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, 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

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at

More SXSW Film
Unleashing the <i>Hounds of Love</i>
Unleashing the Hounds of Love
Director Ben Young on his serial-killer couple drama

Richard Whittaker, May 12, 2017

Ben Wheatley  Catches <i>Free Fire</i>
Ben Wheatley Catches Free Fire
Director on making his U.S. action debut

Richard Whittaker, April 21, 2017

Ta-Nehisi Coates for SXSW 2018
Ta-Nehisi Coates for SXSW 2018
Plus Teen Vogue, The Daily Show, and Charlie Rose

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 30, 2017

<i>Moonlight</i> Director Returns to SXSW
Moonlight Director Returns to SXSW
Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins part of first speaker list for 2018

Richard Whittaker, July 24, 2017

More by Kate X Messer
The Gay Place: It's Aliiive!
It's Aliiive!
You can't keep a Gay Place down; just ask Sarah Marloff

Jan. 20, 2016

Gay Place: I'm Not Gonna Miss You
Gay Place: I'm Not Gonna Miss You

Jan. 15, 2016


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

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)