Sing, Boy, Sing
Film poster
Directed byHenry Ephron
Written byClaude Binyon
Based onteleplay The Singin' Idol by Paul Monash
Produced byHenry Ephron
StarringTommy Sands
Lili Gentle
CinematographyWilliam Mellor
Edited byWilliam Mace
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
February 5, 1958[1]
Running time
90 minutes

Sing, Boy, Sing is a 1958 musical–drama film, released by 20th Century Fox. The film starred two newcomers, Tommy Sands and Lili Gentle.

The film was an expansion of the January 1957 Kraft Television Theatre episode "The Singin' Idol", also starring Sands. Sands, billed by the studio as a potential new teen idol, played an Elvis Presley-type singer.

The film was Gentle's only starring role, and her penultimate film appearance. 20th Century Fox had plans to promote Gentle as its new dashing red-head, but the right type of roles to offer her did not materialize.[citation needed]

Sing, Boy, Sing was released in the United States in February 1958, to positive reviews, but did rather poorly at the box-office, despite being somewhat popular with teenage audiences.[citation needed]

Sand's soundtrack of songs from the film was released in 1958[3] and produced a # 24 hit on the US charts with the title song.[4]


Virgil Walker is a popular singing star who is managed by Joseph Sharkey. Sharkey is very controlling of Walker's life.


The Singing Idol

The movie was based on the TV program "The Singing Idol". This episode in turn drew heavily on The Jazz Singer.[5]


Elwell Walker is a singing star under the control of his manager. He visits his hometown where his father, a reverend, is ill. His father dies after pleading for Elwell to take up his job of preaching for the Lord. Elwell is tempted to return home and do this, especially after reconnecting with a childhood sweetheart, Leora. His manager talks him out of it.



The script was an original by Paul Monash but very much based on the Elvis Presley story. Tommy Sands had been discovered by Colonel Tom Parker who also managed Elvis Presley. Sands and Presley had toured together and Sands had sung on Louisiana Hayride on the night Presley was discovered.[6]

Parker got Sands cast in the lead role on the show, which turned him into a star overnight.[7] Sands later said that because of this "Colonel Parker was the best thing that ever happened to me."[8]

"I prefer the school of realism", said Sands. "I'd like to play dramatic teenage parts because I feel I know this kind of boy. Like him, I have many inhibitions and I'm not exactly sure what makes me tick."[9]

Songs on the show included "Teen-Age Crush" and "Hep Dee Hootie" as well as "Rock of Ages".


The show was well received and turned Sands into a teen idol.[9][10] He received eight times more fan mail than any other actor who had appeared on a Kraft show.[11]

A song from the episode, "Teen-Age Crush", went to number two on the charts and sold over a million copies.[12]

Production of Film

20th Century Fox had enjoyed success with films starring Elvis Presley and Pat Boone. In February 1957 they bought the film rights to the television play[13] and in July they signed a contract with Sands to appear in the film. Henry Ephron was assigned to produce.[14]

Ephron said Claude Binyon had written "a first rate script" which "could be made at a price". He wanted Orson Welles to play the manager and approached him. Welles was enthusiastic and also wanted to direct the movie. He explained his ideas to Ephron who thought they were "electric" and pitched the idea of Welles directing to the executives at Fox. Spyros Skouras said Ephron could have Welles if he personally guaranteed any cost over-runs incurred by the director.[15] Ephron ended up directing the movie himself

Filming started in September 1957.[16] Sands' co star was Lili Gentle, a Fox contract player who had been in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?.[17]

Sands co wrote some musical numbers in the film.[18]


Buddy Adler the head of Fox was reportedly so excited by a preview of the film that he signed a new contract with Sands which tripled his salary.[19]

The film opened at the Metropolitan Theatre in Houston, Texas on February 5, 1958 but was pulled two days later due to poor attendance.[1]

The Los Angeles Times said the film was "several cuts above average" and said the "real surprise package" was Sands... "he's going to be a very competent actor; he already has verve, presence."[20]


  1. ^ a b "'Sing, Boy, Sing' Is Yanked In Houston, Tommy Sands' Habitat". Variety. February 12, 1958. p. 4. Retrieved September 25, 2021 – via
  2. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p251
  3. ^ "Tommy Sands – Sing Boy Sing at Discogs". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, Billboard Books, New York, 1992 p. 404
  5. ^ Thomas Doherty, Teenagers And Teenpics: Juvenilization Of American Movies, Temple University Press, 2010 p 168, accessed 18 January 2014
  6. ^ Wolters, L. (Jan 27, 1957). "CHICAGO BORN TOMMY SANDS TO PLAY ELVIS". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 180047805.
  7. ^ Wolters, L. (Jan 17, 1957). "WHERE TO DIAL TODAY". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 180022844.
  8. ^ Interview with Tommy Sands at Elvis 2001 site accessed 18 January 2014
  9. ^ a b Gould, G. (Apr 13, 1957). "TOMMY SANDS: Newest rock'n' roll rage". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 180087242.
  10. ^ Sands, T. (Jul 13, 1957). "I've got so far to go!". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 180215156.
  11. ^ Ames, W. (Mar 5, 1957). "Trouble brewing in hollywood; danny looks for spouse". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 167072164.
  12. ^ Tommy Sands biography accessed 18 January 2014
  13. ^ "Of local origin". New York Times. Feb 2, 1957.
  14. ^ THOMAS M PRYOR (Jul 22, 1957). "STAGE DIRECTOR SIGNS FILM PACT". New York Times.
  15. ^ Ephron, Henry (1977). We thought we could do anything : the life of screenwriters Phoebe and Henry Ephron. Norton. pp. 172–173.
  16. ^ "FILM TO BE MADE OF ALGREN NOVEL". New York Times. Sep 7, 1957.
  17. ^ THOMAS M PRYOR (Nov 12, 1957). "WALD CONFIDENT OF FILMS' FUTURE". New York Times.
  18. ^ Hopper, H. (Sep 28, 1957). "Looking at hollywood". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 180297106.
  19. ^ HEDDA HOPPER (Dec 23, 1957). "Looking at hollywood". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 180240784.
  20. ^ Stinson, C. (May 1, 1958). "Sing, boy' well-made teen film". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 167289376.