History of Sex in Cinema:
|Movie Title/Year and Film/Scene Description|
This R-rated, May-December romance story was directed by Clint Eastwood - it was his third directed film, and the first one that he also didn't star in. Besides being a story of an intergenerational, age-disparity love, it also contrasted the establishment with the counter-culture of the time. The film's tagline hinted: "A free spirit can awaken even the loneliest heart."
Troubled hippie and liberal, guitar-strumming free spirit Edith Alice "Breezy" Breezerman (Kay Lenz) became involved in an intergenerational affair with Frank Harmon (William Holden), a cynical, insecure middle-aged, divorced businessman - and a conservative real-estate broker in the LA area. At first, he had found the dark-haired brunette sleeping on his front porch. When she found herself in trouble with the law, she claimed that Frank was her uncle, and moved into his home when he gave his permission. As she changed her clothes, they talked in their characteristic fashion:
During their time together, their friendship of opposite types became a sexual love affair when he unexpectedly fell in love with the big-hearted Breezy. There were only a few instances of polite and acceptable nudity in the film, when they undressed in the dark before sex. And the next morning, he explained what he felt for her: "Concern for another human being, awareness of life, fantastic excitement when I touch you, an interest, a genuine interest in someone other than myself." He admitted he hadn't mentioned the word 'love' but she felt he loved her without saying it.
By the film's conclusion, he was bound by convention and his own insecurities after he and Breezy attended a cinema showing High Plains Drifter. Confronted by two couples that he knew in the lobby, he soon after broke off the relationship fearing that he was a laughing-stock and that he might hurt her. In a tense scene upon his return the next evening, he refused to stay for a home-cooked dinner that she had especially prepared for him. She was confused by his sudden reticence about the two of them, before she tearfully left:
Appearing regretful about his decision after being alone for awhile, and realizing how precious life was, he was able to reconcile with Breezy and walk off with her in a park in the finale:
After the success of the blaxploitation action film Shaft (1971), films targeted at inner-city black male audiences began to multiply on movie screens. This blaxploitation classic from writer/director Jack Hill was a soft-core, violent, female follow-up version of the earlier film. It was more palatable than Melvin Van Peebles' breakout film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971).
The violent and sadistic film beat two competing films to the screen:
Pam Grier (in her first lead role and establishing herself as an African-American iconic figure) starred as Nurse "Coffy" Coffin, one of the first female action stars in this gritty yet formulaic film. [Note: Because of this film's enormous success, Grier's next film from AIP Foxy Brown (1974) was fast-tracked.]
She portrayed a sexy, anti-drug vigilante-heroine, vengeful against despicable Vegas drug-dealers because of the addiction of her 11 year-old sister. Coffy used her oversized revolver or sawed-off shotgun to kill drug suppliers and dealers. Coffy's "wildcat" character, often exhibiting immoral behavior to defeat her enemies, was advertised with the tagline:
This sleazy R-rated film included heavy doses of sex and nudity, low-cut clothing, and for some viewers a confirmation of the stereotyped societal perception that blacks were sexual animals. Coffy often used her sexuality, posing as a prostitute, to lure suspected mobsters and underworld figures, and she fought off various pimps, pushers and prostitutes who were also promoting and using illegal substances.
Director Quentin Tarantino judged it to be one of the top 10 greatest films ever made, and brought back Grier to star in his tribute film Jackie Brown (1997).
Don't Look Now (1973, UK/It.)
Director Nicolas Roeg's intense mystery/drama told the story of a vacationing married couple Laura (Julie Christie) and John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) who were in Venice after the tragic accidental drowning demise of their daughter in England.
The film was most known for an explicit, frank, and honest three-minute love scene for its time, with the couple in their Venice hotel room (bathroom and bedroom) expressing their intimate and honest love for each other and reconnecting emotionally.
The scene was creatively edited - intercut and juxtaposed with their showering-bathing-dressing and preparations for going out to dinner. As they relaxed languorously together, she stated: "You've got toothpaste all over your mouth" to which he replied: "Eat if off" - she responded with a kiss, but told him: "I can't get it off."
She also playfully stroked his naked backside as they both stretched out on a bed to make love. He opened up her nightgown, caressed her chest, and they began to have oral and actual intercourse.
The scene was so explicit (and seemingly real) that it had to be edited before the film's US theatrical R-rated release.
