Saturday, December 26, 2009

Greatest and Most Influential Erotic / Sexual Films and Scenes

- Milestone Films With Scenes That Were Especially Notorious, Infamous, Controversial, or Scandalous

History of Sex in Cinema:
Greatest and Most Influential Erotic / Sexual Films and Scenes
(chronological order, by film title) - Part 14

Movie Title
Brief Scene Description


Solomon and Sheba (1959)

This Technicolored Biblical epic was King Vidor's last film - it featured the erotic belly-dancing (to the heavy beat of drums in a pagan ceremony) of hot-blooded and seductive Queen of Sheba (sultry post-war Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida) in exotic and revealing costumes, playing opposite Yul Brynner as King Solomon; this sand and sandal film, similar to the earlier films of Cecil B. DeMille, pushed the Hays Code to its limits; Robert Aldrich's Sodom and Gomorrah (1962) also featured debauched sex, sin, and exotic belly-dancing, with a famed opening tracking shot over the intertwined bodies of exhausted orgiasts

Some Like It Hot (1959)

As one of the top-rated comedies ever made, director-producer Billy Wilder challenged the system with this gender-bending and risqué comedy; it was released at the end of the repressive 1950s at a time when the studio system was weakening, the advent of television was threatening, and during a time of the declining influence of the Production Code and its censorship restrictions; it was filled with sly and witty sexual innuendo (i.e., the "sweet" and "fuzzy end of the lollipop" represented oral sex), unembarrassed vulgarity, free love, spoofs of sexual stereotypes (bisexuality, transvestism, androgyny, homosexuality, transsexuality, lesbianism, and impotence), and a mix of serious themes including abuse, alcoholism, unemployment, and murder, among others; the film was most noted for well-endowed, bosomy Marilyn Monroe's sexy portrayal of Sugar Kane, including her dramatic hip-swinging entrance at the train station, the party scene onboard the overnight train to Florida, the scene of her beach swim, and her sexy costuming (especially her singing of I Wanna Be Loved By You in a nightclub while wearing a sheer, low-cut white sparkling dress that was lit with a teasing spotlight to make her appear topless); the film's highlight was an outrageous and steamy reversed seduction scene aboard a millionaire's yacht between Sugar and millionaire impersonator and Cary Grant-like Joe (Tony Curtis) who pretended to be impotent - there was also a priceless first view of cross-dressing Jack Lemmon (as Jerry) and Curtis at the train station, pretending to be Daphne and Josephine and their reassuring line to their bandleader: ("Men! Oh, you don't have to worry about that! We wouldn't be caught dead with men - rough hairy beasts - eight hands!")

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Although Gore Vidal's original screenplay alluded to homosexuality, cannibalism, pedophilia, and incest, all of these sordid elements were toned down (due to demands of the Catholic Legion of Decency and others that considered it sickening and 'degenerate') in Joseph L. Mankiewicz' melodramatic and lurid version of Tennessee Williams' tale, but the film still retained the ripe sensuality of Elizabeth Taylor as the pretty Catherine Holly, now the institutionalized niece of rich widow Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn); in the film's climactic monologue and surreal murder scene, she described (with impressionistic flashbacks) the horrifying incident (a chase ending with a cannibalistic homicidal attack by Mexican youths) from the past summer that had happened to her homosexual cousin Sebastian Venable (never speaking and unseen fully in the film, although wearing a full-white suit when attacked) - he had used Catherine's (and earlier Violet's) youthful beauty as a ploy or decoy (in her words: "I was procuring for him...he used us as bait...we procured for him") to lure and attract Italian beach boys closer to him for his own pleasure, and now Catherine was threatened with a 'brain-cutting' lobotomy for telling the truth

Elmer Gantry (1960)

Derived from the title character in Sinclair Lewis' 1927 novel, hellfire and brimstone preacher Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster) was set up and framed by one of his old girlfriends - minister's daughter-turned-prostitute Lulu Bains (squeaky-clean Shirley Jones in an against-type role) - she invited him to her apartment and had photographs taken during the compromising situation to ruin his reputation and frame him although he was innocent - when he left, she accepted a charitable handout of cash that she sexily placed in her garter

La Dolce Vita (1960, It.) (aka The Sweet Life)

Federico Fellini's landmark masterpiece about middle-class depravity and decadence told about the life of a playboyish gossip writer Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) who regularly attended parties, seduced socialites, and sought celebrity scandal for his tabloid stories; one night, he was charmed and smitten by bosomy, sexy, and seductive Amazonian blonde Hollywood starlet Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) in a low-cut black evening gown, dancing through the night streets with a white kitten in her arms, and then spontaneously wading, dancing, cavorting and cooling off in the water of Rome's Trevi Fountain - to tempt him and seek his attention by her dampened, form-fitting clothing; the film ended with a celebratory marriage-annulment orgiastic, drunken party at a seaside villa in which the exhibitionist, wealthy socialite hostess Nadia (Nadia Gray) performed a depersonalizing exotic strip that was soon ignored by her disinterested and jaded guest audience - in the scene, Marcello also rode a woman as a donkey; in another shocking sequence for its time, Marcello and bored nymphomaniacal socialite Maddalena (Anouk Aimee) picked up bisexual prostitute Ninni (Adriana Moneta) for a thrill-seeking ménage à trois

