As we all know, Hollywood can be a make-or-break industry, creating stars and destroying them. Some make it, while others don't. I think no one knows that better than Tab Hunter, the once dominating hunk of the 1950s, who became the biggest sensation of that decade. He was considered at the time the ultimate blue-eyed, blond-haired stud who graced the covers of countless magazines, and starred in many films. His amazingly good looks and all-American boyish sex appeal drove many of his fans to extreme frenzy, making him the epitome of the young matinee idol whom all others are measured. However, with good looks and even greater appeal, comes heartbreak and tragedy. He was gay at a time when being so could definitely ruin your career. Based on the best-selling memoir of the same name, Tab Hunter Confidential brings his dramatic and chaotic true story to life with amazing detail.
Featuring interviews with such legends as George Takei, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, John Waters, Terry Moore, among others, including Tab himself, the documentary frankly reveals his survival of Hollywood's dream factory. With clips from a few of his films including Battle Cry and Track of the Cat, you are allowed to see his rise to fame and eventual fall from grace, especially after actor Troy Donahue replaced him to become the new blonde king.
Some of the most painful moments are when he talks about his turbulent relationship with Anthony Perkins, whose star was rising as his was drying out. There is also the bit where he reveals the time when he visited his estranged father in New York, only to have the door shut in his face. From then on, he faced tragedy after tragedy, especially when he was forced to put his mother into a mental institution to the death of his older brother after he fought in the Vietnam War.
It becomes even more damaging to the viewer having to witness Tab's career dying completely, and having to watch him agree to do any movie, even grade-Z clunkers in order to pay his bills and keep afloat. However, in the end it goes from despair to hope as he accepts that the limelight has passed him by and finds true love in the form of film producer Allan Glaser, with whom he has been with for over four decades.
What makes this documentary more than just an autobiography of an actor's complex life and career is that it tells the hard truth about the darkside of stardom, and how Hollywood can build a person up and tear them down. It is really one of the true cinematic examples that really embodies that harsh realization.
Closing this review, I believe that this is one of the best, if not the best documentary about a true Hollywood icon in the last ten years. You don't have to be a film lover to truly enjoy it. I think Tab himself will agree with you on that.
Tab Hunter Confidential is now available on iTunes with exclusive bonus features and also on Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu and more. A DVD release is planned for later this summer.