Some films are known for being a product of their times. A good number of Hollywood productions from the ’30s and ’40s (and a couple in the ’50s and even the ’60s) sported performances that are now considered straightforward, bland, and wooden, but upon release, they were praised and applauded for the very things we criticize. I guess because of this, we can watch some of these movies just to reminisce about the ideologies and think of those years gone by. With that mindset, just about any picture ever made can be seen for that one thing about it that stands out. The topic observed in this article may be a little on the risque side of things, but it is culturally significant nonetheless.
The nude scenes that have stood out in the movies mentioned below have since become topics of conversation, debate, etc., and they have had an impact on society, which is funny because the films that encompass the whole thing, not a lot of people seem to care about. In this article, we explore why these movies with full frontal nudity have become popular in today’s world as well, to get a better insight into what worked or didn’t.
20. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, this art horror drama is loosely based on the 1875 novel ‘The 120 Days of Sodom’ by Marquis de Sade. Set during World War II, it explores controversial themes like corruption in politics, nihilism, capitalism, sexuality, sadism, and more. Paolo addresses these topics by means of four filthy rich and liberties/corrupt members of Nazi-Fascist Italy who have at their service a group of young men and women. These people become the sadists’ mannequins for torture of every kind, including and especially sexual. The horrific nature of the tortures can affect the film’s viewing. ‘Salò’ is Pasolini’s last film before he was brutally murdered.
19. Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, ‘Blue Is the Warmest Colour’ tells the story of a high school student named Adèle who finds pleasure and satisfaction by hanging out with the free-spirited blue-haired Emma whom the other students reject because she is a lesbian. Adèle has been unable to find satisfaction with men, something that Emma’s companionship offers in heaps. As they spend more time together, they come closer, exploring their emotions and sexuality that are underscored by social acceptance. Feel free to check out the movie here.
18. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ is a dystopian crime drama set in the future in Britain. It centers on Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), who is sent to prison after being charged with multiple crimes, including rape, theft, murder, and violence, that he committed along with the rest of the members of his gang. However, he is offered an experimental aversion rehabilitating therapy that he accepts. After undergoing the therapy, he develops an aversion for all the “ultraviolence” he once took pleasure in and is thus released. But does the aversion absolve him? Is he forgiven by his victims who are still alive? To know, you can stream the film here.
17. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Kubrick’s last film, this erotic psychological film, stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. It revolves around Dr. William “Bill” Harford and his wife Alice, who discuss their sexual fantasies one night without any judgment towards each other. This results in Bill deciding to explore the pleasures of the flesh that life offers and ends up in a sex party/ritual, one that begins where his wildest fantasies end. But can any such party ever be without a catch? To find out, you can stream the film here.
16. Shame (2011)
This Steve McQueen directorial stars Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in the leads. It centers on 30-something-year-old Brandon, who is a sex addict and all that he thinks about is sex, and that’s only when he is not having it. But what those close to him do not know is that he is struggling with the addiction. However, when his estranged sister Sissy arrives to stay at his place for a while, his life takes a different turn that, albeit unpleasant, offers a fruitful realization. To know what that is, you can stream ‘Shame’ here.
15. The Girl Next Door (2007)
This movie is directed by Gregory Wilson and is based on the 1989 novel of the same name by Jack Ketchum, who based it on the 3-month-long brutal torture of American teen Sylvia Marie Likens orchestrated by her caregiver Gertrude Baniszewski. Sylvia died due to her injuries on October 26, 1965, in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the film, we see a teenager named Meg Loughlin (Blythe Auffarth), and her sister Susan (Madeline Taylor) arrive at their aunt Ruth’s (Blanche Baker) place after losing their parents in an accident. What the siblings do not know is that Ruth is a psychopath who begins brutally assaulting them, especially sexually. You can stream the film here, but we warn you that it is not for the squeamish.
14. It Follows ( 2014)
David Robert Mitchell is the director of this horror film that revolves around 19-year-old Jay, played by Maika Monroe. While Jay is all in for boys, sleeping with her new date, Hugh, turns into a nightmare after she comes to know that she has been the recipient of a curse. As a result of this, she will now have a supernatural shape-shifting entity follow her at all times, and if it catches up to her, it will kill her. She can only get rid of it if she has sexual intercourse with someone else. So Jay is in a race against time to find a way to get rid of the curse while continuously defending herself from the sinister being. You can stream the film here.
