Friday, February 19, 2010


Andrew Davies and Andre Shafer’s Rock Hudson: Dark and Handsome Stranger has been screened at the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama sidebar. Universal (gay) star Rock Hudson, one of the top box-office attractions in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s, died of AIDS complications in his Beverly Hills home in 1985. As to be expected, Hudson lived a closeted life, briefly getting married to his agent’s secretary and brokering a deal with scandal sheet Confidential along the way.

Among Hudson’s best-known vehicles are Douglas Sirk’s Magnificent Obsession (1954) and All That Heaven Allows (1955), both with Jane Wyman; George Stevens‘ Giant (1956), in which he co-starred with Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, and for which he received his only Academy Award nomination; Charles Vidor’s A Farewell to Arms (1957), with Jennifer Jones; Robert Mulligan’s Come September (1961), with Gina Lollobrigida; and his three pairings with Doris Day: Pillow Talk (1959), Lover Come Back (1961), and Send Me No Flowers (1964).

Hudson’s best notices were probably for his role as a man who gets a new identity in John Frankenheimer’s dark thriller Seconds (1966). On television, he had one big hit, the humorous crime series McMillan and Wife, opposite Susan St. James.

Rock Hudson: Dark and Handsome Stranger features several famous interviewees, including Elizabeth Taylor, Armistead Maupin, Paula Prentiss (Hudson’s co-star in Howard Hawks‘ Man’s Favorite Sport?), Linda Evans (Dynasty), and Heather Locklear (also Dynasty), in addition to Hudson’s assistant of ten years, Tom Clark.

Hudson’s last lover, Marc Christian, who won a lawsuit against the Hudson estate in the 1980s, died in June 2009. (Christian’s death was made public only later in the year.) In 1989, Christian was award $14.5 million in damages because Hudson had hidden from him the fact that he had AIDS. Christian didn’t acquire HIV from Hudson; a heavy smoker, he died of pulmonary problems.

The synopsis below is from the Berlin Film Festival website:

Rock Hudson was a dream of a man; the epitome of masculinity: tall, slim and muscular, with a deep, mellifluous voice. His glossy black hair, sparkling eyes, high cheek bones and sensuous lips made Rock Hudson one of the sexiest film stars that Hollywood has ever produced. Twenty-five years ago, shortly before his sixtieth birthday, Rock Hudson died of Aids-related illnesses. He was the first Hollywood celebrity to succumb to the acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

But who was Rock Hudson really? This documentary sheds light on a famous actor star who performed a clandestine balancing act between his private and public lives; between the heterosexual world of an extremely manly looking screen idol and a darker side of forbidden sexuality lived by a secretly gay man.

The film combines extensive archive material, trailers and excerpts from his films, but also photographs, footage from his private archive and interviews in order to commemorate Rock Hudson’s life and career. The filmmakers met up with the star’s childhood friends in his birthplace in Winnetka, Illinois, and went to New York and Los Angeles to conduct interviews about his Hollywood career. Rock Hudson’s close friends and confidantes – including best-selling author Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City), producer and director Stockton Briggle and PR manager Yanou Collart – all provide an insight into the life of a Hollywood legend.

Film historians Richard Dyer and Robert Hofler, author of the book The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson, as well as gossip columnist Rona Barrett also explain the way in which Hollywood’s star and studio systems function. In addition, actors Richard Anderson and Salome Jens as well as Leonard Stern, who produced a television series with Rock Hudson, all share their experiences of working with the star on set.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hearts and Flowers

The valentine was a handmade pastiche of Victorian cherubs, pressed flowers and red glitter.  Mary Ann Singleton took one look at it and squealed delightedly.

"Mouse!  It's magnificent.  Where in the world did you find those precious little...?"

"Open it."  He grinned.

She turned to the inside of the magazine-size card, revealing a message in Art Nouveau script:  MY VALENTINE'S RESOLUTIONS.  Underneath were ten numbered spaces.

"See," said Michael, "you're supposed to fill it in yourself."

Mary Ann leaned over and pecked him on the cheek. "I'm that screwed up, huh?"

"You bet.  I don't waste time with well-adjusted people.  Wanna see my list?"

"Aren't you mixing this up with New Year's?"

"Nah.  That's nickle-dime stuff.  Smoking-eating-drinking resolutions.  These are the--you know--the hardcore, maybe-this-time, kiss-today-goodbye, some-enchanted-evening resolutions."

He reached into the pocket of his Pendleton and handed her a sheet of paper:
  1. I will not call anyone nellie or butch, unless that is his name.
  2. I will not assume that women who like me are fag hags.
  3. I will stop expecting to meet Jan-Michael Vincent at the tubs.
  4. I will inhale poppers only through the mouth.
  5. I will not spend more than half an hour in the shower at the Y.
  6. I will stop trying to figure out what color my handkerchief would be if I wore one.
  7. I will buy a drink for a Fifties Queen sometime.
  8. I will not persist in hoping that attractive men will turn out to be brainless and boring.
  9. I will sign my real name at The Glory Holes.
  10. I will ease back into religion by attending concerts at Grace Cathedral.
  11. I will not cruise at Grace Cathedral.
  12. I will not vote for anyone for Empress.
  13. I will make friends with a straight man.
  14. I will not make fun of the way he walks.
  15. I will not tell him about Alexander the Great, Walt Whitman or Leonardo da Vinci.
  16. I will not vote for for politicians who use the term "Gay Community."
  17. I will not cry when Mary Tyler Moore goes off the air.
  18. I will not measure it, no matter who asks.
  19. I will not hide the A-200.
  20. I will not buy a Lacoste shirt, a Marimekko pillow, a secondhand letterman's jacket, an All-American Boy T-shirt, a razor blade necklace or a denim accessory of any kind.
  21. I will learn to eat alone and like it.
  22. I will not fantasize about firemen.
  23. I will not tell anyone at home that I just haven't found the right girl yet.
  24. I will wear a suit on Castro Street and feel comfortable about it.
  25. I will not do impressions of Bette Davis, Tallulah Bankhead, Mae West or Paul Lynde.
  26. I will not eat more than one It's-It in a single evening.
  27. I will find myself acceptable.
  28. I will meet somebody nice, away from a bar or the tubs or a roller-skating rink, and I will fall hopelessly but conventionally in love.
  29. But I won't say I love you before he does.
  30. The hell I won't.
Mary Ann put down the paper and looked at Michael.  "You've got thirty resolutions.  How come you only gave me ten?"

He grinned.  "Things aren't so tough for you."

"Is that right, Mr. Gay Chauvinist Pig!"

She attacked the valentine with a Flair, filling in the first four blanks.

"Try that for starters!"
  1. I will meet Mr. Right this year.
  2. He won't be married.
  3. He won't be gay.
  4. He won't be a child pornographer.
"I see," said Michael, smiling slyly.  "Moving back to Cleveland, huh?"

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


Excerpt from "More Tales of the City"