Tab Hunter Confidential

I took the bus into Emeryville to stop at Target. I bought the Beatles’ “1” CD with a DVD included and got a $10 gift card, which I decided I’d probably use on Friday after I get another paycheck. I stopped at Trader Joe’s on the way back. Some crazy man was standing outside the store threatening to kick people. Thankfully, I was able to avoid him. I walked over to the theatre to catch the 12:55 showing of “Tab Hunter Confidential.” It seems that I’ve been seeing quite a few documentaries over the past several weeks. I’m not old enough to remember Tab Hunter at the height of his fame. I know him more for “Polyester” and “Lust in the Dust.” He was a pop singer of sorts, scoring a Number One hit with “Young Love.” Young girls really adored him based on his looks. There is a lesson in there. Tab himself talks in a good amount of detail about the early days of his career, as he sought a studio contract. Rex Reed talks about how terrible Tab was in his first movie, which was “Island of Desire” with Linda Darnell. Tab’s career would have its spark with “Battle Cry,” and he appeared in movies with stars like Natalie Wood and Sophia Loren. I thought it was remarkable how the filmmakers got some of these people to appear in the film, like Etchika Choureau, the French actress Tab considered marrying, and Jo-Ann Cox, the teenager who won a contest to have the date with Tab. His real name is Arthur Klem, later Arthur Gelien. If he’d attempted to start his career a bit later, he could have been Troy Donahue. Some people in Hollywood knew that he’d been to a “limp-wristed pajama party,” but Jack Warner had a strong incentive to quash those rumors because of the money rolling in based on Tab Hunter’s image as a clean-cut all-American male. George Takei tells us about what it was like to be a homosexual in the 1950s. I will have to say that I thought the color of George Takei’s lips was odd. Debbie Reynolds said that she was very naïve about Tab’s sexuality. One of his relationships was with Ronnie Robertson, an ice skater, and Tab’s presence at the world championship competition in 1956 supposedly affected the outcome, although the movie didn’t clarify exactly how that was. I could help thinking about Brian Boitano as I was watching this part of the film. Tab would meet Anthony Perkins, who was engaging but secretive. At a couple of points, I thought maybe this documentary should have been about him. Tab and Natalie Wood knew each other and made public appearances together. You have to wonder what she would have said about all of it. Robert Wagner is one of the people interviewed, however. Tab would buy out his contract for $100,000, a move that he would call career suicide, as the roles he anticipated didn’t come his way. Tab talked about live television and his work with Arthur Penn on “Portrait of a Murderer,” which was one of the highlights of his career, but he would find it difficult to get parts after his parting from Warner Brothers. He had to take care of his mother, who had mental health problems. He said he was getting long in the tooth for certain parts when he was 32. I could sympathize with him when he said he didn’t want to talk about everything about himself. In the age of social media, does anyone place a value on their privacy anymore? Two things you could see about Tab Hunter in this film were his ice skating skill and his love of horses. He visited Anthony Perkins to talk to him about a role in “Lust in the Dust,” but Perkins turned it down. Perkins had a wife and children, which means that he either was amazingly protective of his career or he was one of the greatest actors who ever lived. Tab settled into a relationship with Allan Glaser that came out of the effort to get “Lust in the Dust” made. The years passed, and he had to retire from acting. Tab is now 84 years old. He doesn’t look bad for his age, and he seems mentally alert. He is in better shape than my father, who is in the same age group. I wouldn’t say this was the greatest documentary because there are plenty of unanswered questions. There were a few key people missing from the film that we should have heard from, but I think most of them are dead. Some of the people who were interviewed were Portia de Rossi, Connie Stevens, Lainie Kazan, John Waters, and Dolores Hart. I rather enjoyed the movie, though. Most of the other people in the theatre were older than I am, and they gave the film a bit of light applause at the end. Tab Hunter wasn’t part of my youth, and so his story wasn’t that familiar to me. I think I would have been interested in seeing a documentary on Rock Hudson, especially since it would have a dramatic ending. Tab’s career was damaged because of a deal to kill a tabloid story on Hudson. It was a trade-off with Tab getting thrown under the bus. The one trailer that I thought was interesting was “Hitchcock Truffaut,” which I think I would like to see when it reaches this theatre. I have not seen Laura Truffaut around town in several years. The movie ended at about 3:00, and I felt an autumn chill in the afternoon when I stepped outside the theatre. I browsed through the record stores before going home. I thought about watching the Bergman film “Persona,” but I was too tired. The Beatles CD made the songs sound slightly different with the drums sounding clearer than before. Some bits of singing sounded clearer, too. I thought the entire Beatles catalog could benefit from another round of remixing. It’s already been six years since I bought those two box sets. In the new issue of the East Bay Express, I saw that Grand Lake Theatre will have double features over the weekend, starting with “Life of Pi” and “Hugo” tomorrow. I’d like to make it for that one, especially since they’re both in 3D, and I don’t have opportunities to see those movies in 3D anymore. I like the idea of double features because they take me back to the days of the UC Theatre up until 2000. I believe that the last double feature I saw in that theatre, which used to mean so much to me, was “American Beauty” and “High Fidelity.” I remember seeing “La Strada” and “Nights of Cabiria” there, and also the triple feature of “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex,” “Bananas,” and “Sleeper.” Some of the people who died on November 12 include Jerome Kern (1945), Eve Arden (1990), Ira Levin (2007), and Mitch Mitchell (2008). Today is a birthday for Anne Hathaway (33), Nadia Comaneci (54), Neil Young (70), and Wallace Shawn (72). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for November 12, “South of the South” was released in 1946. In 1971, Clint Eastwood’s “Play Misty for Me” was released. In 1973, Mott the Hoople began a concert tour of the UK at Leeds Town Hall with Queen as their opening act. In 1981, William Holden died when he fell and injured his head while he was drunk. In 1982, the horror anthology “Creepshow,” featuring Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, and Ed Harris, was released. In 1987, Sly Stone was an hour late for a comeback concert in Los Angeles, and when he arrived, he was arrested for nonpayment of child support.

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