The Nude Princess (La Principessa nuda) (1976)

Cesare Canevari’s The Nude Princess may be a clumsily made, nearly amorphous, and often poorly acted film, but it is also so odd, so ridiculous, and so shamelessly exploitative that it is genuinely fun to watch.

When a delegation from the African country of Taslamia, headed by its prime minister, Princess Mariam (Ajita Wilson), who also happens to be the lover of that country’s dictator, Kaboto, arrives in Milan, various Italian businessmen compete frantically for her financial and sexual favors. Meanwhile, the young woman herself engages in sexually charged conversations with several different persons, is stalked by a pair of reporters, indulges in a couple of orgies, and has numerous sexual encounters with both male and female partners. As she is involved in these diverse activities, Princess Mariam takes advantage of nearly every opportunity presented to her to remove her clothing, as does virtually every other female character in the film.

The movie is absolutely filled with one weird or ludicrous element or incident after another. In one sequence, for example, Princess Mariam attends a drug fuelled, African themed orgy where, surrounded by naked, inebriated revellers, she recalls how she had previously cut off a man’s penis in order to save him from being killed by Kaboto. Later, while wearing a wig made from orange feathers, she participates in a second orgy, in which she and several other women take on an army of men, including muttonchopped weightlifters and a midget. At other times, the viewer is treated to the sight of the heroine washing her breasts in a shower, lying naked on an acupuncturist’s table, being raped in a park while the howls and roars of zoo animals are playing on the soundtrack, having sex in an airport toilet with a man who, only moments before, was able to steal her heart in the space of a couple of seconds, and much more.

Not only is the moviegoer given a chance to watch the strange adventures of the film’s heroine, but he is treated to countless other oddities in addition to these. At one point, for instance, the director, for no apparent reason, intersperses images of a woman dancing nude with depictions of thugs rioting in the streets of Milan and a middle aged woman gunning down some nameless man. Elsewhere, he shows various people having sex, cars aimlessly driving along poorly lit streets at night time, Kaboto shooting prisoners and praising Adolf Hitler as the only admirable white man, randy businessmen discussing how they want to have sex with Princess Mariam, and so on and so on. The movie is absolutely filled with such peculiarities.

What is more, if such a variety of absurd scenarios were not sufficient to keep the viewer entertained, he is almost certain to be amused by the gross ineptitude with which The Nude Princess has been filmed. It could well include, for example, more zooms than does any other film ever to have been made. I doubt if there is a single scene in the whole of the movie that does not include several zooms. In fact, I doubt if there is a single dramatic moment that is not punctuated by the camera zooming in on the face of one of the actors. The director must really have loved the technique.

The Nude Princess truly is a bad movie. The cinematography is dreadful. The story is virtually nonexistent. The characters are vacuous, and the acting ranges from forgettable to atrocious. Even its transgendered heroine is not an impressively talented actress, although she does, admittedly, have a remarkable presence and does add to the film’s appeal.

While The Nude Princess is a bad film, its very lack of redeeming qualities, as well as its frequent eccentricities, do give it a certain charm and do make watching it a genuinely fun experience.