‘OUT at the Movies’ kicks off 2018 with a ‘fabulous’ documentary
“OUT at the Movies,” Winston-Salem’s International LGBT Film Festival, will present a special screening of Jeffrey Schwarz’s acclaimed documentary feature The Fabulous Allan Carr Jan. 13 at the ACE Exhibition Complex, located on the main campus of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking.
In the annals of pop culture, Allan Carr (1937-1999) certainly made his mark. As a producer and promoter, he brought Grease to the big screen in 1978 and won a Tony for producing the Broadway smash La Cage aux Folles in 1983. He is credited with launching the careers of such luminaries as Olivia Newton-John, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Hamill and, lest we forget, the Village People.
The irrepressible impresario was also responsible for taking a low-budget Mexican exploitation melodrama about the infamous Andes plane crash and turned it into the box-office hit Survive! (1976), and he was instrumental in the promotion of Saturday Night Fever (1977) and The Deer Hunter (1978), the former bringing disco into the mainstream and the latter winning five Oscars including Best Picture.
As well as triumphs, there were travesties: Can’t Stop the Music (1980), the big-budget disco comedy extravaganza that starred the Village People, Valerie Perrine, and the former Caitlyn Jenner, which was a colossal box-office flop and inspired the Golden Raspberry Awards; Grease 2 (1982), which – if nothing else – provided a career springboard for Pfeiffer; and the 1989 Academy Awards telecast, widely derided as one of the worst in the Academy’s history. (Yes, that’s the ceremony where Rob Lowe and Snow White sang “Proud Mary.”)
Whatever the outcome, positive or negative, Carr’s projects made waves – and headlines. Whether crash or smash, it was usually on a grand scale. Then again, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, a notion that Carr subscribed to. In a 1979 interview with People Magazine, he called himself “the Mike Todd of the ‘70s,” referring to the extravagant producer of Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and one-time husband of Elizabeth Taylor. “I’m the Bianca Jagger of producers, always in the columns. People think I’m half Mork and half Mindy.”
An outrageous, oversized personality, Carr packed a lot of living and partying into his 62 years, all of it encompassed in Schwarz’s documentary, hailed by Variety’s Dennis Harvey as “Garishly colorful, packed with stars, legendary parties, and a wide streak of pathos, it’s a singular life story entertainingly recounted.” James Ambroff-Tahan of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “If there is a lesson to be learned from Carr’s life, Schwarz says, it’s to be tenacious and not let go of a dream.” World of Wonder’s James St. James stated: “This portrait of a showbiz legend is both hilarious and deeply sympathetic,” and Paul Constant of Seattle Weekly added: “This simply could have been interesting in a trainwreck way, but what elevates this documentary is its complex and finely structured portrait of its main character.”
Schwarz’s credits include the award-winning documentary features I Am Divine (2013) and Tab Hunter Confidential (2015), and the Emmy-winning HBO documentary Vito (2011), which examined the life of legendary activist Vito Russo, author of The Celluloid Closet.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2018, Mark Burger.
The Fabulous Allan Carr will be screened 7 p.m. Saturday in the ACE Exhibition Complex on the main campus of UNCSA School of Filmmaking, 1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem. Tickets are $8. For advance tickets or more information, call 336.918.0902 or visit the official OUT at the Movies website.