Tuesday, May 30, 2017

SIFF 2017 Week One Guest: Jeffrey Schwarz, Director of The Fabulous Allan Carr

Schwarz's suit game was tight.
I caught the first screening of The Fabulous Allan Carr on May 19 with director Jeffrey Schwarz in attendance. It was also my first screening of the 43rd Seattle International Film Festival, since I missed the opening night film, Michael Showalter's The Big Sick, which screened the night before (it opens in Seattle on July 7). 

Schwarz's latest film focuses on the extravagant producer of the monster-hit musical Grease and, most notoriously, the disco bomb Can't Stop the Music (of which more than a few fans were in the house). Schwarz knows this Tinseltown territory well, since he also directed 2013's I Am Divine and 2015's Tab Hunter Confidential, and although he didn't mention it during the intro or the Q&A after the screening, he directed 2008's Wrangler, too.  

With Clinton McClung.
In reviewing Wranger for Video Librarian, I wrote that it "isn't just a story about one man's life in and out of the porn business, but about popular conceptions of masculinity since the 1950s." It's a theme running though Schwarz's work, especially since subjects like Divine (née Harris Milstead) and Carr (née Allan Solomon) didn't fit popular conceptions of masculinity, yet still found ways to thrive in the make-it-up-as-you-go-along 1970s and beyond by charting their own unique courses.

On Facebook, SIFF programmer Clinton McClung noted that Schwarz's "doc on William Castle [2007's Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story] is also one on my faves, but I didn't mention it because it is sadly underseen."

With producing partners Larry Spitler and John Boccardo.
Allan Carr screened again on May 20 with Schwarz making a second appearance (and he's no stranger to SIFF, since he was last in town with Tab Hunter, the film and the man). It's a good documentary, but Schwarz is better as a storyteller than a visual stylist, and it will probably play better on the small screen. There are no more SIFF screenings, but it's continuing to make the festival rounds. For more on the film, my friend Chris Burlingame interviewed Schwarz for The Sunbreak.

More to come!

Endnote: SIFF '17 runs through Sunday, June 11. 

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