Combustible Celluloid
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With: Martine Beswick, Linda Blair, Peter Bogdanovich, Claudette Colbert, Sybil Danning, Joe Dante, Bruce Davison, Ken Davitian, Kristine DeBell, David Del Valle, Shannon Elizabeth, Diane Franklin, Erica Gavin, Pam Grier, Amy Heckerling, Mariel Hemingway, Camille Keaton, Angela Landis, Mick LaSalle, Kristanna Loken, Traci Lords, Malcolm McDowell, Sylvia Miles, Amy Nicholson, Rena Riffel, Eric Roberts, Alicia Rodis, Richard Roeper, Betsy Russell, Jim "Mr. Skin" McBride, Brinke Stevens, Mamie Van Doren, Cerina Vincent, Sean Young
Written by: Paul Fishbein, Danny Wolf
Directed by: Danny Wolf
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 130
Date: 08/21/2020

Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Body Talk

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Filmmaker Danny Wolf last brought us the massive, three-part, 5 1/2-hour Time Warp documentary, doing a deep-dig exploration of 47 different cult movies. His Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies is much shorter, and covers much more ground, and thus it feels a bit rushed in spots, and a bit thin overall. Even so, I still learned quite a bit, and it's not at all unpleasant to witness some of the footage on display here. It begins at the beginning. One interviewee guesses that, moments after the motion pictures were invented, someone probably had the idea to film someone naked. The doc's best section goes into the establishing of the Hays Code, which was more complex than even I knew about. Then it continues on with filmmakers thinking up ways to get around the Code, leading up to the "nudie" films of the 1960s, exploitation movies, more mainstream nudity in the 1970s, the long male nude scene in Borat, and eventually, the #MeToo movement of the 2010s. Russ Meyer is talked about at length, appropriately, as is Hedy Lamarr, Marilyn Monroe, and more. Nudity expert Jim "Mr. Skin" McBride is here with his invaluable opinions as well. Best of all, brilliant storyteller Malcolm McDowell is here to talk about his role as the most-seen nude male of his time.

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