A sub-genre of the exploitation movie was the pseudo-documentary, providing a "non-judgmental" view of some exotic locale or practice. Bali was a hot topic since it had beautiful women who generally went topless, and "real life documentaries" filmed there in the early 1930s held a tittilating grip on the American movie-going audience. See Virgins of Bali, for an example.
Also popular were "real looks" at the worldwide nudist movement, which brings us to this week's feature, This Nude World from 1933:
Considered one the first "nudist documentaries", unfolding with a straightforward narration in a voice that's a clone of the famous Lowell Thomas, this movie promises a peek into the world of "naturists" in their natural habitat.
Surprisingly, it actually delivers, with sequences shot at a nudist camp in the Catskills, one outside of Paris in France, and finally one in Germany which exists in Berlin itself as well as in the forests outside the city. Since it is in B&W and doesn't feature full frontal nudity, since it's mostly long and medium shots, (and since you can't avoid thinking about seeing your grandmother naked), it's not very tittilating. Lots of full "backal" nudity, though, and an interesting look at the nudists of the very early 30s.
I am assuming that the German portion of the movie was filmed prior to the Nazis coming to power, for reasons that will become obvious as you view that section.
The money shot: A spliced-in shot of a naked girl walking up a short steep hill and then turning to walk back down again. The only full frontal in the movie, and it's obviously taken from some other film, since it doesn't really fit in here. Even the film stock is different.
Lessons learned: "Nudism is a healthy lifestyle, but it may not be for you." This is explicitly stated at the end of the movie.
Directed by: Mitch Minden, who also directed Hitler's Reign of Terror, called the "first ever American anti-Nazi film". This film itself has an interesting history. It was shot by Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. (yes, of those Vanderbilts) on a trip to Germany, and then put together by Minden. It was believed lost for 70 years until a copy showed up recently in Belgium. As far as I can tell, it's not available over the Internet, but you can see a short "news mcnugget" on it here. It is not known how Vanderbilt decided to hire Minden as director.
Taglines: "Authentic Trip Through an American Nudist Colony!" and "Guaranteed the Most Educational Film Ever Produced!"
Also known as Back to Nature, The Nudist World, This Naked Age, This Naked World
Oddly enough, this film has no entry on the IMDB.
- This Nude World on Rotten Tomatoes.
- B Movies: The Exploitation Boom on Wikipedia
- Nudity in Film on Wikipedia
- A Collection of 22 Exploitation Movie Trailers on YouTube.
- "Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!": A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959 by Eric Schaefer, the OPOvet Book of the Month for May 2015.