The Exorcist (1973)
Academy-Award winning director William Friedkin created a frightening, horror film masterpiece with The Exorcist (1973), about a young 12 year-old girl entering puberty and womanhood, who also became possessed.
Besides its sensational, nauseating, horrendous special effects involving Satanic-possessed Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) and her 360 degree head-rotation, the projectile spewing of green puke, etc., it also included more sexually-grotesque scenes, such as a controversial and lengthy excruciatingly-torturous medical examination sequence with markedly sexual overtones, conducted as a deflowering of the young girl. Other scenes:
One of the film's most horrifying scenes was the notorious crucifix-masturbation scene, symbolically simulating the loss of virginity for the young teenager. The camera registered the horror on the face of Regan's mother as she saw her daughter's sacrilegious self-abuse. In an obscene gesture simulating masturbation, a horribly-disfigured Regan repeatedly thrust her bloodied hand clutching the crucifix into her vagina under her blood-splattered nightgown, as she bellowed obscenities in the Devil's voice: "Let Jesus f--k you, let Jesus f--k you! Let him f--k you!" [The demon's voice was enhanced with various animal noises and other grotesque sounds.]
There was a struggle to get the cross out of Regan's super-strong arm and her mother tussled with her for control of the offending object. Regan held her mother's head down into her crotch and repeated: "Lick me!" - covering her mother's face in blood. Regan then punched her mother with a violent blow, sending her backwards across the bedroom floor. As a bloody-faced Regan sat on her bed, she spun her head backwards 180 degrees, threatening in a deep malevolent voice as she imitated the British accent of a dead family friend to taunt Chris about his murder: "Do you know what she did? Your c--ting daughter?"
In fact, one of the other most objectionable and blasphemous scenes was the sight on the Georgetown University campus of a white marble statue of the Virgin Mary. It had been desecrated with red paint and other materials, and taken on the appearance of a harlot. The defiled statue had long red-tipped breasts, red color on both hands, and an elongated, erect yet sagging penis-shaped clay protuberance also daubed in red.
The Grande Bouffe (1973, Fr/It.) (aka La Grande Bouffe, or "The Big Feast (or Blow-Out)")
Co-writer/director Marco Ferreri's decadent black comedy-drama was about group sex and unbridled gastronomic and sexual indulgence (as a satirical critique of the destructive nature of western capitalism and affluence). The theme has since been played out in the Mr. Creosote sketch from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983), and in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989).
The notorious NC-17 rated film was the improbable tale of four middle-aged, over-privileged playboys in a secluded villa in the French countryside for a weekend:
At Philippe's residence, they decided to commit suicide by eating themselves to death (and overindulging in sex) during a bacchanalian feast (with extravagant gourmet food, flatulence and scatological implications from an exploding toilet). They began the festivities with a slideshow of vintage erotic porn-photographs while feasting.
They were accompanied by Andrea (Andrea Ferreol), a red-haired, debauched, corpulent, liberal-minded, and sexually-voracious local schoolteacher, who enjoyed gorging herself on both sex and food, and remained with them until the end.
The men also invited three prostitutes who briefly joined them, including Danielle (Solange Blondeau), a blonde who was stripped naked and pelted with pieces of cake. She also allowed herself to be stimulated in the crotch (with a car part) by Marcello. One of the others, who was soon to leave, called the four men "imbeciles, idiots, mental deficients."
In one of the profligate scenes of engorgement that succeeded in death, Philippe stuffed pate into dying Ugo's mouth as a weeping Andrea pleasured him through his pants' zipper - laid out on a kitchen table.
The Harrad Experiment (1973)
Director Ted Post's film was based upon Robert H. Rimmer's 1962 best-selling book published in 1966. Many versions of the film were severely edited and cut.
"The sex manifesto for the free love generation" was made during the sexual 'free-love' revolution of the 70s. It told about non-existent Harrad College run by Professor Philip Tenhausen (James Whitmore) and his liberated wife Margaret (Tippi Hedren) for "a controlled group experiment in pre-marital relations." [At one point, Margaret attempted to seduce one of the male students (Don Johnson) by stripping down to her underwear in front of the main administration building.]
This infamous R-rated film included lots of full-frontal nudity (including brief glimpses of a nude Don Johnson), outdoor 7:30 am nude yoga in a large circle, group indoor swimming pool skinny-dipping, drug use, and more.
