In this documentary, British filmmaker Ron Peck reflects on his effort to make the 1970s gay cult classic film NIGHTHAWKS. But this documentary is a multi-layered thing. It is Peck's personal perspective of coming to terms with his own homosexuality as a youth; it is a reflection on the emergence of a gay liberation movement in the US and Britain; it is an expose on censorship, sexual politics, and the sexual mores of the gay community. Not having seen NIGHTHAWKS, I found STRIP JACK NAKED a little hard to follow at first. Peck's style for this film is to have a running commentary (himself presumably) to a rather free-floating collage of images and film clips. I wanted to know who in the film clips was supposed to be representing Peck/the narrator. But not knowing seems, in part, to be the point. In some cases the "I" is a picture of Peck as a school boy; in others, it is the "school teacher" character from NIGHTHAWKS (who, of course, was based on Peck...so the distinctions are moot). I felt as though this blending of personas was a statement in itself: while each gay person in the 60s and 70s travelled a lonely path to self-discovery, their exerpiences were astonishingly similar. Because NIGHTHAWKS was Peck's first feature-length film and funding sources were few and far between, it took many years to come to completion. And Peck notes that by the time the film was released, the gay liberation movement has already had its effect. Large scale discos catering to gay clientele had replaced the smokey little clubs that were part of Peck's coming out experience and which served as the primary setting of NIGHTHAWKS. Peck gives the viewer (especially gay viewers) much to think about. It is a reflection on dark times but is neither dismal nor depressing. His comments about himself as a gay person and filmmaker are frank and clear-eyed. He is neither narcissistic nor self-flagelating. He is both rational and wise.
A nice treat on this DVD is the short film "What Can I Do with a Nude Male." This film, too, consists of running commentary (from a fictional physique photographer) over a series of images (in this case, of the model in various cliched, masculinist attires and poses). The monologue is brilliant, on the level of Alan Bennett. And the model...well, let's just say you'll want to keep your remote handy.