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The Playlist Bares All: 20 Unforgettable Nude Scenes

by The Playlist Staff
April 12, 2013 10:51 AM
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“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”
For an entire generation, this might be the single most memorable topless scene of all time. Judge Reinhold fantasizes about "Gremlins" star Phoebe Cates. He imagines her emerging from a swimming pool, dripping wet. She's wearing a bright red bikini, and takes off her top. Right as he's about to, well, finish, someone walks in on him in the bathroom, fantasy abruptly over. The sequence is really funny but also pretty sexy, (we'd be ashamed to say it, considering how young Cates was, and how young her character is supposed to be, except for the fact we were that age or younger when we first saw it). The startling thing is, in Amy Heckerling and Cameron Crowe's movie, this sequence isn't even the raciest – Jennifer Jason Leigh, after all, has unprotected sex and has to get an abortion. In one of the most beloved high school comedies of all time.

“Short Cuts”
Once again, what makes this sequence exceptional is its banality: in Robert Altman’s sprawling “Short Cuts,” he shoots a dialogue scene with Julianne Moore where she’s not wearing anything below the waist. It’s kind of shocking in how casual it is, and adds a singular, unplaceable importance to the sequence, a weird energy that probably couldn’t be captured any other way. Moore, for her part, is fearless. It’s one of those sequences, perhaps like the one in “Trance,” that you can’t imagine an actress ever saying yes to, but they did, and in both cases something truly exceptional is brought to both the role and the moment as a result.

“Hot Tub Time Machine”
While we mostly leave it to Mr. Skin and fanboy sites with disconcerting "hotties" sections to bring you all the Hotttest NOOD Babez On Tha Internetz, we have to make the occasional exception, especially on a list like this. When "Mad Men" bombshell Jessica Pare appeared last season, for many critics, she came out of nowhere, but the actress has been working in movies for over 10 years. In fact, in 2002's little-seen "Lost & Delirious" she wins some kind of perv treble by playing a lesbian schoolgirl in love with the not unluscious Piper Perabo (it's not as skeezy as it sounds -- in fact, it's a genuine love story between females told by a female director). But more will have seen her funny and surprising buff scene from "Hot Tub Time Machine" where she materializes out of nowhere as Craig Robinson's one-night stand in a bubbly and wet bathtub. She's little more than a very attractive prop, but the scene is such an odd contradiction that it gets a pass, with Robinson weeping at the thought of cheating on his future wife while being expertly ridden by this wet, very naked goddess like there's no tomorrow.

“On the Road”
Is it “brave” to go bare? Or is it just doing what the character and script calls for? Kristen Stewart generated a lot of controversy for getting naked in Walter Salles’ “On the Road,” but given that the scenes are fairly tame and the film is based on the classic beat tale of discovery, experimentation and finding yourself, a little nooky is going to have to be part of the game. While Stewart does have a three-way and, sandwiched between them, how shall we say it, facilitates both Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley to orgasm in a car while they’re driving, the scene doesn’t actually show that much, but it’s well shot and titillates in the exact right manner (the truck driver veering off the road in response to this sight is the comedic punctuation). It's perhaps more a mark of the strange puritanical streak that comes out when people talk about Stewart (probably something to do with that damned "Twilight" again) that this made headlines at all.

“Old School”
Nudity is generally sensual or sexual or in some way about power balance, but also, or perhaps because of all that, comedians have learned it can be funny and disarming too. Think Will Ferrell’s Frank Ricard in Todd Phillips’ modern comedy classic, “Old School.” Planning to hit Bed, Bath & Beyond the following day, Franky is goaded by college students into doing one measly funnel of booze, and the next thing you know, the old party animal "Frank The Tank” awakens from his deep sleep like the Kraken. Inebriated beyond belief, Frank decides to go on a streaking party (of one) through the campus, running around in his birthday suit until he happens upon on his wife and her pals on a night out. Busted and shamed, Frank is thrown in the minivan like a child -- it may be the beginning of the end for their relationship, but the scene is funny as hell. More to the point, there’s actually a purpose. Frank’s marriage may eventually crumble, but letting his freak flag fly that evening gives the incarcerated-by-matrimony man a little taste of freedom, which eventually lets him discover who he really is, warts and all.

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  • James | April 15, 2014 12:01 PMReply

    Phoebe Cates nude is the only reason to see that movie. So don't waste the effort wondering about anything else and just fast forward to that scene and don't bother watching the rest!

  • David B | January 14, 2014 1:12 AMReply

    I have to second the comment on how could you have not even mentioned "The Shining", although it was Room 237. That scene owned it own generation of film-goers.

    And the shy Anne Hathaway in "Love and Other Drugs" is another inexplicable omission on your part.

  • | July 1, 2013 12:23 AMReply

    9 Songs (if you do a NC-17 list)

  • Alex | June 30, 2013 6:13 PMReply

    How has no one mentioned the naked dancing scene in The Master?

