Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Real, no-foolin' nudity

Recently, I teased you (or perhaps threatened you) with the idea of a naked James Stewart. On Wednesday morning, July 30, TCM are showing a pair of movies with much more real nudity.

First, at 6:45 AM ET, is Bird of Paradise. This 1932 pre-Code movie has a relatively flimsy plot about a yacht full of wealthy men sailing through the South Seas, and one of the sailors, played by Joel McCrea, deciding he wants to put off to land because he's seen the natives, and is smitten by them. He eventually falls in love with the daughter of the local chief, played by Dolores del Rio, and finds that she's got a bit of a dark secret: she's fated to be thrown into a volcano to appease the natives' volcano god. McCrea, being the good muscular Christian that he is, is horrified by this. So, to save Dolores from herself, he whisks her away to a neighboring island, where the two of them live together happily ever after in seminudity, like characters from Love Is... -- at least, until the volcano on her home island begins to rumble.

What's amazing about Bird of Paradise is just how much skin is shown. Dolores del Rio spends much of her on-screen time close to topless, with only a lei covering the important parts, and a grass skirt. Meanwhile, McCrea wears very skimpy cutoff shorts, which don't leave all that much to the imagination. Even more interesting is an underwater swimming sequence in which del Rio appears to be completely topless, although it's filmed from a distance and done using camera angles such that we don't see anything smutty.

The second movie is The Most Dangerous Game, airing at 8:15 AM ET, in which we again get to see Joel McCrea strip down to his shorts. The movie is based on the famous short story about a madman (played here by Leslie Banks) has decided that the best game to hunt is actually his fellow man, so he sets up shop on an island luring boats to be grounded, so he can offer the passengers his "hospitality" -- and eventually hunt them down. McCrea plays a passenger who survives one such shipwreck, and eventually is released, along with love interest Fay Wray, to be hunted by Banks. Of course, McCrea survives to kill Banks, and gets to spend time on the beach half-naked with Fay Wray. Not a bad propsition at that.

Both films are available on DVD, although the last time they showed up on TCM, the prints weren't the best, meaning that the nudity isn't quite as resplendent as it could be. However, they're still great guilty pleasures.

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