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Nudist and nudie film

Related: nude - nudism - nudity in film

Film still from the British nudie film Naked as Nature Intended (1961) - George Harrison Marks

Poster for The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (1961) - H.G. Lewis
image sourced here.


Nudie films were a 1950s genre of films, popular in Europe and the USA.

Because of ruling censorship laws, the only open cinematic displays of nudity were naturist (nudist camp) quasi-documentary films. Examples are Garden of Eden by Max Nosseck.

Other producers and directors active in the genre included David F. Friedman and Herschell Gordon Lewis.

Filmmaker Doris Wishman was particularly active in the genre with no less than eight nudie films to her name during the early 1960s. The titles speak for themselves: Diary of a Nudist, Blaze Starr Goes Wild, Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, Nude on the Moon, Hideout in the Sun, Gentlemen Prefer Nature Girls, Playgirls International, Behind the Nudist Curtain, The Prince and the Nature Girl.

With The Immoral Mr. Teas, director Russ Meyer produced a nudie film with a slightly different twist. At the time called a "nudie cutie"; it was his first successful film. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudie_film [Nov 2005]

Nudie pictures

It's difficult to believe nowadays that there really was a time when the human body was a forbidden image on the silver screen. After all, even in Britain, where moral censorship still runs rampant, the sight of a naked man or woman is considered completely inoffensive by all but the most bigoted and repressed. Yet only forty years ago, nudity remained strictly taboo in the world of the cinema.

Although the early pioneers of the movie world had flirted with nudity and sex during the 'Golden Age of Hollywood', a number of off-screen scandals had caused a public outcry over the immoral shenanigans of the new superstars, and brought about the formation of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America's censorship board, headed by Will Hays. By 1934, a number of subjects had been declared off limits for film-makers...and nudity was top of the list. In Britain, too, nudity was a major crime. When the British Board of Film Censors was first formed in 1912, the only two things absolutely forbidden to be shown on screen were depictions of Jesus Christ and.....nudity.

In the wake of such strict controls over the image of the naked body on screen, it's therefore quite surprising to discover that a number of naturist documentaries were produced during the 1930's. These films didn't play in ordinary cinemas of course, but were reserved for private clubs, 'roadshow' screenings (a form of exhibition where maverick film-makers would roll into town, set up a screening of 'adults only' films, and split before the authorities could close them down) and distribution in less prudish European nations. Among the best known of these pioneering films are This Nude World, Elisha - Valley of the Nudes and Unashamed. These films followed the same 'educational' approach that would later characterise the nudist films of the 50's and 60's, more as an excuse for the amount of bare flesh being displayed than through any genuine desire to inform the public.

It was during the 1950's, however that the nudist film really exploded onto the screen. The breakthrough came in 1953, when the American film Garden of Eden was passed by the BBFC, after their original ban of the film was made redundant by over 180 local authorities, who approved the film for showing - some with a 'U' (suitable for all ages) certificate. The same film was the subject of a 1957 court case in America, where it was established that nudity per se was not obscene. Suddenly, the floodgates were open: audiences flocked to see, for the first time, breasts and buttocks, as naked as nature intended. Sexual organs were still banned, but this hardly mattered. Film-makers in the USA and the UK began to churn out dozens of 'candid investigations' into the world of the naturist club.

After Garden of Eden came Diary of a Nudist, How I Lived As Eve (the biblical reference was always a good way of countering criticism from religious zealots), Nude Scrapbook, World Without Shame, Nudist Memories, Search For Venus and dozens more. Interestingly, these films - which a few years earlier had been completely forbidden - were now being shown with 'A' certificates (the then equivalent of 'PG'), meaning that showings could be attended by unaccompanied children! The reasoning behind this was that if the films had been awarded 'X' ratings, then it would be seen as an admission by the British censors that such material was sexually provocative. By passing them for all ages, the censors could ensure that no precedent had been set for the inclusion of nudity in non-naturist films.

