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There are two things to consider here: the script's accuracy and the drama's
Since this is a bio, factual accuracy is important. However, the only authorities of what really took place are the real life subjects. In cases where only two people were involved in a situation--the late actor and second party--chances for proving historical accuracy are decidedly diminished.
The only guide one can have is what's been garnered from other sources: press articles, film documentaries, various bio books, and the like. There were so many "cover ups" to the Hudson career, that it's tough to tell where truth ends and urban legend begins.
Writer Dennis Turner obviously consulted court transcripts and legal documents among his sources, but who really knows what happened? William R. Moses' Marc Christian is played throughout like a sweet, innocent college junior; there's no hint there of anything but the purest of motives to his relationship.
Andrew Robinson's Agent Henry Willson is not shown devising the "marriage of convenience" to Phyllis Gates. Nor is Thomas Ian Griffith's Rock ever seen making love to his various partners beyond innocent embraces--not even a mutual kiss.
There's something irritatingly irresponsible about all of this, and John Nicoletta's overly cautious direction doesn't help.
Released just five years after the actor's death in 1985, it's a good guess the writing began shortly thereafter to capitalize on its subject.
Dramatically, there's not much more that emerges than tentative and superficial, with a cast trying its best to inject emotion into the enactment. Another film on Hudson is welcome--one with less sanitization and compromise and more sincerity and viewpoint.
First of all this movie was made for television. Plot-wise it has a
cheap movie of the week feel. The acting isn't bad. In fact the leads
are all quite good and in some cases stellar. Any weaknesses in
performances have more to do with really bad makeup. The ageing is
horribly done and not very convincing.
At one point "Rock" says, "some poor woman is missing her makeup kit" and it led me to wonder if the "poor woman" was in fact the film's makeup director. Dreadful stuff.
A few others have commented on the accuracy of the characterizations -- I believe they're alluding to whether Rock Hudson gave Mark Christian AIDS without telling him he had it -- perhaps the most damning (and criminal) thing in the film. I'm not sure anyone knows other than the principles. George Nader is missing from the entire film.
There are some serious gaps in this film. Massive gaps actually. The film presents the picture that Hudson's career was over by the mid 1960s and he retired from acting. Nothing could be further from the truth. The film omits the SEVEN seasons Rock Hudson played the lead in McMillan & Wife -- the popular detective series of the 1970s. For many of us it was our first introduction to Hudson.
The other gap is the unbelievable prudishness in presenting Hudson's relationships. No kisses and very little tenderness. It is deceptive and a lie to present his relationships this way.
There's a better film out there demanding to be made.
This film was well paced, but really didn't go in depth to show a longer TV career that Rock did have. The most strangest moment in the film, i remember was that Rock took his mother to the screening of his first motion picture that he starred in with Robert Stack. His mother leans over to him in the movie theater and basically tells him "dont quit your day job" as a reaction to his acting. The actor who portrayed Raoul Walsh was quit believable, giving Rock a small part in this first picture telling his agent, Henry: "Well he'll make good scenery" Also, another discrepancy is that when Rock met Marc Christian, they were friends for six months before sleeping together. The movie makes it look like they just jumped in the sack after a just a few meetings. Otherwise it was mildly entertaining.
It would have been interesting to see more about his movie career and non -sex personal life. Nevertheless it was an interesting movie and the cast performed well. Marc Christian was painted in a more favorable light than the press did at the time of Hudson's death and the lawsuit. George Nader, who received most of his estate according to some accounts, was not in the movie at all.
Although Thomas Ian Nicholas fulfills my own conception of what an
actor playing Rock Hudson should be and William R. Moses is giving the
best possible face on the interpretation of Marc Christian we are left
very unsatisfied with this portrayal of Rock Hudson, a film star I grew
up with and one of the last products of the fabled studio system with
all its strengths and faults.
When Roy Fitzgerald was christened by Henry Willson as Rock Hudson he began a life in denial. Hudson followed in the footsteps of people like William Haines and Ross Alexander for whom the closet was too great a burden, Haines walked out of the acting business and Alexander was a suicide. It killed Rock Hudson too, it just took decades to happen.
It's important to remember that Hudson was a product of America's midwest heartland with all the values therein inculcated in him from his birth. Being gay was just not something someone discussed in polite society. Compounding that Hudson entered a profession that was built on image. It would not do with the rigid stereotypes we had back in the day for the All American male to be gay.
Andrew Robinson plays Willson who was gay himself and had many a gay client. Hudson was his number one client. When Confidential magazine threatened to blow up his career, Willson fed them some of his lesser clients like Rory Calhoun had a prison record come to light. Hudson certainly went along with it because he had grown used to the life of a celebrity film star. In many ways Robinson had the most interesting role in the film, in fact a life of Henry Willson would be far more interesting than any of his celebrity clients.
Like other players who got into films on their looks and sex appeal like Tyrone Power and Robert Taylor, Rock Hudson worked hard and learned his craft so that he could deliver a decent acting performance. The story about his one line debut in Fighter Squadron and having 38 takes to deliver it is part of Hollywood legend. What is not mentioned is that Henry Willson certainly had the connections to keep him in the game otherwise after about the fifth take we'd have never heard of Rock Hudson. Secondly director Raoul Walsh had him star in three of his films later, Sea Devils, Gun Glory, and The Lawless Breed. He must have seen something in him.
Rock Hudson's life was in the closet, it was the price you paid back in the day for a career in front of the camera. With a little more historical perspective we might get a better version of the life of Rock Hudson. I certainly hope so.
The actor who portrayed Rock Hudson can only have been picked because of his brief resemblance to the late star. His acting was not on par with the later movie star, nor did he have the charisma to be a star. It gave the impression that Rock Hudson chose to stay in the closet rather than come out. Perhaps in those 'dark old days' you would have been finished if you 'came out', but at least his life-long friend, George Nader did not hide it. The best actor in it was definitely William R Moses who played Marc Christian who I believe wrote a book about his experiences with Rock and his court case senario - I have tried for years to get the book all to no avail -! Perhaps it should be refilmed with more on his career and even more on his love life.
Thomas Ian Griffith was perfectly cast in this role. Not only is Mr. Griffith a Rock Hudson lookalike, but he carried himself as Rock Hudson did and portrayed the underlying tenderness that Hudson's moviegoers admired. I normally dislike biography/movies and almost switched the channel, but Mr. Griffith was quite compelling to watch. I do agree with the other imdb users that the movie could have focused more on Hudson's career; however, the movie was based on his ex-wife's book and her knowledge of that aspect of Hudson's life was limited. I found it sad that Hudson tried to go straight and although truly in love with Phyllis, he could not deny his inner feelings for men. Mr. Griffith's portrayal helped me to understand Rock Hudson as a person. This movie is currently being rerun on the True Stories channel (March 2001).
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