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Top 10 incongruous extended nudity in movies


Something to read if you've got nothing on at the moment...

"I would go out tonight...but I haven't got a thing to wear..."


Here we're neither talking about the extended nudity in Russ Meyer's 'nudie cuties', nor the disrobing we're so used to seeing in bedroom or bathroom scenes in movies. These guys and gals may dance, or they may not - but they are definitely naked; and in situations you wouldn't expect...

10: Women In Love (1969)

Alan Bates and Oliver Reed fight it out au naturel in Ken Russell's 'Women In Love' (1969)

Ken Russell's autobiography 'A British Picture' tells at some length (if that's the appropriate word) of the difficulty the director had in setting up the nude fight scene between Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in this acclaimed adaptation of the D. H. Lawrence novel. The most amusing anecdotes on the matter are Oliver Reed's unannounced visit to Russell's home to complain about the 'poofiness' of the unclad battle, and his further objection that the venue for said bout had been moved from the more naturalistic exterior location to a firelit interior. In the end, Reed may well have been glad of this avoidance of exposure to the cold, as the next stage in the political battle of wills was the widespread paranoia among cast and crew that the two stars might have 'differing' talents come the day. Russell recounts the crew's tremendous collective sigh of relief when it became apparent that both Bates and Reed were identically gifted - even if Russell claims that the Great Boozer would often disappear behind a screen between takes to indulge in a spot of mild self-stimulation in order to 'augment' his screen presence. This legendarily bizarre fight-scene seems to be one of the many examples of the British film industry taking advantage of the new moral laxity by the screen censors without really having any practical reason for it.

9: The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator (1984)

What's wrong with this picture? Thus does a Johnny-come-lately punk deliver one of the very few good jokes in a Terminator movie at the start of James Cameron's 1984 SF classic, upon spying a muscle-bound and totally naked Arnie heading towards his gang. Little does he know that his clique is about to suffer a few nasty casualties and the loss of most of their clothes. The conceit of bringing no inorganic material through a time-gate rid Cameron of the need to provide expensive SF weaponry in modern-day LA, as well as starting his two antagonists off on a fairly even setting. The nude-entry motif was increasingly played for laughs throughout the original trilogy of Terminator films, though gaining a more voyeuristic edge at the appearance of a naked Kristanna Loken at the start of T3 (because nude women are 'political', and nude men are just funny). The device also turned up in relatively short-lived TV spin-off The Sarah Connor Chronicles, with predictably more modesty and less skin on display.

8: Catch 22 (1970)

Captain Yossarian (Alan Arkin), with nowhere for Orson Welles to pin the medal in 'Catch 22'

You're a very strange person, Yossarian. It's not an unreasonable statement that Orson Welles makes to Alan Arkin when the latter turns up to receive a medal in his birthday suit. Problem is that Yossarian's uniform is at the laundry, having been covered in the blood of the young bombardier whose life he was unable to save during his last bombing mission over WWII Italy. And apart from that, our hero is still hoping to get round the 'Catch 22' that stops anyone who wants to be sectioned out of the military from getting such a medical release (because you'd have to be sane to want to leave the carnage and terror of endlessly escalating and dangerous bombing raids). Author Joseph Heller makes more in the source novel of exactly how General Dreedle (Welles) is going to get the medal affixed to the unclad airman, but the point (as it were) is largely overlooked in this scene in favour of the comic effect.

7: Savage Messiah (1972)

Helen Mirren casts off the fetters of clothing (again) in 'Savage Messiah' (1972)

It was a dilemma whether to include Helen Mirren in this list or Amanda Donohoe, as both actresses have dedicated large parts of their career (as well as their respective anatomies) to taking celluloid naturism high-brow. But for sheer longevity in the pursuit of screen nudity, Dame Helen is a streak ahead of her nearest rival. Beginning her career with the almost entirely nude role opposite James Mason in 1969's ground-breaking Age of Consent, she turns up in yet another Ken Russell flick as the 'muse' to French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (Scott Antony). Among her dozens of clothes-free appearances, Mirren's liberated prancing around a mansion stand out as her least discreet - and perhaps most sustained - contribution to screen nudism.

6: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)

Brooke Adams starts over in 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers' (1978)

As with The Terminator, there is a rationale for the nudity on display when the 'pod-people' first emerge from their grisly chrysalis-like structures in Philip Kaufman's cult remake of the Don Siegel original (based on the Jack Finney novel). These spore-like invaders are replicating human DNA,  and there's no DNA in clothing. Yet it's perhaps telling of the period that the only fully-formed on-screen nude in the movie comes in the form of Brooke Adams. After finally succumbing to the deadly sleep that withers the original and creates the 'pod-person', Nude Adams proceeds about her business of disrupting former lover Donald Sutherland's anti-invasion plans without even the most perfunctory attempt to get a stitch of clothing on. But then, by that time, she's very much 'among friends', as most of San Francisco are now 'pods', and beyond prudism and lasciviousness. Most of the core actors in the movie get naked under layers of make-up for various aborted attempts at pod-transformations, but Donald Sutherland's early 'clone' seems to have rather anonymous 'G.I. Joe' genitalia. Because nude men are only funny when you can't see their junk, apparently.

5: Splash (1984)

Daryl Hannah takes the air in 'Splash' (1984)

Daryl Hannah's Rapunzel-style locks were only part of the added modesty to make naive mermaid Madison's nude walk to shore suitable fare for Touchstone/Disney. The actress herself further spared her own blushes with the addition of band-aids and make-up over her prominent assets. The innocence both of the character - a sea-denizen obsessed with the man who she saved when he was a boy (played by Tom Hanks) - and the movie itself mean that leching over Madison's ingenuous promenade is worth a minimum of two rosaries.

4: Saturn 3 (1980)

Kirk Douglas and Harvey Keitel try not to bump each other too much in a nude fight scene in 'Saturn 3' (1980)

If you want to read the fictionalised account of exactly why a 64 year-old man wanted to do a nude fight scene in the late John Barry's Alien-style tale of a SF love-triangle set on Saturn's third moon Tethys, read Saturn 3 screenwriter Martin Amis's hilarious 1984 novel 'Money', where an almost identical scenario is played out between would-be producer John Self and ageing Hollywood star 'Lorne Guyland'. This is probably the nearest we will ever get to an accurate account of one of the many reasons that this pretty neat set-up turned into one of the biggest box-office bombs of 1980. To be fair to Douglas, he gives an energetic account of himself in the scuffle with love-rival/stalker Harvey Keitel in the tussle, but most of us would have found his arse a hard-sell even back in the 1950s.

3: The Invisible Man (1933)

Claude Rains wearing absolutely nothing in 'The Invisible Man' (1933)

James Whales' enduringly entertaining take on the H.G. Wells novel takes the prize for the longest sustained screen-time for male nudity in any era of cinema, without even drawing the hint of a frown from the Hayes office that was cracking down on sex and violence in this period. Though the notion of spraying transparent protagonist Griffin with paint or ink was mooted both in H.G. Wells' 1897 serial and in Whales' adaptation, luckily no-one ever got the apparatus or opportunity to bring this blatant exhibitionism to the attention of the censors.

2: Lifeforce (1985)

Matilda May letting her pores breathe in Dan O'Bannon's 'Lifeforce' (1985)

French actress Mathilda May is the cosmic vampire unwisely brought to Earth by a space-mission in this Dan O'Bannon-scripted Brit SF horror that predated the Species cycle in presenting an attractive and sexually alluring ET that spells doom for the men she entrances. So illogical is May's insistence on walking the Earth sky-clad that the actress has removed the film from her CV. This is a classic example of an R-rating 'double-dip': if you're going to present nudity and garner yourself the hated exclusionary rating, you might as well throw in the gore and blood. And vice versa. There's a lot of blood and nastiness in this oddly enjoyable 'C'-movie, but it's far outstripped by the pulchritudinous distractions of its lead actress. Is seduction this basic on May's planet? Whatever happened to a wink and a scrawled phone-number?

1: Watchmen (2008)

Dr. Manhattan lets it all hang out in 'Watchmen' (2008)

Actor Billy Crudup's fidelity to the cult Alan Moore graphic novel, part of a general dedication to the original thought by many to have harmed director Zack Snyder's box-office receipts, meant that the 'blue penis', whatever you think of its dimensions, tended to dominate advance publicity for this R-rated, downbeat superhero movie. Doctor Manhattan (Crudup) occasionally dons discreet pants in the style of Sting's briefs in Dune (1984). Admirers of Doctor Manhattan should refer to the actor on whom his CGI physique was modeled, Greg Plitt.

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#1 The Whole Nine Yards MikeyMo 2011-01-14 09:52
What about Amanda Peet in the Whole Nine Yards who runs around minutes waving a gun topless
#2 Borat HalJordan 2011-02-08 01:48
What about Borat and his producer running around a hotel naked?
#3 Incongruous Jackson 2012-03-02 18:35
I'm not sure why these are all pointed out as seeming inappropriate or out of context with their respective films... I'd argue that numbers 9,8,6,3&1 are all well within reason.
#4 Re Extended Nudity Brian Hiebert 2012-10-22 20:53
My friend Ray from college and I saw Ragtime in college and could not believe how long Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora in Downton Abbey) is nude in that movie. Great movie made more memorable by Ms. McGovern.
#5 RE: Top 10 incongruous extended nudity in movies James 2013-03-14 03:45
Nothing can EVER beat:
and the girl is steaming hot
#6 Mr WiL 2013-06-18 17:03
What about the red haired punk girl in Return Of The Living Dead, at first it was a shockingly sexy strip, but after she then ran about with her bits out for 90% of her onscreen appearance it eventually sorta wanes...
#7 OZ dan 2014-01-12 00:48
HBO's OZ had male nudity in almost every episode, even if it didn't to be in the story
#8 Mr Andrew Ryan 2014-02-17 09:37
Judging by the 'Women in Love' pic, I'm not sure the word 'gifted' is really justified.

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