Liz Smith: Hollywood’s New Big Thing: Male Nudity

Male nudity: newly chic

And more from our Gossip Girl: Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin … Will and Kate — okay, I watched the kiss!

“BEING NAKED approaches being revolutionary!” wrote John Updike.

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THE FULL Monty? The brand new, refreshing-looking Newsweek magazine reports what we, who actually go to movies in the cineplexes – and watch cable TV — have known for some time: the male member is “out there” on the big screen, big-time.

Reporter Chris Lee writes that “the last taboo” is not so taboo after all. Whether in comedies, drama or action flicks, on screens large and small, male actors are finally showing what many female actors have been required to show since censorship fell by the way side in the late Sixties.

Some actors, such as Ewan McGregor, have become so well-known for “dropping trou” that he recently released a statement saying he wouldn’t show the family jewels anymore. He said he was getting too old for such exposure. Indeed, in Roman Polanski’s “Ghost Writer” last year, Ewan had the obligatory nude scene, but photographed from the back. (Well, that’s no fun; it’s just a tease.)

Maybe you are so young or under-black-and-white film educated that you don’t know audiences in 1934 gasped when Clark Gable removed his shirt and revealed a bare chest in “It Happened One Night.” Underwear sales plummeted and this was when most male undies were “wife beater” types and today’s ubiquitous T-shirt seems not to have been yet invented.

Nude women can be touchingly beautiful, but total male nudity is riveting, aggressive and electric. Now we have it all. O tempore, O mores, indeed!

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I CONFESS. When the tornadoes were ravaging Alabama last week and hundreds were dying practically before our very eyes, I “edited” television news, clicking away from any station pounding on the royal wedding and switching to whatever station was covering America’s latest weather disaster.

But the morning of the wedding, there I was, like any fan, waiting for them to come on the Buckingham Palace balcony to wave and kiss.

The future King of England, William, looked splendid in his red Irish Guards uniform while critics carped that his Army, Household Cavalry and RAF cohorts were mad that he had ignored their uniforms. (It is thought that Irish Guards won out because Queen Elizabeth II will strengthen ties between London and Dublin next month.)

The Queen, who was a bit “too much” all in yellow, seemed distracted during the balcony waving. She called the shots and ended the process after a few minutes, moving back inside. (I was amused that the Royal “expert” Martin Bashir lost his bet on MSNBC that the Queen would appear all in pale blue.)

The bride, Kate Middleton, looked sleek, simple and her long-sleeved demure lace Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen gown, which reminded me of Grace Kelly’s. She was as far away from the flounces of Diana as possible. (They could hardly corral Diana’s enormous dress and train into the carriage. And you see the young India Hicks “trying” to do just that!)

Kate didn’t have that dreamy Cinderella vibe. She looked like a modern, confident, happy woman who will be 30 next year; one in control of her destiny. One who doesn’t believe in fairy tales.

The royal couple seemed genuinely happy to be marrying and obviously like/love each other.

An exhausted U.S. media returned home over the weekend and it looked as if they enjoyed their moments in Britain. It was what insiders call “a broadcasting sweet spot” – a relief from all the bad news, controversy and tragedy dominating international airwaves. The inevitable pageantry of the British made all the difference. It was, I suppose, a relief from the troubled, serious countenances of news anchors dealing with fateful tornadoes, thunderstorms and floods.

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I USUALLY applaud the Roundabout for whatever it tries; it is such a valiant off-Broadway and B’way creator.

So I went to see the impressive Donna Murphy, who was such a revelation in “Wonderful Town” and “Passion.” But her demanding turn in “The People in the Picture” just left me bewildered. And none of it is her fault. I have seldom seen a less appealing musical – conflicts in a family about growing old and remembering too much of a Polish theatrical group under the Nazis. Not a single person onstage gave you likability or made you care what happened to them.

And almost everything that happens onstage telegraphs itself and is unbearable. (Making Yiddish comedy out of tragedy has already been done perfectly by Ernst Lubitsch in the original “To Be or Not To Be” and by Mel Brooks in the remake, as well as “The Producers.” No one else need apply.)

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YOU’VE SEEN the photos of actress Julianne Moore, transformed into Sarah Palin for a new movie
”Game Change” – all about the race for the White House in 2008.

Miss Moore is nothing if not intrepid. I guess she is so sure of her physical beauty that, like Meryl Streep and Annette Bening, she is willing to be made unattractive (or in Palin’s case – attractive) to serve the drama. She let herself be dragged about by the hair in two recent acclaimed films – the noteworthy “The Kids Are All Right” and “A Single Man,” appearing drunk, disheveled and authentic.

She is very much to be admired. I am sure she will be amazing as she plays a vice-presidential nominee at odds with the presidential aspirant who has chosen her. (i.e., Palin and John McCain.)


