Personalities | 1960 | Sound | B/W
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An interesting part-documentary, part-dramatized film which mixes action footage , diegetic and non-diegetic sound (film studies alert! - ed) to chart the years prior to 1961 which led pop sensation Fabian to concentrate on his film career. The film includes candid commentary by Fabian on his bad experiences and the cult of personality and some atmospheric footage of life as a teenage idol in the 1950s and 1960s.
In a nighttime setting, groups of teenage girls wearing kneelength pleated skirts, straight dresses and pumps, stand in groups in a car park outside a school building. A white 1960's American car pulls in to the area and the girls move to greet it. Screaming on the soundtrack accompanies the girls as they rush at the car - the camera is in the rear seat - and the frame goes black as their bodies crush each other and cover the lens' view. The passenger door and rear door of the car are open - a suited man grimaces as he attempts to hold the 15-strong group of excited girls away from Fabian who sits in the back. A crush of girls stand around a few men. Fabian is barely visible amongst the girls a he leaves the car and heads across the forecourt - the hand-held camera is in amongst the crush as the girls jostle for position and rip at Fabian's clothes - as he nears some external steps, local policemen step in to help shield him as they quickly make their way up the stairs, passing a sign which advertises "FABIAN" and head into the building through an open door. The camera moves into the school gymnasium - is openness and quietness contrasts with the scene outside -and follows Fabian as he slowly walks, trying to compose himself after the frenzy which ripped his coat off. Fabian's voice is heard on the soundtrack,
"they asked me for my autograph, and they ripped my shirt off. They kissed me and pulled my hair out. Adults laughed at them and critics tore me apart. My name is Fabian."
A dark haired girl, standing amongst her peers, pleads with a man outside the building as he holds her off by gripping her upper arms. The girl is escorted into the gym by a policeman and she looks positively faint as she comes face-to-face with her idol who has two male protectors standing nearby - ha and the girl start to talk about their experiences of the crush and the camera zooms in on her smiling face. Close-up of Fabian smiling down at the girl. The camera zooms out from the girl, and Fabian offers her his handkerchief as a memento which she promptly uses to wipe the sweat off his forehead. Close-up of Fabian as the girl confidently kisses him on the cheek, cupping her hand around his neck - freeze-frame on image.
A six-laned American freeway in California (?) - the camera zooms in on a open-topped sports car which is traveling towards it, driven by Fabian. The camera tracks Fabian from a car driving alongside his and the male voice-over starts to talk about this teenage idol. Close-up of Fabian through the car's windscreen - buildings and a mountainous landscape are in the background. Close-up of his profile as he drives along a straight road populated by palm trees. Close-up of Fabian from the bonnet of the car, looking in through the windscreen - he is a clean-cut, well dressed twentysomething man. The car speeds past on a suburban street.
Close-up of Fabian whose head is nestled against that of a blond girl - they kiss each other gently on the lips before being pulled away and turned around by a man so that they can pose for a stills cameraman. The film camera is behind the stills photographer as the couple smile at his lens with the ocean in the background. Close-up of the couple, she is in a two-piece tight gingham outfit, - the voice-over informs us that she is aspiring actress Chris Noel (?) and that they have never met before -they smile in unison for the camera. The other male adjusts her hair as the photographer waits.
The flash of a camera bulb at night as Fabian arrives at what is presumably a premiere or a dinner - he is in a tuxedo and his brunette date wears a pale evening gown - an elderly man approaches him to sign an autograph. The couple walk past a line of middle-aged people dressed in their finery - there is little acknowledgment for him as they walk into what appears to be a foyer, Fabian smiles at a middle-aged woman who tries to stop him to talk. A slightly rundown area of a town (in Philadelphia ?) - Fabian waits in the centre of a cross road as a tram moves slowly by. The tram passes and he walks over the track, gently raising an arm to acknowledge someone on the street corner, he then passes a group of women and a window shop - he again acknowledges the people with a wave (Fabian's voice-over begins on the soundtrack, narrating his path to stardom). He stands on the lower step of a tenement building and casually rests his arms on the railing. Close-up of his face looking down the street - he moves his head round, carefully ignoring the camera's lens. Close-up of a glamorous stills photo of Fabian. Close-up of another photo, this time his quiffed hair and pouting mouth makes him ,
"…look like a clean-cut Elvis Presley." (Cotton's voice-over.)
Close-up of his profiled photograph on the cover of 'Screen' magazine - the camera zooms into his piercing eye. A photograph of Fabian mid-song with a large gelled pompadour under the words, "The 'FABULOUS' Fabian". Wearing a cardigan and white shirt, Fabian paces around the back of small piano as the singing coach beckons emotion and range from Fabian as he hits the piano keys.
