Berlin & Beyond Film Festival 2010: Rock Hudson, Dark and Handsome Stranger – Review & Trailer

Rock Hudson the actor and Rock Hudson the man.  Aiming to seek out the difference between the two are filmmakers Andrew Davies and Andre Schafer.  Aside from stating the now known facts, which is Rock’s closeted homosexuality throughout his life until the announcement of him having AIDs, and that he detested his stage name to his preferred birth name of Roy Scherer, Dark and Handsome Stranger has little to reveal.

Seen as an informative expose of the man, this film sheds little less than a dim light.  Even dumber… oops, I mean dimmer, is the structure in which the story is told.  Recent digitally shot transitions of Hollywood in black & white, with fabricated soundbites of a super 8 handheld camera to give the illusion of watching somebody’s authentic silent home video from the 1960’s is just one of the ways in which this film fails.  If you want people to believe they are seeing footage from a specific time in history’s past, i.e., the 1960’s, than you better make sure your camera doesn’t capture any Hondas from the 21st Century.  Seriously, how did the editors miss that one?

The film also fails in its selection of those chosen to give testimonials of Rock Hudson.  From a television interviewer to a so-called close friend who is listed in the documentary as being Rock’s pal for only five years, the insights into the inner workings of this man are about as deep as a kiddie pool.

I can see how this film might be of interest to somebody who is a little more familiar with his work going into this than I was, but isn’t a good documentary supposed to appeal to everybody, regardless of its main subject?  Maybe you have to be one of those crazed fans who has never taken down from their wall the collage pin-up magazine cut-outs of Rock Hudson in his hey day to fully enjoy this one, but personally, I found it boring.

Remaining showtimes for Rock Hudson, Dark and Handsome Stranger:

Monday, October 25 6:30pm @ Castro Theatre

Saturday, October 30 12:30pm @ Camera 12 Cinemas in San Jose

Click here for more information about the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival

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Categories: Reviews

4 Comments on “Berlin & Beyond Film Festival 2010: Rock Hudson, Dark and Handsome Stranger – Review & Trailer”

  1. Bev
    October 21, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    Dear Adam,
    I am not surprised that we both saw this as a poorly made film. I like your honest and candid writing.
    Bev (from itsjustmovies.com)

  2. October 29, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    Adam, another film reviewer saw this movie from an entirely different perspective. Did he watch the same film we did? Sounds like he’s fabricating a different production and responding to that imaginary presentation. What he writes about sounds great – but it was not in the film version I saw. What do you think?

    Wilkinson version: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/movies/reviews/article_1595096.php/Rock-Hudson-Dark-and-Handsome-Stranger-–-Movie-Review

    Also, do you ever notice reviewers pandering to some distributors/production companies?

    Bev (http://itsjustmovies.com/author/bev-questad)

  3. Adam
    October 29, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    Hi Bev, Sounds to me like Wilkinson went off on a tangent regarding what he got out of the film. To each their own, I guess.

    As for the notion of reviewers pandering to different parties, I am sure that this goes on all the time, especially in some better known film publications. I got my DVD screener of Rock Hudson through Berlin & Beyond, who reached out to me for coverage of their festival. I am sure that they wanted nothing but great or, – at the very least – neutral responses to the films they were lending me. For me, the second I start smooching butt because somebody lent me a film to watch should be the day I quite doing what I enjoy most, which is mainly throwing in my two cents on film and sparking conversations within both my city’s community and the on-line film one.

    Hope this answers your questions.

    By the way, I was looking at the link you sent me of your publications, and had a question regarding your Waking Sleeping Beauty review. I too enjoyed the film for what it was, but felt a little cheated in the fact that we were never shown any actual verbal altercations take place behind their closed doors. That’s what I wanted, and what I felt the film was leading up to – the juicy details. Again, just my two cents:)

  4. October 29, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Thanks for the response, Adam. I’m new to the biz and have questions all the time – but they are usually about the content of what I am viewing, not the substance of someone else’s critique.

    My review of the Rock Hudson film was the first negative review I’d ever written. I am really interested in what the gay community’s response to it is. Like Wilkinson, do they find it truly insightful and a blast on the studio film production system? Or have most of them found it was a shallow doc lacking meaningful purpose?

    What have you been hearing on the street?

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