Idolmaker [1980]

Director: Taylor Hackford
Stars: Ray Sharkey, Tovah Feldshuh, Peter Gallagher, Paul Land, Joe Pantoliano
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 117 minutes

The same year Neil Diamond made a ballyhooed (through lackluster) remake of The Jazz Singer, first-time director Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman) created a musical biography packed with energy, verve, and style. Golden Globe winner Ray Sharkey is Vincent Vacarri, a tough, charismatic music fan who turns producer, creating stars in the halcyon days of rock and roll. Loosely based on the life of Bob Marucci, who created the Fabian and Frankie Avalon juggernauts, the story is part character study, part musical. The outstanding concert sequences are the payoff with newcomer Peter Gallagher as the Fabian-like Caesare--a great bit of casting. Brill Building songwriter Jeff Barry's song score, including a cagey final number, is a highlight, as is Joe Pantoliano (in another debut) as Vacarri's abused but loyal songwriter partner. --Doug Thomas

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