NEW TO VOD! The First Nudie Musical is a 1976 satirical comedy with a history of reentering the film world. After its initial release in March 1976, the film was met with mixed reviews from critics. While some called the zany comedy “gleefully naughty,” others panned it for its forgettable music and bad editing. With such polarizing reception, it’s hard to imagine how directors Mark Haggard and Bruce Kimmel’s (who wrote the screenplay and co-stars) film would eventually become a cult classic. But in June 2002, the film was released on DVD — bringing on more fans than before. Now, the American musical comedy is set to make another return on February 25, 2022, ready to usher in new fans as it did 20 years ago.
Harry Schechter (Stephen Nathan) is the heir to a Hollywood studio on the brink of bankruptcy. As a result, what was once a place of creative and fresh filmmaking has become forced to make provocative movies. Harry desperately races against time to stop the once-beloved studio from being taken away from him. But to do so, he must push the boundaries of modesty and decorum to make history. To that end, Harry decides to produce the world’s first nudie musical.
After watching Haggard and Kimmel’s pseudo parody of the porn industry, it’s not at all shocking to see how this feature worked for some but not others. It doesn’t hold back on nudity and foul language at all. But the mixed sentiments are noteworthy. For one, the script spends too much time on the set of the musical. The urgency of Harry’s desperation to save his studio gets lost as a result. More behind-the-scenes on the production mishaps would have strengthened the narrative of The First Nudie Musical.
“…Harry decides to produce the world’s first nudie musical.”
Additionally, three things must be true to make a successful musical. The songs must be catchy, the choreography should be on point, and both should progress the nature of the plot. The cast and crew do their best to make these statements true for the musical within the movie. But the line is blurred when discerning between the actual story and the nudie musical. As a result, it seems like the filmmakers truly wanted to put on a porno musical but settled for a tale about the bankruptcy of a film studio instead.
That could have worked had it not been for glaring editing issues that stuck out like sore thumbs. Modifications should’ve been made to make more cohesive transition periods from the musical set to the central story. But this hilarious take on porn satire works despite these obvious problems. It’s cringy and odd, to say the least, yet, the imaginative and provocative script is engagingly fun.
Kimmel is mostly to thank for that as his presence is felt throughout. Kimmel plays first-time feature director John Smithee and delivers the performance of a lifetime. The execution of the musical numbers is equally outlandish to his on-screen presence, but it’s a welcomed asset to this whimsical spoof. Filled with quick quips and erotic humor, The First Nudie Musical works for all the reasons it shouldn’t.
When it’s all said and done, The First Nudie Musical is full of quick snapshots of sexual gimmicks. Yet this vibrant, sometimes juvenile, take on film productions and the porn industry is a joy. Teetering on the lines of objectionable vulgarity, the cast and crew found a way to reel in viewers long after its original release date. Through a hilarious script and a charming cast, the film is sure to find a new generation of fans who don’t mind a little offensive content now and then.
"…a hilarious script and a charming cast..."