QUEER SCREEN FILM FEST 2015 is here people!! So exciting, an amazing line-up of films this year and we have reviewed a few of them. It started this past Tuesday 22nd of September and finishes this Sunday 27th September with all screenings at Event Cinemas George St. I must apologise, I wanted to get more of our reviews up prior to the festival commencing but I have been in and out of bed with a five week five day (currently) flu that has been taking it out of me and I am articles and articles behind. To follow on from Kernel Morgan’s review of THE FOXY MERKINS from yesterday I present to you an amazing documentary about one of the biggest hotties of all time, Tab Hunter in TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL.
The line up for the festival is superb and like THE FOXY MERKINS, TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL has also sold out for it’s screening. I do believe it is available on legal streaming sites and can be purchased on home entertainment, well worth it. Suss the full list of movies screening at the festival HERE…….support our brothers and sisters and get to the festival if in Sydney…….all the best……….JK.
BY JASON KING
Tab Hunter was basically the love child of Zac Efron and Channing Tatum in the looks department. He was one of the first pin up guys that had every female and closeted gay guy quivering in their loins. He was utilised by television and film studios from the 50s to sell films and boy was he successful, the guy was at the top of his game starring with the likes of Natalie Wood, Debbie Reynolds and Sophia Loren. But he was also a closeted gay man and was caught and photographed at a gay party. The studios and industry of the time was a force to be reckoned with and they had everything swept under the carpet but also they filed it away in case they ever needed it.
I cannot mention enough how gorgeous this guy was, he was the epitome of 50s California male glam, boys wanted to be him and girls and gay men just wanted him, he was also seen as the all American masculine figure.
On top of his looks he was also humble, instinctive and lovable, he worked himself close to death and gave everything, including his sexuality to maintain his persona. Hollywood loved him but Hollywood and the world at the time hated “gay.” In the 50s it was actually illegal to be gay and was considered a mental illness.
Tab’s life is something that should be a huge budget biopic, instead we get this superb documentary that is actually the movie version of Tab’s autobiography and it is sublimely directed by Jeffrey Schwarz (I AM DIVINE, VITO). It combines so much archival footage and photography from his entire life and also many interviews with some of the actors or industry types that have known or worked with Tab over the years, including Clint Eastwood, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner (Tab and Wagner’s wife at the time Natalie Wood were co-stars and besties), George Takei, John Waters and even George Takei.
As a person Tab is an amazing man to listen to, in the day and in the present he discusses with candour, honesty and detail, I loved hearing him discuss his faults in all of his acting and how he overcame them, and boy was his life a rollercoaster, he made some epic role choices and some epic failure role choices, he was typecast as the himbo for years who was only wanted so he would take his shirt off. Seeing the nostalgic footage of the day was beautiful and seeing his onscreen relationships was brilliant, you literally feel like you are seeing his biopic.
He went into singing and became one of the largest recording artists of the day, his album knocked Elvis off the charts, yes THE ELVIS. They even started Warner Brothers music FOR TAB HUNTER, he was still signed for films with WB but started recording with another label and when the songs went ballistic Jack Warner lost his shit because he owned Tab and WB should be making the money, so off into music they went.
But this was also the downside of the industry at the time, it shows how much studios owned the actors, it made them basically act 24/7, if not in the films or the TV shows then in the social world being on display at events and so on and this started to take its toll on Tab. While Jack Warner would kill for his investment, that was on provisos that the investment was doing what it was told.
Tab had a relationship with U.S. Pro Ice Skater Ronny Robertson, it was a beautiful and mostly secret relationship (this meant nearly everyone knew of it but no one spoke of it) but Robertson was told he would never win the Nationals and his dreams of being in the Olympics were never going to happen because he was gay and with Tab, and so it occurred, he lost on every front at the Nationals even though he was the best skater.
Tab then had a secret/ not so secret relationship with Anthony Perkins, yep the PSYCHO guy, they were madly in love, but also still very much closeted and Perkins was so desperate for a career that he eventually betrayed Tab for a role, a role that was being written for Tab. Perkins’ life was somewhat sad after this, his career boomed, however he remained closeted and made a beautiful full happy family but kept his secret life and eventually passed from Aids in the early 90s.
Eventually Tab wanted a change from doing all the same roles and wanted to leave his agent, his agent who then saved Roc Hudson’s career from being outed by supplying tabloids the information and photographs of Tab at the private gay party where he was arrested many years before. This hurt him deeply and eventually he made what he described as “career suicide” and asked to leave Warner Brothers, Jack Warner insisted he buy himself out of his contract, a very expensive cost for the time, but he wanted out, so he saved and he got out, I think a small amount of ego thought he was a valuable asset to Warner but they didn’t care, they cast the closest thing and made a point of destroying Tab, roles dried up.
He looked after his mother and eventually revival after revival came to Tab, he starred in a surfing movie in his 30s, did the night-theatre circuit until he had a heart attack and embraced the B grade and the world loved it. He found the church and finally a version of Tab Hunter he loved and could happily live with.
And then along came John Waters and his Madonnaesque 1000th rebirth into cool, where he starred with Divine in both POLYESTER and then LUST IN THE DUST. He did four films after LUST IN THE DUST but retired from acting in 1992.
He now lives on his ranch with his long term partner and his other greatest love – horses, I am so happy for him, after this movie I have lusted, loved, went through his life and truly felt like I knew him. I am so surprised I never had heard of him before this, but now I have a genuine Tab Hunter signed photograph coming direct from Tab and personalised for me, I may have found him late but this movie was so epic he now makes my list of one of the pin-up great of all time. My 50s Zac if you will :). Definitely a documentary that needs to be seen, it is worth it for its evolution of gays in Hollywood alone. Will make my top 20 films of 2015.
Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).