History of Sex in Cinema:
|Movie Title/Year and Film/Scene Description|
Bluebeard (1972) (aka Barbe Bleue, Fr.)
This very black comedy film from veteran director Edward Dmytryk was based upon Charles Perrault's classic French folktale first published in the late 1600s. The film's poster revealed the entire plot - and the many demises of Bluebeard's unfortunate wives:
It told about the evil and sadistic Count Bluebeard - Baron von Sepper/Bluebeard (Richard Burton), a WWI biplane flying ace with a blue-colored beard. He was an Austrian aristocrat, avant-garde photographer, and predatory husband who lived in a castle.
His most recent vivacious spouse, suspicious American vaudeville-cabaret dancer Anne (Joey Heatherton), had married him almost immediately after meeting him at one of her dance performances. On their wedding night, her champagne was possibly drugged, and she escaped sleeping with the Count. She had engaged in a sexy photo shoot (wearing a thin and transparent, lacy black nightgown) with the Count, but he wasn't aroused by her. While searching the castle and using a forbidden small gold key on a massive key ring, she discovered that all of her husband's previous wives (all international beauties) had suffered horrible fates and were stored frozen in a vault in the Baron's basement, beyond a secret passage and sliding door.
To buy time from being killed herself as the next victim by dawn, Anne convinced mass-murdering killer Bluebeard, who had also mummified his dead mother, to tell his wives' life/death stories - a series of vignettes in flashback - to free his soul. He revealed that he had been forced to kill each of them because they were about to make love to him, and he couldn't face the fact that he was impotent.
When Anne explained that Bluebeard was mother-fixated, she bared her breasts to him - and he turned away, proving her point. The film concluded with Bluebeard dead from gunshot, and Anne freed from the freezer vault.
Boxcar Bertha (1972)
After making a few short films and documentaries, Italian-American director Martin Scorsese's first Hollywood feature film (his second film) was the low-budget Roger Corman-produced film released by AIP. With $600,000 as the film's budget, he was instructed to make an exploitation film, and he lived up to expectations by providing liberal amounts of nudity and violence, and a number of cinematic trick shots and editing techniques.
The film's poster announced: "America in the 30s was a free country. Bertha was jes' a little bit free'er than most."
The Bonnie-and-Clyde like road film was set during the Depression-era 1930 in the South, and loosely adapted the autobiography of the real-life title character in anarchist Ben Reitman's 1937 book Sister of the Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha.
It told of the plight of 16 year-old tomboyish Arkansas farm girl Bertha Thompson (Barbara Hershey). After her father Jack died in a mechanically-faulty crop-dusting plane crash, she fled on a railroad boxcar, thus acquiring her nickname, and joined up with labor union organizer "Big Bill" Shelly (David Carradine, Hershey's real-life lover at the time). Both with rebellious natures, Bertha allowed herself to be seduced and devirginized in the boxcar. [Note: They both claimed the sex scenes weren't simulated.]. Bill's radical goal was to fight the railroad bosses and unionize Reader Rail Road.
After a series of transient adventures, one of which involved the murder of a bigoted, cheating Southern lawyer during a card game, she helped Bill escape from a railroad chain gang after he had been arrested for inciting violence. They became fugitives from the law after robbing a train and reluctantly took to a life of crime.
Bill was imprisoned and severely beaten for his past unionizing efforts, while Bertha was forced to become a prostitute. They had one final reunion in a shack, where they experienced one more bittersweet reunion, before they were both discovered and viciously beaten.
In the climactic, symbolic bloody ending, Bill was crucified with his hands nailed to the side of a boxcar.
Bob Fosse's musical was the first one ever to be given an X rating (although later re-rated) with its numerous sexual flings (including bisexuality, homosexuality and abortion) and hedonistic club life.
Set in a decadent early 1930s Berlin cabaret club, the Kit-Kat Club (with perverse stage shows), it told of a threesome love triangle between:
When Brian was a tenant in the boarding room apartment with Sally and shared one of her rooms for tutoring lessons, she attempted to seduce him. Sally asked a disinterested, platonic Brian as she placed his hand on her breast:
Although reluctant to discuss such matters, Brian admitted: "I do not sleep with girls. Let me be absolutely accurate." He then confessed how he was unlucky with three previous attempts at heterosexual sex - all were disastrous ("The word for my sex life now is 'nil,' or as you Americans would say, 'plenty of nuttin'"). She asked: "Why didn't you tell me in the first place?" They decided to continue to remain best friends, albeit platonic (Sally: "And friends are much harder to find than lovers. Besides, sex always screws up a friendship, anyway, if you let it. So we won't let it").
