Thursday, April 11, 2013

It's Raining Again... Grab Your Soap!

It started off as a one-shot deal, but has now emerged as a much-anticipated yearly tradition in The Underworld. When the rainy month of April comes around, we mark the occasion of “April Showers” with the very best of their kind, as demonstrated by our cover boy Buster Crabbe (from 1934's Search for Beauty!) I've taken to compiling photos in the off-season for use in April. So turn your knobs and adjust your nozzles because today it's raining men down here!

As most adroit film lovers are aware, movies weren't as buttoned up in the early 1930s as they soon became later. Thus, a flick like 1932's The Sport Parade (which starred William Gargan and the invitingly cute Joel McCrea) could not only feature a scene taking place in the communal shower of a locker room...
...but could even get by with showing off some naked butt cheeks in the background!
Such a thing would be outlawed in just under a couple of years. It's amazing to think of what 1940s and '50s films would have been like had there not been stiff self-censure the way there was. (Though it can be argued that the creative way in which filmmakers had to suggest “off-color” topics actually wound up making the films high in quality and in some cases unforgettable.)

Another “Pre-Code” film from 1932, No Man of Her Own, had Clark Gable being caught showering by Carole Lombard. This film, their only one costarring together, was made before their real-life romance and marriage.
After the Production Code went into effect, there would tend to be less visible skin in scenes depicting showering. Of course, beefcake didn't completely vanish from the screen. In 1940, My Favorite Wife had Cary Grant being reunited with wife Irene Dunne after a seven-year separation following a shipwreck. Her island-mate all that time was humpy Randolph Scott, who is captured here behind the scenes showering down before a swimming pool scene.
Actors might occasionally be caught by a photographer's lens while in the shower, for pictures which may or may not have been meant for viewing by the public at large. For example, this shot of 1940s star Dana Andrews was not going to be turning up – uncropped anyway! - in the pages of Photoplay magazine.
Neither was the complete version of this pic of a young, lean Rock Hudson likely to turn up in print during the era in which it was taken.
More often one would see posed, coy, safe, “spontaneous” shots like this one of Charlton Heston, providing just enough skin and scenario to be moderately arousing.
More robust are these next two shots of 1950s star Burt Lancaster.
Taken on two different occasions and stages of his career, this second one shows what would have been quite a bit of skin in the days when men strove to cover their belly buttons with pants, swim trunks and so on...
Speaking of trunks, look at 1950s cutie pie Dewey Martin hosing off his feet after a swim at the beach.
Often, a cinema shower might be handled comedically, with some clothes on, as in this shot from 1953's Marry Me Again with Bob Cummings. (If you look closely, you can see that NOTHING was left to chance as Bob is wearing either white briefs or a jockstrap underneath his wet boxer shorts.)
Bearing the chaste cinematic atmosphere of the '50s in mind, you can see the “daring” implications of a scene like this one from 1957's Jeanne Eagels in which Jeff Chandler and Kim Novak (not married) are showering side by side at the carnival where they work. The audience can't see much of anything, but Chandler is tall enough to be able to see much of Miss Novak's upper half!
