Famed film and theatre producer Allan Carr once said, “There’s a part of me that’s the show, and a part of me that’s the business,” and few grandiose, self-serving statements have ever rang truer. Documentarian Jeffery Schwarz (I Am Divine, Tab Hunter Confidential) strikes a perfect balance between the “show” and the business” in his entertaining bit of Hollywood and Broadway history, The Fabulous Allan Carr.
Born Alan Solomon (with a single “l”), a half-Jewish, half-Catholic, somewhat closeted gay man from suburban Chicago, the rechristened Carr went to New York and Hollywood with dreams of striking it big. He would become a star maker and a career reviver. He would produce the big screen version of Grease (one of the highest grossing musicals of all time), the English language Broadway porting of La Cage aux Folles, and invented the now standard “Academy Awards Qualifying Run” for The Deer Hunter. He was a larger than life, flamboyant man with a penchant for kimonos and muumuus who wanted every ounce of credit for his successes, and none of the blame for his many failures, including the “tequila, pizza, and cocaine” fuelled, Village People starring Can’t Stop the Music and the now infamously hammy, host-less 1989 Academy Awards.
The Fabulous Allan Carr isn’t a creatively mounted talking head documentary, but that’s fine. Carr doesn’t need added flash to become more of a charismatic, polarizing mogul. Schwarz gets a great amount of often hilarious candor from his interview subjects regarding Allan’s missteps and triumphs, but the documentary also paints a nicely rendered picture of a man who always knew he was being underestimated by his peers and was savvy enough to use his outlandish appearance and tenacious personality to his advantage. Carr isn’t a humble figure, and at times he can be a huge jerk, but there’s still something uniquely inspirational about this man who was able to carve his own unlikely path to notoriety.