Friday, December 6, 2013

The First Nudie Musical (1976): Sleaze as Wholesome Fun

The First Nudie Musical (1976)
dir: Mark Haggard, Bruce Kimmel

The First Nudie Musical is high-concept, high-camp joyous fun coming out of the sexploitation underworld. If the title doesn't please you, this isn't the movie for you.

Stephen Nathan stars as Harry Schechter, the son of a famous studio producer, whose small movie studio has resorted to making pornographic films and is now in with the mob. They can't come up with the idea for their next movie until Harry pops on the idea of a pornographic musical-comedy. And, in dances the nude chorus girls to pitch the idea.  Of course, the mob gives him 2 weeks to make it, and has him use one of their sons, who is a bit on the naive side, as director.

The entirety of the movie is the making of this first nudie musical, Come Come Again. The First Nudie Musical takes much of its tonality from the irreverence of Singin' in the Rain. In that vein, we're shackled with tropes like having a difficult lead actress, inept rehearsals, and hilarious but far-too-brief musical numbers. The first movie-within-a-movie musical number starts out as a hardcore sex scene, when suddenly a guy pops in front of them crooning the song "Orgasm" in to a megaphone. Sample lyric "Orgasm, its the sure spasm of love, sweet love." Well, you get the idea of where the movie is going.

While the pacing is definitely 1970s era, and not nearly the bullet train of modern era comedies, the laughs come fairly frequently. From Cindy Williams' constant deadpan deliveries of such lines like "That was the worst orgasm I have ever seen" and "Your stunt cock is here" to the absurdity of 2/3 of the musical numbers about dildos, perversions, or lesbians (with the stunning "Lesbian, Butch, Dyke"), The First Nudie Musical delivers a fearlessly wholesome show filled with tits and ass. This is a movie you could probably share with your mother, as the sex is presented as stuff that happens.

In 1976, most American cinema was still down in the dumps too. In 1977, Martin Scorsese made the extremely dour, cocaine-addled, New York, New York, which was dubbed Wife Beater: The Musical. Scorcese meant to make a downbeat musical about abusive pieces of shit. But, Kimmel and Haggard are making the most upbeat happy-go-lucky musical one can imagine from terrible puns, and sometimes tasteless jokes. And, surprisingly, The First Nudie Musical is not all sexist. The men are jokes, Cindy Williams is a comedic powerhouse with her laconic wit where she's the most intelligent member of the crew. Schechter is only in charge because it's his studio. There is male and female nudity. And, the women are rarely shown to be exploited.

The First Nudie Musical may be minorly slow-paced, but it delivers on being chock-full of wholesome nudity, and also being a ridiculous musical of epic and satirical proportions. This should tickle your funny bone, but not that bone.

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