Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's Raining Men!

In most U.S. (and many other) cities, “April Showers Bring May Flowers.” In Poseidon's Underworld, April Showers are of an entirely different type. They most often involve a trusty shower head, a generous helping of soap and, naturally, a handsome man!

Being the god of water that I am, I've always had an interest in bathing scenes. I can't trace it all the way back to wherever it took root, but I do know I used to love going swimming at the YMCA and having to get to the pool through the shower stalls. So what if I had to keep coming back and forth frequently to use the bathroom?! (Alas, I was born too late to enjoy the Y before they began admitting girls, back in the days when swimsuits were either optional or, in a lot of cases, disallowed! Those were the days...)

Of course, beefcake photographers frequently enjoyed shooting their favorite body builders, like this chiseled chap, in the shower. These guys, for mainstream publications anyway, had to contort themselves like crazy to avoid full-on nudity. But all that twisting probably helped them to keep their wasp waists!

As a kid, I also took early note that whenever a movie featured a shower scene, this meant I was going to get a flash of beefcake, something that wasn't in overabundant supply the way it is now with the Internet. I started to pay attention to prison and sport movies for this reason. Our pay cable movie channel frequently ran a film called Montenegro that contained a scene of a gypsy man showering as star Susan Anspach looked on. It was probably one of the first male frontal nude scenes I ever glimpsed.

Long before that, movies contained shower scenes of a far more chaste and “clean” nature. This post isn't going to delve into the very earliest instances, but certainly 1932's The Sport Parade with Joel McCrea had some young gents soaping up in between bouts.

State Fair, the innocuous 1945 musical had Dick Haymes singing “Isn't it Kind of Fun?” as he showered and dressed, but the scene was cut before release, only appearing later in lost footage specials. Later, Bye Bye Birdie had teens frolicking in the shower during “The Telephone Hour,” albeit with the boys in swim trunks. These were just cute, asexual, hygienic sequences of young people having fun without any intention of titillation.

Equally non-titillating to most people, but certainly eye-opening to me was the shower scene in 1955's East of Eden. I never found Albert Dekker attractive (but some people did... He was accidentally - we think - killed during some fetishistic sex involving auto-asphyxiation and domination!) Nevertheless, I was surprised at the amount of flesh (for that time) that he put on display in this James Dean movie. Most of the time back then, any time a person was ostensibly naked in the shower, you were lucky to see more than shoulders or perhaps a little torso. Though he is likely wearing a g-string or something similar, he exposes quite a bit of hip!

Adding to the fascination of the scene (in a film that is truly fascinating anyway thanks to the dynamic performance of James Dean, as well as several others, and his real life clash with Raymond Massey, the man portraying his father) is the palpable homoerotica present in it. Dean converses with Dekker, watching him shower all along, then continues to chat with him – sneaking a peek at his backside – then practically adheres himself to him, prompting Dekker to say, “Don't stand so close to me. I don't want to get all hot again.” (!!) Dekker, for no real reason, lights a cigarette while he's toweling off and dressing, which Dean grabs and takes a drag off of. Then Dean pops up onto the lockers, his not inconsiderable behind in the air, and gets right in Dekker's face. I can't say that I know why, but I feel that the sexual connotation is intentional on the director's part and made even more intriguing by the actors' real life penchants for kinky, offbeat sexual exploits.

Studios used to take publicity photographs of their stars either in the shower or drying off, knowing that fans would be captivated, though they were usually quite chaste. Take Dane Clark, haplessly peeking out from behind a shower curtain. Still, when the subject was someone as white hot as Guy Madison, the sexual attraction perforated the veil of innocence and surely sent his fans, male and female, into a tizzy!

This trend continued even into the 1960s when someone snapped James Garner fresh from the shower, showing off quite a hairy chest. (Was he always this hairy or did the studio force him to shave it off in his early career?) I keep picturing him in trunks with a smooth, tan torso for some reason.

Elvis Presley took a shower with a fellow soldier in G. I. Blues and, unfortunately, covered up the better part of his physique. Better he'd have switched camera set-ups with Dekker and shown a little midsection to his panting audience!

Of course, THE most famous shower of all was the one at The Bates Motel in 1960's Psycho where poor Janet Leigh met her fate. (As Blanche Devereaux said, "It's the reason why I prefer not to shower alone!") Costar Anthony Perkins is shown here in another instance, post-shower, toweling off in a pair of blue jeans. The very same year as Psycho, he had a far different type of film role in Tall Story, about a basketball player pressured to throw a game while being pursued by an eager cheerleader. It also had a shower element going on as and he and Jane Fonda (in her very first movie part) got cozy in a mobile home shower. This was also Van Williams' film debut and he shows up in the film as a fellow jock who comes out of the gym showers just in time to greet Tony and Jane, who has mindlessly wandered in there while he's (implied) naked. For years I thought the lobby card shown here was from that scene, but having finally gotten to watch the movie, it turns out that this is from a deleted scene near the very end and that the bare back belongs to another actor, Tom Laughlin. What a shame that this sequence was cut!

Splendor in the Grass focused on the doomed romance of a pair of youngsters (played by Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty), but also featured several of Beatty's basketball teammates. In this shot, the boys (including Gary Lockwood second from the left) are soaping up after some athletic activity. I will make my confession now that this promotional photo originally showed each of the young men's swim trunks, but I thought the picture “played” better with them cropped out! I get to make the rules here (but at least I'm honest about it when I cheat!)

