Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Tab Hunter in The Castro
Noir City 5 continues through the week at the Castro Theatre, with last Sunday's program devoted to an early 1950s double bill starring Evelyn Keyes.
Miss Evelyn is a good girl who marries sailor Wendell Corey for three days before he's shipped off as a sailor where he disappears during the attack on Pearl Harbor. After taking on a new identity, he becomes king of the rackets in Honolulu.
11 years later, Evelyn goes searching for him, and even poses as a taxi girl in "Hell's Half Acre," where she dances with the Asian/Polynesian guys for fifty cents a dance.
The movie was fascinating, with poignant views of Waikiki beach pre-development and racial attitudes that were more nuanced than expected.
At intermission, there was a "special guest" who turned out to be none other than 1950s Teen Idol Tab Hunter, now 76.
Tab recently had his autobiography published, which was written with the assistance of Noir City host Eddie Muller, and they had become friends.
Tab is also neighbors with the 92-year-old Evelyn Keyes in Santa Barbara, where his "partner" visits daily and watches her old movies in a screening room with her. "Look at those tits," she reportedly says. "No wonder I was a star."
Eddie has written a book called "Dark City Dames" that includes a chapter on Evelyn Keyes, whose real life story and character is more outrageous than any film role she ever played.
Both Tab and Eddie were trying their best to be discreet about their old friend, but you could tell they were itching to tell a few stories. Finally, Eddie recounted how he would ask dumb questions during interviews with the old stars to get everyone comfortable, such as "What is your favorite word?" He related that one actress chose the word "harmony" and somebody else "poetry," but when Evelyn Keyes was asked the question, she answered without hesitation: "Cocksucker!"