She suspected that he was gay, but eventually they became lovers. They began kissing, became romantic, and ended up making love in bed. She reminded Brian: "Maybe those three girls were just the wrong three girls." He asked: "Doesn't my body drive you wild with desire?"
There was also the infamous threesome weekend drinking scene when the trio were slowly dancing together in the living room of Maximilian's palatial country estate. While they were in a circle in each other's arms, the record stopped with a potent silence.
Later, during an argumentative quarrel, Sally accused Brian of being extremely jealous of Max ("he's everything that you're not") - "rich...suave...and divinely sexy."
Brian's bi-sexuality was revealed, and both of them were having shared sexual relations. Max enjoyed sexual dalliances with both Sally and Brian, and they had both betrayed each other.
British director John Boorman's gripping, absorbing action-adventure film Deliverance (1972) told about four suburban Atlanta businessmen friends who encountered disaster in a summer weekend's river-canoeing trip. It included a disturbing, ad-libbed sequence of forced rape.
At shot-gun-point in the woods, in a nightmarish and frightening sequence, a sexually-perverted rustic mountain man (Bill McKinney) viciously targeted and humiliated Bobby Trippe (Ned Beatty) - a chubby-faced, defenseless intruder into his territory.
The fat salesman was forced to first strip down to his underwear, and then after a degrading roll around in the dirt and up a steep, leaf-strewn hillside while fondling and groping his prey, the mountain man/rapist made Bobby squeal like a female sow before sodomizing him.
The Rape of Bobby
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)
Woody's Allen's irreverent comedy was based upon Dr. David Reuben's notorious, best-selling sex manual, with seven witty segments on topics such as bestiality, exposure, perversion, and S&M.
The comedy was rated R for its frank candor and sexual situations, although it contained no explicit scenes of sex.
It included numerous episodes or vignettes:
Do Aphrodisiacs Work?
What is Sodomy?
Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?
This tawdry yet suspenseful thriller was the first Alfred Hitchcock R-rated film (and his second-to-last film) - it also was the first Hitchcock film to contain nudity (although unnecessary to the plot and somewhat awkward).
In the opening sequence, a nude female corpse - another victim of the 'necktie strangler' - floated in the Thames River as spectators watched and a politician spoke about pollution.
Also nudity (a body-double's breast) was seen during the vicious and agonizing necktie strangulation-rape scene of ex-Mrs. Brenda Margaret Blaney (Barbara Leigh-Hunt). When she begged for her life, the serial killer Bob Rusk (Barry Foster) tore off her dress and bra (exposing one breast), screamed at her: "Love me!...Women - they're all the same", and then revealed that he was the notorious Necktie Killer. After a lengthy struggle, she was left dead with her twisted tongue hanging out.
In the final scene set in Rusk's apartment bedroom, framed murderer Richard "Dick" Blaney (Jon Finch) had fled there after escaping from prison to kill Rusk. He beat a figure under bedclothes (thinking it was Rusk) with a crowbar, until he realized that the body belonged to an anonymous nude female (another strangulation victim murdered earlier off-screen) when her arm with bracelets dangled off the side of the bed.
Chief Inspector Oxford (Alec McCowen) found Blaney at the scene - now fully implicated, but then heard someone lugging a large trunk up the stairs. They remained quiet as necktie murderer Bob Rusk was tricked into being apprehended (with the damning evidence - a nude victim - in his own bed) after entering. Oxford noted to Rusk:
Fritz the Cat (1972)
Ralph Bakshi's explicit animation feature was based on R. Crumb's underground comic strip. The success of the film led to other X-rated animated films, such as Bakshi's own film Heavy Traffic (1973), and Dirty Duck (1974) (aka The Down and Dirty Duck) (with the tagline: "Wouldn't you like a good duck tonight?")
This was the first major animated motion picture to receive an X rating - with its naked characters, orgies, drug use, and foul language - among cartoon cats and creatures. it featured full-frontal nudity and animated sexual intercourse, but nothing explicit.
