All those old songs out there about sixteen candles, being sixteen, beautiful, and becoming someone’s bitch, it’s a huge glut like The Blob. But it was understood. Those musicians liked sixteen year olds in that way. Fine. Comedian/director Ian Harris takes that notion an entirely different way, a mockumentary about musician Paul Decca (Ed Marques) who has a name deeply rooted in the ‘50s. But his music is entrenched in the number 17. Songs of his included “Sweetheart 17” and a western folk song entitled “17 Wagon Trains”.
In the most deadpan tones possible, the interviewees of this story analyze his career. The former fan club president (Colleen Crabtree) gushes over how great he was, how cordial he was to his fans, and there’s still a hint of that sparkle he gave to girls like her. Harris was obviously inspired enough by Christopher Guest to get these deadpan motions down. Comedy is even funnier when the participants aren’t aware of the hilarity within. Decca’s career begins to slide downward as the numbers go backwards. He sings variations on 15, then 14, then even 9, leading the public to believe he’s some kind of sicko. Maybe he is. This story doesn’t stoop that low however and those thoughts as to why he reduced the numbers can be classified two ways: First, he cluelessly wanted to make a difference in his music that wasn’t much of a difference. And second, it’s a sharp comment about singers being led around by people who like to believe they know what to do. The greatest strength of the “Paul Decca Story” is that besides the photographs and the video footage, these talking heads are able to create a full person just by their words. That is a talent of many brains and “The Paul Decca Story” has plenty of those.