific star power of the participants but sadly omits a clip of the Marlo Thomas segment.

Much of the fun of "Carr" relates to extended interviews with friends from his "before he was a star" days as the only son of a wealthy family in a Chicago suburb. Even back then, he was a likable fat kid with a desire to fit in with the popular kids.

The evolution of the career of "Carr" is equally interesting. This Orson Welles wannabe begins staging ambitious theater productions. He subsequently lands a talent coordinator job on a swinging series with guest stars that include Sammy Davis, Jr.

The professional development of Carr continues with being called in to use his Barnum-level promotional skills to market a "tough sell" movie in a manner that makes it one of the biggest commercial and artistic hits of the '70s. This campaign further leaves its mark by establishing the practice of releasing strong contenders for the Best Picture Oscar near the end of the calendar year.

Producing "Grease" represents the next big step in the career of Carr. This segment truly plays out as a "True Hollywood Story." Schwarz shows how the adolescent and post-adolescent experiences of Carr mold the film into the one that millions know and love today. We further directly hear from several stars and many behind-the-scenes folks. One of the more interesting stories relates to the origin of the Travolta song "Sandy."

The second of the three Carr productions that Schwarz prominently features is the 1980 Village People origin story musical "Can't Stop the Music." Like "Grease," we see how this one reflects a world that Carr considers ideal. We additionally learn of the extent to which "Grease" star Olivia Newton-John is hopelessly devoted to Carr.

A highly amusing aspect of the "Music" study from a 2018 perspective is a discussion of the involvement of Olympian Bruce Jenner. The narration speculates that Carr is infatuated with Jenner. This goes on to discuss how big macho Jenner looks bemused surrounded by more feminine gay men.

A fun aspect of the discussion of "Music" particularly ties into looks at the personal life of Carr. "Music" man Steve Guttenberg discusses being an ambitious 20 year-old actor agreeing to play along with a casting couch tactic of Carr. This interview includes Guttenberg speculating that his getting the role is a form of package deal.

Neither Schwarz nor the close friends and colleagues of Carr pull any punches regarding the wealth and power of Carr being behind his ability to attract men who are at least 10 years younger and 100 pound lighter than him. This activity includes the relatively common practice of the boys saving the real fun for after the straight and older guests leave the frequent pool/disco parties at the home with a "history" that Carr owns.

This "intimate portrait" includes a farmboy next door type discussing being a  gay 21 year-old new arrival in Los Angeles literally delivered to Carr. Subsequent promises of stardom keep this stud around.

Schwarz next discusses several factors that make the mid-80s a turning point for both Carr and "the scene." This leads to one of the more scandalous topics in the documentary.

The discussion of the infamous trainwreck that is the 1989 Academy Awards begins with noting the lack of excitement regarding the recent productions of the Oscars. This leads to the powers-that-be hiring Carr to produce the '89 show out of a belief that his promotional skills, ability to stage spectacular numbers, and overall love of both old and new Hollywood make him a good choice.

We next see how featuring Snow White in the opening number starts things out on the wrong foot. Reminders follow regarding how things snowball as to her poorly thought out entrance, a number that is designed to a star-studded extravaganza looking more like the night of the living dead, and the infamous duet with Rob Lowe virtually assuring that Carr never will never work in that town (or get even close friends to take his calls) again.

A happier note is a mention of a positive innovation that Carr brings to the Oscars. The 2018 perspective this time is an uncontrollable urge to yell "sometimes twice" at the screen.

The modern Hollywood ending that Schwarz provides (and to which Travolta can particularly relate) revolves around Carr slowly regaining some of his earlier glory.

The bottom line is that Carr provides more than ample fodder for a documentary. This bigger picture regarding this is that he represents the last of the breed of filmmakers who can create art that satisfies a desire for commerce. A related note is that the same thinking that only a gay man know how to cut hair supports the theory that only flamboyant gay men know how to stage elaborate musicals.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Carr" is encouraged to email me. You also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,

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