Jeffrey Schwarz loves the tell the story of a showman. Hence, bringing up William Castle, the subject of one of his earlier docs, seemed like the obvious place to start when I talked with him by phone on June 5, 2017 about his latest, THE FABULOUS ALLAN CARR. Both were larger than life, and both had a significant impact on Hollywood, even if they don’t always get the credit due them.
We went on to talk about how Schwarz went about getting beyond Carr’s own spin when telling the story of his life; the Brett Ratner connection; the decision to use animation for part of the story; and why, when in doubt, he chose to print the legend.
We finished up with Schwarz discussing the dichotomy of 1970s Hollywood, on the one hand decadent and permissive, and on the other a place where gay men and women had to stay firmly in the closet; the impact of AIDS on the gay liberation movement; why Carr was an accidental activist; and, of course, the 1989 Oscars that changed everything for Carr, and then how Carr changed the way we approach Oscar season.
Carr was a kid from the Midwest who became a major player in 1970’s Hollywood, producing GREASE, and guiding the career of Ann-Margaret, while also not being shy about taking the spotlight for himself. Outrageous in caftans, and throwing parties that defined the decadence of the time in the disco he built in his basement, he is also the reason that the phrase “And the winner is” has been replaced by “And the Oscar goes to” during that ceremony. Ironically, it was producing that show in 1989, the culmination of a lifelong dream, that led to Carr’s downfall.
Using archival footage, friends and family, Schwarz traces an extraordinary life excess and secrets that is both a lively chronicle of the times, and a surprising look at a time when gay men were firmly ensconced in the closet.
Schwarz’s previous work includes TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL, VITO, I AM DIVINE, and SPINE TINGLER! THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY