In this unexpectedly moving portrait, the onetime ’50s heartthrob combs through a career of astronomical highs and dinner-theatre lows, all while quietly struggling to keep his sexuality off the front page. The film’s title refers to the notorious rag that tried to out the blond dreamboat for attending a “limp-wristed pajama party” at the height of his fame—punishment, it turned out, for buying his way out of a studio contract.
Contrasted with the life of his former lover, Anthony Perkins, Hunter’s journey was driven less by ambition and more by finding himself. If his timing was off—Hunter’s most impressive professional years came when he was bumped into live TV by the Deans and Brandos—he seemed to lack the killer instinct needed to stay at the top anyway. He’s a soulful and sincere presence who could have trafficked more in his irony-laced ’80s comeback, but, as Debbie Reynolds notes, Hunter was just too real. Recommended.
Cinematheque, May 2 (2:30 p.m.)