“THE FABULOUS ALLAN CARR”
I must admit that before hearing about this new documentary, I knew nothing about Allan Carr. However, because I have enjoyed all of filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz’s documentaries, I was sure to enjoy this one as I had his others. Allan Carr was a theater producer, manager, Public Relations genius, party giver extraordinaire, film producer, and the person responsible for the mess at the 61st Annual Academy Awards. He was a bizarre character even for Hollywood. He was a large man who wore kimonos and caftans, and even in Hollywood he looks as if he just wandered off the set of a Federico Fellini film: an elephantine man of 42, who conceals his bulk in gaudy caftans and kimonos and who had his hair styled in tight ringlets. He could have the bitchiest conversation in the world while loving the person who received the nasty remarks. He was also a loyal and generous person who believed that the job of entertainment was to provide happiness. He was the producer of the film version of “Grease” and produced the musical based on the French gay film “La Cage aux Folles” to America and he left behind quite a legacy when he died in 1999 at the age of 62.
Watching this film, we see that Carr was a complicated person. He was “fabulous” at the time when being public about one’s sexuality was considered a taboo. He was always himself wherever he was and did not care about how the public saw him.
Carr was born Allan Solomon in 1937 and was the only son of a wealthy Jewish family in Chicago. He was spoiled by his parents and his parents and already from an early age he was fascinated with everything to do with show business and the stars. In 1966, he moved to Los Angeles, changed his name and opened up his own talent agency where he demonstrated that he was not just a first-class salesman, but that he had a lot of nerve. It did not take long before he was the manager of such stars as Tony Curtis, Peter Sellers, Rosalind Russell, Dyan Cannon, Melina Mercouri and Marlo Thomas.
Above all, Carr was a showman and he had a reputation for hosting promotional parties. It was his parties that brought him to produce the film, “Grease” which remains at the apex of his career. He took credit for everything and when one of his projects failed, he took it personally.
We learn that Carr has personal demons that haunted him and he became extremely heavy. Even though he surrounded himself with young handsome boys who wore next to nothing, Carr did not have his first sexual experience until he was thirty-years-old. It seems that he enjoyed watching more than participating. He was known to populate his pool parties at his home with who’s who in Hollywood along with gay guys who would participate in orgies after the guests left.
He was professionally respectable and accepted by all. His Broadway success with the hit “La Cage aux Folle” earned him a best musical Tony Award and the show ran for five years. In 1989 Carr produced the Academy Awards and got the job because he promised to create a show that he would turn the Oscars around from the dry show it had been in previous years, but he was panned by both the critics and the members of the Academy who publicly denounced Carr. This was the end of his career. He had been censored by the powers of Hollywood elite who he had considered his peers and friends.
Even though Carr knew that he was working out of his own area, her never let that stop him until the end. While he is still a mystery to many, Jeffrey Schwarz introduces him to us in a film that is just as fabulous as its subject.