  • alan | June 30, 2013 4:18 PMReply

    Start working at home with Google! This is certainly the nicest-work I have ever done . Last Monday I got a new Alfa Romeo from bringing in $7778. I started this 9 months ago and practically straight away started making more than $83 per hour. I work through this link,

  • Butch | June 10, 2013 7:59 PMReply

    As long as there is no tobacco drug use in the film.

  • Erik | May 18, 2013 8:56 AMReply

    Corinne Bohrer in the obscure "Dead Solid Perfect" deserves a mention; beautiful woman, funny, sexy scene.

  • buddysouth | April 14, 2013 1:13 PMReply

    On what planet does The Dreamers, as depressing an example as any of Bertolucci's declined skills, deserve a cult following other than among people who like to look at people naked? It's a coming-of-age story fantasized by people who are depressed that they never had a coming-of-age story like that *because no one has ever had a coming-of-age story like that.* The Hangover is more realistic than The Dreamers, and better made.

    Oh, and if you meant Salo was awful in the sense that awful things happen in it and it is difficult to watch, I agree. If you meant awful in terms of quality, I can only assume you are the sort of person who thinks The Dreamers is a meaningful coming-of-age story.

  • Mr. Wu | April 14, 2013 8:16 PM

    I got in so much trouble here at our local art museum's recent classic Italian cinema film series when I had the nerve to describe to the head programmer and other assorted hangers-on that Bernardo Burtolucci is "a dirty old man."

  • Meredith | April 13, 2013 11:24 AMReply

    You mention Harvey Keitel but you don't mention The Piano?! Shame on you!

  • MDL | April 16, 2013 4:35 PM

    Speaking of Keitel he did three movies in the early 90's where he showed up naked and crying. The Piano and Bad Lieutenant and Ulysses' Gaze. It got to be both distracting and funny.

  • Jo | April 13, 2013 5:54 AMReply

    Love your 'people's puritanical streak towards Kristen Stewart' comment. So true. People make such a drama out of EVERYTHING she does. It's not just nude scenes. If she walks down the street you have comment sections evaluating it every aspect of it, a furore breaks out over how she walks, is she smiling, does her hair look pretty, why isn't she dressed like a movie star instead of jeans/tshirt. Yes, walking down the street creates a great debate these days!

  • jimbo | April 12, 2013 7:39 PMReply

    Needless spoiler about The Crying Game. Shame on you.

  • potion lords | April 12, 2013 5:31 PMReply

    Battle In Heaven

  • Breezy | April 12, 2013 3:35 PMReply

    How is Ewan McGregor, King of the Nude Scene, not on this list? "Trainspotting" should at least get an honorable mention.

  • sharon | April 12, 2013 2:15 PMReply

    Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut.

  • FUCK YOU FINNIGAN | April 12, 2013 2:08 PMReply

    Wow. Playlist editing nearly every comment now, eh?

    So what's the point of even having the fucking things?

    Why not just get rid of them altogether?

    Not like any actual conversation takes place in this dank shit-box anyhow.

  • dubier | April 12, 2013 1:53 PMReply

    Graham Chapman opening up the window to the huge crowd of worshipers in Life of Brian.

  • Toomb | April 12, 2013 12:33 PMReply

    Oops, sorry, no intention of triple posting... Please trim a few of those off! Dang iphone...

  • Toomb | April 12, 2013 12:30 PMReply

    The Shining. When Jack goes into room 213 and the naked woman is in there. I was a kid when I saw it, and it titilated at first, until I realized why the woman was naked... And then she changed to her present "state"... That scene has disturbed me for decades.

    As far as "hot" scenes go, you've GOT to mention Natalie Portman in Closer or the opening scene of Darjeeling Limkted... Since you already covered Eva Green, who is hands down the most beautiful woman on film right now.

    There, done objectifying

  • d | April 12, 2013 12:24 PMReply

    In which The Playlist becomes WhatCulture.

  • Liam | April 12, 2013 12:04 PMReply

    No French movies, WTF? They are the best at this, just watch Rust & Bone for a recent example.
    Also what about Tony Scott's The Hunger, Catherine Deneuve + Suzanne Sarandon wow!

  • caro | April 12, 2013 11:52 AMReply

    is it not a E.W article before?

  • Ptrshr | April 12, 2013 11:26 AMReply


  • Meredith | April 13, 2013 11:23 AM

    I was thinking this one!!

  • John K. | April 12, 2013 11:24 AMReply

    Hello. Just One of the Guys!

  • BEF | April 12, 2013 11:45 AM

    Here, here!

  • Pussy | April 12, 2013 11:14 AMReply

    The Playlist have officially turned into Deadline. They actually changed my comment saying how terrible this article is. You guys are desperate.

  • gert | April 12, 2013 11:09 AMReply

    I would have put Bronson on the list. Nude Tom Hardy.

  • frank | April 12, 2013 11:01 AMReply

    I rolled my eyes, but then started reading. Funny.

  • Vagina | April 12, 2013 10:58 AMReply

    What an incredibly article.

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