Pagan Island (1960)

Exploitational cinema, outside the bounds of Hollywood, began to further push the limits of censorship; this exotic, teasing and cheesy B-grade tale was cast by famous cheesecake photographer and model Bunny Yeager, with an improbable tale about marooned sailor William (Edward Dew) on an island populated only by beautiful but man-hating semi-naked women (topless except for flower leis, although with very little explicit nudity) who spoke broken English

Peeping Tom (1960, UK)

This highly disturbing, British psychological horror film, a variation on Psycho (1960) - see below, about voyeurism from director Michael Powell told the story of a shy young cameraman (and psychopath) named Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) who murdered women with his film camera - it had a sharp knife as one of the tripod's legs, and an ingenious mirror device attached so that his screaming female victims could watch themselves die; the notorious film nearly destroyed the director's film career, and most critics loathed it, forcing the picture to be withdrawn from screens

Psycho (1960)

This classic Hitchcock horror/slasher film in the early 60s marked the decline of the Production Code; it was not rated until 1968, when an early version of the MPAA ratings system rated it M, for mature audiences only; a 1984 reissue re-rated the film R; the tale included such taboo topics as transvestism, voyeurism, stabbing as rape, implied incest, and hints of necrophilia; it was heavily censored (and edited) in some locales for repeated views of its main protagonist in a bra - both in the first scene during a lunchtime dalliance, and also twice later; however, the film was most noted for the voyeuristic scene of Bates Motel manager Norman (Anthony Perkins) peering through a peep hole at motel customer Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) as she undressed - shot from his POV to implicate the audience in the viewing, followed by the shocking, carefully-edited shower murder scene of nude Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, and a body double) as she vainly resisted and shielded her breasts (never fully revealed) from a menacing, phallic-like knife while being savagely murdered; the film was also noted for having a view of a toilet -- something unusual at the time

Spartacus (1960)

Stanley Kubrick's big budget studio film was criticized for its infamous bathing-seduction scene (originally cut from the film) between bisexual, prurient Roman patrician General Marcus Crassus (Laurence Olivier) in a sunken tub (partially veiled by see-through netting) and his submissive 26 year-old Sicilian "body servant" Antoninus (Tony Curtis) - and its notorious, double-entendre conversation about bi-sexual experimentation and sexual preferences with their veiled culinary talk about the morality of eating oysters and/or snails, and Crassus' affinity for sexual variety (Crassus: "It is all a matter of taste includes both snails and oysters") - the scene was restored to the theatrical release version in 1991; also the film was noted for the near-nude bathing scene (partially obscured by an overhanging fern) of slave girl Varinia (Jean Simmons) - Spartacus' (Kirk Douglas) love interest

The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (1961)

Director Herschell Gordon Lewis' first fully-fledged and financially-successful, sexploitative "nudie film" (produced by David F. Friedman) was a blatant copy of Russ Meyer's successful The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959); this one-hour long comedic film, made on a budget of $7,500, consisted of nine short skits each involving the beret-wearing title character Pierre (Billy Falbo) with nude ladies and amusing misadventures; the segments included "Pardon My Pigment" (painting a nude in the park), "The Plumber's Friend" (repair of a shower faucet with a nude woman in the tub), "For the Birds" (bird-watching with nude sunbathers), "The Photographer's Apprentice" (nude photography), and "Drive-In Me Crazy" (a drive-in with an all-nude staff)

As Nature Intended (1961) (aka Naked...As Nature Intended or Just as Nature Intended)

This 'nudist colony' documentary film was made by glamour photographer and UK sex film pioneer George Harrison-Marks - it featured cult model Pamela Green (as Pamela) in its teasing travelogue about a group of professional females who visited a naked beach in Cornwall, England; the film displayed some nudity (no private parts) and now functions only as a curiosity item

Nude on the Moon (1961), Diary of a Nudist (1961), Blaze Starr Goes Nudist (1965), Bad Girls Go To Hell (1965), A Taste of Flesh (1967), Deadly Weapons (1974), Double Agent 73 (1974), and A Night To Dismember (1983)

Prolific adult-oriented, self-taught, pioneering filmmaker Doris Wishman, known as the "Queen of Sexploitation Films," was responsible for many varieties of titillating underground films ("nudies", "roughies", and "skin flicks"); Wishman's films are now regarded as kitsch, drive-in quality pieces of vulgarity and guilty pleasure - paving the way for the films of Roger Corman, Russ Meyers and John Waters

Wishman's most famed films were:

