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Movie review: ‘Tab Hunter Confidential’ shows a heartthrob’s secret life

First Published      Last Updated Feb 17 2016 01:51 pm

In the documentary "Tab Hunter Confidential," the retired actor charms by showing himself to be as reluctant at being a gay icon as he was at being a '50s heartthrob.

Through interviews with him and many of his former co-stars, the movie chronicles Hunter's rise to stardom in the 1950s and how he was stage-managed to be an object of desire to American teen girls — even though he was a closeted gay man. Hunter, in some painfully earnest interviews, discusses how he tried to maintain relationships with men (including an affair in the mid-'50s with Anthony Perkins) when homosexuality was still considered a crime.

Director Jeffrey Schwarz, who also profiled Hunter's "Polyester" co-star star Divine (in the 2013 documentary "I Am Divine"), draws upon a colorful collection of archival footage and some fun interviews from the likes of Debbie Reynolds, George Takei, Portia di Rossi and Clint Eastwood. Best of all is Hunter himself, who in his self-deprecating way shows himself to be perhaps the nicest guy ever to get out of Hollywood alive.

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‘Tab Hunter Confidential’

Opens Friday, Nov. 6, at the Tower Theatre; not rated, but probably PG-13 for sexual references and some language; 90 minutes.