The 'plots' of these films were pretty similar - shy, hung up girls visit a nudist colony, cast off their clothes and become born-again sun worshippers. To keep with the documentary feel, most films had a narrator, telling us with breathless enthusiasm about how wonderful naturism really is. Meanwhile, the characters on screen romped sat around the pool, played volleyball, or strolled about with handbags, beachballs or newspapers held incongruously in front of their groins. This was, of course, all necessary to placate the censors, who might have been willing to allow nudity on the screen, but who certainly intended to make sure that no sex crept in. No nudity was allowed outside of the actual naturist area (be it beach or camp) - and no kissing, fondling or groping could be contemplated. The naturist film-maker was always careful to maintain an air of authenticity and respectability to his film. A popular trick was to gain the approval of a bona fide naturist group, as in Ramsey Harrington's The Nudist Story, which proudly states that it has been made 'in association with the British Sun Bathing Association'...so you know it must be serious!

Many film-makers started their careers working on naturist movies. Death Wish director Michael Winner, for instance, started his career with Some Like It Cool, which was so popular that it was still gaining bookings in the early seventies! Top glamour photographer George Harrison-Marks also had a huge hit with Naked... As Nature Intended, which starred top model Pamela Green (previously only available on celluloid in Harrison-Marks' 8mm glamour films). Naked... is one of the few nudist films currently available on video, and is well worth a look.

In America, cult movie director Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman (later to become President of The Adult Film Association Of America) started their careers making 'nudies' such as Daughter of the Sun and Bell, Bare and Beautiful (the latter starring Burlesque queen Virginia Bell in a story involving gangsters and naturist camps!). Doris Wishman, who startled moviegoers in the 70's with two films starring the 73 inch bosomed Chesty Morgan, was America's most prolific nudist film-maker, producing films like Nature Camp Confidential and Blaze Starr Goes Nudist (films showing well known strippers in naturist settings were always popular). When the market for straight-forward 'nudist camp' films began to decline, she injected new life into the genre with Nude on the Moon, where two astronauts jet into space to discover that the moon is a tropical paradise, full of topless beauties who like nothing more than to - wait for it - sit by the pool or play ball! In a spoof on the claims of authenticity often found in nudist films, the movie was approved by 'The National Moon Bathing Association'!

Such twists became more and more common-place in the early 60's, as the public gradually became bored by the straight documentary approach, and censorship began to relax more in it's attitudes to nudity on screen. The arrival of storylines in the films heralded the move away from straight-forward naturist films and the birth of the 'nudie-cutie'. Russ Meyer led the way in 1959 with his groundbreaking film The Immoral Mr Teas, a retread of the popular French comedy Mr Hulot's Holiday with added nudity. These films were the forerunners of the soft-core sexploitation films that emerged during the mid sixties, and gave cinemagoers the opportunity to finally see bare breasts and a plotline in the same film!

Soon, the naturist film was in terminal decline. the only real reason that most people had queued to see the films in the first place was because there was no other way to see nudity on screen. Now that it was available elsewhere, no-one wanted to sit through what was, more often than not, a fairly tedious travelogue just for a vicarious thrill. By the middle of the decade, naturist films were all but dead. A few stragglers still popped up, along with re-issues of golden oldies, but in general, the public now wanted their nude action strictly within the confines of a fictional storyline.

By 1967, the genre had been reduced to being used as a joke by the British Carry On...team. In Carry On Camping, Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw take their girlfriends to a holiday camp that had been featured in a nudist film they'd seen at their local cinema (Nudist Paradise, in reality the first British made film in the genre)...only to find that in real life, campers had to keep their clothes firmly on! In the same year, naturism had a brief revival in The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield, a somewhat scurrilous - though thoroughly entertaining - 'documentary' with the recently deceased star visiting nudist hotspots around the globe as she explores 'the topless craze'. And it was in the Mondo movie that naturism had it's cinematic home from now on. Once worthy of being the subject of entire films, the nude lifestyle was now just another 'bizarre' custom to be gaped at by thrill-seeking audiences...and even then, it came pretty low down the list of subjects for the film-makers to train their cameras on, unabale to compete with the incredible series of bizarre attractions that these films discovered.