  • the sci-fi Nude on the Moon (1961)
  • Diary of a Nudist (1961)
  • Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965) - her first "roughie"
  • a series of films with 50s stripper Blaze Starr (i.e., Blaze Starr Goes Nudist (1965)), Deadly Weapons (1974) - see separate entry, advertised as featuring Polish stripper and star Chesty Morgan's 73-32-36 enormous bustline
  • A Night to Dismember (1983) with hard-core porn actress Samantha Fox

Nude on the Moon (1961)

Diary of a Nudist (1961)

Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965)

Deadly Weapons (1974)

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

This film was notable as Blake Edwards' groundbreaking romantic comedy with an against-type portrayal ("as you've never seen her before") by squeaky-clean Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly - a free-wheeling, daring, sexually-active and flighty call girl (who lived, partially, on weekly payments in exchange for visits to an ex-mob boss prisoner), and George Peppard as a struggling writer and "kept man" (gigolo) by an icy and rich older NYC socialite (Patricia Neal); reportedly, this film inspired director Radley Metzger to make a series of critically successful and overtly sexual films, such as The Dirty Girls (1964), Carmen, Baby (1967) - an erotic updating of Bizet's opera with voluptuous sex kitten Uta Levka as the title character, and his most successful feature Therese and Isabelle (1968) - see below

The Children's Hour (1961)

This film was based upon Lillian Hellman's hit Broadway play The Children's Hour - and was first filmed by William Wyler as These Three (1936) - it was extremely bowdlerized due to restrictions imposed by the Hays Office; in the earlier drama of 1936, the rumor and accusation of a lesbian relationship between two teachers was changed to an illicit, though heterosexual, love affair between one of the teachers and her colleague's fiancé; this 1961 film remake also had to avoid the word 'lesbian', although it seriously told a story of female attraction between Karen Wright (Audrey Hepburn) and Martha Dobie (Shirley MacLaine) - two headmistress-teachers at the Wright-Dobie School for Girls - that was witnessed and reported by young female student Mary Tilford (Karen Balkin) as "bad things"; later in a heart-rending scene, self-loathing Martha broke down and confessed how 'guilty' and 'sick and dirty' she felt about her feelings toward Karen: ("Don't you see? I can't stand to have you touch me. I can't stand to have you look at me. Oh, it's all my fault. I've ruined your life and I've ruined my own. I swear I didn't know it. I didn't mean it. Oh, I feel so damn sick and dirty, I can't stand it anymore!"); she committed suicide (by hanging herself in her room - her dangling feet seen in shadowy silhouette) when she realized that the lesbian rumors about herself were true; this forward-looking film helped to contribute to the eventual breakdown of the Production Code and its strict censorship

Last Year at Marienbad (1961, Fr/It.) (aka L'Année Dernière à Marienbad)

In this enigmatic New Wave film about dreamy seduction from Alain Resnais that was set at an opulent European hotel, handsome X/Stranger (Giorgio Albertazzi) endlessly attempted to convince sleek, elegant and alluring A/Woman (Delphine Seyrig) that they had met before and had an affair - in a dance of seduction, the two 'lovers' recounted a fragmented tale of their perceived reality and unrealized love affair

The Misfits (1961)

Director John Huston's film was the final, haunting, fully-completed film for two major sex screen legends: 59 year-old Clark Gable (once "The King of Hollywood") as aging, washed-out 'real-life' cowboy Gay Langland and 35 year-old Marilyn Monroe, who performed in the role of troubled ex-stripper and divorcee Roslyn Taber, who was in Reno, Nevada for a quickie divorce; in one early scene in a crowded bar, Roslyn (wearing a trademark low-cut white dress with polka dots) surprised the wagering crowd with her expert paddle-ball skills, voluptuously shaking her chest and rear end with body English - causing one cowpoke to irresistibly spank her in rhythm; in another scene earlier, she spent an idyllic time at an unfinished desert cabin with Gay where they became infatuated with each other

Paris Blues (1961)

This melodramatic Martin Ritt film was noted as being the first to star an African-American actor (Sidney Poitier) as a romantic lead character, in the role of expatriate jazz musician Eddie Cook; he starred opposite Paul Newman (as trombone-playing Ram Bowen) in racially-tolerant Paris; both were engaged in romances with two vacationing American tourists: Connie Lampson (Diahann Carroll) and Lillian Corning (Joanne Woodward)

The Sinister Urge (1961) (aka The Young & The Immoral)

Writer/director Ed Wood Jr.'s campy, low-budget crime drama told about a sex-crazed henchman and compulsive serial killer (with a "sinister urge") named Dirk Williams (Dino Fantini) who murdered young women after looking at "dirty photos" of semi-clad women produced by his boss, pornography "smut business" director Johnny Ryde (Carl Anthony) - a transparent allegory for Wood himself; the film was notable for Wood's usually cheesy and silly dialogue and wooden performances, including the claim that pornography was directly responsible for "dope peddling" and murder (!) of young aspiring starlets; this was Wood's last "straight" film, as the B-director of schlock films would turn to creating soft-core porn in the future