13. Lovelace (2013)
‘Lovelace’ is flawed in its screenplay and dialogue, but the way it handles its topic is interesting, original, and compelling. Having to do with the life of real-life pornstar, sex symbol, and extremely popular 1970s public figure Linda Lovelace, the film follows her rather horrifying path to fame and what she did with the latter half of her time on Earth to redeem those disastrous years (with an interesting side-note that everything she cooked up might be total baloney). The story is told through intriguing parallels and non-linearity, which keeps your eyes peeled throughout the run-time. Sadly, this picture went as soon as it came, and barely anyone even mentions its merits today. What steals the limelight, though, are the numerous nude scenes from the photoshoots and personal affairs of Lovelace depicted in the film. The title character is portrayed by Amanda Seyfried, whose fame as a star only led to the nude moments standing out further. You can watch the movie here.
12. The Dreamers (2003)
This was a film that was controversial upon release, which led to its many explicit nude scenes (that garnered it an NC-17 rating) gaining popularity. Though some people have started appreciating this picture for its merits, most still know of ‘The Dreamers’ as “that film where Eva Green was naked for a long time.” They’re not wrong, though, and the scenes in question are beautifully shot and distinctive that they catch the eye better than the rest of the picture. A film about cinephiles set in the ’60s, the film isn’t entirely perfect, but it has some great characterization, a neat story, and marvelous direction (again, it’s a Bertolucci piece). It does seem to be leaning on shock value rather than a nuanced and coherent storyline. Nonetheless, the picture is wholly entertaining.
11. Bolero (1984)
Another highly controversial pick on this list, ‘Bolero,’ is one of the first films to pull back from the dreaded X rating from the MPAA to be released without any rating at all. People were convinced that this film had something about it that demanded attention. As you can tell, the focus was already on the nudity. Fresh off of films like the comedy classic ’10’, Bo Derek signed up to make this film with her husband, “paying homage” to the Blake Edwards picture to get people in the theater seats (even the title refers to Ravel’s beautifully constructed musical piece that turned on Derek’s character in ’10’, her debut). The first people who did go and see it reportedly walked out of the hall during half-time because of how poorly made and uninteresting it was. People remember this film today for being the steamiest picture Derek ever starred in, and the sex scene has been considered one of the most memorable in cinema history (in a good way).
Read More: Best NC-17 Rated Movies of All Time
10. Prime Cut (1972)
Before the nude opening montage of ‘Carrie’ was even shot, there was Sissy Spacek’s 1972 film ‘Prime Cut,’ which had a very strange moment in it wherein two drugged naked girls on a cattle farm are sold to a mobster. This angered many people who saw it at the time and noted it as a moment in cinema that objectified women. The truth of the matter was that it had been worked better into the story than the media and other outlets had portrayed it to be. The film is flawed, but with great performances all around, one almost forgives the movie for its terrible plot and irritating characterization. People rarely mention the picture these days, but the shocking nude scene is ever-so-alive even today, more than 45 years after the picture’s release.
9. Dream Lover (1993)
‘Dream Lover’ is an interesting enough film for most of its run-time. It has that tight, uncomfortable style about it that makes it a great watch. Starring Madchen Amick and James Spader, the film performed poorly at its time of release, and reviews were very mixed. The television program ‘Twin Peaks’ had just concluded two years prior, and one of its hottest attractions was Amick, who played a waitress in a bad marriage. Her nude scene in this film was phenomenal, as it had her go full-frontal and was complete with even the element of sex involved. It might be due to this that the scene stood out because many recall this moment, but few do the title of the film itself. You can stream the film here.
8. Striptease (1996)
‘Striptease’ is without a doubt one of the most terrible films ever made in cinematic history. It rightfully deserved every Razzie it won because it is a showcase of just how bad movies can be if done wrong. Following a plotline that is almost similar to that of ‘Showgirls’ from 1994 (if it had more CIA and government corruption than it did stripper rivalry), the overall product is rather amusing. There’s a strip-cum-dance moment nearing the end of the third act, which raked in so much attention from the public, given the film’s notoriety and Moore’s popularity at the time. It’s still a bad film, but hey, at least it’s got one memorable moment. You may watch ‘Striptease’ here.
