13 Naked Truths About The Full Monty

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

From Gypsy to Showgirls to Magic Mike, the silver screen has seen its fair share of strippers. Then came the guys from The Full Monty. In 1997, Peter Cattaneo's dramedy about a group of unemployed (and mostly out-of-shape) steel workers who decide their best chance at a big pay day is to take it all off for an audience of local ladies became a surprise hit around the world. It was a surprise to the cast and crew, too, who faced a number of hurdles in getting the movie made. On the 20th anniversary of its release, we're taking a look at the naked truth behind the film that brought "The Full Monty" into the general lexicon. 

1. IT GOT OFF TO A ROUGH START.

Though The Full Monty eventually became a massive hit, you wouldn’t have known it from the many roadblocks the film’s producers faced when attempting to get the project off the ground. Channel 4 Films initially showed interest in the film and invested in the script’s development. But once completed, they believed the final draft was too close to Brassed Off, another project they were interested in developing. According to then-chief executive Paul Webster, the company’s executives eventually decided to go with Brassed Off after a “beauty contest” between the two films.

“We felt that the two films served the same community and had the same concerns about unemployment and dignity,” Webster said. From a bottom-line standpoint, The Full Monty—which made about 10 times what Brassed Off did at the box office—clearly would have been the better bet. “You can only hope that you don’t make that mistake again,” Webster said.

2. THE MOVIE’S TITLE CONFUSED HOLLYWOOD EXECUTIVES.

After getting a pass from Channel 4, the film’s makers attempted to pitch The Full Monty to a number of Hollywood studios—many of whom were totally perplexed by the title. Though the movie popularized the phrase around the world, few people knew what it meant before 1997. According to the film’s screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, several American studio executives were confused by the movie’s title and wondered why there was no character named “Monty” in the film.

3. SOME AMERICAN MOVIEGOERS HAD TROUBLE WITH THE BRITISH SLANG, TOO.

Though Beaufoy knew that The Full Monty had universal appeal, he heard from more than one American moviegoer that they couldn’t understand a lot of what was being said. “When we first showed it at the Sundance Film Festival,” Beaufoy told Metro, “there were people coming out going: ‘God, I loved that. I didn’t understand a word they were saying but I loved it!’ We scratched our heads over that but there is something about the characters and the story that is universally understood. It’s about human nature and loss: loss of job, of pride, of dignity. It did fantastically in Brazil.”

Some U.S. theaters reportedly took to distributing pamphlets before the movie that broke down some of the more confusing slang within the film.

4. NICHOLAS LYNDHURST WAS THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY “GAZ.”


Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

Nicholas Lyndhurst, who is perhaps best known for his work in Going Straight, Only Fools and Horses, and Goodnight Sweetheart, was the first choice for the role of Gaz, which eventually went to Robert Carlyle. For Lyndhurst, passing on The Full Monty was a no-brainer: "I was in rehearsal in Northampton, on a bleak day, and my agent phoned,” Lyndhurst explained. “‘Darling—availability check: British film, not much money, set in Sheffield, about male strippers…’ I said I'd pass. I don't regret it."

5. ROBERT CARLYLE HATED MAKING THE MOVIE.

Eventually, Robert Carlyle—fresh off a starring part in Trainspotting—took on the role of Gaz, though he wasn’t thrilled about it. In the 20 years since the film’s release, Carlyle has shared that he did not enjoy making the film, and was pretty certain that it was going to bomb at the box office.

“I thought it was a load of f***ing pish,” Carlyle told Graham Norton earlier this year. Needless to say, he was shocked when it went on to make more than $250 million worldwide—especially considering that it was shot on a $3.5 million budget.

6. IT ALMOST WENT STRAIGHT TO VIDEO.

With so little confidence in the project coming from various angles, and a first cut that was reportedly pretty unimpressive, 20th Century Fox thought that cutting their losses and releasing the film straight to video might be the best option. “It was a tough shoot,” Carlyle said. “It was so horrible that when the people [at] Fox Searchlight, who'd commissioned it, saw the first cut they said ‘straight to video.'" But thanks to the persistence of producer Uberto Pasolini, who pleaded for the chance to let the team take one more pass at an edit, they were able to recut the film. In 1998, The Full Monty earned four Oscar nominations, including a Best Picture nod for Pasolini. (Anne Dudley took home the Academy Award for Best Music.)

