Review: Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies
Looking back on the cinematic sexy-wars of the last century from the promised land of total pornography we inhabit today must be a little puzzling for young cinephiles. Was there really a time when people got bent out of shape by the lewd wisecracks of Mae West, the rather basic butt-baring of Brigitte Bardot, the epic but completely covered-up bosom of Jane Russell? Yes, kids, it’s true.
This long-gone era is enlighteningly surveyed in a new documentary called Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies. Given the credits of some of the film’s producers (Paul Fishbein was a founder of Adult Video News, the porn industry trade mag, and Jim McBride is an internet archivist better-known by his nom de website, “Mr. Skin”), you might expect the movie to be raunchier than it is. Yes, there are plenty of boobs and bottoms on display here, in pictures ranging from the 1933 Ecstasy (Hedy Lamar striking a blow for naked forest-scampering) and the 1927 Wings (Clara Bow flashing a breast in the first movie to win an Oscar) up through the 1974 Big Bad Mama (Angie Dickinson totally, as they say, nude), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Phoebe Cates
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