SXSW Film Review: Tab Hunter Confidential 

The story of a Hollywood heartthrob stepping out of the closet

Tab Hunter came out to the world 10 years ago. In his autobiography of the same name, he laid it on the line: Hollywood's "Sigh Guy" liked guys. A decade later, the stakes may be less dramatic, his tone less dishy, but the story still sizzles. 

Onscreen, George Takei calls him the "embodiment of youthful American masculinity." There's no wonder that Hollywood star-machine beards like Connie Stevens, Debbie Reynolds, and the late Natalie Wood (as conveyed in the film by widower Robert Wagner) adored him. Reynolds attests, offering insight into Hunter's nonthreatening appeal, "He wasn't on the make. Women like that."

The soundtrack shines in a supporting, if subtle role. Director Jeffrey Schwarz brought in composer, Eighties indie-rock darling and Nineties lounge music progenitor Michael "The Millionaire" Cudahy (Christmas, Combustible Edison, and founder of Luxuria.com), as he did previously on I Am Divine and Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story. He's the perfect match for a sensibility that requires gliding between impish Fifties goofiness and somber reflection.

The real star, of course, is Tab himself, now in his early 80s, still fit and fine, gracious in testifying to the complexity of life in a Hollywood closet and comfortable in his resolve to live true in his very out skin. Sigh.


Tab Hunter Confidential

Documentary Spotlight, World Premiere 
Saturday, March 21, 2:45pm, Alamo Lamar


Keep up with all our SXSW Film coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw/film.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW Film, SXSW, Tab Hunter Confidential, Jeffrey Schwarz, Michael Cudahy

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