The Idolmaker


Biography / Drama / Music / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 85%
IMDb Rating 6.9 10 1347

Plot summary

October 14, 2022 at 11:07 PM


Taylor Hackford

Top cast

Joe Pantoliano as Gino Pilato
Peter Gallagher as Caesare
Maureen McCormick as Ellen Fields
James Saito as Eddie
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.07 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 58 min
P/S ...
2.19 GB
English 5.1
23.976 fps
1 hr 58 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Woodyanders 9 / 10

Excellent rock drama with a bravura Ray Sharkey performance

Late, great character actor Ray Sharkey gives a sensationally dynamic, throughly brazen and completely on the money bravura performance as shrewd dude late 50's rock'n'roll hustler/producer/ manager/songwriter/all-around shyster sleaze-ball extraordinaire Vinnie Vacarri, who's got everything but the requisite good lucks to cut it as a teen scream sensation. Resigned to this bitter fact, Vinnie instead decides to groom callow, but promising handsome lads Paul Land and Peter Gallagher into fluffy bubblegum teen pop idol sensations so he can vicariously live through their monumental successes. Vinnie transforms raunchy slob Land into an irresistibly dreamy, well-mannered Adonis. Vinnie pulls off an even more miraculous metamorphosis with Gallagher, a klutzy busboy who under Vinnie's masterful tutelage becomes a devastatingly hunky stuff muffin on wheels. Alas, Vinnie's ego and over-controlling nature skyrocket along with his newfound popularity and teeming bank account, leading to inevitable conflicts and Vinnie's painful downward spiral back into the dismal obscurity he started from.

Loosely based on the real-life story of legendary South Philadelphia pop music impresario Robert Marcucci (the man who discovered both Fabian and Frankie Avalon; he gets a "technical adviser" credit for this picture), Taylor Hackford's terrifically tart rock bio is more notable not for what it does, but for what it bravely and commendably avoids doing. Although set in the much sentimentalized 50's, Hackford's boldly unromanticized movie certainly isn't some plasticky rosy nostalgia piece. Instead Hackford, working from Edward Di Lorenzo's smart, cheeky, astutely observed script, offers a tantalizingly tawdry warts'n'all depiction of the blithely amoral behind-the-scenes music business wheeling and dealing: payola, groupies, wheedling, backstabbing and betrayal, sneaky advanced promotion tactics, rock music as strictly a hot marketable commodity to make money off of -- y'know, all that tasty lowdown dirty stuff that goes on backstage that the record-buying public isn't supposed to know about.

Moreover, the songs and on-stage performances are both top-notch: Veteran songwriter Jeff Barry penned the bouncy, moony, incredibly perky and catchy tunes while Denny Terrio did the vital, mildly lewd, daringly impertinent and provocative dance choreography. The acting is across-the-board excellent as well: Land and Gallagher (the latter also does his own strikingly fine singing) are amiably wide-eyed and convincing, while Joe Pantoliano as Vinnie's loyal songwriter best friend, Tovah Feldshuh as a canny, demanding teen mag editor, Olympia Dukakis as Vinnie's loving mom, Richard Bright (Al Neri in all three "Godfather" films) as Ray's ineffectual loser uncle, and everyone's favorite Brady girl Maureen McCormick as an eminently desirable teen zine writer acquit themselves superbly in supporting roles. Ultimately, it's nonetheless still Ray Sharkey's show all the way: forcefully projecting a certain low cunning, oozing scintillating reptilian charisma from every vibrantly oily pore, dressed to the nines in sharp suits, perpetually on the make and furiously talking a dazzling line in rhythmic rat-a-tat-tat pitter-patter bulls**t, Sharkey's spot-on, positively electrifying characterization deservedly nabbed him a Golden Globe Award and now serves as a sterling reminder of just how remarkably tragic his untimely AIDS-related death truly is. Rest in peace Mr. Sharkey and thank you for all your wonderful performances.

Reviewed by burgandymoon 10 / 10

Great All-Time Lost Treasure

Tragically, released at a time when United Artists was busy going bankrupt making "Heaven's Gate" (see book FINAL CUT), this film was lost among a number of gems (Rich Kids; Pope of Greenwich Village; TrueRomance), "Idolmaker" is truly in a class by itself. Its acting is uniformly impeccable, direction, cinematography and both writing and song score--by the legendary Jeff Barry--of Barry and Cynthia Weil fame, the film is refreshingly bereft of dead spots,contrived moments and false notes (and I'm not just talking about the music).Ray Sharkey is at his volcanic best. JOE PANTOLIANO is cast against character as (no kidding) Sharkey's milquetoast songwriting partner--and acquits himself magnificently. Olympia Dukakis gives a FINE performance as Sharkey's mother--and Peter Gallagher does his own singing--while delivering the performance of a lifetime as the naive-turned-meglomaniacal Avalon character.Due to his heroin addiction, Sharkey's career floundered in years following this star-making role... lowering him to parts in the likes of "Hellhole" with Marjoe Gortner. He ended up flat broke, living with his mother in NYC.What followed was bittersweet and merits extra attention to a wonderful First Act scene: While watching the movie on TV, he was struck by scene where his mother urges him to swallow his pride and ask his estranged father to finance his start in show business.Seeing That one scene years later restored his self-esteem and inspired him to get clean and sober and get back into the game. He was barely out of rehab when he landed the role of Atlantic City mobster Sonny Steelgrave in TV's"Wiseguy"'s very first story arc. Those episodes remain cult classics,and are available on DVD. Loosely based on the career of Bob Marcucci, and his protégés Fabianand Frankie Avalon, this movie truly has it all: pathos, humor, an unflinching look at the free-for-all pre-Beatles Teen Idol gap that resulted from Elvis' stint in the Army.

Reviewed by MyDarkStar 10 / 10

One of the best kept secrets of film

This movie is the ultimate sleeper for me. What kept this movie from exploding into the theaters ? It has great direction, outstanding music, and career-defining performances !

"The Idolmaker" truly has everything. It is set during the time when Elvis was in the Army and everyone was looking for the Next Big Thing (Fabian, Frankie Avalon etc.). It shows how a man who is a great songwriter can turn guys who "have the look" into superstars.

This is the role that Ray Sharkey was born to play. It is almost as though he was the person who wrote the script, and had himself in mind for the role all along. You can just see the way he delivers his lines, dances to the music, and sings, that he truly is Vincent Vacarri.

Besides the fact that the acting is great, the musical performances are flawless. The songs just explode from the screen with catchy tunes. It gets especially interesting towards the end when Caesare (Peter Gallagher) gives his giant production live number.

Folks, if you haven't seen this movie (and I highly doubt that you have) - do yourself a favor and see it ! Like I said, it is a hard to find movie - but it is worth the time to track it down.

This is what happens if all the elements are clicking properly for a film with musical numbers.

Like I said, it's the biggest secret in film. Now that you know the secret, do yourself a favor and rent it. You'll thank me afterwards !

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