7. THE “HOT STUFF” SCENE WAS ALMOST CUT.

One of the film’s most memorable scenes is when the guys are in line and Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” comes on the radio overhead. Without even thinking about it, they all quietly break into their choreographed moves to the song. According to a variety of sources, this scene came very close to ending up on the cutting room floor for being “too unrealistic."

8. YES, THE ACTORS REALLY DID TAKE IT ALL OFF.

Reluctant to put his cast through the torture of stripping down to nothing for take after take to shoot the film’s climactic striptease scene, Cattaneo promised his actors that it would be a one-take deal—an assurance that was ultimately what persuaded many of them to sign on for the film in the first place. And he delivered.

"We took two days to do the final scene with 50 extras," Cattaneo told the Chicago Tribune. "We rehearsed and rehearsed the last shot, but there was only one take. The cast agreed on that."

9. ALCOHOL PLAYED A ROLE.

In order to help calm pre-stripping nerves on the set, Cattaneo decided that a little liquid courage might help in eliciting the most natural performances from his actors—so he made sure there was plenty of booze lying around. “They were half full of whiskey at that point [of shooting the final scene],” Cattaneo told the Chicago Tribune. “That was the only way to get through it."

10. THE FILM ENDED UP BEING TOO SHORT.

After all the nips and tucks that were made to the earlier versions of the film, by the time the filmmakers had a cut that was working it ended up being too short. So, several months after filming had wrapped, the cast had to reassemble to shoot some additional footage. There was just one problem: Carlyle was already working on another movie and couldn’t make it back for the shoot, which is why you don't see him taking part in the above exercise montage.

11. IT WAS ADAPTED INTO A TONY AWARD-NOMINATED BROADWAY SHOW.

Like so many other successful films, The Full Monty made the jump from screen to stage in 2000. The play, which co-starred Patrick Wilson, opened at New York City’s Eugene O’Neill Theater on October 26, 2000, where it ran for 770 performances. In 2001, it received 10 Tony Award nominations.

12. MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT PRINCESS DIANA’S DEATH CONTRIBUTED TO THE MOVIE’S SUCCESS.

The Full Monty hit UK theaters on August 29, 1997, just two days before Princess Diana’s death. While the nation mourned the untimely passing of The People’s Princess, some box office analysts believed that the need to escape the sadness that engulfed the country actually contributed to the film’s success.

On September 16, The Los Angeles Times reported on the film’s unexpected global success, writing that, “In Britain it has already taken in about $13 million, topping the box office for three straight weeks, including the weekend of Princess Diana's funeral.” When writing about the stage version of the show in 2015, The Reviews Hub wrote that, “When the movie The Full Monty opened in 1997 on the same weekend as the death of Princess Diana, it was suggested that its success was down to the public needing something to cheer them up at such a tragic time.”

In what might be considered a sort of bookend to that belief, director Peter Cattaneo’s newest project—which will debut later this year—is a television movie called Diana and I, which examines the lives of four individuals in the week following the Princess’s death.

13. PRINCE CHARLES WAS A FAN, TOO.


JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images

In November 1998, on the eve of his 50th birthday, Prince Charles attended a Full Monty party where he and Hugo Speer, who starred in the original film, reenacted the "Hot Stuff" dance routine. Onlookers were impressed with the Prince's moves. "I've even been given a bit of choreography on how to do things in the queue," Charles admitted. "I liked the film so much, I've seen it twice."

This Innovative Cutting Board Takes the Mess Out of Meal Prep

There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
TidyBoard, Kickstarter

Transferring food from the cutting board to the bowl—or scraps to the compost bin—can get a little messy, especially if you’re dealing with something that has a tendency to roll off the board, spill juice everywhere, or both (looking at you, cherry tomatoes).

