BRIAN VINER has picked his most erotic sex scenes

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BRIAN VINER has picked his most erotic sex scenes

There may yet be a baby boom as a result of lockdown and couples quarantining together, but in cinematic terms, sex and the pandemic are not happy

BRIAN VINER pays tribute to Fred Willard with a look back at three of his greatest films 
Courtney Stodden shows off her summer body in bikini following brief romance with Brian Austin Green
Brian Austin Green's girlfriend Tina Louise, 38, poses for a photo shoot


There may yet be a baby boom as a result of lockdown and couples quarantining together, but in cinematic terms, sex and the pandemic are not happy bedfellows.

Film production has started again, but under new guidelines, directors are being urged to promote safe The on-set working practices and that includes scenes involving actors jumping into bed together — or not.

Even before any of us had heard of Covid-19, some movie directors were feeling compromised by the #MeToo movement.

A pass in a bar, a hand on a knee, a sizzle of sexual chemistry . . . heightened sensibilities already meant that such things could no longer be depicted willy-nilly, if you’ll pardon the term. In this era of social distancing, though, showing sex on screen has become trickier still. The professional association Directors UK this week updated its guidelines for ‘directing nudity and simulated sex’, suggesting ways of presenting romantic liaisons other than with the kind of graphic sexual activity recently seen in the steamy TV drama Normal People.

Actors Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange embrace in a scene for the movie The Postman Always Rings Twice, which was released in 1981

Actors Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange embrace in a scene for the movie The Postman Always Rings Twice, which was released in 1981

Let characters be shown fixing their own clothes ‘after the event’, they say. Or how about ‘the closing of a bedroom door’ as a way of leaving the action to ‘a viewer’s imagination’? In some respects, all this represents a dramatic leap back in time to the notorious Hays Code, which subjected 1930s Hollywood to strict rules about screen sex.

Will Hays, who led the censorship committee, was a Presbyterian elder from Indiana and a former U.S. Postmaster-General, so it’s perhaps as well that he didn’t live to see the 1981 version of The Postman Always Rings Twice, an erotically charged remake of the 1946 film with Lana Turner.

That one was sexy enough, but by the time Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange got down to business 35 years later on a kitchen table, very little was left to the imagination.

Perhaps, though, the new pandemic-influenced guidelines actually represent a leap forward, not backward, in that they force actors and directors to think more creatively about sex. In our anything-goes culture, the depiction of sex on screen has been becoming less and less erotic, by getting more and more explicit. Even the Nicholson/Lange coupling looks tame by modern standards.

The directors of the 1940s might have preferred not to work within the constraints of the Hays Code, but it did lead to some of the sexiest images in the history of cinema, such as Humphrey Bogart lighting a cigarette for a similarly smouldering Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep (1946).

That scene was utterly sensual and sexual, no less — in fact, rather more — than any number of heaving and thrusting scenes we are confronted with in modern-day films.

So, in that respect alone, three cheers for the effects of Covid on the movie industry.

Directors are being encouraged to look at films such as It Happened One Night, the classic 1934 romcom starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, to learn how sex was depicted in a more innocent yet more censorious age — with ingenuity and panache.

Here are my top picks of films they might consider revisiting, containing what, in my view, are nine of the most erotic sex scenes ever devised — and one of the least…

Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis acting

Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis acting

THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (1993)

It’s no accident that many of cinema’s most sensual moments happen in period films, when buttoned-up social morality and actual buttons seem designed to discourage intimacy.

This could hardly apply more to high-society New York in the 1870s, which makes it all the sexier as Daniel Day-Lewis’s lawyer Newland Archer, though engaged to May Welland (Winona Ryder), falls for her hot cousin Countess Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). Her orgasmic tremors when he finally nuzzles her neck make the earth move for the audience, too.

In this scene Lauren Bacall turns Humphrey Bogart's legs to jelly

In this scene Lauren Bacall turns Humphrey Bogart’s legs to jelly

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1994)

For at least ten years I’ve been telling my children that smoking isn’t clever, cool or sexy . . . but I would never cite 19-year-old Lauren Bacall’s entrance in Howard Hawks’ To Have And Have Not as supporting evidence.

