|Aug 31 2009
Who's gonna ride your wild horses?
Erotic fiction has always been a major subset of pulp literature, and for a while sex was likewise part of American cinema. Bo Derek personifies sexual nudity on film as much as any actress we can remember. She was originally presented to the world by her Svengali husband John Derek, who had also helped his second and third wives, Ursula Andress and Linda Evans, become stars. The difference was they could act. Bo couldn’t.
But Bolero isn’t godawful because Bo acted in it—it’s godawful because John Derek wrote it. Yet for all its flaws, Bolero is a landmark because it’s one of the last full-blown, joyful, erotic American films. From this point forward, nudity in American cinema seemed to consist of either breast-flashing slapstick, or result in severely negative consequences. Cinema sex as an expression of simple joy still existed, but actual nudity was becoming more and more political. Was it AIDS that did this? Was it simply an overdue cultural shift? We can’t say.
Fast forward to 2009 and we have American directors shooting clothed sex scenes, then explaining—as if every other director in town hadn't also shot a clothed sex scene—that not showing skin is much sexier than having actors parading around naked. We disagree, and the stills below prove our point, but we understand that times change. Bolero makes clear just how much. It was one of the worst films of that or any year, but it made sex a celebration. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1984.
BoleroJohn DerekBo DerekUrsula AndressLinda Evanssexploitationsex symbolnudityposter artcinemamovie review