Friday, July 10, 2020

All That Heaven Allows by Mark Griffin

All That Heaven Allows by Mark Griffin
Release Date - December 4, 2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 469 pages
My Rating - 5/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The definitive biography of the deeply complex and widely misunderstood matinee idol of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Devastatingly handsome, broad-shouldered and clean-cut, Rock Hudson was the ultimate movie star. The embodiment of romantic masculinity in American film throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, Hudson reigned supreme as the king of Hollywood.

As an Oscar-nominated leading man, Hudson won acclaim for his performances in glossy melodramas (Magnificent Obsession), western epics (Giant) and blockbuster bedroom farces (Pillow Talk). In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Hudson successfully transitioned to television; his long-running series McMillan & Wife and a recurring role on Dynasty introduced him to a whole new generation of fans.

The icon worshipped by moviegoers and beloved by his colleagues appeared to have it all. Yet beneath the suave and commanding star persona, there was an insecure, deeply conflicted, and all too vulnerable human being. Growing up poor in Winnetka, Illinois, Hudson was abandoned by his biological father, abused by an alcoholic stepfather, and controlled by his domineering mother.

Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Hudson was determined to become an actor at all costs. After signing with the powerful but predatory agent Henry Willson, the young hopeful was transformed from a clumsy, tongue-tied truck driver into Universal Studio’s resident Adonis. In a more conservative era, Hudson’s wholesome, straight arrow screen image was at odds with his closeted homosexuality.

As a result of his gay relationships and clandestine affairs, Hudson was continually threatened with public exposure, not only by scandal sheets like Confidential but by a number of his own partners. For years, Hudson dodged questions concerning his private life, but in 1985 the public learned that the actor was battling AIDS. The disclosure that such a revered public figure had contracted the illness focused worldwide attention on the epidemic.

Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members and former companions, All That Heaven Allows finally delivers a complete and nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating stars in cinema history.

Author Mark Griffin provides new details concerning Hudson’s troubled relationships with wife Phyllis Gates and boyfriend Marc Christian. And here, for the first time, is an in-depth exploration of Hudson’s classic films, including Written on the Wind, A Farewell to Arms, and the cult favorite Seconds. With unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, Griffin pays homage to the idol whose life and death had a lasting impact on American culture.
After watching Ryan Murphy's Hollywood I was particularly excited to read All That Heaven Allows. I was intrigued by that television's fiction version of a Hollywood star I knew little about. This book offers a look at the life and career of Rock Hudon that, perhaps fittingly, keeps the reader at arms length.

My biggest takeaway from this book is that Rock Hudson was a kind, flirtatious man who loved acting and had a strong drive to succeed. He was shaped by his manager Henry Wilson (who is infamous for being awful) into a glamorous movie star but never lost his small town boy nature.

The author, Mark Griffin, is meticulous when it comes to Rock Hudson's career. He goes through each role Rock played and offers some anecdotes about each one. It is sure to please the fans of his film career as that is where most of the details are held. This had the double edge sword , however, of eventually feeling repetitive. It may have given a through account of his career but it left me wanting to know more about the man behind those performances.

Rock Hudson wanted to hide a lot of himself from the public. He was open with those in his circle but was mostly a private person. This is particularly true with his sexuality. It way have been an open secret in Hollywood that Rock Hudson was gay but it was not something the general public knew. Rock Hudson is perhaps most associated with the AIDS crisis for most people as he was one of the first celebrities to be diagnosed and die from the virus. This book, I felt, did a decent job at not giving that fact the focus of the book. It feels more like a celebration of his career than a look at his death.

Those looking for a salacious sexual tell all will not find that here. Rock's various relationships (and some casual hookups) were peppered throughout but they are mostly included to give nuance to Rock's mindset and other events that were happening.

I left this book feeling like I knew more about Rock Hudson than I did before starting it and so in that respect the author has succeeded. However, I feel this is a surface, brief outline portrait of a man who was surely more complex than what is painted within these pages. Those wanting an overview of his career are going to be satisfied but those wanting more of a picture of the man behind the movie star will probably end up reading another biography after. I personally finished wanting to watch more of his movies, and something tells me that Rock Hudson himself may have wanted it that way.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments. Thank you for stopping by my blog and thank you even more for leaving me a comment.

I have decided to make this an awards free blog. I appreciate the gesture, and love that you thought of my blog, however I simply can't pass them along as required.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...