8 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Bella Mia says:

    The wedding was a wonderful distraction and a testament and elavation to the Wonders of Womanhood, a lesson the world very much needs. To see William look with such devotion and to treat Kate with such respect and courtesy sends a powerful message to the world that IT MATTERS. Marriage matters, love matters, affection matters, extended family matters, crazy hat matter (OK I had to throw that in). Compare and contrast with those culture that keep women in what Oriana Fallaci called the burqua (chador) a medieval rag when interviewing the Ayatollah Khomeni.

    Imagine what the women around the world who are not free to vote, not free to drive, not free to show themselves, thought about the wedding that was viewed by 2 billion people. Here Oriana questions the Ayatollah about these women:

    “OF- I still have to ask you a lot of things. About the “chador,” for example, which I was obliged to wear to come and interview you, and which you impose on Iranian women. […] I am not only referring to the dress but to what it represents, I mean the apartheid Iranian women have been forced into after the revolution. They cannot study at the university with men, they cannot work with men, they cannot swim in the sea or in a swimming-pool with men. They have to do everything separately, wearing their “chador.” By the way, how can you swim wearing a “chador”?
    AK- None of this concerns you, our customs do not concern you. If you don’t like the islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it, since it is for young women and respectable ladies.
    OF- This is very kind of you, Imam, since you tell me that, I’m going to immediately rid myself of this stupid medieval rag. There !.” (And she ripped it off and threw it on the ground.)

  2. avatar Maggie W says:

    The full monty, eh?  If photo manipulation can place the head of a 50-something actress on the body of a svelte , flawless 20 year old model, then I imagine that same technique will be available to actors who wish to be more “montified” on the screen.  

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Maggie…No fifty year-old head has ever been placed on a twenty year old body. In fact most of the photo manipulation of recent years has been the smoothing out and slimming down of twentysomething celebrities.   Gir;s who don’t need to be altered.

      As for men and their members–not all the guys who show it all are terribly well endowed. At least not in a flaccid state. They are  brave guys. In this world of  no secrets do you think an actor who insisted on photoshopping his penis for public viewing wouldn’t be caught, and his Before and After posted online for all to see and ridicule? 

      • avatar Maggie W says:

        Come on, now, Mr. Wow.  You ,of all people,  know that what we see in Hollywood is rarely true to form.  Anything goes and to hell with any ” before/after” pics.  That can be explained away, too. Actually, when I referred to that 50 year old with the svelte body, I was thinking of an actress who appeared on a magazine cover not too long ago.  There was much ” discussion” following and on another forum.

        Thanks for your response.  I was surprised.  

        • avatar Mr. Wow says:

          Dear Maggie…did I not say most photoshoping (retouching, in my day)  happens to young women, young stars, who  wish to look smoother, slimmer, etc?   It’s rampant and always has been.  (Ever see an unretouched pic of my gal, Elizabeth Taylor–with her moles and her mustache?  When she was twenty? Or Marilyn with her excessive blonde facial fuzz?  Both ladies invested heavily in depilatories.)

          No actress to my knowledge  has ever demanded her fifty year face be placed on a younger body.  Though I do recall a couple of instances where it was clear the  magazine editors thought they were doing the actress a favor, and clumsily, drastically  retouched. 

          As these efforts were inevitably  exposed much to everybody’s embarassment, you think a man’s penis enlarged for the screen would not be similarly held up to examination?

  3. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Clever to have used the David as an illustration to Liz’s item.  Cowardly to cut him off at the waist. 

  4. avatar Bonnie O says:

    I have often thought Julianne Moore an underrated actress.  Her performance in The Hours was, in my humble opinion, the Academy Award performance … not that of Nicole Kidman who won the Oscar.  Ms. Kidman was very good but I thought Julianne Moore’s portrayal of the character Laura much more poignant.

    As for “the wedding”, it was nice and the British do these ceremonies with aplomb and Kate is not a woman just turned 20.  She is an educated, well-grounded woman who had more than six months to decide if she wanted to take on the role of future queen and whose gown may have reached the heights of all expectation.  It was all lovely …..  EXCEPT I thought the hats were silly, when the camera panned over the audience everyone looked grim or stonefaced.  The sermons were also grim talking of  duties, responsibilities and sacrifices.  Where was the joyous exclamations about love and happiness?   Where were the sounds of joy?  From all accounts I have read or seen on television, the entire spectacle was perfect … could not have gone-off better.  I may be the only dissenter.   Kate’s sister was a star.  The children bride-attendents were stars. Prince Harry looked great.   I liked the Queen in yellow.  There were no faults … but I was not entralled nor did the wedding gown have a WOW factor.   However, I wish the couple a happy marriage. 

  5. avatar Lila says:

    Male nudity – riveting, electric, aggressive? Uhhhh… it seems to me more like it’s just… stuck on there like an afterthought.

    But… a question I would often ask my husband, the movie buff: “Hey! You got to see HER naked, why don’t I get to see HIM naked?” “You did, you got to see his butt.” “Not the same thing, and you know it.”

    Well… not any more!