During the 1970's, there seemed little room for naturist cinema, other than as a nostalgic curio. After all, who was going to watch a film about naked people in a holiday camp, when mainstream American cinemas were showing hardcore porn like Deep Throat? In the mid-80's though, the widespread use of home video made it possible for small producers to make films that were aimed at specialist audiences. Shooting on video is considerably less expensive than using film, and also gives the producer the ability to be able to target a more selective audience.

The first shot-on-video naturist film was Educating Julie, a British production which more or less follows the same lines as the films of the fifties, but with an updated approach (i.e, you can see genitals!), and more recently, the trend has continued with films like Perfect Exposure, Alison Over The Moon, and others dealing with the joys of naturism within a fictional setting. Most video productions, though, tend to be straight-forward documentaries that would have little appeal to any would-be voyeurs. Tapes like the Naked USA series, Naked Africa, Let Yourself Be Free, Nude Beaches of the World, Wake Up to the Sun and others are in many ways simply holiday guides on video, aiming to inform the viewer about the various facilities and activities to be found in their chosen location.

There are still some films which are aimed primarily at nonpractising viewers, though. John 'Buttman' Stagliano's Nudes A' Poppin' series for example documents the events at Indiana sun club Naked City's 'Nudist Contest', where we're treated to go-go dancing, strippers (it's kind of strange to see a woman seductively removing her clothes for an audience of completely naked people), sky-diving, lingerie modelling and body painting. Similarly, It's A Nude World has at least one eye on the ever increasing audience for soft sex on video, while American videos like Tits/Ass are aimed more at swingers than sun worshippers, with hard-core group sex included amongst the naked beach romping.

It's doubtful that the naturist film will ever again reach the public prominence that it had in the 50's and 60's, but the future for serious video productions at least seems secure. --http://www.deepsensations.net/nudistfilm.html

Burlesque + nudie = nudie-cutie

By the fifties however attitudes to what could be shown in films began to change and audiences demanded more “adult” material. First came the burlesque film, which featured a performance by a succession of strippers and no narrative, such as “Strip-O-Rama”. These in turn paved the way for the “nudist” films which were presented as serious documentaries on the joys of nudism, such as “The Nude World” (1935). These films weren’t in the least bit sexy and after a long legal case were declared as being “devoid of erotic content” by a New York court in 1957. By the late fifties and early sixties the sexploitation craze had given way to films with more of a narrative content and the emergence of filmmakers such as Doris Wishman (and her star Chesty Morgan) and Russ Meyer. Meyer’s first film, “The Immoral Mr Teas” (1959) paved the way not only for the latest phase of exploitation but also the career of one of the few technically proficient exploitation filmmakers. Meyer took the sexploitation blueprint and ran with it clocking up huge hits with such films as “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” (1965) and “Supervixens” (1975). It was also in sex films that another important name in the history of exploitation film first started out. Inspired by Meyer’s success with “Mr Teas”, Herschell Gordon Lewis and his associate David Friedman decided to try their hand at “nudie” films and over three years made around 30 (according to Friedman) including such titles as “Living Venus” (1960), “The Adventures Of Lucky Pierre” (1961) and “Boin-n-g!” (1963). --Matt Richardson via http://www.troma.com/fansart/term/dissertation.htm


