Saturday, June 21, 2008

"The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson"

Author(s): Josh P.
Location: Chicago, IL

"The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson"

Directed by Bryan Singer
Screenplay by Bill Condon
Based on the book by Robert Hofler
Produced by Mark R. Harris and Bryan Singer
Executive Producers: Francis Ford Coppola, Bill Condon and Clive Barker
Art Direction by Richard Sherman and James Samson
Edited by Virginia Katz and John Ottman
Cinematography by Thomas Newton Sigel
Costume Design by Bruce Finlayson
Music by John Ottman

Main Cast

Michael Imperioli (Henry Willson)
Julian McMahon (Rock Hudson)
James Woods (David O. Selznik)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Phyllis Gates)
Guy Pearce (Guy Madison)
Ryan Philippe (Troy Donahue)
Toni Collette (Margaret Truman)
Neil Patrick Harris (Tab Hunter)
Josh Duhamel (Rory Calhoun)
Jeremy Davies (Anthony Perkins)
Scarlet Johansson (Lana Turner)
Matt Damon (Robert Wagner)

Tagline: "We now present Mr. Willson’s greatest creation…"

Synopsis: The scene is Hollywood in the mid-twentieth century. Glamour and fame run rampant through the front pages of celebrity gossip magazines, and the reason is because of Henry Willson (Imperioli). Willson is a name that audiences might not recognize, but those in the entertainment industry do. His humble beginnings as a talent scout for David O. Selznik (Woods) led him to a flourish of new stars for him to produce, and a future engagement with President Harry Truman’s daughter (Collette). While he did make more than his fair share of female stars like Lana Turner (Johansson) and Jenna Josephine, it was his elite male clients that drew notoriety. Willson was a closeted homosexual and presented his unknown desires by taking on attractive male clients that turned the world onto a new phrase: “beefcake.” While many clients were certainly notable, such as Tab Hunter (Harris), Rory Calhoun (Duhamel), Troy Donahue (Philippe), Guy Madison (Pearce) and Robert Wagner (Damon), it was Rock Hudson (McMahon) that brought him the most bankable star with the greatest publicity. Hudson was such a valued client that Willson gave up two of his clients to exposé magazines (Calhoun had a criminal past; Tab Hunter was involved in gay pajama parties and a relationship with Anthony Perkins) and arranged a marriage between Rock and his secretary (Zeta-Jones) just to keep Rock’s secret homosexuality from being discovered. This is the story about how glamour and virility captured the mind of one man so much that he did all in his power to see that it would not be taken away.

What the Press would say:

A stunning and glamorous portrait has been painted with this film. The whole atmosphere is enchanted by 1940s Hollywood nostalgia, and every technical aspect, from the sets, to the costumes, to the cinematography, embodies that flavor. All these elements work so delicately together because of director Bryan Singer. While Singer has been known for big budget comic book adaptations, he has proven to work in smaller scales as well in films like “The Usual Suspects” and “Apt Pupil”. Those were character study films and Singer’s direction pulls us into examining the characters of the piece that are caught up in the glamour of the time. Michael Imperioli absolutely dominates this film as Henry Willson. Imperioli gives us a playful side as an agent trying to seduce potential clients into experiencing the treasures that Hollywood can offer, and he is also marvelous in infusing his character with a deep emotional core as he begins to showcase his importance for his most valued client. He yells, he screams and cries to make sure that he has the power to control one man’s destiny. Julian McMahon, as part of the title character, also does a stellar job. While the movie is not a biopic of Hudson, McMahon does a nice job of not only physically resembling Hudson but also providing a sense of wonder in his character, and how charm and good looks managed to conceal a dark secret. Imperioli and McMahon have good chemistry with each other, and it shows on the screen. Filmmaker Bill Condon showcases his writing this time, and manages to create a screenplay that does an excellent job at giving a sense of the tone of the gossip, the speech of 1940s Hollywood, and the deep emotional pit for its central characters to utilize, much like his Oscar-winning screenplay of “Gods and Monsters”. Truly a film worth seeing. The campaign consideration:

Best Picture
Best Director: Bryan Singer
Best Actor: Michael Imperioli
Best Supporting Actor: Julian McMahon
Best Adapted Screenplay: Bill Condon
Best Costume Design
Best Film Editing
Best Cinematography

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