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  • Obviously, this film was not made as a religious treatise, but as a showcase for Tommy Sands to belt out several tunes. But SING BOY SING highlights Hollywood's problem with Christians, namely: they just don't understand them.

    Have you noticed that most religious Christians in movies are either a) sneaky hypocrites, b) wacky nuts, or c) stupid Southerners? This film presents us with two alternatives: Virgil can either choose to be a cool, normal guy, or be a hellfire and damnation preacher who makes everyone around him feel guilty. What about an alternative somewhere in the middle: a decent and likable person who happens to have a strong faith? I can only think of a few films that have such a character: The Hiding Place, Chariots of Fire, and To End All Wars, all great films.

    Hollywood understands atheists all right. Edmond O'Brien's character just wants to crush any religious leanings in his client's mind, because he thinks religion is hooey. We find out later in the movie that as a boy Sharkey had been forced to hear sermons about hell and sin, which we suppose left him filled with guilt and anger. Jerry Paris's character TRIES to understand Virgil, but money remains his main god. The man in the recording studio who suggests a rock'n'roll plus hymns record is the quintessential Hollywood type: let's see if we can make money out of the religion thing.

    All in all, this is a pretty weak movie, but perhaps a little racy for its time with its hints about stars, girls, and hotel rooms. Edmund O'Brien and Jerry Paris get top marks for their portrayals of sleaze-ball agents.

    Maybe the reason Hollywood can't treat Christianity seriously is that nobody out there has been close enough to normal Christians to dispel their stereotypes. While we hear all the time about tolerance of all races, sexual orientations, etc., Christians are still about the only group that can routinely be trashed in Hollywood without the blink of an eye.
  • Edmond O'Brien chews up the scenery without hitting any false notes as teen singer Sand's hard-driving and hard-bitten agent. Blending his publicity agent from Barefoot Contessa with Kirk Douglas's unscrupulous reporter from Ace In The Hole, O'Brien takes Sands on a magic carpet ride without letting him see the bulldozer he has doing the actual dirty work underneath. Jerry Paris has a strong role as O'Brien's henchman who can only sell so much of his soul. A nice moment by Hank Worden in an unbilled part helps provide context of the actual price others pay for the boy's success.

    As for the comment that it's "ripped-off" from Elvis Presley's story, today Law & Order and other NBC series proudly boast about ripping their stories from today's headlines. There are elements here that could be from Presley's story, but also from many others. O'Brien has some Colonel Parker in him, but those elements seem overwhelmed by the others mentioned. Of course, today, Edmond O'Brien's character would qualify as a goody-two-shoes!
  • Teen idol Tommy Sands never got as popular as his Virgil Walker character is here(and if he did, it lasted about a minute). Too bad then that his acting chops couldn't compensate for a lack of chart hits. Young man goes from tent-revivals to teen king, but when a funeral back home beckons, his priorities change. Cinemascoped affair has beautiful b&w photography and just enough melodrama to help it over the finish line, but it's awfully flimsy. Perhaps Elvis Presley's life story was a starting point for original writer Paul Monash(who later had a hand in 1976's "Carrie"!), but Tommy Sands, although energetic, isn't up to Presley's standards(maybe Ricky Nelson's). He's got a handsome face and a gorgeous crop of greasy black hair(like Presley's), but when his adolescent voice squeaks in rebellion, one almost wants to duck for cover.
  • Having previously seen the original TV play called "The Singin' Idol" which also starred Tommy Sands, I was stoked to watch this theatrical movie version also starring Sands. In the TV version, he was Ewell Walker, here the first name is changed to Virgil. His character, like Sands himself, was raised in Louisiana which is where I currently live. In fact, I smiled when Baton Rouge-my current hometown-was mentioned twice, first by him, then by Jerry Paris playing one of his managers! Virgil is a hot Rock star, not unlike Elvis Presley at the time which is interesting since Sands was also managed by Col. Tom Parker who reportedly got him on the original TV play. Anyway, the movie follows the TV play most of the time though there were some added scenes at the beginning, a slight change at the end, and an added character named C.K. played by Nick Adams. Oh, and I also loved Edmond O'Brien playing Sands' other manager with the name of Sharkey! In summary, I loved the drama, enjoyed the songs Sands sang, and was pleased with the final cut I saw on YouTube. So on that note, Sing Boy Sing is very much worth checking out. P.S. Tommy Sands was originally a native of Chicago, Ill, like yours truly. The person who played his preacher grandfather was John McIntire who was the father of Tim McIntire who I just watched play Alan Freed in American Hot Wax. Leading lady Lili Gentle would marry 20th Century-Fox executive Richard D. Zanuck after making this for the studio. And it's interesting Jerry Paris was in this movie since he'd later be the resident director of that '50s-set TV show, "Happy Days".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SONGS: "Rock of Ages", "Sing, Boy, Sing", "Gonna Talk with My Lord", "Who Baby?", "Crazy 'Cause I Love You", "Bundle of Dreams", "Your Daddy Wants to Do Right", "Just a Little Bit More", "That's All I Want from You", "People In Love", "Soda-Pop Song", "Would I Love You", "How About You".

