Comment Sex scenes have a rich, varied tradition in the cinema. In the s, they were commodified in startling ways. These days, they tend to be relatively rare. Some of the scenes on this list are seminal moments in film history for better and for worse. Some are flash points that wound up changing our culture in interesting ways. Some came to represent nefarious, exploitative trends. And some are just unforgettable scenes that informed what came after them. It really is a mixed bunch.
Ecstasy In this Czech film, the great Hedy Lamarr plays a young, frustrated bride who flees her marriage to a wealthy, impotent older man and finds love and lust in the arms of a virile engineer. This may have been the first documented sex scene in cinema. But interestingly, although the film itself contains copious nudity including a famous, extended scene of Lamarr skinny-dipping the sex scene itself is largely demure. Little Vera This film, released at the height of perestroika, made waves in both the USSR and the West for being reportedly the first Soviet film to feature a naked sex scene.
Some say Gallo was using a prosthetic; Gallo of course claims he was not. Many in the gay community felt the film was homophobic and were worried about the portrait of homosexuals in the film.
Even though the film was based on a real case and was mostly a genre movie, Friedkin himself understood their concerns. In an interview in , he told us: It also came out around the same time that AIDS was given a name … But many critics who wrote for gay publications or the underground press felt that the film was not the best foot forward as far as gay liberation was concerned, and they were right.
Full-frontal male nudity was not something one saw in mainstream theaters in the U. But it could be argued that the early, looking-in-the-mirror sex scene between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman was more significant. That then set up many critics and audiences for inevitable disappointment, when they discovered that the film was, indeed, a curiously old-fashioned thriller that was uninterested in titillation or breaking taboos.
Cruise and Kidman never particularly had much chemistry, but here, Kubrick seems to play off that idea: Remember, this is the man who made The Right Stuff.
But its historical significance cannot be denied: And totally devoid of nudity or anything explicit. So, is it a sex scene? Well, ask yourself this: Could it possibly be anything else? The two characters are brought together by profound grief, with one bottling it in and the other letting it out. It might also be why so many people find the scene offensive and debasing. Of course, the character is debased at this moment — debased, vulnerable, needy.
Berry plays it perfectly and won a well-deserved Oscar for the role. And maybe it is, to some extent. The film became a massive hit that spawned a decades-old franchise with a new one coming out next summer and a fairly elaborate, time-hopping mythology. Most of that mythology involves one John Connor, leader of the human resistance against the machines in the future.
But even though nothing in this movie is explicit, the film was originally slapped with an NC for a scene of Gosling going down on Williams, which serves to highlight just how insanely hypocritical the MPAA often is. Gosling himself lashed out at the ratings board, noting that men receive oral sex in films all the time, and that this double standard over a woman being on the receiving end of such a scene was outrageous.
Such was the power of The Big Easy that right afterwards, Barkin wound up getting typecast as a sexpot. Here was an expansive tale of two young women falling in love, with extended scenes of fairly explicit lesbian sex — playful, intimate, and, yes, pretty exciting.
To some extent, that was a response to the conservative production codes of the era, but it also lent the films a kind of latent sexual tension: But oddly enough, the sex scene is one of the few non-disturbing elements in this dystopian masterpiece — a film that is otherwise steeped in cruelty, rape, and violence.
But watch A Clockwork Orange — and particularly this scene — closely, and you may start to realize that he kind of did. And what better scene to represent this than the one between Kelly MacGillis and Tom Cruise in Top Gun, which now plays almost like a self-parody? As our own Adam Sternbergh put it recently: And although this extended dream of a normal life turns out to be just that — a dream — it also features one short scene of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, whom he marries, having sex complete with a Jesus butt shot!
That infuriated many, in the U. In America, the controversy over the film provided an opportunity for the religious right to cohere and coalesce around a single, headline-grabbing issue — a model for future action. It also revealed to viewers that Mark Wahlberg could act. Reilly, and William H. World Police What to say about this one? Watch the uncut version sometime, but be sure to bring a barf bag.
Thank God for the neck. That adds an extra element of suspense to the rest of the film, as the racial tensions of the neighborhood boil over.
Characters in movies who are asked to come back have an annoying tendency to wind up dying. How surprising then to find out later that Perez felt intensely uncomfortable while filming the scene. Rather, the camera focuses on their reactions to one another, resulting in a scene that actually has some real drama and humor to it. And watch the slight sense of trepidation and pain on her face. This feels like their first time, and we understand that this moment will reverberate in their memories for a long time.
As it will in ours. The coming-of-age story features lots of frank talk about sex, love, and friendship, and it all comes to a head in a beautiful, startling scene where the three engage in a threesome. It became a hit regardless. In fact, this scene is notorious enough that we dedicated an entire piece to it in week.
The Wachowskis said that was a concern of theirs, too, so they decided to shoot that love scene in one long, continuous shot … [They] put the camera on a crane, and there were all these elements that they wanted to capture.
They wanted to start out on a safe and get the side of my back, and they wanted to pan down to the toes, and they would be yelling through a megaphone, telling us what different parts were onscreen. It was also, as it so happens, a pivotal film in the depiction of onscreen sex: The sex scenes between Voight and Fonda are both touching and incredibly sensuous — not the least because they show her character having an orgasm for the first time, a revolutionary notion for cinema at the time.
The closer they are, the more alienating the film becomes. And that extends to its much-beloved sex scene, with its elliptical cutting and playful approach to time, not to mention the sheer fun that George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez appear to be having together.
Watch the smiles on their faces as they take their clothes off; those are real people, not movie people!