First we have some period dudes taking a soak in a variety of old-fashioned tubs. A frisky Laurence Olivier (and I'm afraid I've lost the name of the film and can't retrieve it at present!) only gets a certain amount of himself wet in this small tub. He's barely recognizable in that thick beard and with fluffy hair, though he was noted throughout his career for favoring putty noses and other things that would disguise his (once-quite beautiful) face.
Keith Michell is another British actor getting washed down, this time with a bucket o'water tossed over the modesty screen in 1958's The Gypsy and the Gentleman. Michell was in the running to play Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, and was even screen-tested, but wasn't selected in the end. Famous in the U.K. for his various portrayals of Henry VIII, he is perhaps best known in America for his nine fill-in appearances on Murder, She Wrote, for an exhausted Angela Lansbury.
George Sanders comes off as far more dignified, with a slim food and beverage tray resting across his linen-lined tub, in The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders in 1965. (Do note the leg hanging over the side, however!) Pushing sixty at the time, he waited an awfully long time to present a semi-clothed scene to the world! (An early film of his, The Man Who Could Work Miracles, had him portraying a shirtless celestial being, but that was practically it for three decades.)
Legendary actor Cary Grant was known for his sophistication. He'd occasionally film a beach scene in swimwear or perhaps a bathrobe or towel sequence, but this is a rare example of him (in a long-ish wig with ponytail!) roughing it in an old wooden tub. The film was 1940's The Howards of Virginia, a colonial-era drama that had his character hobnobbing with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (played by Richard Carlson!) and marrying Martha Scott.
Hearts Divided in 1936 had director Frank Borzage instructing Claude Rains as he played Napoleon Bonaparte, shown here taking a not-so-very-private bath! Considering the table across the tub with papers, one can assume it was a working soak? Rains was another actor for whom the term beefcake was seldom, if ever, used, but you know me... I try to include anyone famous or rare that I come across just in case he's someone's favorite!
Claude is getting a hand with his bath, so let's move on to some others who apparently couldn't make due without someone scrubbing his back (or other places) for him. In 1972's rustic adventure The Call of the Wild, Charlton Heston got a helping hand from French actress Michele Mercier.
This was two years after Dustin Hoffman had gotten a good scrubbing from an enthusiastic, but religious, Faye Dunaway in Little Big Man, the saga of a white boy captured and raised by Indians who then lives to be one hundred and twenty-one years old, experiencing many dramatic happenings along the way (and reuniting with a very changed Dunaway several years after this encounter.)
1965's The Cincinnati Kid brought a bathtub scene with Steve McQueen being seen to by an affectionate Tuesday Weld. The two had worked together two years beforehand in the comedy Soldier in the Rain, but this was a slightly more serious movie about the title poker player (McQueen) who attempts to take on a big time cardsharp played by Edward G. Robinson.
In 1961's Gold of the Seven Saints, Clint Walker, a strapping, handsome god come to life, finished off a dusty ride across the desert with a sudsy bath in a big barrel. (That's the only kind that could hold ol' 6' 6” Clint!) He was aided in this by busty Italian (playing Mexican) actress Leticia Roman while a jealous Roger Moore looked on from the sidelines. (Moore is supposed to be jealous of Walker getting the luxurious treatment from Roman, but the way the movie presents these two gentlemen, he'd be more likely jealous of her getting to soap Walker down!)
In a humorous, rare, publicity photo - but not in the actual movie - Moore hopped in the tub with Walker while a smiling Roman leaned in for a three-way pose. In one of my very first, rudimentary attempts at photo augmentation years ago, I removed Roman from the picture for what I considered to be a far more satisfying result, using it as desktop wallpaper for a while! I still feel the same way about it. Trust me, this picture plays much better with just the guys in it! Ha!
Speaking of westerns, grizzled Clint Eastwood had a hand from diminutive Billy Curtis in the self-directed High Plains Drifter (1973.) It was one of several instances in which Eastwood played a mysterious, mostly-silent character who comes into town and either clears up or causes trouble for the residents.