I don't even know which movie this next shot comes from. I just thought it would make a nice entry. James Farentino hosing down as one of his pals looks on fretfully. If anyone knows the source of the shot, I'll gladly update it later. It looks like a college-set story to me. (Note: Thanks to visitor Ken Anderson, we now know that this is from The Pad and How to Use It from 1966 and that the guy in the foreground is the star of that film, Brian Bedford. Thanks, Ken!)

Also, in the sports realm, when James Caan filmed Rollerball in 1975, a shower scene was included with the players of that brutal, futuristic game, giving viewers a chance to see Mr. C's fur being washed up as well as glimpses of some of his teammates.

There are several nude snapshots of various famous sportsmen in the shower floating around out there. This less-revealing picture is of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. I've seen more skin-baring types of photos of Joe Di Maggio and others.

Occasionally, (adult-themed) women's magazines would feature a naked celebrity, sometimes in or around the shower. Check out future Mr. Jaclyn Smith Dennis Cole as he hoses off as part of a semi-nude photo shoot. Keen eyes can spot part of Dennis Jr. in the photo.

In 1979, the Richard Gere-Vanessa Redgrave WWII romance Yanks kicked off with a fun group shower scene in which Redgrave's Red Cross vehicle goes driving by an army base outdoor shower. She and her female companion are bemused to see a plethora of American men, stark naked under the icy water.

Incidentally, the top-billed stars are not a couple here. Redgrave winds up with William Devane and Gere dates Lisa Eichhorn. Though Gere did some nude scenes in his career (with American Gigilo and Breathless coming to mind), he let his fellow soldiers take care of most of the exposure this time out. When it comes to group showering, though, one of the most-discussed came in 1997 when Starship Troopers had its camera-ready cast of lean, built youths, male and female, taking part in co-ed group showering as an everyday part of military life in the future. Dutch director Paul Verhoeven was often one for depicting skin in his movies and here he had a chance to show off the sculpted charms of one Casper Van Dien, a guy with an eye-popping body. That's him with his back to the camera. (You really didn't think I was going to include the women in my screenshot, did you??)

For any pups that may have wound up here accidentally (or for those of you who like 'em younger and smoother), I give you today's excuse for a heartthrob, the cute and very in shape Zac Efron, in a shot from a sequence that was deleted from High School Musical 3. These snaps have since found their way to the cyber-world.

April isn't just known for showers, it's known for April Fools, too! So, to address that aspect of the month, here are a couple of funny guys under the spout. (I may not find every man in this post appealing, myself, but I never underestimate the variety in peoples' tastes. Thus, I include these gents to the delight or horror of my visitors, whichever applies!)

Alan Alda of M*A*S*H could sometimes be found, as shown here, in the medical base's makeshift bathhouse.

Bill Murray had to contend with the same shower morning after morning in the movie Groundhog Day.

One comedic shower scene appeared in the film Dave, about Kevin Kline impersonating the President of the United States and being caught by First Lady Sigourney Weaver while in the shower. I'm not as high on Kline as I once was (nor, it seems, is much of the planet! Where is he?), but I thought he came off as sort of sexy in this scene, despite the aspects of potential humiliation it contained.

My own favorite funny shower scene is in the Mel Brooks flick Silent Movie. Brooks, Marty Feldman and Dom DeLuise are trying to convince hirsute leading man Burt Reynolds to star in their next epic by any means possible. Part of their plan includes slithering into his large shower stall and helping him get clean, with hands everywhere! To me, it's one of the chief highlights of an uneven film.

Television offered up its fair share of shower sequences as well. Perhaps the most famous one was when Dallas' Patrick Duffy, whose character had been previously shown as being dead, suddenly returned one morning in Victoria Principal's bathroom with a clean-scrubbed “Good morning.” Footage for that scene was actually filmed as a fake soap commercial so that no one would know that Duffy was coming back until the night the cliff-hanging episode aired. Real soap and shampoo commercials have often been a good source for man-watching (“Zest-fully clean,” anyone?) Take this example. Do you recognize the hunk scrubbing himself down in this ad to the right? This was a young, pre-mustache Tom Selleck, in his very first on-camera acting gig! Hubba hubba!

When MTV first began airing, and was strictly a music video channel, it seemed like the same fourteen videos played over and over, but we watched them. Duran Duran was among the artists who capitalized on this new form of song promotion and their videos were sometimes provocative. Still, there was never any nudity to speak of in music videos. Then, one day, the world premiere of Billy Joel's song “Allentown” came on and, unbelievably to me at the time, there was a flash of male backside that no one seemed to care about! The hero of the piece is shown showering with some other guys after a long day at the factory and as he exits the shower, there is a shot of his pal's grime-covered ass. Then the hero wraps a skinny, bulge-inducing towel around himself. These things alone made "Allentown" a number one hit in my household!

More recently, the vivid HBO series Oz was known to feature a very busy shower room, the scene of many fights as well as sexual encounters. One of the primary people featured in these sequences was Christopher Meloni, who seemingly had no issues in the slightest with letting it all hang out.

There was/is no way to properly cover all the bases of this theme in just one post. I'll have to try to stockpile some more instances/examples for next year. This is just an overview (and, let's face it, merely an excuse to put some good-looking men on display!) It was also reliant upon what visuals were available to me at this time. I'll leave you with young Sal Mineo, one of the people featured in my recent post about Krakatoa, East of Java. This photo caused a bit of a commotion in its day due to his age at the time! What are your own favorite shower scenes?


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