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.
Photo: Courtesy of the Berlin Film Festival
Note: This synopsis of Rock Hudson: Dark and Handsome Stranger was initially posted in February 2010.