Posted by: Brad Nixon | April 30, 2018

Naked Came I

In a recent blog post, I echoed the title of the 1933 film starring Claudette Colbert, “I Cover the Waterfront.” It’s an evocative line, and suggests another classic film, “On the Waterfront,” starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden and a young Eva Marie Saint. Faithful reader and blogger My Eclectic Cafe invoked another classic by commenting with the closing narration from episodes of the 1958-59 television series, “Naked City:” “There are eight million stories in the naked city ….”

The word “naked” is a good one. We got it in English long ago via our Germanic language origins, and it shows up in Beowulf. The dragon who ultimately proves Beowulf’s bane is described as the nacod niðdraca — “the slippery, malicious dragon” (Seamus Heaney translated it as “slick skinned”).

One of the best qualities of that word, naked, is that it’s freighted with connotations. We’re all naked under our clothes, but many of us —depending on the culture we grew up in —  don’t always like to call attention to that fact. Being naked is often a taboo, lending the word a good deal of influence. Using it can intensify meaning or make the ordinary dramatic. “Truth” is more compelling when it’s “naked truth.” A city is more worth making a TV series about if it’s a naked city (the television show took its title from a classic 1948 film noir, “The Naked City”).

Without much effort, you’ll think of any number of films with “naked” in the title, as I did, once I started: The Naked Gun, The Naked Detective, Naked Came the Stranger. Search online, and you’ll turn up dozens of naked movies. The challenge would actually be to find a word that’s NOT been paired with naked in a film title; Naked Souls, Naked Killer, Naked Edge — I won’t go on.

In literature, both fiction and nonfiction, naked examples come to mind with the barest of effort: The Naked and the Dead, Naked Lunch, The Naked Ape. Songs? What about Randy Newman’s “The Naked Man?” The irrepressible British chef, Jamie Oliver, appropriated the word and launched his media career with his attention-getting BBC television show, “The Naked Chef.”

It occurs to me that there’s a fortune waiting for some writer willing to create “Naked” parodies of classic literature, along the lines of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Just imagine: The Sun Also Rises Naked, Naked Intruder in the Dust, O! Naked Pioneers. There could be an entire series of  “portraits,” beginning with A Naked Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and The Portrait of a Naked Lady, and including the related book, The Naked Picture of Dorian Gray. On you would go: Mrs. Dalloway Naked, David Copperfield Naked, culminating in your masterpiece: Naked, in Search of Lost Time (which would require most of your lifetime to write, not to mention a cork-lined room).

Not every single work of literature will be improved by the word, but there’s certain to be a market for an adult version of a contemporary young adult classic, Harry Potter and the Naked Half-Blood Prince.

What standard work would you suggest get a “naked” title? Let’s start the week with some fun. Leave a comment.

Today’s blog post title, Naked Came I, is the title of a biography of Auguste Rodin by David Weiss. I believe the line is a quotation from the Old Testament Book of Job.

© Brad Nixon 2018


  1. This could be fun indeed… Most of the Star Wars movies would be vastly improved, but I personally like ‘Return of the Naked Jedi’ (with ‘Attack of the Naked Clones’ a close second). ‘The Naked Terminator’ doesn’t sound quite so menacing, but would require a little less editing, given that the first few scenes of the movie could remain unchanged 🙂

    On the literature front, ‘Kidnapped Naked’ has promise, while stretching things a bit to get ‘Naked in Northanger Abbey’ would be my choice for an Austen butchery. Although, ‘The Naked Mayor of Casterbridge’ rolls off the tongue a bit better, but the subtitle might need a bit of changing to be acceptable to Victorian audiences. More recently, ‘The Unlikely Naked Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’, or going back a bit more, ‘The Taming of the Naked Shrew’…

    Damn you, Brad, now my mind will be in the gutter all day…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Then my work here is done. Thanks, especially for the Hardy.


  2. What? You didn’t mention naked blog posts? Believe it or not, I wrote one, and it’s based on a true story from the Texas Panhandle. It’s been so popular I re-published it twice. After all, what’s not to like about the thought of twenty naked Pentecostals in a Pontiac engaged in a “Flight From Floydada”?

    There’s even a song, compliments of Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You never cease to amaze. An online search turned up a work of serious journalism about the Arab uprisings of 2010-12 titled “The Naked Blogger of Cairo” by Marwan M. Kraidy. There may be an opportunity for someone to launch a blog titled The Naked Blogger.
      I’m surprised Ray Wylie Hubbard didn’t grab that story for a song first, but thanks for providing the link to Mr. Stuart’s version.
      That’s a hilarious post.
      Now, the people of Circleville, Ohio certainly take issue with Floydada’s claim, pumpkin-wise. The home of the annual Circleville Pumpkin Show — probably the largest annual festival in Ohio outside of the State Fair — certainly don’t take that lying down. Wikipedia says the Circleview show is “considered to be the biggest festival in the U.S. dedicated to the pumpkin.” I note the “considered;” anyone can post something on Wikipedia. However, I’m not going to engage a daunting intellectual in a my-baby’s-cuter-than-yours discussion about pumpkin destinations, and I’m almost certain to come out the worst in a world in which everything — more or less — really is bigger in Texas.
      Thanks, as always.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ray Wylie’s been one of my guilty pleasures for years. What’s not to like about a guy who introduces his paean to Texas by saying, “The problem with irony is, not everybody gets it.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • 10-4. Yessiree bob. Got that right. Other Texas-style affirmatives.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Now, thank you for that link. That is, in fact, the first time I’ve ever SEEN R.W.H. I don’t haunt YouTube and never watch TV and it never occurred to me I could WATCH him sing that stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a fun post, I must contribute. The ultimate business book: Lean In Naked. An updated classic: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Naked. And what about a spin on some Alexander McCall Smith: The No. 1 Naked Ladies Detective Agency, or In the Company of Cheerful Naked Ladies anyone?

    Nice to start the week with some humor. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Admirable. I’ll never read Sir Gawain quite the same way again!. And, seriously, an entire SERIES of business books on the naked theme … guaranteed big sellers!
      The Pedant blaknissan must point out that by the time of SGGK, ca. 1400, we have “naked” in its modern form, and the poet uses it for precisely the dramatic effect we apply it today. As Gawain sets out in search of the Green Chapel, biding in a hostile wilderness, he sleeps, clad in his freezing armor, “Mo nyghtes then innoghe in naked rokkes.” But everyone’s fully clad in the original, even when Lady Bertilak is playing those bedroom games with Gawain (although showing a good deal of bosom), and “SGGK — Naked,” will be a big hit in the graduate student lounges of English Departments everywhere.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It seems MyElecticCafe has stirred up the Torrance of Spring! Ah-Hem!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I meant Eclectic or Electric. I always misread that nom de guerre, non de plume, or whatever.

      Liked by 1 person

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