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The First Nudie Musical (DVD)


The First Nudie Musical (DVD)

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To a generation of cineastes, The First Nudie Musical will always be known for its appearance in critic Danny Peary's first Cult Movies book, where the pictures of half-clad women in tuxedo jackets and the description of show-stopping numbers like "Dancing Dildos" had many scrambling to track it down. The long-unavailable movie is finally appearing on DVD in a "26th Anniversary Special Edition," and in some ways, the film hasn't aged well while out of circulation. First-time filmmaker Bruce Kimmel (who serves as writer, composer, and co-director) can't quite tell the difference between parodying and perpetuating the show-biz stereotypes and lumbering pace of early movie musicals. But the qualities that made The First Nudie Musical a surprise hit in 1976—catchy songs, sweet-natured leads, and a refreshingly non-licentious candor about sex—still appeal, and provide a significant antecedent to the goofy raunch of the Farrelly brothers or Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Stephen Nathan (now a successful TV writer/producer) stars as the head of a once-great Hollywood studio, now reduced to cranking out pornography. When even skin-flicks won't sell, he comes up with the last-ditch idea of spicing up the copulation with some old-school song-and-dance. But his investors handicap him by forcing him to use a know-nothing first-time director (played by Kimmel) and to complete the project in two weeks. Nathan and Kimmel have a charming rapport, but the film's most valuable player is a pre-Laverne & Shirley Cindy Williams, playing Nathan's fresh-faced, practical secretary. The way she pounds the table while declaring "That was the worst orgasm I have ever seen!" and the way she prods her daydreaming director with a perfectly enunciated "Your stunt cock is here!" lend The First Nudie Musical just the right note of knowing absurdity. Equally self-aware are the DVD extras, which include a couple of deleted scenes and an hour-long retrospective documentary, all with commentary tracks, plus two commentary tracks on the film itself: After 26 years, everybody seems ready to talk about this movie. The behind-the-scenes material reveals how Paramount attempted to bury the film after Laverne & Shirley became an overnight "family hour" sensation, and how critical acclaim for The First Nudie Musical helped make it a brief, modest word-of-mouth success. A quarter-century later, out of storage and nuder than ever, the movie's clunkiness still grates, but only smiles can greet deadpan songs like "Let Them Eat Cake (But Let Me Eat You).