Okay, so maybe that title is a misnomer. Using Sir Kenneth Clark's distinction between the naked and the nude, I find few, if any, proper nudes in Altman's filmography. What follows is a brief study of the way Robert Altman uses nudity. This post is intended as a comment starter. Warning: Not Safe For Work. You can click on the smaller pictures to enlarge. Afterwards, for more Altman, go to The House Next Door for links and updates on the Altman Blog-a-thon.
The sexiest shot in Altman. I prefer it to Marilyn's "Isn't it delicious" air-blast in The Seven Year Itch.
Here begins the theme of nakedness and humiliation.
Here is a painterly triptych. I can almost smell the dirty woolen socks in this brothel.
The One-Armed Piccolo Player.
Altman likes to repeat these stray glimpses of his leading men. Keith Carradine plops his fanny down in front of the television.
Yeesh. I don't know which feels more painful and degrading to watch, this or Julie Andrews in S.O.B.
This scene brings to mind Faye Dunaway's very calculated nudity in Chinatown.
A Hollywood Mud Monster.
There are always layers in Altman to undercut any titillation. Altman made an anti-western. He also makes anti-nude scenes. Can we derive pleasure watching him watching her pretending to be dead for her mother, who's watching?
Awfully sporting of Huey Lewis. What was it rock groupie Pamela Des Barres said about him?
Nude ... and dead.
Pretty as a picture. The sisters share a giggle afterwards at husband Modine's awkwardness.
The audience pretends not to notice Julianne's flaming bush the way the characters pretended not to notice that hurricane in The Gingerbread Man.
The only idea in Preta-a-Porter's pretty empty head.
Kenneth Branagh wakes up next to a Nude, then remembers he is late to his acting exercise.
There are few shots I wish I could post but couldn't find, so this is far from comprehensive. Maybe I can add them later when I have more time.
In Brewster McCloud, avenging angel Sally Kellerman is nude in a fountain. Also, Bud Cort's surprisingly defined torso seen while doing chin-ups reminded me of the buff Buster Keaton whenever we see him shirtless.
I think I remember a bevy of topless party girls living across the way from Marlowe and his cat in The Long Goodbye.
Haven't seen Dr. T and the Women, but given the subject matter I'd be shocked if there wasn't nudity.
Did Vincent Van Gogh paint nude models in his little brown studio?
I've seen fewer than half of Altman's movies, but I think it's a safe bet that Shelley Duvall is naked in there somewhere.
Please let me know of any glaring omissions.
A few tentative thoughts: When it comes to nudity, Altman is an equal opportunity employer, at least by normal Hollywood standards. Be they female or male, young or old, pretty or plain, he doesn't shy from filming. I discovered that many of these shots don't work as stills. Especially 'Hot Lips' getting off the chopper. There's a reason they call them moving pictures. Also, I find that the attitude behind a few of these shots disturbs and makes me uncomfortable. Somewhere I once heard Martin Scorsese say that he didn't shoot nude scenes. It seemed like he took some pride in this. That struck me as odd, somehow, and perhaps not good. Why is he so comfortable with violence, but not with nudity? Robert Altman on the other hand has used nudity many times, but there is always something willfull and contrarian about it. So what's going on with Altman and nudity? Any patterns? Any thoughts?