“It was time to start telling stories with a little bit more of a social point to them”: Stephen Kijak on Rock Hudson – All That Heaven Allowed
Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed is the poignant new documentary from Stephen Kijak, uncovering the untold behind-the-scenes story of one cinema’s biggest movie stars, delivering a complex, nuanced portrait of man the world thought they knew: the Roy Fitzgerald behind Rock Hudson.
Kijak is no stranger to documentary making, but in the past had set his sights on the music sphere, with subjects ranging from Scott Walker to David Bowie, and Judy Garland to The Smiths. Speaking with The Upcoming, he shared why he wanted to take on the story of Hudson, in particular with a newfound drive to create a feature with a social focus. As the film details, the Golden Era of cinema during which Hudson was in the limelight didn’t allow for Hollywood stars to be openly homosexual, leading him to live something of a performative life, even when off-screen.
Through an immense amount of clips from Hudson’s long list of movies in the 50s and 60s, from All That Heaven Allows to Giant (starring opposite Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean) to Pillow Talk, the audience is able to see the hypermasculine and heteronormative image that Hollywood wanted to put forward, which Hudson both played into and with at various moments of his career. The chosen clips are also cleverly pieced together to form a seamless part of the narrative of Kijak’s film, interspersed with candid and illuminating interviews with the actor’s past lovers and friends.
Furthermore, the film doesn’t shy away from the often brutal and sometimes sinister eye of the public, as captured through tabloid clippings and invasive interviews, painting a vivid image of how those suspected to be of a different sexual orientation were ruthlessly pursued by the press – and even the FBI. As the later part of the feature delves into Hudson’s final years and the battle he faced and eventually lost with AIDs, it provides both a devastating look at the effect of prejudice and an inspirational account of how those in a position of fame can use their profile for good, a message as profound today as it was in the 80s.
Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed is released digitally on demand on 23rd October 2023. Read our review here.
Watch the trailer for Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed here: