Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies

History should never be dry. Dunno why people think it is. I mean, the word story is right there in it. Stories are what we love as humans. We love telling them and hearing them. Or with films, watching them. So the history of anything can be interesting depending on how it is told.

Here director Danny Wolf delves into the world of nudity in films. Where it began to where it is today.

I know, I know, I had you at nudity, but I am going to let you down easily by telling you up front that there is nothing lecherous here. It really is a serious look into nudity in film – when and how it came about plus how it is received. Fascinating stuff as we have all seen nudity in films though have spent little time thinking about how it came about or its story.

Wolf does not use the nudity to sell his film; the name of the game is not exploitation here, rather it is an investigation. Not boobs for boobs sake. Instead we learn that nudity in film began way back in the late 1800s. It might surprise many to find out that it really wasn’t a big deal back then. As “evolved” as we like to think we are, it is a much bigger deal now.

Back then not much was thought of it and big actresses were doing it without any repercussions on their careers. For instance, the 1927 Oscar winning film starring Wings starring the biggest female star of the time, Clara Bow, had a scene with her breasts. Then came people to mess things up and declared nudity in films immoral.

In 1934 the Motion Picture Production Code came out with a set of rules and nudity was deemed unacceptable in film. Which meant it wasn’t “allowed” in mainstream films. This went on for decades until 1968 when the Code was replaced by the MPAA which involved giving films ratings. The rating system we still use today. “R” for violence, etc. and “X” for full frontal nudity.

Still some films and big actors/actresses appeared nude in films, such as Marilyn Monroe and Adam West (yes, Batman!). It certainly did not hurt Marilyn’s career. Though there certainly have been instances of directors or others involved in films putting pressure on (mainly) actresses to do nude scenes which they were not comfortable with.

Now with the #MeToo movement there has been some things implemented to protect (mainly) actresses, such as intimacy coordinators who make sure things are cool on the set and with actresses. Making sure no one is pressured or exploited.

Everything here is interesting. A package which includes the political, social and artistic conditions/environments under which nudity happens in films. Anecdotes aplenty here from actors/actresses, directors and even film critics. They tell the tale from the inside out. Plus gives the viewer a tour through films they might not have heard of before and will now want to go out and watch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *