Cast & Crew
Virgil Walker, a naïve rock and roll singing sensation, leaves his home in the rural South for the big time in New York, accompanied by his hard-boiled, controlling manager, Joseph Sharkey. In New York, meanwhile, publicist Arnold Fisher arranges for the city's top disc jockeys to plug Virg's arrival as well as his latest record. When Virg's plane lands at the airport, the humble rocker is amazed by the legion of screaming fans that has come to greet him. At the hotel, Arnie assures Virg that his welcome was just a spontaneous demonstration. To keep his hold over Virg, Sharkey monitors the boy's mail and tears up a letter from his preacher-grandfather, Rev. Walker. Isolated by his popularity and missing his grandfather, who reared him in the ways of the church, Virg leafs through a Bible in his room, torn between the sacred life and his present life on the road to fame and fortune. The adulation of his fans does little to relieve Virg's loneliness, so one day, when delivery boy C. K. Judd brings him a sandwich from the local delicatessen, Virg strikes up a conversation. Upon discovering that C.K. is a fellow country boy from the South, Virg offers him a job as his companion. Meanwhile, in Virg's home town, the Rev. Walker has fallen gravely ill, prompting Caroline, his daughter and Virg's aunt, to ask her next-door neighbor, Leora Easton, to help contact Virg in New York. When Sharkey answers Virg's phone, he tells Leora that Virg has gone out of town. Upon hanging up, Sharkey cynically remarks that Walker is faking his illness to get Virg's attention and decides to withhold the information from the boy. When Leora calls again to warn that the reverend's condition is worsening, Sharkey is too busy negotiating a Hollywood contract to pay attention. Concerned, Arnie advises Sharkey to tell Virg about his grandfather's condition. Fearful that the reverend will influence Virg to give up the stage for a life in the church, Sharkey rejects Arnie's advice. While Virg is at the recording studio one day, Caroline phones once again and this time, Virg intercepts the call. Upon learning of his grandfather's condition, Virg insists on returning home. Sharkey at first refuses, but then relents, allowing Virg to go home for just one day. When C. K. begs Virg to take him along, Virg refuses and offers him a handful of cash instead. C. K. uses the money to buy a ticket on Virg's flight, and as a result, they all fly home together. To console Virg, Arnie tries to get him to talk about his grandfather, but Virg becomes agitated when he begins to discuss issues of faith and God. Upon landing, Virg hurries to his grandfather's bedside, but the old man fails to recognize him and mumbles incoherently. As Virg's friends and family gather in the living room to pray, Sharkey continues wheeling and dealing for a Hollywood contract. Later, Leora, Virg's former sweetheart and the daughter of a reverend, comforts Virg, and he confesses that he feels he has lost his right to pray. As Leora and Virg kiss, Arnie interrupts with the news that C. K. has been caught in a hotel room with a young girl. Worried about a scandal, Arnie instructs Virg to deny knowing C. K., but Virg feels responsible for the boy and goes to the jailhouse to see him. As C. K. breaks into tears and apologizes for his behavior, Virg is summoned back to his grandfather's bedside. Now lucid, the old man admonishes his grandson to "come back to God" and makes him promise to "put away evil" and carry on the work of the Lord. The reverend then dies, clutching Virg's hand. The New York press converges on the funeral service, and as Virg solemnly sings "Rock of Ages" as a tribute to his grandfather, the girls in the audience start to squeal, sending Virg running from the church and back to his grandfather's house. When a swarm of reporters follows, Sharkey, sensing a great publicity coup, announces that Virg plans to give a benefit to raise funds to build a church in honor of his grandfather. After Sharkey suggests that Virg pose in prayer for a publicity photograph, the boy rebels and orders everyone out of the house. Only Leora and Caroline remain behind, and when Virg vows that he will build the new church and devote his life to preaching in it, Caroline, distraught, warns him that his grandfather is controlling him from the grave. She continues that the old man controlled her life too, forcing her never to marry and to endure a life of loneliness. Declaring that Virg's voice is a gift from God, Caroline begs him to lead his own life and not mold himself into someone he was never meant to be. Virg takes her words to heart, and as he boards a plane bound for New York, he kisses Leora and promises to return, then takes responsibility for C. K.'s predicament and insists that the boy return to New York with him.
S. John Launer
L. B. Abbott
William C. Mellor
Harold A. Root
Walter M. Scott
Lyle R. Wheeler
The working title of this film was Singin' Idol. The opening credits are preceded by a sequence featuring a religious revival meeting in which "Rev. Walker" preaches to the crowd and then breaks into the hymn "I'm Gonna Walk and Talk with My Lord," as his grandson "Virgil" accompanies him on his guitar. This scene then dissolves into a scene of the grown Virgil singing a rock and roll version of the hymn to a secular teenage audience. The film's credits are then superimposed over Virgil's performance.
Although onscreen credits state that the picture was based on a story by Paul Monash, it was actually based on his 1957 Kraft Theatre of the Air teleplay, "Singin' Idol," which starred popular singing star Tommy Sands. Studio publicity materials contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library note that the teleplay was written with Elvis Presley in mind, but that Presley's manager rejected the project. According to an October 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, Barbara Eden was tested for a featured role in the film, which marked the screen debut of Sands and the directorial debut of writer-producer Henry Ephron.
Released in United States Winter February 1958
Released in United States Winter February 1958