Fabian stands in front of a full-length mirror in a changing room which is lined with suit jackets - four men hover around him; two observe; one holds some grey fabric against his leg; the fourth crouches behind Fabian taking his measurements. Close-up of Fabian's face as he passively stands in the dressing room. A tilting down shot from Fabian's waist to his feet below as the tailors pull the drainpipe trousers even tighter against his legs. The various tailors fuss around him, putting a striped suit jacket on him. One of the middle-aged dressers holds a woolen v-necked jumper against Fabian's chest. Fabian looks dismissively bored as the jumper is held against him whilst another man makes a note of the purchases. In amongst the displays of jackets and shirts, one of the tailors puts a cardigan on Fabian as the others watch. The camera zooms up from man's fingers doing up the cardigan to Fabian's downward looking, spiritless face. A poster reads,
"…BUT Chancellor Records has the combination of both. Watch for…'FABIAN' singing his latest record 'I'm in Love' w. 'Shivers'".
A publicity brochure with a smiling shot of Fabian and reads,
"This is the fabulous FABIAN…Watch for the fabulous Fabian."
A press booklet, with a whimsical photograph of him peering around a wall, claims, "Fabian Boy of Mystery. With 250 pictures and exclusive interviews. Exclusive" 'It was like heaven on earth in Fabian's arms. The Pain!'"
The first issue of 'Juke Box Stars' of August 1959 costing 35cents, has Fabian on the cover and advertises,
"The Fabulous Fabian with exclusive photos" and "Kookie Byrnes - The Boy with a Beat."
Fabian walks away from a large modern, glass fronted building - presumably a high school - he is wearing a white jumper, black drainpipe trousers and white loafers which the camera pans down to focus on, has some books under his arm and is followed by approximately fifteen other students (the majority of whom are coloured boys.) Fabian nonchalantly walks along as the younger students gather around him - a policeman keeps an eye on the situation from the distance. The camera follows behind the group as Fabian walks out of the school gates onto a road with apartment buildings.
Fabian, in a navy blue blazer, sits against a desk in Dick Clark's office, leaning over to him as they discuss a LP record. Close-up of a clean-cut youthful Dick Clark, and the camera then pans onto Fabian as they continue chatting. Clark stands up from his chair and changes the record on an open-topped portable record player which is sitting on his desk - they both pause to listen to the song as the camera zooms in on the spinning vinyl.
A acoustic rock and roll version of 'Twist and Shout' is sung on the soundtrack by Fabian, whilst girls are heard screaming in the background. A shot of the large advertising board of "STEEL PIER" has randomly placed non-lit neon signs and posters of different sizes which advertise, amongst other things,
"General Motors Exhibit. The Chordettes with Bobby Ramsen, Lita and Cortez Inga and Rolfe. Tony Grant's stars. Stan Kenton Band. Billy May Band. Frankie Lester. Brenda Lee and Fabian coming soon."
Close-up on the poster which states, "In person FABIAN. SEPT. 1-2-3."
A car faces the road as Fabian rushes to get into the back seat, followed by hoards of girls who swamp either side of the car. Fabian sits in the backseat alongside the camera as girls peer in through the open-window, scream and wave (some however seem more interested in playing to the camera than in Fabian, and the driver makes no effort to leave the scene.) Fabian stands near the top of steps which leave a 'TWA' (?) airplane, signing autographs for the girls who are standing on the lower steps - he looks bewildered. The girls clammer around the base of the steps and Fabian reaches down to the outstretched hands whilst a stewardess stands at the bottom of the steps, smiling at the scene in front of her. The hands desperately try to reach him as Fabian hands back a signed photograph. A 'UNITED' jet flies above the landscape. Fabian appears through the door of a stationary '…Jetline' plane, greeted by a sea of waving fans on the tarmac below. The teenage fans - both male and female - surge in the crowd, held back by a line of policemen who grip each other tightly as the pressure mounts. Girls jump up and down, with one girl sitting on a boy's shoulders. Close-up of Fabian as he takes a microphone and begins to speak - a non-diegetic song of his is heard on the soundtrack - he is surrounded by men, one in a policeman's uniform and another wearing menacing ark glasses. The police line is broken by a rushing fan, but they attempt to link arms again. Fabian, held between two men stands on a palate held aloft on a fork-lift truck as it drives along the tarmac of the airport, whilst the crowd follows underneath. The teenagers rush past the camera, chasing Fabian. The fork-lift truck continues on its way. Two girls wave at the camera as those behind them look off into the distance.
