HBO Original documentary film ROCK HUDSON: ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWED, directed by Stephen Kijak (“Stones in Exile”, “Sid & Judy,” Max Original “Equal”), debuts WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28 (9:00 – 10:44p.m. ET/PT) on HBO and will be available to stream on Max. The film will coincide with LGBTQ Pride Month and have its world premiere at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival.
One of Hollywood’s most iconic leading men of the 1950’s and ‘60’s, Rock Hudson was the embodiment of romantic masculinity and heterosexuality until his diagnosis and death from AIDS in 1985. ROCK HUDSON: ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWED tells the story of a man living a double life; while his public persona was carefully manufactured by his handlers, orchestrated by the studio system, and reinforced by a marriage of convenience, Hudson had to keep his private life shrouded in secrecy since the revelation of who he really was would have ended his career given the anti-gay attitudes of the time.
This revealing portrait unveils the complex man behind the mythic screen presence. Told through intimate interviews with those closest to him, the film explores the many contradictions between Hudson the man and Hudson the movie star. At a time when being openly gay in Hollywood was career ending, the young actor, Roy Fitzgerald, newly named Rock Hudson, embarked on an early career of heroic action roles perfectly suited to his 6’5” frame, strong physique and chiseled good looks. Detailing his breakout movie roles, including the mid ‘50s melodrama “All that Heaven Allows” which turned him into a romantic matinee idol who oozed macho charisma, the film pulls back the curtain on his life off camera. Considered one of Hollywood’s “most eligible bachelors”, when tabloid rumors about his sexuality began to swirl, his marriage to his manager’s secretary Phyllis Gates briefly put to rest any speculation about his lifestyle and his Academy Award- nominated role in “Giant” cemented his status as box-office gold. Maintaining a facade of heterosexuality, he continued to appear in hit movies that cast him as the desirable romantic lead, finding success opposite Doris Day in the comedies “Pillow Talk” and “Lover Come Back” and then pivoted to television in the ‘70s with a successful run in “McMillan and Wife”.
Hiding his true sexuality from the media and the fans who were eager to embrace such a paragon of male heterosexuality, Hudson enjoyed a private lifestyle at odds with his public image. Through the lens of colleagues, close friends and lovers, and with a wealth of well-chosen film clips, personal photographs and home videos, ROCK HUDSON: ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWED contextualizes Hudson’s cinematic contribution as one of the last great stars of the studio system and celebrates his enduring legacy as a screen icon who helped change the public perception of AIDS.
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