For one year in the experimental co-ed institution, two incompatible and mismatched young student couples were encouraged to have "sexual intimacy." A male and female were paired together for a month (and afterwards free to change partners) - to practice what they had learned about pre-marital sex and anti-monogamous behavior:
This film was followed by the sequel Harrad Summer (1974) (aka Love All Summer) with only Victoria Thompson and Laurie Walters reprising their roles.
[Note: It was one of the first films of young 16 year-old Melanie Griffith (as an extra), daughter of Tippi Hedren. After meeting him on the set, Melanie went on to marry star Don Johnson (in a short-lived one year marriage in 1976. She later re-married him in 1989 and divorced again in 1996).]
The Naked Ape (1973)
This box-office and critical disaster (executive-produced by Hugh Hefner), directed by one-time Donald Driver, was an experimental, pseudo-docudrama and semi-animated Playboy magazine adaptation of the popular 1967 anthropological Desmond Morris book of the same name. The film's tagline was:
This PG-rated sex comedy cult film, often with the mild nudity edited out, attempted to explain, in hip 70s fashion, the history of man's sexual urges and mating rituals. It was actually considered a "deft mixture of anthropology, animation, fantasy, and romance."
It starred ex-Mousketeer (and the 1950s TV western The Rifleman young co-star) Johnny Crawford as Lee - an evolved college student who still had base animalistic desires. His prime interest was for a classmate in his "Erotic Poetry and Prose" class:
To the sound of applause of cheering classmates, they entered hand-in-hand through a door into the blackness of space, and together floated off as their clothes were inexplicably torn off - and then were making love in bed together, in a fantasy sequence. She asked Lee: "Do you know monkeys and apes don't fall in love?"
Nudity in Film's Publicity
Ricco, the Mean Machine (1973, It.) (aka The Cauldron of Death, or Some Guy with a Strange Face is Looking for You to Kill You)
This crime-action story by Spanish director Tulio Demicheli was released in the US (dubbed) in 1974 as a sleazy, exploitative, grindhouse film.
It was a revenge tale about a recent prison parolee - long-haired blonde hippie Ricco Aversi (Christopher Mitchum, Robert Mitchum's son). He had been framed and now sought vengeance against the sadistic Mafia head Don Vito (Arthur Kennedy). The Mafioso had brutally killed his chieftain father Gaspare (Luis Induni) two years earlier and taken over the business.
He wanted back his sexy dancer girlfriend Rosa (Malisa Longo) (who frequently sunbathed topless) - now the traitorous moll of the mobster. When Ricco confronted Rosa, she claimed that her new sex partner was "better than with you, a thousand times better." He slapped her back onto a bed, held her down, and asked: "Why, Rosa, why with Vito?" She barked back, "And why not? All of you are rubbish. My father, yours, all. At least he knows how to live." Ricco claimed he had spent two years thinking of her, and then kissed her - and she surrendered to him.
Riccio went after the crime lord with the assistance of pretty scam artist Scilla (Eurobabe Barbara Bouchet), the niece of Rosa's counterfeiter father Giuseppe (Angel Alvarez). She was introduced with T&A close-ups as she walked toward and then away from the camera.
In one of the film's sensational scenes, Scilla performed a memorably dreamy striptease in the fog in front of the mobsters' car. She then climbed onto their car's hood, and tantalizingly kissed them through the windshield before posing. Her ploy worked to lure the bad guys out of the car before Ricco tossed them off a bridge. After the ambush, she comfortably remained topless as she and Ricco drove away.
The film's main controversial gore-scenes involved the retaliatory switchblade castration and murder of one of Don Vito's untrustworthy assistants after he was caught having sex with the seductive Rosa. After being stripped and held down, his genitals (a fake-looking prosthetic) were grabbed (in a split-second shot), bloodily severed, and then pushed down his throat. He was then tossed in a gurgling acid-bath vat in the mobster's soap factory, where close-ups showed his skin burned and disintegrated (shortly later, faithless Rosa joined him).
Actor/director Woody Allen's science-fiction satirical comedy classic and screwball comedy Sleeper (1973) was about the dystopian future in the year 2173.
The brave new world contained prophetic instances of robotic sex substituting for or replacing human contact.
When nerdy jazz clarinet player and health food store owner Miles Monroe (Allen) woke up to the future 200 years later (after being cyrogenically frozen), and disguised as a domestic servant robot, he encountered two convenient devices for quick sex:
When asked by socialite Luna Schlosser (Diane Keaton), a greeting card composer, about using the Orgasmatron machine, Miles refused:
Later, when he hid in the machine from the Leader's orange-uniformed police guards, he was sexually-satiated when the door was opened.