A black 1950s American car pulls into the driveway of a large, detached two-story house, which Fabian informs us that he had bought for his parents. Fabian is greeted on the porch by his mother and they kiss and hug each other with genuine warmth as three men walk by into the house carrying the luggage. Fabian exercises his dog in the tall grass of a filed.
A 'Lenigh (?) valley transit company' greyhound-style bus drives along a freeway which is deserted except for one car. Close-up of a man's hands playing the bongo drums in a wild, African rhythm (which is heard on the soundtrack). The camera pans from the drums to the other bus passengers - one plays a card game of Solitaire whilst Fabian sleeps , his head propped up against the window by a pillow. Close-up of his peaceful sleeping face. The camera films inside a vehicle as it drives past a road-side sign which reads,
'Q-Mart. Fabian in person tonight 9pm."
The bus drives past another road-side sign which proclaims,
"Welcome to Allen Town. All American city. Lenigh (?) advertising co."
The bus pulls into the forecourt of a hotel - the poster on the side of the bus advertises, "FABIAN Dance Party" - and screaming is heard on the soundtrack. Teenage girls run at the oncoming chartered bus. From inside the vehicle, girls are filmed approaching the bus with a skipping delight. The girls move alongside the right if the bus and one pulls herself up its side to look through a partially open window. The camera films the smiling, upward looking faces from inside the bus. The bus door opens and the c.ten girls gather around it, some jumping with excitement. The camera is behind Fabian as he leaves the bus. The girls approach to kiss him on the cheeks. Fabian moves towards the entrance of the building whilst the girls encircle. Fabian is directed by a pulled arm into the entrance as he continues to sign autographs.
An standing interview with a female reporter is interrupted as Fabian's manager talks to the suited star about what his next move is - a group of policemen stand nearby. Two stills photographers takes photos as they crouch beside empty, circular dinner tables. The photographer motions to a stiffly standing Fabian, encouraging perhaps an emotion or a look - they joke with each other. A small group of policemen stand nervously around the star as he is encouraged to shake the hand of a suited man. The stills camera take photos of the staged scene - Fabian shakes the man's hands as the uniformed men stand round them in a semi-circle. Close-up of the woman reporter taking notes as Fabian talks to her and a colleague. Fabian sits at the head of a large rectangular table and is addressed by a man who is standing at his side. Fabian sits in front of a poster stating,
"Hess's Allentown, PA salutes Fabian,"
whilst the male speaker acknowledges his fundraising efforts with an award. Fabian accepts a formal piece of paper from the man and smiles his thanks to him. The male gives a speech, offering the key of the city of Allentown to the star. Close-up of Fabian accepting the velvet-lined box which holds the key, and thanks the assembled guests who applaud.
A parade of open-topped cars drive down a city street which is lined predominantly by women - Fabian sits on the back of one of the cars, waving to the crowds. Girls run along the pavement, trying to keep up with the entourage. Fabian looks over to the running girls and the camera mirrors his look. The children run at considerable speed on the sidewalk, past the town houses and parked cars. The camera is in the car with Fabian, filming the approaching scene of more lined streets in the centre of the city. A long shot of the car in the motorcade as it passes the sporadically populated street. Fabian takes a sweater from a young boy who is running behind the moving car, signs it and hands it back to his fan. Close-up of screaming teenage girls. The car has slowed to a walking pace as Fabian accepts a wrapped present from one of the girls who is walking at its side.
Ascending rows house a crowd of teenagers, some of whom are holding individual cards above their heads which form the words, "WELCOME FABIAN", which they then flip over to show, "HI FABE". Fabian continues his drive along a track which has a line of onlookers standing on the grassy knoll behind it. He waves at the crowd who are on the rows of the freestanding structure - cheerleaders stand in front of it on the flat grass. Fabian's car is stopped on the American football playing field as the cheerleaders start their somewhat hesitant routine. Close-up of one of the dancers as she continues the choreographed moves - she is wearing a jumper with the initials "ND" entwined on it. The girls finish their routine and the camera zooms in on the appreciative face of Fabian.
"Teen-age Idols Part II" superimposed over the image of a girl kissing Fabian as before.
