Friday, July 8, 2011

Gab in the Buff

Werth: Hello, Wise.  

Wise: Hi, Werth.  

Werth: What are you wearing?  

Wise: Excuse me?

Werth: It's National Nude Recreation Week and I was wondering if you were celebrating.  

Wise: If blasting my air conditioner and wearing a sweater counts as celebrating, then yes.  

Werth: Oh Wise, if ya' got it, flaunt it! And if you've got as much as the 1982 coming-of-age hit Porky's, flaunt it at theaters and drive-ins around the country.  

Wise: At least one of us has good taste in porcine titled film.

Werth: When I was a young boy at school, nothing would get a whispering campaign started faster than, "Have you seen Porky's?" None of us were old enough to have watched it, but those of us who had older siblings, binoculars or really permissive parents captivated each other with tales of this raunchy comedy. The plot is so basic, it's stupid. 
It's 1954. Some high school guys want to get laid so they go to the local watering hole run by rotund Porky Wallace (Chuck Mitchell) who, instead of getting the boys a hooker, embarrasses them by chasing them out of a shack stark naked into the Florida swamps.  

Wise: Sort of a teenage crudité for the alligators?  

Werth: The lads are none too pleased by this, so revenge is meted out in the form of structural vandalism to Porky's bar, sending it crashing into the swamp along with plates of hot wings, chili and beer. 

Wise: Revenge is a dish best served by high school delinquents.

Werth: I can't tell you how excited every red-blooded male was to see Porky's in the early 80's. The shower scene where one youth sticks his you-know-what in a peephole and the portly Coach Beulah Balbricker (Nancy Parsons) grabs a-hold and won't let go was puerile catnip to a whole generation of horned-up guys. And the nudity—oh the nudity. Female gym class showers, sex scenes and nude male sprinting—no fleshly expense was spared in showing off the bodies of both sexes.

Wise: I assume you were more partial to one than to the other.   

Werth: The character's name was Meat (Tony Ganios) and seeing him hightail it out of the swamp with his sausage was probably the best acting of his career. And speaking of acting, don't miss Kim Catrall in a very early role as Miss Lassie Honeywell. 

Wise: Because she always came home?   

Werth: Because she barked during sex. And even though critics like Siskel and Ebert growled about how awful this movie was, it is a testament to how sex and nudity can sell a film, and even make it memorable.  

Wise: Long before Helena Bonham Carter was memorable playing either witchy psychopaths, murderous chess pieces or dutiful queens, she was the porcelain-complected muse of Merchant and Ivory's most upper-crusty adaptations of British classics.  In A Room with a View (1985) she plays Lucy Honeychurch, a proper English girl who travels to turn of the century Italy with her dour cousin Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith) where she discovers that there is a life of passion outside the pages of her guidebooks.  
Once she returns to England, she must decide between the proper match her mother wants her to make with Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis) and the unconventional but rapturous life she could have with George Emerson (Julian Sands) who she met in Florence and with whom she shared an unexpected kiss. 

Werth: Get to the nudity.

Wise: A Room with a View is perhaps the prototypical Ismail Merchant and James Ivory collaboration, filled with A-list British talent, plummy accents, lush interiors and elaborate period costumes.  But for all the emphasis on production design, this movie throbs with pleasure.  Published in 1908, E. M. Forster's novel was a bit more circumspect in expressing exactly what Lucy Honeychurch is choosing over her staid British life, but the film makes her desire for luscious foods, ideas and love abundantly clear. 

Werth: Nudity!

Wise: When George Emerson and his father unexpectedly rent a neighboring house, Lucy's rambunctious younger brother Freddie (Rupert Graves) invites George and a very game Reverend Beebe (Simon Callow) to go for a swim in a nearby pond.  The three shed their clothes and begin horsing around only the be discovered by Lucy, her mother and a deeply perturbed Cecil who ushers Lucy to safety post-haste.  One glance has been enough, however—  

Werth: You can glance more than once thanks to the pause and rewind function on the DVD.  

Wise: —and Lucy recognizes in their schoolboy antics the kind of freedom she wants to experience in life.  

Werth: So the moral here is public nudity is the best shortcut to better living.  

Wise: Just bring plenty of sunblock and join us here next week when we strip down more movies on Film Gab.  

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