Any movie involving the military or sports had the potential to offer up a shower scene, too. Here, we see Tony Curtis as The Outsider (1961) Ira Hayes, an American Indian who suffers the scrutiny of fellow soldiers during WWII and goes on to help raise the flag on Iwo Jima before being adversely affected by the fame that came from said event.
Turning again to those clean-cut poses (which were around even back in Errol Flynn's time or before), we see Tab Hunter happily emerging from the shower.
There was an infamous photo taken of Sal Mineo that I showed (most of) in a prior post; infamous because he was still a teen and yet the shot was full frontal prior to cropping. Although we seem more permissive now, the truth is that most young men were far more casual about nudity within the confines of an appropriate arena such as a gym or health spa, and often weren't bothered about anyone “seeing.” Take this shot of teen idol Pat Boone snapped by a Life Magazine photographer during a piece on him and his fitness regimen!
The photo session in question featured pics that damn near showed everything! (You can search the Life Magazine Photo Archive for an even more revealing version of this picture.) This was, of course, before Boone became the highly conservative Christian he is known as today.
For the movies, he also took the occasional shower, one memorable one being in 1959's fantasy film Journey to the Center of the Earth, in which his character washes off in a an underground spring.
This is one of my favorite Boone movies because as the story wears on, he keeps removing pieces of his 19th century clothing until he winds up in nothing but some skimpy, tattered makeshift shorts! (He loses even those by the very end of the journey!)
We are all, by now, familiar with the famous shower scene in Psycho (1960), in which a woman is attacked by a knife-wielding, well, psycho! But this was turned around for 1965's I Saw What You Did, in which a man (John Ireland) is taking a shower and yanks his wife into the stall for a quick murder! The actual full-length shot depicted here is only for publicity and doesn't appear in the film, but it was too interesting to leave out.
As the '60s drew to a close and the old code crumbled, a new permissiveness crept onto movie screens. In 1967's Reflections in a Golden Eye, for example, fit and trim soldiers could be glimpsed from behind while showering in the background of a scene taking place in a barracks.
(Not that this was the only instance of such in the 1960s, but it took place thirty-five years after the aforementioned The Sport Parade!)
By 1969, a movie's very poster could show a man and a woman showering together (in this case, Jacqueline Bisset and Christopher Stone in The Grasshopper. (The link at left takes you to one of my favorite blogs and, specifically, to a great recap of this movie, complete with pictures.)
Even better is one of the lobby cards from the film, which has Stone situated to the right of the shower spray enough to afford a better glimpse of his delirious bubble butt!
I wonder how many of you recognize the gent in this still photo...... The movie was from 1971, called Daughters of Darkness. He would later go on to a decidedly less sexy supporting part on a long-running TV series.
That man in the shower above is John Karlen, who played Tyne Daly's husband Harvey on Cagney & Lacey from 1982 – 1988.

