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Phoebe Cates in Fast times

Nude scenes. It feels like they have been part of the filmgoing experience for as long as any of us can remember. And that’s because they essentially date back to the Silent Era. We’re talking George Melies’ After the Ball in 1897. Trying to tackle the history of on-screen nudity would be, as you’d imagine, pretty daunting. But that hasn’t stopped the new documentary Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies.

There are a surprising number of famous Hollywood nude scenes included in the new documentary, covering everything from Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct to Dakota Johnson in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. The filmmakers really did their homework. But when we asked them during a recent press sit down just how many nude scenes they included, director Danny Wolf and executive producer Jim McBride (best known as Mr. Skin) were caught off guard, and guessed:

Danny Wolf: It’s gotta be 100 or so? At least 100 scenes of nudity, and we probably left out 40,000.

Jim McBride: And it is male and female, we should point out. This is a history of nudity in the movies, male and female.

Yes, by narrowing their focus to the benchmark examples of male and female nudity in Hollywood, Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies still covers a ton of ground. The documentary gets roughly 55 different interviewees to sit down and discuss their experiences with on-screen nudity in the film industry. This dates as far back as Fast Times at Ridgemont High director Amy Heckerling analyzing the impact of Phoebe Cates’ strip tease by the swimming pool, up through Shannon Elizabeth discussing how she likely owes her career to being nude in American Pie.

And it sounds like an exaggeration, but when Skin director Danny Wolf jokes that there are 40,000 scenes they wanted to include but didn’t, you easily can rattle off a number of examples that don’t make the final cut of the documentary. Later in our interview, they mention trying to reach out to Jennifer Lawrence and Kathy Bates, as examples of actors who have experience with on-screen nudity that didn’t make it into the final cut of Skin. Maybe there’s room for a sequel.

We posted the trailer for Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies a few weeks back. Here it is again, if you missed it:

Skin features exclusive interviews with actors including Pam Grier (Jackie Brown, Foxy Brown) and Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Caligula) as well as directors Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon), Kevin Smith (Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Clerks) and Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Clueless). The movie will be available on demand beginning on August 18.

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