The film ended with the famous "sex and death" line - his statement of beliefs after he declared that he didn't believe in science, political systems, or God:
Turkish Delight (1973, Netherlands) (aka Turks Fruit)
Dutch director Paul Verhoeven's film (collaborating with cinematographer Jan de Bont in his debut film) was a frank, provocative, vulgar and controversial work about love, free-spirited sex, intimacy and loss/death. It was Oscar-nominated as Best Foreign Language Film (defeated by Francois Truffaut's Day For Night), and in 1999 was voted as the "Best Dutch Film of the Century" in the Nederlands Film Festival.
This sexually-explicit yet non-exploitative psychodrama was told as a series of flashbacks. It told about a fateful, tempestuous relationship two years earlier, before a tragic breakup, between two star-crossed lovers:
Erik boasted: "I f--k better than God," and proved his prowess and one-track mind for sex with numerous partners (including a pre-There's Something About Mary incident with his zipper) but could not forget the real love of his life - Olga - during a tumultuous relationship. There were many instances of sex and casual nudity between them.
Everything culminated with a brief reunion and tragic Love Story ending, when he attended the mentally unstable and dying Olga at the hospital (suffering from a brain tumor) and fed her turkish delight, his final gift.
Controversial elements, with often harsh language, included:
(Monique van de Ven)
War Goddess (1973) (aka The Amazons or Le Guerriere Dal Seno Nudo - (The Warriors with Naked Breasts))
The film's director was famed Terence Young (known earlier for Wait Until Dark (1967) and as the director of three Bond films). [Young featured another female wrestling scene in his earlier Bond film, From Russia with Love (1963).]
This was an early low-budget, exploitative campy Spanish/French/Italian sword-and-sandal feature, a costume drama about an all-female clan, with the tagline: "When Women Ruled the Earth," and "Women Warriors as Sensuous as they are Savage. Women Rulers as Passionate as they are Powerful."
It was released in 1974 in the US by American International Pictures, and featured two amazing wrestling scenes (one topless, one completely nude), between its two Amazonian lesbians, war goddesses - often unclothed:
The two wrestled topless (after a liberal application of sacred "ceremonial oil") in a "final contest" - a catfight - to determine the society's next queen leader - and Antiope won.
Also, to provide progeny for the tribe, tribe members would meet up with Greek soldiers for annual mating. Buxom, man-hating Queen Antiope was forced to dutifully mate with Greek king Theseus (Angelo Infanti) who asked: "Let's make love, not war." Uncharacteristically, she was surprised when she fell in love.
Amazon Queen Antiope
The Wicker Man (1973, UK)
Director Robin Hardy's suspenseful, mysterious and erotic folk horror-occult film was an R-rated classic thriller. [Note: It was remade (with less sex but more violence) by Hollywood, starring Nicolas Cage in the role of the Scottish police officer, The Wicker Man (2006), directed by Neil Labute.] Its tagline described the double lure of sex and death:
It told about a sexually-repressed, self-denying, virginal and devoutly religious Scottish policeman Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward). He was engaged in a search for missing young 12 year-old schoolgirl Rowan Morrison (Geraldine Cowper) after an anonymous tip in a letter.
He believed that the alleged kidnapped victim was to be a potential virgin sacrifice (the May Queen) on May Day by openly-sexual pagan worshippers and inhabitants of the remote Scottish island of Summerisle, who worshipped the pagan teachings of leader Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee).
The island was inhabited by townsfolk who worshipped older gods and practiced open sexuality:
The film included the much-discussed scene of the innkeeper's sensual daughter Willow MacGregor (Britt Ekland) attempting to entice Howie. At first as she laid in bed and pounded the wall behind her with her right hand, she sang about "the things I'll give to you...the things I'll show to you." Rising from the bed, she strolled to the door and pounded against it, as she writhed naked. [The full body scenes of Ekland seen from the rear were performed by body double Jane Jackson.] She also stroked a statue before going to her window and also striking its frame. She was soon striking other objects in the room such as furniture and the wall to further drive him insane.
He learned about virginal fire sacrifices inside a giant, hollow wicker-constructed figure of a man, where he suffered his own fate - after not having succumbed to the fleshly temptations provided by Willow.
Copulation in Graveyard
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.