In an early scene, as Fritz felt up a blonde female cat, he assured her:
He then invited all three female cats to join him in a walk-up apartment: "Together we shall all learn the real existential essence of the life force." In a bathtub, before having sex with all of them, he said:
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Horror film director Wes Craven's second effort (and his first release as both a writer and director) resulted in this infamous, controversial, taboo-breaking and often revolting 'snuff'-type shock exploitation film. The notorious film was censored or severely edited for release. It was about the relentless ordeal of two teenaged girls:
In the film's opening scene under the credits, Mari was showering, preparing to go out with Phyllis and search for pot while on their way to a Blood Lust concert.
They were apprehended and kidnapped by a sadistic group of escaped convicts led by Krug Stillo (David Hess), who first described himself to Phyllis: "You must think we're pretty stupid. No, hah! We ain't stupid. We might be, uhm, horny old pigs, but, uh, we ain't stupid." Phyllis' blouse was opened to expose her breasts, and then Krug punched her in the stomach and raped her (off-screen) as Mari watched in horror.
In another disturbing and humiliating scene after they were taken to a woodsy area, blue-wearing Phyllis was forced to urinate with her clothes on ("Piss (in) your pants...Do it!"). The camera panned down, showing her wettened blue-jeans.
Then, they was stripped naked and forced to have oral sex with each other ("Make them make it with each other! Lezzies"). The girls went ahead, rationalizing: "lt's just you and me here. Nobody else. Just you and me, okay?" When Krug left for awhile, Phyllis was allowed to put her clothes back on, and then whispered to Mari: "I'm gonna make a run for it." Phyllis made a run for it, but was cornered, and stabbed in the back by Fred "Weasel" Podowski (Fred Lincoln).
After repeated stabbings, Phyllis was dis-emboweled and butchered, after which psychopathic, sadistic gang member Sadie (Jeramie Rain) reached in and pulled out her gooey intestines to examine them. Phyllis' left hand and half of her forearm were amputated (off-screen).
Red-wearing Mari was next - she had Krug's name carved into her upper chest and was then brutally raped (as he drooled onto her face). She vomited and then walked dazedly into a nearby pond to half-submerge and cleanse herself. Krug shot and killed her there, and she floated on the water's surface.
Later in an act of vengeful oral castration, Mrs. Collingwood (Cynthia Carr) - one of the girls' mothers - fellated gang member "Weasel" (who had his hands tied behind his back). After he boasted: "I can come five or six times if you want me to," she then viciously bit off his penis as he was climaxing.
Last Tango in Paris (1972/1973, It./Fr.) (aka Ultimo tango a Parigi)
Director Bernardo Bertolucci's film was a landmark, controversial erotic film that received an X-rating, due mostly to the fact that the film featured a major star who had sex throughout the entire movie. Brando and director Bertolucci were both nominated for Oscars in the highly-acclaimed and debated cinematic work.
In 1974, it became the first film to be prosecuted under Britain's Obscene Publications Act. The film was available in a censored R-rated version in 1981 (with modifications mostly to the anal-sex butter scene which was not in the original script), and as an uncut X-rated (or NC-17) version. [When re-released in 1997, the MPAA re-rated the film as NC-17.]
It told about a distraught, confused, grieving widower and middle-aged, overweight American exile Paul (Marlon Brando) who plunged into a sado-masochistic, sex-crazed, physical (yet impersonal and basically anonymous) relationship after his wife's suicide. He met up with young, big-breasted 20 year-old Parisienne ingenue Jeanne (Maria Schneider), a proper bourgeois female who was engaged to be married, but nonetheless acted in a carefree manner and accepted his prurient sexual demands.
The film outraged some viewers for a full-body panning shot up Jeanne's body in an elevator, including a full-frontal closeup shot of Jeanne's pubic hair. Also, it was notorious for its bathtub washing scene and the disturbing and explicit anal sodomy scene on the floor using butter as a lubricant during intercourse (with his command: "Go get the butter"). His emphasis was on pure sex, basically anal - a reversal of conventional romantic love.
Later in a similarly-shocking scene, Paul reciprocated by letting Jeanne penetrate him anally with two fingers ("Put your fingers up my ass") - part of his objective to "look death right in the face...go right up into the ass of death... till you find the womb of fear." His set of rules was notable for the time: "We are going to forget everything we knew - everything." Then, she abandoned the apartment, and when he found her on the street, she didn't want to see him again, but by that time, he had fallen in love with her. He shattered the anonymous nature of their relationship by describing his life.