Extremely tame by today's standards (most would warrant nothing more than a PG rating), these quaint relics often consisted of nothing more than naked couples and groups relaxing in the outdoors at some sunny nudist camp, playing volleyball or table tennis while conveniently placed bushes covered up the genital areas. Some nudie-cuties, however, dreamt up wildly exotic plots to try and keep their audience interested, and many of these films have developed small but loyal followings, particularly those directed by such cult filmmakers as Herschell Gordon Lewis (Boin-n-g!, The Adventures of Lucky Pierre), Russ Meyer (The immoral Mister Teas, Wild Gals of the Naked West) and Doris Wishman (who, with titles like Nude on the Moon and Blaze Starr Goes Naked, was the only known female director to be dabbling in this genre). -- John Harrison via http://www.hippocketsleaze.freewebspace.com/photo4.html [Oct 2004]

Not Tonight, Henry (1959) - Ted Paramor

In 1959, three films ended the nudist colony device - Russ Meyer's The Immoral Mr. Teas, David Friedman's Adventures of Lucky Pierre and Ted Paramor's Not Tonight, Henry - brought breasts and story to the big screen. Meyer's film was the first, most popular, most raunchy and most profitable but Not Tonight, Henry was the most erotic film of 1955-60 says porn historian Jim Holliday. --http://www.tranquileye.com/historyofporn/early_porn.html [Apr 2005]

Nudism, Race, and Resistance in The Unashamed

An officially despised but nonetheless profitable brand of motion picture made prior to the 1960s, the classical exploitation film was produced outside the Hollywood system. It trafficked in all forms of content forbidden by the Production Code (short of hard-core pornography) and played in the "Main Street" theaters off the beaten track. Because they sold themselves on the sensationalism of their subject matter, these films had little use for the gloss of their Hollywood rivals: sub-Poverty Row production values and stilted performances by the actors were the rule. Like the Hollywood feature and the documentary, the classical exploitation film is a regime that encompasses several distinct (but not necessarily exclusive) genres, such as the sex-hygiene film, the drug film, the vice film, and the burlesque film. Another exploitation genre is one that has been almost completely forgotten, one that seems anathema to the popular image of pre-1960s America: the nudist film. Set mainly in nudist camps, these films, which included both dramas and documentaries, gave their audience a sight unavailable on the Hollywood screen: a full view of the naked human body--albeit with the genitals obscured. Although dozens of nudist films were made prior to 1960, only one is acknowledged as a fictional drama in which the spectacle of the nudity is cohesively integrated into a character-driven narrative: Allen Stuart's The Unashamed (1938) [IMDb]. --Film Quarterly, Winter, 2000 by Robert M. Payne via http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1070/is_2_54/ai_71875704

Moreover, the exploitation films often projected their anxieties concerning these problems onto a designated "Other," usually a group of people who were already on the periphery of society--the working class, immigrants, non-whites, even pregnant women, etc.--and whose scapegoating only affirmed middle-class prejudices.(Schaefer, pp. 13-14.)

The clash between this conservative entreaty and the sensationalism of the subject matter fissures the films' textual cohesion, and this internal tension remains the most intriguing aspect of the classical exploitation cinema. Given their compulsory conservatism, exploitation films viewed the Other with a sense of opprobrium. However, one exploitation genre goes brazenly against this otherwise persistent paradigm: the nudist film.(Schaefer, pp. 303-24.) --Film Quarterly, Winter, 2000 by Robert M. Payne via http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1070/is_2_54/ai_71875704

Eric Schaefer, "Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!": A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999). Two other books on classical exploitation cinema are Felicia Feaster and Bret Wood, Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of the Exploitation Film (Baltimore, MD: Midnight Marquee, 1999); and Eddie Muller and Daniel Fails, Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of "Adults Only" Cinema (New York: St. Martin's/Griffin, 1996). --Film Quarterly, Winter, 2000 by Robert M. Payne via http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1070/is_2_54/ai_71875704

Nudie films
Nudie films were a 1950s genre of films, popular in Europe and the USA.

Because of ruling censorship laws, the only open cinematic displays of nudity were naturist (nudist camp) quasi-documentary films. Examples are Garden of Eden by Max Nosseck.