007 Sean Connery had plenty of assistance from some Japanese lovelies when he filmed 1967's You Only Live Twice. Utterly besieged by fans of the James Bond character and movie series while filming on location, he was reportedly photographed even by some of the thirty “private” security guards hired for him. One photo was even allegedly printed in the magazines there of him on the toilet! The ladies in this photo had to be convinced by producer Cubby Broccoli to appear in bikinis.
Telly Savalas and Omar Shariff (his back to the camera) managed to have even more intimate bathing companions in the 1965 all-star epic Genghis Kahn. They managed to squeeze a half-dozen or so naked back (and front!)-scrubbers into the sizeable tub with them.
Speaking of epics, Laurence Olivier (in a scene deleted from the original release, but thankfully later restored) made his preferences known to young slave Tony Curtis in 1960's Spartacus. He drew comparisons of humans to snails and oysters, letting Curtis know that he enjoyed both, quite a hot subject for 1960 (which explains why the scene was excised ) The Stanley Kubrick film, starring Kirk Douglas and a host of great stars, also won points in The Underworld for depicting the Roman baths with a hunky Julius Caesar played by John Gavin (click on his name in the column to the right for more on that!)
Though we can only see a couple of people's feet in this photo, Richard Burton also had servants attending to his bath time activities in 1963's Cleopatra. The movie is probably most famous, of course, for drawing together Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, resulting in one of the all-time celebrity scandals as each one left his or her spouse in order to live life together (for just over a decade or so as it were.)
One of the pleasures of sitting through the long, opulent, staggeringly impressive, yet ponderous, epic The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) is the dynamic, carefully detailed performance of Christopher Plummer as Commodus. The role of Commodus later won Joaquin Phoenix an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor in Gladiator (and he was excellent), but Plummer deserved at least as much for his turn, too.
At one point in the film, he's been sweatily clanking swords with his mentor/trainer Anthony Quayle and takes a break when his sister Sophia Loren comes in. He removes several pieces of gear and then dives into a luscious marble pool to cool off. (Had this been an authentic account of the times, he'd have been completely nude, but in 1964, forget it.) At least we get to see his cute body before and after the rinse. He's devilishly handsome and captivating in this flick if you ever get the chance to see it.
Back in contemporary times, John David Carson lived out many a young straight man's fantasy when he was given a bath by sultry Angie Dickinson in 1971's Pretty Maids All in a Row. The film, an uneasy blend of comedy and murder, directed by Roger Vadim and starring Rock Hudson, was mostly concerned with showing off a bevy of mini-skirt-wearing college coeds.
William Holden didn't exactly get help in his bath in the Civil War-era western Alvarez Kelly (1966), but he wasn't given much peace, either! Here, Patrick O'Neal and a Mexican friend look on as Holden soaps up. Later in the picture, costar Richard Widmark shoots one of Holden's fingers off, forcing him to wear a black glove on his hand thereafter.
A scroungy Robert Mitchum also tried to take a bath in peace in 1958's The Wonderful Country, but was confronted with Charles McGraw. In the film, he plays a mercenary who breaks his leg and is treated by doctor McGraw before managing to fall in love with an army major's wife (Julie London), leading to severe complications.
The Story of Dr. Wassell in 1944 concerned the title figure (Gary Cooper) helping to rescue wounded fellow navy men from a besieged area of The East Indies during WWII. At one point prior to his journey there (in a sequence that apparently called for a certain amount of publicity based on the photos that were taken), Cooper's bath is interrupted by his costar Dennis O'Keefe.
Audie Murphy also couldn't take a bath in peace in 1959's The Wild and the Innocent. Here, he bristles at the intrusion of tag-along gal Sandra Dee. In the story, he's a trapper who winds up with Dee when her family tries to trade her to him for some beaver pelts! Even though he refused their offer, she fled them and came along with him to a nearby town anway.
