In our weekly series Anatomy of a Scene's Anatomy, we're going to be taking a look at (in)famous sexscenes and nude scenes throughout cinema history and examining their construction, their relationship to the film around it, and their legacy. This week, it's Sam Raimi's all but forgotten 2000 psychic drama The Gift, and the one reason it's not forgotten: Katie Holmes' nude debut!

The Gift is one of those movies that, by all rights, just shouldn't exist. Star studded mid-level thrillers are truly a thing of the past, but they were still being made 20 years ago, which makes the existence of a middling effort like this such an anomaly.What else beyond director Sam Raimi's reputation for cranking out decent thrillers and the chance to play "white trash dress-up" could have attracted so many good actors to this admittedly lackluster film? I know that Cate Blanchett wasn't Cate Blanchett yet, but I have a very difficult time figuring out what she's doing in this movie, above and beyond everyone else in the film.

Don't get me wrong, The Gift isn't a bad movie. It's got remnants of much better films by both Raimi and writer Billy Bob Thornton in it, but it often feels like a knock-off of those films rather than an occupant of the same genre with an equal level of quality. Just two years earlier the pair struck gold with the vastly superior in every way thrillerA Simple Plan, so what happened to make this film such an also-ran of the turn of the century? I'm not entirely sure and I can't really chalk it up to anything other than just being a mediocre movie.

So why does this mediocre movie have any sort of recognition or legacy 19 years after it came and went from theaters earning only two million more dollars than it cost to make? That's an easy question that I can answer with no problem: The movie features Katie Holmes' nude debut. The only reason that anyone at all still talks about the movie The Gift is because Katie Holmes' breasts make their one and only on-screen appearance in all their glory 95 minutes into this 112 minute film...

Watching it on an endless loop, you realize how fleeting it truly is. It's often why the still is used when harkening back to this clip, and not the entire clip itself. There's no gapbetween the fadein from Katie's corpse and the fade out to Blanchett's eyes, making it almost impossible to get a pure, unfiltered look at her breasts. However,as the scene progresses, we get another quick look at Katie's breasts. However, it comes at the expense of the film's biggest revelation...

You see,the most interesting thing about this nude scene is that it spoils the film's twist—Holmes' seemingly squeaky clean fiancé Wayne, played by Greg Kinnear, is the one responsible for her murder—which in turn has rendered the film mostly useless because so much of it hinges on that twist. All of those dudes that flooded after our site's founder appeared on Howard Stern* decided that seeing Katie Holmes' breasts was more important than preserving the rather predictable twist of the film.

This is, admittedly, a very rare occurrence, wherein a nude scene ends up spoiling a film's big reveal or twist. Perhaps the most famous example of one is Jaye Davidson's full frontal shocker from The Crying Game, but it's rare that nudity occurs in the same frame as a film's major twist. I'm sure there are plenty of examples, they're just not prominent or obvious enough to reside in my short term memory. It makes The Gift something of an outlier as the film's major nude scene could be slapped with a spoiler alert tag.

It's also interesting to note that Holmes' Dawson's Creek co-star Michelle Williams had also very quietly made her nude debut earlier that same year in the HBO sequel If These Walls Could Talk 2...

When we pitched the two head-to-head in 2016, Katie was the clear-cut winner, though Michelle certainly had her fans.While Michelle has certainly gained a lot more respect as an actress—she's been nominated for 4 Oscars—Katie's nude debut is certainly much more fondly remembered. Perhaps it's because she was one-and-done versus Michelle who has continued to get nude over the years. Does that slant our opinion of this nude scene? Do we love it so much because it's Katie's one and only true blue real deal topless scene?

One thing is for sure, no one likes The Gift enough, independent of Katie Holmes' nude debut, toconsider it memorable for any other reason. Do any of you remember what the movie's even about, beyond the murder mystery? Anyone remember Keanu Reeves playing a wife-beating, neck bearded hillbilly? Anyoneretainingthe fact that Katie's dad in the film is played by Chelcie Ross—the guy who played Harris in Major League("Yo bartender, Jobu needs a refill."? I doubt it.

The only thing anyone remembers about this movie is that Katie Holmes went nude and Greg Kinnear is the killer. Once you know the second part of that equation, it's only worth watching the first part on The Giftmay not hold up, but lord does that nude scene hold up.

*During Mr. Skin's first appearance on The Howard Stern Show in February, 2001,he revealedthat he had the Katie Holmes nude scene from The Gift live on the site, a full five months before the film's DVD release, causing the site to crash due to the absolutely overwhelming rush of traffic.

Catch up with our other editions of Anatomy of a Scene's Anatomy...

The "Real Sex" ofDon't Look Now

Scarlett Johansson's Nude Debut inUnder the Skin

The 2 Very Different Sex ScenesofBasic Instinct

How Halle Berry's Nude Debut Led Her toMonster's Ball

HowMulholland Dr.'s Legendary Lesbian Scenes Deepen the Film's Mystery

Showgirlsand the Dangers of High Camp

Rosario Dawson Laid Bare for Danny Boyle's Trance


Header image via IMDb