It isn’t what most of us know as a sex scene, and yet, as she stands in the open doorway asking ‘Anybody gotta match?’, then lights up with as much sultry elegance as anyone has ever done anything on screen, she turns even Humphrey Bogart’s legs to jelly.

So really it was a sex scene, and by the time Bogey lit a cigarette for her two years later in The Big Sleep, he had left his third wife and made her his fourth.

This is one of the most romantic films ever

This is one of the most romantic films ever

CASABLANCA (1942)

Michael Curtiz’s wonderful picture is already prominent on the list of films Directors UK is urging its members to look at, and with good reason.

It is unquestionably one of the most romantic movies ever made, as Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) grapple with their powerful feelings for one another, complicated by war, the German occupation of Casablanca and her marriage to another man.

But their fully-clothed kiss, its passion somehow intensified in black and white, adds an irresistible hint of real sex, whatever you believe is meant by Curtiz’s cut to a revolving lighthouse!

DON’T LOOK NOW (1973)

Some of the sexiest scenes in the movies are erotic because of what they suggest, some because of how startlingly real they seem.

When the grieving characters played so unforgettably by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in Nicolas Roeg’s magnificent psychological thriller Don’t Look Now have sex, it’s very much the latter (though Roeg denied the rumours that his leads weren’t actually faking it). Brilliantly, he made the post-coital scenes of them getting dressed just as erotic as the sex itself by intertwining them, creating an extraordinary, electrifying sense of intimacy.

The scenes of the pair getting dressed were just as erotic as the actual act in this film

The scenes of the pair getting dressed were just as erotic as the actual act in this film

It is said to 'ooze sex' despite restrictions on what could be shown on screen

It is said to ‘ooze sex’ despite restrictions on what could be shown on screen

DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)

The genius of Billy Wilder’s brilliant film noir is the way it oozes sex — even at the time of the Hays Code.

The sequence where Fred MacMurray watches Barbara Stanwyck’s long-legged femme fatale slowly descending the stairs is not a conventional sex scene, yet vibrates with sensuality and lust, paving the way for his fall from grace as she uses her womanly wiles to persuade him to murder her husband.

One of the most erotically charged scenes

One of the most erotically charged scenes

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1981)

This sex scene seemed so convincing that rumours persisted for years that Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange were doing it for real on the kitchen table,

Especially once it emerged that director Bob Rafelson filmed it on a closed set — just him, his cinematographer, and the two stars.

It’s still one of the most erotically charged of all movie moments.

BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KIDS (1969) 

At first we are encouraged to think Robert Redford’s Sundance Kid is forcing lover Etta (Katharine Ross) to undress at gunpoint. That’s what makes it a great sex scene, because there’s a real frisson of tension. It doesn’t matter that we don’t see them go much further.

A pen-and-ink character gets the audience thinking about sex in this racy scene

A pen-and-ink character gets the audience thinking about sex in this racy scene

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

‘You don’t know how hard it is being a woman, looking the way ah do.’

‘You don’t know how hard it is being a man, looking at a woman looking the way you do.’

The exchange between Bob Hoskins’ private eye Eddie and toon temptress Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner) is nothing if not a sex scene. He’s thinking about it, she’s thinking about it and so are we . . . even though she’s pen and ink.

CASINO ROYALE (2006)

There has to be a Bond scene in any sexiest-of-all-time list, and tempted as I am to include an encounter between Sean Connery and Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore from Goldfinger, there’s nothing more erotic than Daniel Craig’s 007 and Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in the shower in Casino Royale. It’s not like most of Bond’s conquests. It’s sad, sexy, tender and, as he sucks her fingers, actually rather beautiful.

On every list of romantic television moments, there has to be a mention of James Bond

On every list of romantic television moments, there has to be a mention of James Bond

 P.S. A REAL STINKER: 50 SHADES OF GREY (2015)

The unique selling point of this movie, as with the original bestselling novel by E L James, is that Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) is into kinky sadistic sex and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) likes it. But when he sets about spanking her, he does so with all the energy of a man wielding a fly-swatter to gently terminate a bluebottle that has errantly settled on her bottom. 

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson star in 50 shades of grey, based on a book

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson star in 50 shades of grey, based on a book

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