The film ended when he chased her through the streets and pursued her into her mother's Parisian apartment. He playfully donned her late father's Army cap (he was a colonel in French North Africa). When he removed it and confessed his love for her, she was horrified and fearful. He met a violent death on the balcony when she shot him with her father's Army pistol.
Jeanne (Maria Schneider)
with Paul (Marlon Brando)
Pink Flamingos (1972)
Director John Waters, dubbed "The Prince of Puke," produced a unique crop of intentionally bizarre, crude, sexually-grotesque, and bad taste-laden cult films with eccentric oddball characters and harshly-vivid language. See also Waters' Female Trouble (1974).
His gross-out, unrated (NC-17) seminal film Pink Flamingos was about an unusual transvestite trailer park matron-diva named Babs Johnson (played by Divine).
In the climactic ending scene, she literally ate real (and fresh) dog feces (termed coprophagia) in a competition to become the 'World's Filthiest Person Alive' - among other things.
Other shocking and perverse sequences included:
(l to r): (Edith Massey) and Babs (Divine)
Cookie (Cookie Mueller) -
Sex with Chickens
The Singing Asshole
Eating Dog Feces
Savage Messiah (1972, UK)
Flamboyant producer/director Ken Russell's R-rated unconventional, melodramatic biopic (one of many he directed in the 1970s) was loosely based on art collector H.S. Ede's 1931 biographical book of the same name, specifically a series of love letters. Taglines advertised the self-financed film: "Every man has a dream that must be realized, a love that must come true, a life that must not stop," and "All art is sex!"
Set in Bohemian Paris and London of 1910-1915, it told about eccentric, struggling Vorticist French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (Scott Antony). He had been dubbed the "Savage Messiah" during his unorthodox, intense, and platonic relationship with Polish-born aspiring author Sophie Brzeska (Dorothy Tutin), 20 years his senior. They had met in Paris when he was only 18. He died tragically young when killed at age 23 in WWI when fighting against the Germans.
One of Henri Gaudier's shapely and voluptuous models (fictionalized), with which he had an affair, functioned as his second 'muse' - enthusiastic suffragette Gosh Boyle (young Helen Mirren). In the scene in which she posed and appeared naked as he drew her, she was ascending and descending various staircases, an obvious allusion to Marcel Duchamp's famous 1912 painting, Nude Descending a Staircase. Boyle was the daughter of a wealthy army officer, who spoke of free love.
She engaged in a conversation with him while climbing a staircase naked:
When it was suggested to her that she sleep with quarrymen rather than poets for a "much better ride," she responded: "I don't care what I do so long as it's creative. I want to leave something behind me that was never there before." As she descended another staircase, she mentioned that as a Virgo, she felt she was subject to "cosmic boredom." She enthusiastically proposed dancing naked at the exhibition "in the spirit of nature."
This early 70s violent, fast-paced, action-blaxploitation film was directed by Jack Starrett (and AIP's Samuel Arkoff). The R-rated film was advertised with a word-play on the name of the title character: "It's not only his name. It's his business and sometimes -- his pleasure!" The film's posters proclaimed: "Jim Brown is 'Slaughter'." "The Fuzz had a warrant for him. The Mob had a contract on him. All Slaughter had was a name -- but he sure lived up to it."
According to an August 1972 Hollywood Reporter news-report, the highly successful grindhouse classic brought AIP "the biggest business in the 18-year history of the company." It was followed by the sequel Slaughter's Big Rip Off (1973), with Jim Brown reprising his title role.
It starred ex-Green Beret Captain Slaughter (ex-pro football player Jim Brown), a Vietnam war hero who proclaimed himself as the "baddest cat ever walked the earth." Similar to the same era's Shaft (Richard Roundtree), Slaughter was a gun-toting, contemptuous, fast-driving black protagonist after both racist, Mafia mobsters and federal cops. He was seeking revenge for the car-bombing murder of his parents.
Blonde 60's sex-pot Stella Stevens (January 1960 Playboy Playmate) co-starred in a small supporting role as Mafia mistress Ann Cooper, living in South America (although the film was shot in Mexico) with psychopathic, bigoted hit man Dominick Hoffo (Rip Torn), the most likely individual who murdered Slaughter's parents.