In 1950's The Black Rose, Saxon nobleman Tyrone Power winds up in the far flung country of China where he partakes in a luxurious bath. His pal Jack Hawkins looks on as an attendant prepares to dress him in a silk robe. Many folks found Power to be one of Hollywood's all-time most beautiful men, though I can't say he does anything for me. As someone who likes shorter hair on a man, I do appreciate the close-cropped sides he's sporting here, a rarity for him at this point in his career.
As you can see, bathtub scenes are a mainstay of the cinema and pop up in all sorts of places and with all sorts of people. 1963's Drums of Africa, a film which starred Frankie Avalon, Lloyd Bochner and Mariette Hartley. None of these folks took an on-screen bath. That fell to older character actor Torin Thatcher, of all people! He's overseen here by servant Hari Rhodes.
Since I mentioned Frankie Avalon, I'll go ahead and stick a shot of him in the tub right here. This isn't from a movie, but just a promotional photo used for fan magazines. It wasn't Avalon who recorded the song, “Splish, Splash (I Was Takin' a Bath),” but rather it was Bobby Darin, who co-wrote the ditty after being bet that he couldn't write a song that began with those lyrics.
If Drums of Africa viewers felt cheated that Avalon and Bochner didn't show any skin in lieu of Thatcher, imagine how audiences of 1962's The Spiral Road felt. Hunky star Rock Hudson played a doctor who travels to the steamy jungles of Java to treat leprosy. He keeps referring to taking a shower, but none of those are never shown. Instead we are given a scene of wonderfully talented, but bovine, Burl Ives taking a sudsy bath! He chomps on a cigar while scouring off his feet with a brush. Mr. Ives then parades around in a towel while Hudson is mostly buttoned up throughout the film. I know from witnessing life around me that this type of big, hairy, daddy bear does the trick for some people, so I'm including him here as well. Maybe Hudson felt he'd done the bathtub bit already as he'd figured into one of the screen more famous bubble bath sequences. In 1959's Pillow Talk, he luxuriated in his tub while chatting on the phone with Doris Day, a split-screen effect making it seem as though the two were closer together than they actually were in their separate New York apartments. 6' 5” Hudson was another of the big Hollywood men who would have had trouble in any but the most roomy porcelain vessels.
In 1972's Avanti!, Jack Lemmon showed off (under longtime collaborator Billy Wilder's direction) far more skin than he'd ever considered doing beforehand. Not only did he and costar Juliet Mills have a nude swimming scene (in which she stayed topless for a lengthy stretch), but he also did this bathtub scene in which he and Mills debate their freshly-formed relationship. At one point in the argument, he stands up to make a point and gives the world what it probably had not been asking for. Ha! Mills points out his nude state (which she'd already seen anyway!) and he then frantically covers up. In case anyone cares, Lemmon was not actually completely naked in this scene, but wore a modesty panel in front. By the way, I sure don't like the hue of this bathwater...
Perhaps King of the “Can't you see I'm busy here?” bathtub stars is French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo. He's shown here happily relaxing in a bevy of suds, that is until a director decides to come over and offer up advice on how to perform the scene in question. (I apologize, but I don't know which movie this is from.) Later in his career, he filmed another bathtub sequence (and, again, I'm afraid I can't identify the film. Anyone?) and in that one he was forcibly removed from the tub by a couple of armed men!
As shown in this publicity photo issued by Paramount, males taking a bath on-screen, while hardly brand new in the movies, became something of a novelty during the mid-'60s. The Production Code, which had been in strict effect since 1934, slowly started to erode and came apart completely in 1968, resulting in the new ratings system (G, R, etc...) Here, Robert Mitchum (in El Dorado), James Coburn (in Waterhole No. 3) and Charlton Heston (in Will Penny) are shown bathing in some rustic, rudimentary settings.
Bonanza (and later Trapper John, M.D.) actor Pernell Roberts only made a small handful of feature film appearances in his career. I can't figure out where this publicity shot of him bathing comes from! It's not Four Rode Out from 1971 because he was sporting a thick beard in that one and I find it hard to believe that it's from the 1976 family film Paco. The best bet is 1970's The Kashmiri Run, a little-known Spanish-made film about an ex-mountain climber trying to help a scientist get out of Tibet before the Chinese invade the country. I could almost guarantee that it's from that one.
