Tab Hunter? That uber-adorable blond boy of German ancestry, whose gorgeous face and sveltely muscular body set the screen ablaze from his first big role (opposite Linda Darnell), almost immediately became the nationwide idol of teenage girls (and boys with certain proclivities), going on to make a couple dozen film and/or TV appearances over a ten-year period that would ensure his entry into the Hollywood pantheon. Critics may have come late, if at all, to his actual acting ability, but nobody, I suspect, could gainsay the guy's ability to turn heads, hearts and libidos his way. Now comes a new documentary, TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL, that not only tells the actor's story -- damned well, too -- but might easily stand in for a textbook case of how the Hollywood dream factory created then sold those dreams to a more-than-willing public. The film is also one of the best documentaries made thus far about the career and lives -- real and manufactured -- of a Hollywood "star."
Allan Glaser (shown at left) -- the actual identity of whom becomes apparent toward the end of the documentary, at which point it couldn't seem more pleasing and appropriate -- and director Jeffrey Schwarz (below, right), the film should prove catnip to Hunter's many fans, most of whom are now senior citizens. Beyond this, however, the movie may very well capture the somewhat younger audience who knows Hunter from his later work with John Waters, Paul Bartel and Divine (Polyester and Lust in the Dust).
TV version, and Perkins' follow-up in the movie makes for some very interesting fodder for ideas about ambition and betrayal in Hollywood. Hunter's work in television and even in legitimate theater also proves salient, interesting and even sometimes amusing, as shown here.
Automat Pictures and The Film Collaborative, while continuing at New York City's Village East Cinema, opens today, Friday, October 23, in other cities, and hits Los Angeles at Landmark's NuArt next Friday, October 30. Click here to see all currently scheduled playdates, with cities and theaters listed.