Fortunately, some older and less in-shape stars, such as John Wayne in 1971's Big Jake, kept themselves a bit more covered up when they enjoyed an on-screen shower.
In the 1972 movie Portnoy's Complaint, Richard Benjamin was joined by Karen Black in the shower.
This shot is from 1972's Sweet Kill (filmed almost two years before that and then augmented a year later and re-released as The Arousers), which starred Tab Hunter as an impotent gym teacher who kills the women he tries to bed!
Unconventionally handsome actor Don Stroud, star of various action movies and countless TV appearances (shown with his 1975 Murph the Surf costar Robert Conrad in the photo on the left), posed for Playgirl in 1973, with the shower being one of the chosen locales.
Say hello to youngish Joe Don Baker (who did not maintain this trim waistline for too long after this!) as he takes a prison shower in the 1975 movie Framed.
That same year saw the very hirsute James Caan take a shower in The Killer Elite. We watch him strip down....
...turn on the water....
...and then see that he's been watched by Robert Duvall, a cohort of his who turns nasty.
It's rather clear that Caan was not actually nude in the scene, but nevertheless for fans of hairy guys, this is one to catch if you movie ever comes your way. (It can't compare to Rollerball, however, which was covered in a previous post.)
One of the cinema's most unforgettable showers (one that I'm surprised I never covered in previous April Showers posts!) is contained within 1978's Midnight Express. Delectable Brad Davis is placed for a long, long sentence in a horrifying Turkish prison for attempted drug smuggling.
In time, the heterosexual young man (based on a real person's story) is tempted by a caring and sensitive fellow inmate as they shower together. The movie has Davis ending the white-hot kiss before proceeding further, though in real life the man did engage in a sexual relationship with his prison mate.
In 1982, Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn got up close and personal in the shower in Best Friends.
Here we see Who's the Boss' Tony Danza in an episode in which his character Tony Micelli filmed a commercial for a product called “Machismo.” Danza played the part from 1984 to 1992.
Then in 1986, Matthew Broderick gave himself a funny hairstyle and sang, using the detachable shower head, in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
1987's Campus Man had John Dye recruiting various college athletes (including the stunning, blonde Steve Lyon) for a beefcake calendar. Lyon got his pitch while about to shower off after a swim.
I don't know which project featured this shower with Steven Weber (once of Wings from 1990 - 1997, but recently appearing on the new version of Dallas.)
A 1994 Diet Coke commercial sent Lucky Vanous into the “15 Minutes of Fame” spin cycle. Here, we see Lucky showering off prior to his subsequent celebrity cooling down period.
Singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz is caught washing up in this photo.
Remington Steele (1982 - 1987) star and turn-of-the-millennium James Bond Pierce Brosnan is shown here in the shower.
Back to prison once more with 1994's Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, in which Leslie Nielsen finds himself in the clink where he catches the eye of a hulking, hairy fellow prisoner.
The would-be Romeo (played by former boxer Randall “Tex” Cobb) crosses the shower room (past Fred Ward, who is also soaping up) and deliberately drops his soap, so that Nielsen will have to bend over and pick it up...
...but Nielsen has a bit of a surprise in store for Cobb.
Also in a comic vein is Tommy Chong in Half Baked (1997) along with a cheeky fellow inmate.
1997's The Shawshank Redemption joined the long line of prison movies to feature a shower scene. And, as is par for the course, there's dialogue involving attempted seduction.
I kinda like the salt 'n pepper daddy that takes Tim Robbins' place after he departs the row of nozzles (and his disgruntled, rebuffed admirer.)
Probably no TV show EVER made more use out of its shower set than HBO's first one-hour drama series, Oz (1997-2003.) Christopher Meloni (seen here next to Lee Tergesen) gleaned a lot of attention from his eye-opening shower (and other!) scenes on the series.
American Psycho (2000) featured Christian Bale (who's been known to go a little psycho himself!) taking a shower in deluxe accommodations.
On a lighter note, Jimmy Kimmel (star of Jimmy Kimmel Live!) approaches Lost star Matthew Fox in a comedic sketch.
Perfectly beautiful David Chokachi was caught in the shower and held at gunpoint by a female in the series Witchblade (2001), with only a plastic bowl to shield himself!
Current actor Tom Hardy seems to be naked in virtually every role he accepts! Here, we see him emerging from the shower.
In the 2005 remake The Longest Yard, professional wrestler-turned-actor Bill Goldberg is shown being approached about joining the prison football team while showering.
In 2007's Smiley Face, John Krasinski is depicted taking a shower.
2009's Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach, features a memorable shower as aspiring tennis player Brando Eaton is shown rinsing off.
His private moment is interrupted by his manic, half-crazed coach Seann William Scott.
Scott then proceeds to exhibit a mammoth thatch of pubic hair, something that plays to this generation's fear and loathing of skin that isn't smooth.
As we turn the water off on this splashy subject, I leave you with two more things. One... Do you know who the man is in this picture?
Diehard fans of his might be able to guess immediately, but I am not one, so I doubt I'd have ever realized it was him unless I'd been steered to it. The subject in question is none other than “Born in the U.S.A.” rock 'n roller, Bruce Springsteen! This is undoubtedly from the early days of his career.

And, finally, we return to the gym once more, this time to celebrate the fact that today, even television (most often cable, but sometimes network) is free enough to put partial nudity on display every so often. I give you the considerable assets of Mario Lopez (shown with Julian McMahon) in a 2006 episode of Nip/Tuck. The eye-popping, homoerotic scene would probably have given my grandmother a heart attack were she still with us, but I love the fact that we no longer have to be so chaste when it comes to depicting scenes like this!

Till next time, my friends, this is Poseidon, off now to swim through more classic TV, movies and other pop culture!

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