Here's another shot of Heston crammed into his tiny Will Penny tub. When a bathtub is this teensy-eensy, it almost doesn't seem worth the trouble of shoehorning yourself in! I think I'd just stand next to it and wash down with a cloth. Of the more than 70 movies Heston made, many of them epics and blockbusters, this one was his personal favorite and the one of which he was most proud.
Paul Newman, who took a similarly cramped bath with Shirley MacLaine in What a Way to Go! in 1964, had far more room in this marble tub. The film is one of his lesser-known efforts, 1968's The Secret War of Harry Frigg. It's a comedy about a U.S. Army private who is promoted to 2-Star General in order to help coordinate the escape of five 1-Star Generals being held in WWII Italy.
George Peppard, with drink in hand, enjoyed similar comfort in this film (which, sadly, I cannot identify.) Peppard had his biggest success in films during the mid-'60s with Breakfast at Tiffanys and The Carpetbaggers among the hits. Later, he turned to TV, eventually achieving success with The A-Team. The often-prickly star made more than a few enemies along the way.
Booze and bubbles mix again in this shot of Sean Connery from 1972's Diamonds Are Forever. I do believe those are James Bond's signature martini fixings to the side, though I see no shaker in sight (since he always wants his martinis shaken, not stirred!) After this, Connery said he would never play Bond again. But be careful what you say because you never know... He did come back to play the character in a convoluted remake of Thunderball called, appropriately, Never Say Never Again in 1983. This film was made outside the “official” line of Bond films put out by Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman's Eon Productions.
Next, we have actor Michael Sarrazin, presumably from 1975's The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, though I can't be certain of that. It may be from Eye of the Cat. Sarrazin's movie career chiefly succeeded in the decade from 1967 to 1976 (highlights being 1969's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and For Pete's Sake, with Barbra Streisand in 1974), though he did have the 1982 howler The Seduction, with Morgan Fairchild and Andrew Stevens, still to come.
Body-builder turned actor turned governor Arnold Schwarzenegger posed amid the suds for this photo, ever-present cigar in hand. He appears to be popping the bubbles with the butt of his cigar. To each his own, said the lady who kissed the cow... We prefer our bathtubs smoke and ash free down here in The Underworld!
Another guy whose body was his calling for much (all?) of his career was Belgian marital artist turned actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. Here he cools off after some presumably hot adventure in one of his kick and chop action spectacles.
When it comes to spacious, luxurious contemporary bathtubs, it's difficult to top Al Pacino's virtual swimming pool tub in 1983's Scarface. Playing a Cuban gangster in this update of the 1932 film that had originally starred Paul Muni, Pacino also smoked a cigar (surely a Cuban one?) while bathing. The lengthy, violence-ridden film received mixed reviews when released (and was a moderate hit at the box office), but eventually became a cult hit and emerged as a critical favorite over time, too. One of Pacino's famous lines in the movie was, “Say hello to my little friend,” but he was talking about a grenade launcher and not Al Jr, who remains obscured in the soapsuds.
You might recall my not-so-long-ago post about the Brooke Shields' 1989 flopperoony Brenda Starr. When I was coming up with pictures for that post, I kept this one back, knowing that some time in the future I was going to be presenting a bathtub collection. Here, costar Tony Peck washes up after one of his and Brooke's adventures in the film. Ever mindful of shirtless scenes in the movies, I have also placed a shot of him that way in the inset.
Bathtubs remain a popular way to promote actors in and out of their movies. Let's face it, there's just something sexy about seeing a good-looking man in what is typically meant to be a private, unclothed moment. Here we have currently popular actor Bradley Cooper posing in a claw-foot tub.