    Copyright 1958 by 20th Century-Fox Film Corp. New York opening at the Mayfair: 21 February 1958. U.S. release: January 1958. U.K. release: 18 May 1958. Australian release: 10 July 1958. 8,135 feet. 90 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: Virgil Walker, raised in the South by his Revivalist- preaching grandfather and aunt, is taken in tow by an unscrupulous manager who builds him into a guitar-swinging, rock 'n' roll teenage idol. He scores a tremendous success at New York's Roxy Theatre, to the squealing delight of his thousands of fans, and goes on to make many hit recordings and eventually lands a Hollywood picture contract. Despite his fame and fortune, however, Virgil is lonesome, and "hires" a teenage companion, C. K. Judd, a swingin', hep character who hangs by Virgil's coat tails of success wherever they go. When Virgil's grandfather is stricken by a heart attack, Sharkey, the manager, and Fisher, his press agent, keep the news from him for fear the boy will return to a life of preaching, a long-standing aim of the boy's grandfather. But Virgil discovers the truth and returns to the South.

    NOTES: Film debut of Tommy Sands.

    Oddly, Ephron doesn't even mention the film in his autobiography, even though it's the only movie he ever directed.

    Paul Monash's story "The Singin' Idol" was originally the basis of a television play on Kraft Playhouse.

    COMMENT: Move over, Elvis, here comes Tommy Sands! They've even blown the dust off that old warhorse "The Jazz Singer" to give Tommy his big chance — not to mention at least two dozen other pictures including Presley's own "Loving You" and "Jailhouse Rock".

    Despite his impressive list of producing and writing credits, Ephron's direction is completely undistinguished. True, he wouldn't be encouraged by Binyon's typically wordy and slow-moving script (though, if you can last that long, the final half-hour has a somewhat bizarre quality that doubtless derives from Monash's original). But if it comes to a decision, Ephron is the duller of the two.

    Photography and other credits are no more than adequate. Not that the fans will notice. Fans? Does Tommy Sands have fans? I've never met one. In my time, I've talked with a few thousand Elvis fans, but never a one for Tommy Sands. No, not a single one! (And if this dreadful movie is a fair sample of what young Sands dishes out, that's hardly surprising).
  • I am enjoying movies from a different era however, I find that yesterday's problems are relevant of today's. Interesting that the only comment was from a Christian that feels the movie was picking on his religion?

    It seems every Christian Hi-Jacks the word for their religion only. If the last comment did not bring Christianity into a movie review maybe Christians would not be portrayed as extremists.

    The extremely talented actor/singer was also a Christian, REMEMBER? as was the Character, Caroline the person that counseled him to live his own life and singing is not sinning.

    I am happy I was introduced to such a talented performer in this movie AND yes I have also witnessed extremism on both sides.

    Lets enjoy the movie like my grandmother would say!

    logicdropout@gmail.com
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In re to the poster above, funny that they should be so upset about stereotypes & then turn around at the end of their comments & make a stereotypical comment about there being "no Christians in Hollywood." There are plenty of Christians in Hollywood today & I am certain there were in 1958 as well. After all, where did all of the people who came to Hollywood in the forties & fifties come from? Mainstream USA. Pull up a list of actors & actresses then or now, & many, if not most, come from the South, Southwest, Midwest, etc. Do the names Sandra Bullock (TX), George Clooney (OH), Julia Roberts (GA), or Brad Pitt (MO), ring a bell? (Not to say they are or are not Christians, which is not the point, just that they come from fairly regular towns where Christianity is practiced as the majority.) Beyond that, I found the movie to be fairly entertaining & well done. I couldn't help but think of Elvis throughout & as posted earlier, that some of the ideas put forth were certainly risqué for the time. You have to put the movie in the context of the day when the battle was raging over rock n roll music as it became the mainstream music of the day. Before that time, mainstream churches probably did not make a big deal over the quartet singers or Rosemary Clooney. I couldn't say for certain. But rock n roll was a big change & a big issue across the U.S., not just in the South. And remember, religion was a factor. The U.S. saw major church growth in the 1950s for Protestants. The movie presents the issue & the angst well that no doubt was an issue for many during that era. It also brings to light the futility of fame and/or fortune when there is no deeper meaning behind it. Luckily, Virgil struggled through it & learned who he could trust & to value his friends & family. We see so many stars today in permanent tailspins because they have shut out all family support which is extremely lonely as experienced by Virgil in the film. On a lighter note, the music is enjoyable, & Tommy Sands is impressive in the role. Definitely worth a watch. I caught it on FMC recently.