7. All the Right Moves (1983)
A teen movie starring Tom Cruise in the lead should’ve gone a long way, but despite some commercial success and buzz during its release, ‘All the Right Moves’ remained little talked about. The story was good enough, and it had some neat laughs here and there. Lea Thompson played the leading lady here, two years before ‘Back to the Future’ would skyrocket her name to fame. As the years went by, people started taking note of their beloved actress’ earlier movies and brought into the light this film, particularly its sex scene that involved her and Cruise. The scene isn’t too explicit, but it does have full-frontal nudity, which caught the eye of audiences. Now, this scene has become iconic, and the movie remains forgotten, mainly because it had little about it to remember it by. You may watch it here.
6. Porky’s (1981)
Bob Clark has had a career directing some of the strangest films ever. Leaning towards an up-or-down filmography that he became notorious for in the circles that mentioned his work, it is ‘Porky’s’ in which he gets most of his style right. The film is crude, nonsensical, and undeniably hilarious in the way it gets its story told. It’s a give-or-take good time, but the film garnered more fame for its shower scene wherein a couple of nude girls are peeped at by a bunch of boys. The scene, as it plays out, isn’t one of the better moments of the film, but it found its fans in the many people who discovered the camera-filling rather long nude scene in the years to come. Sadly, ‘Porky’s’ drowned in all that notoriety, and barely anyone mentions that film these days.
Read More: Best Treasure Hunt Movies
5. Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)
If you were to go around and ask anyone – ANYONE – what they thought the most iconic nude scene of all time was, chances are they’d point to the daydream sequence in this film. Also, chances are they’ve never seen this picture. Being another one of those college movies from the ’80s, this performed well both critically and commercially, but Phoebe Cates’ couple minutes of toplessness became a staple conversation topic among high schoolers, college freshmen, and others in that age category. Soon enough, it was labeled the greatest nude scene of all time by most people who saw it. You can check out the movie here.
4. Killing Me Softly (2002)
So, a couple of entries down, we mentioned ‘Dream Lover’ as being a forgotten gem with a memorable sex scene. ‘Killing Me Softly’ follows the same route, following pretty much the same story, but now with reversed roles. So, instead of a husband hunting down his wife’s past, it’s the wife who’s got the job. Unlike the 1993 film, though, this isn’t all that well made. Whenever it tries to be funny, it just becomes sad, and when it tries to be serious, it is laughably bad. That isn’t to say that none of it works, but the experience is very forgettable, apart from the sex scene. Heather Graham had a couple of years before sprung into fame following films like ‘Bowfinger’ and ‘Boogie Nights,’ so her multiple nude scenes in this film caught the attention of the public eye. These have now become some of the most famous nude scenes of all time, but barely anyone’s seen the film, based on its poor box office performance, otherwise damp cultural significance, and overall poor feedback. Feel free to check it out here.
3. Havoc (2005)
It’s interesting but poorly made. Yet what is appreciable is that the boring plot forms the murky water in which this film stays submerged. One thing that is bad and provides no benefits to the film is the hokey acting. Every significant actor feels like they’re trying way too hard, coming off as unrealistic and over-the-top. Anne Hathaway’s nude scenes (which are rather abundant in this film) caught the eye once she slowly started getting that A-list celebrity status. Questionably strange, one of the most popular of the nude scenes has Hathaway crawling on a couch, speaking poorly written lines, in a moment that I’m still trying to make sense of. You may watch the film here.
2. Original Sin (2001)
To be fair, the nude scene in question is very memorable, attributing such traits to its revolving top shot, inviting music, and attractive stars. The movie isn’t half-bad, though. It’s a campy but memorable thriller that one wouldn’t hesitate to rewatch. Sure, it’s riddled with flaws that almost make it laughable, but it is atmospheric to the point that it becomes distinctive. Critics despised this film, and it underperformed at the box office. Recently, some people have begun to rediscover this movie (myself included), and many have found it to be rather interesting. The sex scene here still stands as the most memorable moment in the entire picture, but it’s all worth giving a shot. If not for anything else, then for Jolie and Antonio Banderas, at least. You can watch the movie here.
1. Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (2013)
Directed by Lars von Trier, this erotic drama, as the title suggests, is about a lady named Joe who is a nymphomaniac. Left for dead and all beaten up, Joe is found and brought home by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), a middle-aged bachelor, who tends to her wounds as she recollects her erotic experiences from her adolescence to her present. Charlotte Gainsbourg plays the older Joe while Stacy Martin plays the younger one. You can stream the film here.
Read More: Best R-Rated Movies of All Time