Television has also been a fertile place for bathtub scenes at times. Little House on the Prairie's Michael Landon settled into this old wooden tub in one episode and was subsequently doused. It was a rather rare opportunity to see him without his shirt on the mostly chaste family program.
In my TV Guest Stars: Volume Two post, I ended with Miss Joan Crawford's featured guest role on The Virginian. No, I'm not about to unearth a bathtub scene with the sixty-five year-old actress... However, I do have a few snapshots from that same episode featuring regular cast member Tim Matheson.
Matheson was twenty-three at the time and had been acting since 1961 on television. (He also provided the voice of Jonny Quest on that classic animated show from 1964-1965.) On The Viginian, he was playing one of the ranch hands at a spread called Shiloh and in this instance he was getting a bath for the wedding of Joan to a friend of the ranchers. In a peculiar move (maybe not for small children who need scrubbing from an adult, but strange for a grown man), the tub is placed on top of the bunkhouse table.
He's in there washing away when The Virginian (played by James Drury, the man in the foreground of the top photo, on the right with some seriously bad hair) taunts him about taking so long to get ready. The other men chime in and before long, it turns into a splash-fest, with a bucket of water being dumped on Matheson as he flounders and flops around in protest, his snow white legs jutting up and out as he struggles.
As is sometimes the case here, Matheson (who would later go on to star in Animal House and other movies) isn't one of my own personal favorites, but I have a feeling that some of you might like him, so I include him here. Plus, the scene is enjoyable to me simply because I love the idea of cowboys washing and dressing together in the bunkhouse (is it getting warm in here?!)
Sometimes, there just isn't a tub available, wood or porcelain, so a body just has to take to a river or a pond. These scenes are usually quite fun, too. This first shot is from the 1960 John Huston film The Unforgiven. Burt Lancaster rinses clean after a long, dusty journey and good gracious what a farmer tan! It's probably quite authentic to the character as those old west men tended to stay covered up on the trail and baths were few and far between.
In the aforementioned post about TV Guest Stars: Volume Two, I also highlighted a hunky lesser-known actor named Robert Drivas. In the 1969 film The Illustrated Man, he took a naked dip in a lake, showing the world his cute rear end. (This was a nice antidote for having seen Rod Steiger's bloated, tattooed-up body throughout the bulk of the rest of the film!)
One of the most memorable instances of skinny-dipping (and I know it's not exactly the same as bathing, but guess who makes the rules down here in The Underworld!) is the three-man swim in Merchant-Ivory's A Room with a View. Rupert Graves, Simon Callow and Julian Sands take the opportunity to cool off, au naturel, running around, splashing and swimming until they are interrupted by a gaggle of lady relatives who happen by. You can bet that this scene was rewound many a time on folks' VCRs back in the day!
Finally, we come to the end of our body wash tour. In the 1969 western epic Mackenna's Gold, Grgeory Peck, Camilla Sparv, Omar Sharif and Julie Newmar are traveling through dusty, sweltering terrain and come to a stunning oasis. The staid Peck and his lady friend Sparv stay clothed at all times, even when getting in the water to wash off, but Sharif and Newmar (playing a Mexican and an Indian, respectively) doff all their clothes in order to come clean. Sharif is far left in this wide shot.
Sharif does some serious contorting and creative posing in order to avoid showing any frontal nudity. He eventually sits on a nearby rock and watches over the others, always cross-legged in such a way that the viewer cannot see anything. (In what has become an unintentional theme in this post, he has a cigar in his mouth for part of the time! Fetishists rejoice!)
I don't know if he was truly naked on the set or not, but I could swear in this shot of him treading water there's a glimpse of something happening beneath the surface. (Click to engorge, er, enlarge.) It could be anything from a loincloth to a reflection on the water, but it's still fun to look at. These photos have been collected over a period of time until there were enough to justify a post. I think I saved pretty many!! Still, I'm sure I've left some significant ones out. I wasn't necessarily trying to cover all the definitive moments, but actually strove to dig up some of the more osbcure ones when possible. Perhaps I can revisit the subject again sometime in the future, if I've missed your favorites.