Theatrical Release: March 1976
Blu Ray Release: November 5, 2011
Review by James Klein
It was in high school that I had discovered a series of books called “Cult Movies” by Danny Peary. The books (there were three) consisted of various genres of cult films that contained not only a plot synopsis but also had Peary’s take on the film with old interviews and other critic responses that were published at the time of release. These books introduced me to these obscure films and reading up on these gems made me want to seek out films like Deep End, Pretty Poison, Rock N Roll High School, Basket Case, Emmanuelle, Harold & Maude, and Once Upon a Time in the West. But it was The First Nudie Musical that peaked my interest. Sure, it had pictures of bare breasted women which of course will always catch my attention but it almost sounded like a fake movie, a joke. This couldn’t be real, could it? For years I have wanted to see this movie (I don’t want to use the word decade as it will make me feel old). It was impossible to find this on VHS and even later on DVD. The new blu ray that is out by co-star/writer/co-director Bruce Kimmel’s company Kritzerland is well worth the wait. The First Nudie Musical delivers what it promises.
Very simple set up: Harry is a young producer of porno films that hides this little fact from his retired producer father. Harry wants to do something else with his life and to also make his father proud. While in a meeting with various distributors and also his secretary (Cindy Williams) they all come up with an idea to make a musical nudie film. The catch is that he has two weeks to get it made and must use one of the distributor’s dim-witted and simple nephew (Bruce Kimmel) to direct the picture. Harry struggles to make this ambitious picture with a bunch of buffoonish actors and actresses while trying to help the director actually direct. In the spirit of the old Mickey Rooney or Our Gang films of “Let’s put on a show.” Harry goes to work to make his dream project come true.
First off, I am not a fan of musicals. If I like any, its always on the raunchier side such as South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut or the remake of Little Shop of Horrors. I do enjoy plays that are musicals but again, the raunchier the better. With songs like Orgasm, Perversion, and Dancing Dildos, I was cracking up constantly and was just shocked at how much this film from 1976 got away with. The music numbers are very funny and some are even a little catchy. But it isn’t just the musical numbers that stand out. The performances are great with Stephen Nathan as Harry has such a good screen presence. Williams (who made this film before Laverne & Shirley) is good as always and Kimmel cracked me up as John Smithee, the director. His speech when he first meets his cast absolutely killed me. I had to stop the blu ray and rewind it a few times as it literally made me burst out laughing every time. Some of the jokes do seem a bit dated or too childish but some cracked me up just because they are so stupid and silly. I couldn’t help but laugh when Harry tells an actress that a role requires being in the nude and she responds that it is ok as long as she doesn’t have to be naked. Yeah, its borderline Naked Gun style humor and can get very silly. Exactly the kind of comedies I like.
With a title like The First Nudie Musical, I figured there was no way this title was going to live up to its name. Much like how The Texas Chainsaw Massacre sounds like a gory film when it actually shows very little blood. Would The First Nudie Musical be the same? Nope. We get numerous ladies showing full frontal, dance about in Harry’s office at about 15 minutes into the picture. The First Nudie Musical has the four B’s: butt, boobs, boners, and bush. All are shown…a lot (I am sure some of you are wondering if we get a glimpse of Shirley’s goods and the answer is sadly no).
The blu ray picture does look a bit soft at times and there is some heavy grain but for a film whose negative has been lost, it looks just fine. Apparently the picture is miles ahead of its old 2002 transfer. The blu ray is also filled to the top with special features. There are two commentary tracks, an hour long retrospective of the film, deleted scenes, costume tests, trailers and even an old radio spot. I loved the documentary on the making of the film and hearing some of the stories about making the film such as Kimmel’s opinion on co-director Mark Haggard, (I love the story about Haggard falling asleep for hours on the set and then being woken up by director Nicholas Ray who was visiting the set at the time) Cindy Williams being shocked over the nudity and how Paramount reacted when Laverne & Shirley broke open that same year, and the casting of a porn star who couldn’t dance because she shot heroin into her toes. God, I love the 1970’s!
If you haven’t seen it, go and check out The First Nudie Musical and make sure you watch this amazing blu ray. Just don’t watch it with your parents.