The TidyBoard, available on Kickstarter, is a cutting board with attached containers that you can sweep your ingredients right into, taking the mess out of meal prep and saving you some counter space in the process. The board itself is 15 inches by 20 inches, and the container that fits in its empty slot is 14 inches long, 5.75 inches wide, and more than 4 inches deep. Two smaller containers fit inside the large one, making it easy to separate your ingredients.

Though the 4-pound board hangs off the edge of your counter, good old-fashioned physics will keep it from tipping off—as long as whatever you’re piling into the containers doesn’t exceed 9 pounds. It also comes with a second set of containers that work as strainers, so you can position the TidyBoard over the edge of your sink and drain excess water or juice from your ingredients as you go.

You can store food in the smaller containers, which have matching lids; and since they’re all made of BPA-free silicone, feel free to pop them in the microwave. (Remove the small stopper on top of the lid first for a built-in steaming hole.)

tidyboard storage containers
They also come in gray, if teal isn't your thing.
TidyBoard

Not only does the bamboo-made TidyBoard repel bacteria, it also won’t dull your knives or let strong odors seep into it. In short, it’s an opportunity to make cutting, cleaning, storing, and eating all easier, neater, and more efficient. Prices start at $79, and it’s expected to ship by October 2020—you can find out more details and order yours on Kickstarter.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Born In the U.S.A.: How Bruce Springsteen's Anti-Vietnam Anthem Got Lost In Translation

Bruce Springsteen performs on stage.
Bruce Springsteen performs on stage.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Maybe it’s Max Weinberg’s fault. In the opening seconds of Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 single “Born in the U.S.A.,” Weinberg, the drummer for Springsteen’s E Street Band, laid down some ferocious snare hits, invoking cannon blasts and fireworks and all the national pride associated with those sounds. The track explodes before Springsteen even utters a single word, casting red, white, and blue filters on a set of lyrics imbued with many more colors and layers.

Casual radio listeners in 1984 were bound to hear “Born in the U.S.A.” as an ode to patriotism, and the perfect soundtrack for President Reagan’s “Morning In America” campaign. Reagan himself invoked Springsteen’s name during an August 1984 campaign stop in New Jersey. “America’s future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts,” Reagan said. “It rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen.”

From a distance, Springsteen looked the part of the jingoistic flag-waver. The scruffy, sinewy rocker pictured on the cover of 1975’s star-making Born to Run album had evolved into a musclebound, headband-wearing, stadium-wrecking legend-in-the-making. When he sang, “I was born in the U.S.A.,” it sounded like a declaration of pride and faith.

But “Born in the U.S.A.,” the title track off Springsteen’s blockbuster seventh album, wasn't the nationalistic singalong many people thought it was. In his 2016 memoir Born to Run, Springsteen rightfully called it “a protest song," and the angry tone ought to be clear from the opening line: “Born down in a dead man’s town / The first kick I took was when I hit the ground.”

The song's lyrics tell of a local loser who’s railroaded into military service during the Vietnam War, scarred by his experiences in Southeast Asia, and completely forgotten about by his country when he returns home. Springsteen's protagonist can’t find work or shake the image of the brother he lost in Khe Sanh. Ten years after the war, he’s got nothing left except a claim to his birthplace. And he’s not sure what that’s worth.

 

Springsteen wrote “Born in the U.S.A.” after reading Born on the Fourth of July, Vietnam veteran and antiwar activist Ron Kovic's memoir (which Oliver Stone later adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Tom Cruise). Springsteen purchased the book at a gas station in Arizona in 1978 and was moved by Kovic’s story of a young man who enlists in the Marines and returns from Vietnam in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down.

Not long after Springsteen read the book, he happened to meet Kovic by the pool at Hollywood’s Sunset Marquis hotel. They struck up a friendship, and Springsteen wound up staging an August 1981 benefit concert for the fledgling Vietnam Veterans of America.

