Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed – the Shattering of an Illusion


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The story of Rock Hudson, his image and the unravelling of that image tells us much about 20th century culture. He came from an era where men were men and women stayed in their lane. Audiences loved their big screen heroes and Rock shone his macho image back at them. Men imagined themselves up on the screen and woman swooned at his every move.

This was the post war era. Everyone knew their parts and played them well. To many, Rock was such a manly hero. His machismo bristled through the screen.

Imagine the shock and horror to many when he was diagnosed and eventually died from AIDS in 1985. Yes that disease right at the height of the panic.

This shattered many illusions. So Rock wasn’t the muscled hero with all those women at his feet? The idealised man with the chiselled looks who many aspired to be…. liked men? Strangely though the story has yet another twist. The shattering of the Rock illusion helped many people. Some felt brave enough to announce their own sexuality had been hidden and others began to see AIDS in a different light.

rock hudson proud gay

‘Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed’ is an intimate portrait of actor Rock Hudson, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated leading men of the 1950’s and ‘60’s and an icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Born Roy Fitzgerald and renamed “Rock Hudson” by his agent, with his 6’5” frame, strong physique and chiselled good looks, Hudson was the embodiment of romantic masculinity and heterosexuality. The film explores the story of a man living a double life, one whose public persona was carefully manufactured by his handlers and orchestrated by the studio system, while fearing a potentially career-ending discovery that he was privately living as a gay man.

Hudson became a number one box-office superstar in sweeping melodramas like All That Heaven Allows, Giant (starring opposite Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean) and blockbuster comedies with Doris Day like Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back

Directed by celebrated documentary filmmaker Stephen Kijak (Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, Sid and Judy & Stones in Exile) the film features interviews with Doris Day, Linda Evans, Mark Griffin, Piper Laurie, Ross Hunter, Douglas Sirk, Illeana Douglas, Allison Anders, Armistead Maupin and many more.

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Directors statement

“A star on the Walk of Fame and a place in the Hollywood firmament for many is nothing but adream. But for Roy Fitzgerald it became reality. One of the most iconic actors of his age, once he awoke in the dream palace, renamed “Rock Hudson” by his agent, he lived a life that seemed as widescreen as the films he starred in. A towering 6 feet 5 inches, Rock Hudson was the embodiment of romantic masculinity in the 1950’s and 60’s–rugged but wholesome and impossibly handsome. Looking back at his body of work, knowing what we now know, is like gazing into a hall of mirrors: Roy Fitzgerald, gay man, performing the role of Rock Hudson, manly movie star, who would eventually take on roles that interrogate and exploit his double-life.”

ROCK HUDSON: ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWED is be available on digital platforms.

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