In the Naughty Naked Nude

The opening of ELYSIA, VALLEY OF THE NUDE. Geographically, right next to VALLEY OF GWANGI, I should imagine.

This is a nudist film from 1934. It’s surprisingly competent as a piece of film-making — this becomes less surprising when we realize it’s directed by Bryan Foy, vaudevillian with a huge CV of films produced and directed (including legendary lost item THE GORILLA, 1930, reviewed by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre on the IMDb under the title Harry Gribbon ties a ribbon on a greasy grimy gibbon). How this risqué, pseudo-educational piece came to be handled by such a respected figure, I don’t know. It’s pre-code alright, but even in those wayward days I find it hard to imagine a nudist film playing outside of carnivals and flea-pits, distributed on the four-walling model.

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Caption competition.

Foy’s folly introduces us to all the tropes later exploited by Derek Ford and his grimy brethren in the UK — earnest guff is spoken about the health-giving properties of exposing the epidermis (the pseudo-science and pseudo-history are particularly goofy here) and then we get longshots of naked crowds posed amid trained furniture and foliage to cover their more obscene region (because nudity may be healthy but the sight of a cock will rot your soul in a heartbeat) and medium shots of the prettiest girls smiling with their bosoms out. Said girls looking suspiciously like models.

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But what I want to talk about is the guy in the clip. I’m always fascinated by those bold performers who, like Stanislavski, come up with a new way of doing things. This guy’s technique may well have involved getting squiffy before going on. His delivery has a mystical lilt to it, and his facial muscles sometimes take off on flights of their own, freely expressing something that apparently wasn’t in the actor’s mind at all, but merely something the corner of his mouth or an eyebrow wanted to get off its mind. Perhaps this clean, outdoor living imparts an exuberance to the facial features, liberating them from the oppressive demands of reflecting the wearer’s mental state. No wonder he holds his audience spellbound.

10 Responses to “In the Naughty Naked Nude”

  1. “Three and only three emotions” Yeah, right.

  2. That’s the behaviorists for you. A more repellent branch of science it would be hard to suggest. I didn’t know they were into letting it all hang out.

  3. David Boxwell Says:

    Now you’re ready for Edgar G. Ulmer’s detour into nudies: THE NAKED VENUS (58).

  4. Jeff Gee Says:

    6 out of 11 people found Froggy’s “review” useful.

  5. Thinking of “Carry On Camping” (1969), which opens in a grotty little British cinema (but not that kind of cinema) screening a very similar paean to Healthful Nudity. A few years later, “Carry On at Your Convenience” had what played like a “Taxi Driver” sendup (but five years before), when a guy takes his girl to a mock exploitation film featuring a wonderfully charmless “doctor” holding forth on the wholesomeness of sex.

    Did nudies and such last that long in England, or were the Carry On folks a bit out of touch? (“Carry On Camping” ends with a Bob Hope vision of a hippie festival)

  6. Christopher Says:

    no talcum or diapers for me thanks…

  7. Oh, they were out of touch alright. The nudist films never played the ABC circuit, and they were distinctly quaint and vanished by the late sixties, when mainstream movies could provide more explicit pleasures.

  8. david wingrove Says:

    Entry for the caption comp…

    “I won’t look down if you won’t!”

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