History of Sex in Cinema:
The Greatest and Most Influential
Sexual Films and Scenes

(Illustrated)

Reference Introduction

History of Sex in Cinema:
Greatest and Most Influential Sex Scenes/Films of All Time

What are the Criteria for the Greatest and Most Influential Sex Scenes/Films of All Time?

In the context of the sexual revolution that has evolved in film-making, therefore, one must ask:

"What makes an influential, ground-breaking, and/or memorable erotic (or sexual) scene in a film?"

These are at least some of the ingredients for a great erotic or sexy scene or film:

  • the ground-breaking or controversial nature and influence of the film scene
  • the degree to which the sex is gratuitous or not
  • the presence of a semi- or un-clothed celebrity or actor/actress
  • the level of sensuality generated
  • the build-up to the scene in question
  • the revelation of character
  • the unique use of nudity or non-nudity
  • the lush photography
  • the scene's degree of fantasy or realism
  • the integration of the scene into the entire film's plot
  • the passion or emotion of the relationship

Recent Surveys, Lists of Best/Top Scenes and Links:

Many magazines, other publications, articles and websites have purported to have the definitive collection of the milestone sex scenes in cinema, in various numbers: the top 10, the hottest 25, the 10 most favorite, the best ever-filmed, the top 100, etc. Most lists do not include criteria or an explanation of any sort, except to say that the list includes favorites, 'hot' and 'steamy' scenes, controversial or ground-breaking scenes, memorable circumstances, sexy celebrities, or beautiful photography. However, it is clear that there are certain key scenes in films that are often invoked, noted, or influential in pushing back or extending the boundaries of sexual expression on the screen.

Here is a listing (in alphabetical and/or chronological order) of the most recent surveys of erotic sex on-screen, from magazines, videos, and books, that have purported to provide answers about the 'hottest', 'sexiest', or most influential scenes ever made. Many are no longer available on the Web:

Recommended Videos, Books on Sex in Cinema:

One Hundred Sex Scenes That Changed Cinema, by Neil Fulwood, 2004, B.T. Batsford
The 50 Most Erotic Films of All Time, by Maitland McDonagh, 1996, Citadel Press Books, New York, NY.
Sex at 24 Frames Per Second: The Ultimate Journey Through Sex in Cinema, Playboy Productions DVD/video
Profoundly Erotic : Sexy Movies that Changed History (2005), by Joe Bob Briggs, 2005
The X List: The National Society of Film Critics' Guide to the Movies That Turn Us On, edited by Jami Bernard, 2005
Erotic Cinema, edited by Douglas Keesey and Paul Duncan, Taschen Publishing, 2005

Sex in Cinematic History
History Overview | Reference Intro | Pre-1920s | 1920-26 | 1927-29 | 1930-1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934-37 | 1938-39
1940-44 | 1945-49 | 1950-54 | 1955-56 | 1957-59 | 1960-61 | 1962-63 | 1964 | 1965-66 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969

1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989
1990 | 1991 | 1992-1 | 1992-2 | 1993 | 1994-1 | 1994-2 | 1995-1 | 1995-2 | 1996-1 | 1996-2 | 1997-1 | 1997-2 | 1998-1 | 1998-2 | 1999-1 | 1999-2
2000-1 | 2000-2 | 2001-1 | 2001-2 | 2002-1 | 2002-2 | 2003-1 | 2003-2 | 2004-1 | 2004-2 | 2005-1 | 2005-2 | 2006-1 | 2006-2
2007-1 | 2007-2 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014

Index to All Decades, Years and Features


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