Women have been appearing without their clothes in film practically since it was invented. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the second thing the founding fathers of modern photography did (after figuring out how to load their giant, 19th century-style film) was to turn to their female assistants and say, "Amelia, why don't you loosen that bodice of yours? Now breathe in and touch your elbows behind your back."
Being the generous sort that I am, I decided to take one for the girls (and some of the boys) and check out the few movies in which male actors have chosen to bare it all.
This "classic" sexy thriller from 1980 features a young Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, Chicago) as a highly paid male prostitute who makes his wages servicing the aging women of Beverly Hills. It made a quite a splash because it was a big deal for Gere to be going frontally nude at the time.
The scene in question has him standing naked, pensively staring out the window while he wistfully discusses how meaningful his job is. He's too far away to see anything good, but it does still come off as a rather brave choice. Sadly, the movie is rather horrid--it hasn't aged well at all, but that's okay, because Gere has.
Color of Night
Continuing the vein of cheesy old movies that haven't aged well, we have Color of Night, in which Bruce Willis (Sin City, The Sixth Sense) plays a New York psychologist who winds up taking over his friend's LA therapy group when said friend is suspiciously murdered.
Although Color of Night was done in 1994, it feels like pure glossy '80s dreck--down to the part where Willis and his "costar" Jane March and her giant teeth become overwhelmed with passion and tumble into the swimming pool. It bears no utility to the movie, unless the director was hoping to get some play on Showtime at night. March is conveniently not wearing any underwear, and you get a nice close-up of Willis' bits bobbing around underwater. Very, very disturbing.
And continuing the vein of pointless peep shots, we move onto 1998's Wild Things, a twisty cat-and-mouse thriller that is usually remembered by panting males for the threesome scene with Denise Richards and Neve Campbell (although some protest that Denise Richards in a wet t-shirt is the real gem).
Those scenes do make sense stylistically within the movie, but the one that doesn't is the part where you see Kevin Bacon's how's-your-father. Matt Dillon hands him a towel as he comes out of the shower, and Bacon turns fully front to the camera. Like American Gigolo, it is too far away to see much. and like Color of Night, there's no real reason why the director wouldn't have just cut the shot a smidge higher.
Others here would disagree with me, claiming that you can get a good sense of Bacon's... bacon (hah), but personally I need more. Word is that Bacon is also nude in Hollow Man. Perhaps that one is better.
First: I loved this movie. Super-talented Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Shine) in a corseted historical fiction about the last days of the infamous Marquis De Sade in the Charanton Asylum and a breathy romantic subplot between Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix? Yum.
Unlike the other movies mentioned, the nudity, which sadly is on Rush's part and not Phoenix's, is completely appropriate to the film. But paint it any way you want it, a naked, crazy, poo-smeared Geoffrey Rush shaking his Oscar-maker is not exactly what one might call 'hot.'
Two of my favorites, Liam Neeson (Schindler's List, Love Actually) and Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead, Garden State) strip down for a love scene with each other in this well-done biopic about sex research pioneer Alfred Kinsey.
You only see Sarsgaard, though--and a pretty brave eyeful of him, at that, because he's, well, rather wee. Word is Neeson was game, but there wasn't the budget for it. All I can say is: "it" must be very, very big to be so expensive.
The Brown Bunny
If you've heard of The Brown Bunny, what you've undoubtedly heard about is the controversial oral sex scene with Chloë Sevigny and Vincent Gallo. Well, I decided to see for myself. And see I did.
After tolerating nearly an hour and a half of interminable shots out the window of "motorcycle racer Bud Clay's" car, suddenly Sevigny appears--in the, ahem, service of Gallo. Let's put it this way - I have now seen WAY more of Vincent Gallo than I ever wanted to. Frankly, I can't believe the movie isn't considered porn. Because yes, she really did it.
There are some male actors who are so uninhibited when it comes to bearing it all on camera that they cannot be mentioned just by movie. Yes, these distinguished gentlemen deserve a category all their own.
Replacing haggis as the original Scottish dish, much has been made of Ewan McGregor's penchant for appearing sans clothes in movies. He has even joked quite a bit about it, suggesting a scene in Star Wars where his character Obi-Wan should drop his robes and show off his "lightsaber."
Best: Trainspotting, pure and simple. 'Little Ewan' might have far more screen time in The Pillow Book and appear more rocker-like in Velvet Goldmine, but there's something about that silhouette of McGregor as Renton the junkie snapping off a condom that is... well... impressive.
Worst: Young Adam. Any movie that can make an unclothed McGregor unappealing is a movie that ought not be watched. A travesty indeed.
You wouldn't think a squat 65-year-old Brooklyn-born Jew would be the go-to man for male full-frontal, but Harvey Keitel must be quite proud of his stuff because he has shown it in 7 different movies.
Best: The Piano. She's a mute pianist with bad 1800s hair trapped in an arranged marriage, he's a Maori-loving roughneck New Zealand settler with bad pants and a scheme to trade piano keys for sexual favors. Whatever it is, it works for me.
Worst: Bad Lieutenant. Keitel stars as nameless corrupt New York cop addicted to drugs, sex, gambling, and generally being despicable. Things I can live without: Seeing said cop standing around nude, arms outstretched, bits be-jangling, as he sways around in some sort of crazy, high fit. And the rest of the movie.
(The other five in which he strips down, for those who are oddly curious are Fingers, The Men's Club, Ulysses' Gaze, Holy Smoke, and Who's That Knocking at my Door?).
Need more full-frontal action? Check out GrrlzChannel Part II as well as GrrlzChannel 3: Full-Frontal Funny.