Bruce Springsteen performs on stage
Gie Knaeps/Getty Images

In writing “Born in the U.S.A.,” Springsteen was also motivated by survivor’s guilt—or perhaps more correctly, avoider’s guilt. By his own admission, Springsteen was a “stone-cold draft dodger.” When he was called up by his local draft board in the ‘60s, Springsteen used all the tricks in the book to avoid being selected. According to Rolling Stone, Springsteen's "efforts to convince a Newark, New Jersey, selective service board of his abject unsuitability for combat in Vietnam apparently extended to claiming he was both gay and tripping on LSD, but none of it was necessary." In the end, Springsteen was dismissed not for any of those made-up reasons, but because a concussion he had suffered in a motorcycle accident resulted in him failing his physical. He was classified 4F, or unfit for service.

“As I grew older, I sometimes wondered who went in my place,” Springsteen wrote in Born to Run. “Somebody did.” In fact, Springsteen knew some people who lost their lives in Vietnam, including Bart Haynes, the drummer in his first band. During concerts in the ‘80s, Springsteen would often share the memory of Haynes coming to his house and telling him he’d enlisted, and that he was going to Vietnam, a country he couldn’t find on the map.

 

Springsteen began writing what would become “Born In the U.S.A.” while compiling material for 1982’s stark acoustic album Nebraska. The original title was “Vietnam,” and an early version of the lyrics have the protagonist’s girlfriend ditching him for a rock singer. At some point in the process, Springsteen picked up a screenplay that Paul Schrader, the writer behind Taxi Driver, had sent him. It was called Born in the U.S.A., and while it was about a Cleveland bar band, not the plight of Vietnam vets, Springsteen recognized the power of the title.

Another influence was the 1979 book Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia. As Brian Hiatt reveals in his 2019 book Bruce Springsteen: The Stories Behind the Songs, one draft of “Born In the U.S.A.” advocates rough justice for Nixon, suggesting we should “cut off his balls.” That line didn’t survive the editing process, but Springsteen’s anger certainly did.

Bruce Springsteen performs on stage
Michael Putland/Getty Images

There are conflicting stories about how “Born In the U.S.A.” became such a colossal-sounding song in the studio. E Street keyboardist Roy Bittan credits himself with latching onto a six-note melody Springsteen sang when sharing the song with the band for the first time. Those six notes became the central riff of the song. Having listened to Springsteen’s lyrics, Bittan aimed for a “Southeast Asian sort of synthesized, strange sound” on his Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer. It sounded even more impactful once Weinberg began slapping that snare behind it.

In Weinberg’s version of events, the floor-shaking final version of “Born In the U.S.A.” grew out of a sparser “country trio” arrangement. When Springsteen switched up and began strumming his guitar in a style reminiscent of The Rolling Stones’s "Street Fighting Man," Weinberg drummed along, and soon the whole band followed.

 

Regardless of how it transpired, Springsteen was definitely down with “Born In the U.S.A.” being a rager. In the studio, engineer Toby Scott ran Weinberg’s drums through a broken reverb plate, putting a custom spin on the “gated reverb“ sound popularized by Phil Collins earlier in the ‘80s. Weinberg is well-deserving of his nickname, “Mighty Max,” but technology helped to give his thunderous playing that extra oomph it needed.

The version heard on the album is an early live take, with some additional jamming removed to keep the runtime under five minutes. Springsteen has subsequently done more somber acoustic versions of “Born In the U.S.A,” but they lack the juxtapositions that make the studio version so compelling—and confusing for some listeners.

“On the album, ‘Born In the U.S.A.’ was in its most powerful presentation,” Springsteen wrote in Born to Run. “If I’d tried to undercut or change the music, I believe I would’ve had a record that would’ve been more easily understood but not as satisfying.”

“Born In the U.S.A.” ultimately is a patriotic song—just not the kind President Reagan was looking for. Springsteen’s traumatized, unemployed protagonist wants to believe that being American means something. Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten once said that he didn’t write the incendiary 1977 punk single “God Save the Queen” because he hates the English—but rather because he loves them and thinks they deserve better. “Born In the U.S.A.” is the same type of song, even if some people will never understand it.

“Records are often auditory Rorschach tests,” Springsteen wrote in his memoir. “We hear what we want to hear.”