Fabian sits on a chair in the middle of a hotel room opposite a seated female reporter as two men of his entourage busy themselves behind him - a barber places a white sheet around him. Close-up of the blond female asking Fabian a question. Close-up of Fabian answering her as the barber stands behind him trimming his coifed hair. The conversation continues along with the haircut. Close-up of the Fabian as the barber carries on with his work. Diegetic sound as the reporter asks Fabian about the origin of his name. Close-up of Fabian as he recites the answer to the often asked question. Close-up of the cut hair being brushed into a clump on a white sheet. The hair is swept into an A4 brown envelope which is placed on the sideboard, from where, the voice-over informs us, it will be sterilized, cut into smaller locks and sold for 75 cents.
The camera zooms out from a long pendant adorned by a photo of Fabian's smiling face which is around the neck of a teenage female fan who is sitting next to with some unease. Fabian sits on the end of a sofa, surrounded by a carefully posed group of teenage girls who are on the floor and the chairs around him. Close-up of those nearest Fabian as he talks to them in an animated fashion. Close-up of a bespectacled girl sitting to his left who asks a question - the camera then pans over to him. Close-up of another girl. Close-up of Fabian looking thoughtfully skywards before answering. The camera films from over Fabian's shoulders at the girls in front of him who stare in unbroken admiration. Close-up of Fabian. Fabian amongst the group. One girl sits at his feet smiling profusely. Close-up of a different girl. A shot of the entire group as Fabian talks to them.
Shot of a poster which has a small photograph of Fabian sitting behind a tiger cub and reads,
"FABIAN is the cat's meow! 'our tiger'. What catnip is to cats, tiger is to girls…he makes us purr! He's creamy. Hold that tiger!"
The camera pans onto a white hissing cat that is held by a teenage girl. Fabian is encircled by females holding their cats and he looks nervous as a black cat is pushed towards his face - he jokingly quickly stands up as if from fear and takes a docile kitten from one of the girls who scream with delight. Close-up of a hissing tabby. Close-up of Fabian putting his arms around a young girl and speaking into a small microphone. Close-up of an expectant girl. A male speaker stands alongside Fabian as he points out the Queen of the competition from amongst the crowd - Fabian congratulates her with a kiss and a trophy. Fabian helps the girl, who has her cat in her arms, down some step to the front of the group in order for a photograph to be taken - the girls who remain seated behind look slightly disappointed. A blurred image as the panning camera tries to follow an escaping cat. The speaker moves Fabian to sit in the middle of the bottom row of the ascending girls holding their cats, and Fabian jumps up after supposedly being scratched in the back and the girls begin to giggle.
A security guard stands outside a hotel room in a sparse corridor. Inside the hotel room - one of Fabian's entourage is collapsed on a sofa in the forefront of the image whilst the star leans down against a double bed in the background, and then sits up exposing his chest through his unbuttoned white shirt - he gets up and stroll, hands in pockets, to the venetian blinds of the window with a somewhat bored gait. Close-up as he looks down through the narrow openings between the slats of the blind. The camera stands behind Fabian looking at the scene below, namely girls waiting outside the hotel on the pavement. Close-up of Fabian's emotionless face as he backs away from the window. Fabian stroll back to the bed, past the open suitcases and slumps as he sits down on the bed, falling back to a lying position. Close-up of Fabian deep in thought on his bed, his hands behind his head as his down-spirited commentary states,
"…there were many times when I wanted to quit."
A large room is filled with people of different ages and sexes, all straining as they look off to the right of the image. A smiling Fabian is gently ushered through the crowds by four or five men, signing the pieces of paper which is held by outstretched hands and he briefly stumbles. Close-up of a girl shouting to Fabian, her body squashed between her peers. Fabian helps a teenage boy to his feet after having fallen - Fabian then continues the autograph walk. A group of fans stare at the scene - two girls at the front look disenchanted, perhaps feeling faint from the crush. The outstretched hands attack him from all directions - he looks over to a woman in the crowd and the camera pans onto her showing her embarrassed delight. Close-up of a girl with tears in her eyes. Fabian is almost obscured from view by the pieces of paper that are waved in his path. Close-up of two girls in the crush. Fabian signs the outstretched forearm of one of his female fans, then is quickly ushered away. Fabian takes cover behind the lead security guard as they make their way into a side-room, followed by several other suited bodyguards - Fabian practically falls into the room with a look of anger and then laughing relief etched on his face, where he gives a pen back to the lead guard and takes from him some jewelry whilst wiping the sweat away from his forehead with his hand. Close-up of Fabian as he replaces a ring on his little finger and goes to fasten a silver/gold (?) bracelet. Fabian jokes with his lead security guard who stumbles back through a swinging door. The line of hopeful escapees move into a room where they exit the building one after the other, through a raised door hidden behind curtains. A group of fans wait expectantly in the main room, directing their look off to the left of the image. A young girl is quietly ushered into a backstage room to meet her seated idol - she covers her face with a hand, wipes away a few tears and finds eye contact almost impossible as her idol greets her, transforming himself from an introspective isolated man to a welcoming guest as she comes into his view, putting his arm around her waist - a chair is bought over for her to sit on and they discuss her boyfriend predicament. Close-up of the girl as she talks. One of Fabian's entourage stands between them and motions to his watch - Fabian and the girl exchange looks; his is one of a practiced shock and hers of a saddened fan - he signs a photograph for her.