Other producers and directors active in the genre included David F. Friedman, Herschell Gordon Lewis and Doris Wishman (Diary of a Nudist (1961)).

With The Immoral Mr. Teas, director Russ Meyer produced a nudie film with a slightly different twist. At the time called a "nudie cutie"; it was his first successful film. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudie_film [Aug 2005]

See also: exploitation film - working class - nudism


  1. The First Nudie Musical (1975) - Mark Haggard, Bruce Kimmel[1 DVD, Amazon US]
    Comedy, nudity, and the just plain bizarre collide in The First Nudie Musical. In hopes of making enough money to save his troubled movie studio, Harry Schecter (Stephen Nathan) and his plucky secretary, Rosie (Cindy Williams, pre-Laverne & Shirley), cook up the world's first pornographic musical. What follows is a loosely plotted collection of comedy bits and musical numbers (written by Rene Hall and codirector Bruce Kimmel) that, while not always successful, have a raw energy and charm that's hard to resist. The movie as a whole looks like it's been done by a new sketch comedy troupe with plenty of spirit and almost enough rehearsal. Yes, there is full-frontal nudity, and once you're done feeling bad for the first group of naked chorines performing in a roomful of fully clothed men, it all goes fine. Though many of the bits misfire, there is plenty of genuinely funny stuff, and even when there isn't, the movie is so weird that it's hard to stop watching. --Ali Davis for Amazon.com

  2. Immoral Mr. Teas (1959) - Russ Meyer [Amazon US]
    To start with, be advised that this movie is definitely not worth its ...price tag! ....

    I first learned about this now classic nudie-cutie movie from the pictorial feature in the November 1960 issue of Playboy magazine. I didn't go see the movie back then but I remembered it occasionally over the years, and finally decided to add it to my video collection.

    I was not disappointed, although the movie was very obviously made on a shoestring budget, with most of it going to the color photography instead of a script or sound recording, since there's no story to speak of and no spoken dialogue. It's like a silent movie -- you see the characters move their lips but say nothing and there's not even any subtitles! Very strange. There is a sporadic, inane narration to tell us what's going on, and a bouncy, somewhat tiresome music score.

    But it's the naked babes that make the movie worth watching, of course! The only purpose of the movie is to show off the natural endowments of the women, most of whom never went on to appear in anything else. Except for June Wilkinson, of Playboy fame (The Boson -- 1958), who is not even credited here for her walk-on part, but later had a semblance of a movie career, appearing in some 20 films in small parts showcasing her big parts.

    The story, such as it is, follows Mr. Teas (his name really is Teas -- Bill Teas, a friend of Meyer) on his daily rounds as a delivery man for dental appliances. He makes his rounds on a bicycle, and everywhere he goes he encounters voluptuous women, and he sees them all naked in his imagination. He undresses them mentally as they do their jobs. (So how does this make him any different from any of us guys? And what's immoral about it? Beats me!)

    This was the first of its kind and started the era of the so-called "nudie movie." So it has historical significance along with its bare-breasted beauties. I recommend it to all fans of the female form, if you can find it a a decent price. --Bill W. Dalton for amazon.com

  3. Cinema Au Naturel: A History of Nudist Film (2003) - Mark Storey [Amazon.com]

    About the Author
    Mark Storey teaches philosophy at Bellevue Community College in Bellevue, Washington, and is on the editorial staff of Nude & Natural magazine, the quarterly journal of The Naturist Society.

    Product Description:
    The quirky world of nudist film is revealed at last. Cinema Au Naturel brings to life many long-forgotten films such as Elysia: Valley of the Nude, The Monster at Camp Sunshine, and Take Off Your Clothes and Live. In his account of the history of nudist film, Mark Storey introduces readers to the best and the worst of these cinematic portrayals of clothes-free life. From the 1930s through today, filmmakers have exploited, documented, and argued for nudism. Cinema Au Naturel is the first book devoted to these tantalizing films, and shows them worthy of both lighthearted and serious consideration.

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