Nudity on film has been a hot topic, a major topic, a controversial topic ever since cameras first started rolling. Even back in the beginning of motion pictures, on screen nudity was a big deal. The debate rages on and now will be studied more in-depth with a new documentary titled Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies.
The documentary, while closely examining the history of nudity, is not about porn. This covers the mainstream movie and when nudity on film began, how it was banned, and then how it was finally okay again to show some skin. And as you can see in the trailer below, there are many actors and actresses who have an opinion.
The list of those who have contributed their bare assets to film is long. As some reveal in the trailer, if it wasn’t for their nudity, they may not have had a career at all. But the documentary also promises to look at the double standard of nudity on film.
Why is it okay for women to reveal all when it isn’t proper for men? Both Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie) and Mariel Hemingway (Star 80) state their willingness to go full nude boosted their career but should they have been in that position where nudity was the ultimate factor?
The Hays Code, or the Motion Picture Production Code, was set forth by Will H. Hays and set guidelines for movie producers and production companies in what was acceptable and not acceptable to be shown on the movie screen. From 1934 through 1968, the code was strictly enforced, most notably by Joseph Breen, who had been appointed by Hays to monitor all movies coming out of Hollywood. In fact, the very first instance of the Hays Code coming into play was back in 1934 in the movie Tarzan and His Mate. In it, filmmakers used a body double for actress Maureen O’Sullivan for the few brief nude scenes in the movie. Those were edited out.
The Hays Code was kept intact until 1968, though the previous few years it began to get a little lax. It was in 1968 that the code was removed for the MPAA film rating system, which is now how we rate movies (G, PG, PG-13, R, X, and NC-17). But until that time, Hollywood and its filmmakers had to get creative in finding ways around the code while still being able to give audiences what it wanted to see.
Also, of note, it will be interesting to see if the documentary tackles the MeToo Movement and its effects on today’s actresses and their thoughts concerning nudity on film. Does the sexual-abuse allegations brought to light by many high-profile actresses against producer Harvey Weinstein play any part in actresses deciding to bare it all in front of the camera.
One thing for sure, the documentary looks to include the opinion of many high-profile stars and the films where they removed their clothing. The trailer shows actors such as Eric Roberts, the aforementioned Shannon Elizabeth and Mariel Hemmingway, Sean Young and Malcolm McDowell, who along with big names such as Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole, and Sir John Gielgud starred in one of the most infamous main-stream nudity/sex filled movies of all time, Caligula.
Caligula was noted for Penthouse magazine founder Bob Guccione, whose desire was to film an explicit adult film with mainstream actors, taking actual porn stars and filming the explicit scenes without telling the mainstream actors. He then edited in these scenes and the rest, they say, is mainstream movie history.
The documentary Skin, which looks to be an interesting view on film nudity, will be released On Demand beginning August 18.