Some may find it hard to imagine today, but it wasn’t long ago when being gay was not acceptable in America– not even in “Hollyweird,” as Tab Hunter’s autobiography demonstrates. Tab Hunter Confidential is an interesting and entertaining albeit innocuous slice of what life was once like.
Hunter (real name: Art Kelm) discusses with candor and good humor his rise, fall, and personal life in the closet. He is open but definitely guarded: he treads lightly, ostensibly in the interest of privacy. He’s rather gingerly, too: he doesn’t say he slept with anyone, he says he “went up to his room;” he doesn’t say he dated, he says “we were together.” You get the idea. Appearances from celebrities popular in his day– Debbie Reynolds, Connie Stevens, and Mother Superior Dolores Hart (yes, a starlet turned nun)– round out his story and convey how well-liked he was, and still is.
Co-produced by his partner of three decades, Allan Glaser, Tab Hunter Confidential is not exactly the tell-all the title implies. It shares some great anecdotes and Golden Age Hollywood gossip, but no bombshells. Those seeking salacious details will be disappointed. The many images of young Hunter, however, make up for the lack of sleaze.
(Gene Siskel Film Center) C+