She provided the requisite nudity when she emerged from a shower, and she eventually became studly Slaughter's love-interest (at first, she met him when ordered to gather information), when he was coerced to travel to 'South America' by the feds after a botched sting, to take on the Mob. He vowed to extricate her from Hoffo's powerful grasp (killing him in the film's conclusion after he confessed), and shared two inter-racial sex scenes with her.
Amy (Stella Stevens)
Street of a Thousand Pleasures (1972) (aka Arab Slave Market, or Dreams)
This was a notorious X-rated sexploitation (called a "nudie cutie") film from the early 70s, directed by William Rostler (aka Clay McCord) and released by Harry Novak. The film's subtitle was: "There's something in it for everyone." It also promised: "A Journey Through the Whispered World of Women."
In the virtually plotless movie, American businessman/oil field geologist John Dalton (John Tull), during a trip to the Middle East away from his nagging wife in Los Angeles, rescued Arab sheik Abdul Ben Hassein from an assassination knife attack by shooting the assailant.
He was rewarded with a trip to the spectacular "street of a thousand pleasures," where he was introduced to the slave market-harem filled with dozens of naked women functioning as sex servants. [Note: Some of the females included Uschi Digart - as Busty Slave Girl, pin-up girl Michelle Angelo - as Busty Girl with Apple, Joyce Mandel - as Busty Girl with Goblet, and many other un-credited beauties.]
He viewed scores of feminine treats with "Girl-A-Vision" (a hand-held camera presented his point of view from a hands-on perspective, often with enlarged close-ups of body parts).
Bodies could be caressed or kissed, and eventually, John had brief sex with a few of the females, including a black belly dancer (Malta).
The film ended with another strike by the Arab assassin, who killed the sheik (having sex) by stabbing him to death, while nearby, John was also having sex. After wrestling with the assassin, John left the Middle East and returned home with a willing American slave slave.
Virgin Witch (1972, UK) (aka Lesbian Twins)
This unscary British satanic cult thriller was part of a 1970s trend in Europe to release sexploitation films regarding the occult.
Its enticing taglines overplayed the film: "She's the girl with the power...to turn you on!...to turn you off!", "She'll blow your mind!", and "Her lust was innocence - her desires...evil!"
The film's sole intent was a flimsy plotline designed to display as many perky breasts and bare buttocks as possible, and to titillate with lesbianism - and even the first shot in the film's opening credits was a side view of a naked breast.
The film featured two runaways (with two real-life sisters in the roles):
In London, they answered an ad from a modeling agency, run by predatory head agent Sybil Waite (Patricia Haines). After Christine disrobed and was personally scrutinized and lustfully measured with a tape across her naked breasts and hips by Sybil, the two females were invited to a country mansion for a modeling audition photo shoot - supposedly an ad for cider.
Lured there together, Christine was photographed around the lush grounds by photographer Peter, who suggested that she disrobe ("I'm trying to get an angle, take your jeans off") for some Garden of Eden shots. Soon, he had discarded his camera and was having sex with her next to a tree - spied upon from afar by Sybil.
They discovered that Sybil was a lesbian high-priestess witch who managed a coven of witches, along with the owner of the Wychwold estate, Gerald Amberly (Neil Hallett). Sybil was attempting to seduce both girls, and especially Christine (with employment, sleeping together, and a kiss). While taking a bath, Betty was spied upon through a peephole by Gerald.
The two virgins were being prepared for an induction ceremony, and surprisingly, Betty was very eager to be inducted into the group during a sexualized midnight ritual. She was stripped, oiled up and led to the altar, where she was deflowered by a masked Gerald.
In the film's final twist, the un-innocent Christine revealed her own supernatural ESP-psychic powers to turn the tables and take over leadership of the coven with her own ritual. She set a large headshot of Sybil on fire -- and as it was set ablaze, Sybil's facial expression became pained.
Predatory Sybil Waite
Betty's Induction Ritual
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
Index to All Decades, Years and Features
- History of Sex in CinemaA year-by-year look at the films, scandals and changing laws.
- History of Erotic FilmsEverything you ever wanted to know from the first sex symbol to the birth of porn.
- Movies That Challenged RatingsA ranked movie list of 10 milestone sexy films that challenged the ratings.
- Sexy Hollywood BombshellsA brief history of Hollywood's sirens including Monroe, Mansfield, and Mamie.
- Top 100 Controversial MoviesMany of these included controversial sex and violence.
- Sexiest Films of All-TimeOver 75 of the hottest films in movie history.