Bay Area Premiere
Expected to attend: Director Jeffrey Schwarz, Subject Tab Hunter, Producer Allan Glaser
America was a very different place in the not-so-distant, golly-gee past of the 1950s, as vibrantly recalled in this thoroughly entertaining new documentary on formerly closeted Hollywood heartthrob and golden-boy idol Tab Hunter. His blue-eyed, blond-haired California surfer stunning looks got him cast in frequently shirtless roles that propelled his career into superstar status. He became the prototype for young idols to come; so did the studios’ desire to hide his and others’ gayness.
Following the rapturously received Vito (Frameline36) and I Am Divine (Frameline37), 2015 Frameline Award recipient Jeffrey Schwarz returns with his fascinating portrait of Divine’s two-time leading man (Lust in the Dust and Polyester). Hunter, now 83 and happily retired, gratefully recounts his seemingly charmed life story and rollercoaster career with candor, wisdom, and sincerity. Based on his 2006 autobiography, the film traces Hunter’s dizzying rise to Hollywood superstardom, his secret life in an era when being openly gay was unthinkable, and his personal triumphs once the limelight finally passed him by. Showcasing many delightful movie and TV clips and rare photos (whimsically animated), the documentary features revealing interviews with those who know and admire the actor, including his partner of 32 years and famous friends and co-stars such as John Waters, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, Portia de Rossi, and Clint Eastwood.
The film pays respect to Hunter and his classic Hollywood contemporaries (including former lover Anthony Perkins) and examines the emotional and professional consequences of the discrimination they faced. Perhaps the trailblazing success of out thespians like Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer will mean that tomorrow’s Tab Hunters will be spared appearing in sham relationships with pretty starlets, designed to protect their wholesome, bankable images and studio box office receipts.
— Chris Keech
AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D324
Academy of Friends