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Tess (1979)

Brief Nudity

Top Scene


The story behind the epic Tess (1979) is as tragic as the novel on which it’s based. While wed to Polish Jewish and French filmmaker Roman Polanski, actress Sharon Tate wanted to portray Thomas Hardy’s titular character Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891). Alas, this was not to be since the blonde beauty was killed by the Manson Family in 1969 when she was pregnant with Roman’s baby. The distraught Polanski poured himself into his work, making the bloody Macbeth (1971) and the crime classic Chinatown (1974). But behind the scenes, his Holocaust past and Hollywood present got the better of his behavior. And by 1977, he pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor. When it appeared he’d have to do time, Polanski fled to France where he began shooting Tess. Like the genius auteur himself, the ill-fated heroine faced an impoverished past, loss of a child, murder, and the line between seduction and assault. Nastassja Kinski, who shares Tate’s birthday, was cast in the lead. The film also includes Arielle Dombasle, Lesley Dunlop, Rosemary Martin, Suzanna Hamilton, and Ms. Kinki’s bare breast! Unfortunately, that’s the only piece on Nasty flashed in this period piece. Indeed, Mr. Skin prefers his costumed dramas with less costumes! After all, with Nastassja’s stunning looks, who could resist the gorgeous ingénue? Certainly not the characters — Angel Clare (Peter Firth) and Alec Stokes-d’Urberville (Leigh Lawson) — on screen, nor the Hollywood Foreign Press which named her Best Actress in a Motion Picture. Nice Golden Globe!