Fabian moves into the light thrown from the stage in the wings, microphone in hand whilst the overture is played by the band. Fabian stands silhouetted against a spotlight. Close-up of Fabian as he waits nervously - the flashbulb of a stills camera goes off - he is introduced to deafening screams and he walks on stage, greeting a Beatles lookalike band whilst girls stand in front of the stage applauding his entrance. The camera pans across the swirling crowds below as Fabian begins to sing (the merits of his voice are somewhat dubious!) moving close to the edge of the stage. Close-up of two girls screaming at him in delight. Close-up of Fabian singing out to the crowd. Excited fans try to touch the singer. Fabian, happy in his performance, sings with a genuine smile down to his fans. Close-up of a hysterical girl who cups her hands around her cheeks. Close-up of other fans screaming and holding out their hands. Close-up of the singer. Close-up of Fabian's feet moving in step to the beat near the edge of the stage. A bespectacled girl covers her face as his feet hover near her. The camera films from behind Fabian as he looks down at the audience - the rows of mainly male spectators behind the adoring girls appear quietly unimpressed. The girls look up in awe at Fabian. He sings his song with the band playing behind him. Close-up of Fabian on stage - the faces of the audience in front of him are clearly visible against the dark backdrop of the auditorium - he nears the front row and the camera follows his gaze. A girl stands muted and shaking, wiping a tear from her distraught face. Fabian starts to bring the song to a climax. Close-up of Fabian, microphone near his mouth as he finishes the song - the camera quickly pans down on to the reaction of the audience below. The front few rows clamor for more. The band rests as Fabian starts to sing a balled accapello. Close-up of a girl looking up at him with smiling adoration. Fabian addresses one of the audience directly as he sings on the rather amateur stage. Close-up of a screaming girl, her hands clamped against her face. Two girls scream and jump in hysterical delight. Fabian continues his love song. Close-up of two fans, staring up at him with quiet pleasure. Fabian moves down to kneel on the stage, and takes one of the girl's hands. He looks into her eyes as he sings - those around her show a mixture of joy, shock and indifference - he runs his hand through her hair and she collapses her head to the stage in shock. Two consecutive close-ups of girls who are unable to hide their emotions. Close-up of girls who are seemingly faint from his nearness. Fabian ends the song and looks over the audience with a genuine smile. Close-up of girls applauding wildly. Fabian runs of stage as a suited man encourages the audience to make more noise.
Fabian hurriedly moves down some stairs backstage, into a room where he wipes off the sweat and changes into a disguise, namely a policeman's uniform. The 'policeman' follows his bodyguards out of a side exit of the building. The disguise does not fool the waiting fans and one girl pulls off his policeman's hat. The headlights of a car are in the background as the teenagers rip off his coat. The nearby policemen are unable to help as Fabian crouches in a foetal position as he is encircled by the grabbing hands of the fans. He struggles to stand as the boys pull at his shirt. The crush of teenagers seem to be tearing at him. Fabian remains unseen as he moves through the crowd, gaining momentum as the policemen watch from the sides - he is the seen as he stands up, gasping for air, his torso visible underneath a ripped shirt. The now half-naked man continues his struggle to move. The crowd seems to rush as him in stops and starts. Fabian eventually breaks free and is driven away in the backseat of a white American car. The car drives past the crowd as three people tug at his cost, each wanting the prize. The car drives into the darkness. A tired, shirtless Fabian slowly walks into his hotel room accompanied as always, and slips off his shoes. He removes the jacket which is shielding his naked torso in an efforted, painful manner, and inspects himself in a mirror before collapsing onto the bed. He lies in exhaustion.
Fabian's sportscar drives away from the camera on a six-laned freeway. Close-up of Fabian driving - the voice-over informs us that in 1961 Fabian bought out his contract for $65,000 and turned down several recording opportunities and public appearances. A close-up of his profile as he drives. The car drives in through the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio gates, towards the backlots, where Fabian hoped to pursue his acting career.
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