While nudity is generally regarded as an awesome thing, the fact of the matter is that it’s just not necessary for a lot of movies. Enter the gratuitous nude scene, where an actress strips down to her birthday suit for reasons completely unrelated to the plot.

Frequently, these roles are covered by B- and C-list stars who like to add an extra zero to their check in exchange for giving the movie-going audience a thrill. While many big name actresses refuse to do nudity — a totally respectable choice, don’t get me wrong — some change their minds when there’s a chance their career can benefit from it.

When those women go for a gratuitous nude scene, it usually takes one of four forms:

  1. The Anne Hathaway - A young starlet who is trying to show that she is a serious actress. Goes topless in an Oscar-bait film and hopes for the best. It usually works.
  2. The Neve Campbell – A 30-something former A-list star who is having trouble getting big roles and decides to see if a high-profile nude scene will reinvigorate her career. Sadly, it rarely does.
  3. The Diane Keaton – An older actress who goes topless (or fully nude) to prove that she still has stuff to show off. Typically makes the critics very happy and the audience mildly uncomfortable. Pays off sometimes.
  4. The Kathy Bates – An actress who is not traditionally known for roles that emphasize sex appeal gets nude. Usually played for cheap laughs. Bewilders the critics and the audience. Never pays off.

Here’s the thing, though: Male actors totally do it, too. In fact, since men usually don’t have to worry about getting naked to be taken serious as an actor or get roles or any of those other things, then you could argue that when they get nude for reasons that appear to have nothing to do with the film’s plot, it’s even more gratuitous than when a woman does it. As Gwen Reyes pointed out in yesterday’s Reel Sex, it’s pretty much exclusively for shock value and laughs. (Of course, some of that is because dicks are innately hilarious.)

Today, we’re going to look at some A-list guys who decided to pull out the old frank and beans on camera. (Obviously, this list will be far from comprehensive.) You decide if it was necessary for the story or just an excuse to (hopefully) impress some of the folks watching. Also, I’m censoring the pictures with this picture of a rooster from Wikipedia because I am immature.

6. Kevin Bacon – Wild Things

When you mention this movie to people, you’ll usually get a 50/50 split on what they remember most about it: Denise Richards’s boobs, or Kevin Bacon‘s dong. Five minutes before the end of the movie, for no apparent reason, we get a shot of Kevin Bacon in the shower, naked as a baby. It’s as if the filmmakers said “Well, that’s a wrap everyone,” and Kevin Bacon walked up in a bathrobe and said, “Hold on a second, fellas. I think we have time for one more shot… if you know what I mean,” before dropping the robe.

5. Ewan McGregor – Velvet Goldmine

To be fair, McGregor’s not really shy about getting his junk out in a lot of his movies, but this one in particular is noteworthy just for how crazy it is. Ewan plays a glam rocker who, during one of his sets, drops trou and hops around the stage with everything just going all over the place. Yes, the glam movement was highly sexualized and all that, but considering he bends over and spreads his butt cheeks in the very same scene, I think it’s safe to call this one at least somewhat excessive. (And, presumably, so would the police, had they been there.)

4. Robin Williams – The Fisher King

Robin Williams plays a crazy dude, which is great, because he’s had a lot of practice at that by being Robin Williams. Even keeping in mind that his character is totally out of his head, having him strip down completely naked in Central Park for a movie is a little terrifying. I mean, what if someone had confused him for a bear or something? It was dark, after all. This movie could have ended very differently. Just saying.

3. Bruce Willis – The Color of Night

Not exactly a highly regarded movie to begin with, about the only thing that could drag people out to the theaters on this one was the graphic sex scenes (and the mega-cheesy twist ending). People kind of made a big deal out of a brief shot in a pool where Bruce’s dingus floats up into view of the camera like a sad, pink buoy. It’s a little like seeing your dog get really worked up and then his penis comes out and it’s just sort of off-putting. Like, you don’t necessarily want to throw up or anything, but it kinda ruins your day for a little bit, you know?

2. Richard Gere – American Gigolo

Richard Gere plays a male prostitute in this, his breakout film. (He’s also apparently making things very awkward for any neighbors that might be looking near that window at that moment.) So yeah, it kinda makes sense that he’d be naked and everything… but consider this: just how many thousand of movies get made that feature actresses playing strippers who stay inexplicably fully-clothed? The answer is a lot. A lot thousand. That is a real number.

1. Harvey Keitel – Bad Lieutenant

Every once in a while, that special movie comes along, and when you see it, it reminds you of something you’ve always known, deep in your soul: Harvey Keitel is kind of fucking crazy. This is one of those movies, as it features Keitel walking around, spaced out on drugs and buck naked, and I kinda like to believe that it just happened and they went ahead and filmed it for laughs. Coming from the guy who is rumored to have (read: probably did not) pleasured himself onto the back of Nicole Kidman’s head during the filming of Eyes Wide Shut, it’s kind of a wonder that he didn’t take a dump on something, too.

Do you dare read more Cinematic Listology?


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