History of Sex in Cinema:
|Movie Title/Year and Film/Scene Description|
Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Fantasy (1976)
Director Bud Townsend's film (with producer Bill Osco) was self-proclaimed as an "X-rated Musical" fantasy. It was one of many examples in the late 1970s of pornographic, eroticized versions of fairy tales - produced in both soft and very hard-core (XXX) versions (in the early days of cable TV and home video) to appeal to varied audiences and make more profits for the producers. The hard-core explicit version with lots of close-ups included self-masturbation, oral sex, ejaculation, lesbianism, pseudo-bestiality, and inter-racial intercourse.
It was very loosely based on Lewis Carroll's children's book of the same name. It starred cute blue-eyed blonde Kristine DeBell (who had appeared on the cover of the April 1976 Playboy) as the title character, a daydreaming virginal (prudish or frigid) librarian of a small-town. She told her interested and caring boyfriend William (Ron Nelson): "I'm just not the girl you're looking for." He wished for her to be more sexual and demonstrative:
She picked up a book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and then in a fantasy or dream sequence, she found herself transported to the "whole new world" of Wonderland - with an opportunity to explore pleasure and her sexuality.
Some of the characters from the original tale included:
Alice was tried before a judge for the crime of chastity, found guilty, and sentenced to give 'head' to the Queen. Alice was pampered by two lesbian maids in the royal court before meeting with the Queen to provide sexual services.
Afterwards, Alice escaped (with the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit) although she was pursued by the Queen and her court, and returned to her former life where she eagerly made love to her understanding boyfriend.
The Mad Hatter
(Nancy Dare and Terri Hall)
(l to r) Tweedledee
(Tony Richards) and
Maids in Royal Court
Alice with Boyfriend
William (Ron Nelson)
Brian DePalma's psychological horror tale was about extreme sexual repression for a gawky, awkward 'ugly duckling' teenaged girl who had been subjected to religious indoctrination by her ignorant, psychotic and fanatical mother.
The horror film opened with a slow-motion credits sequence set in a locker-shower room full of naked high school girls, including popular yet abusive 'bad' girl Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen). [Note: Nancy Allen married director Brian DePalma in early 1979, and ultimately divorced in 1984.] She was introduced as she strode completely naked from the shower, and flicked her towel at friends.
The voyeuristic scene also found another lonely student Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) enjoying the warm flow of a steamy shower - until she experienced the shock of her first menstruation (late-coming at age 17). Naively thinking she was dying when she saw blood coming out of her, she cried out "Help me!", and endured cruel teasing by other insensitive classmates. Chris Hargensen led the taunting and ridiculing of the terrified Carrie - a thoroughly humiliated, picked-upon menstruating teen. The jeering girls tossed tampons and sanitary napkins at her while they yelled: "Plug it up!"
Carrie's obsessed and stern mother Mrs. White (Piper Laurie) interpreted tormented Carrie's onset of menstruation as a sign of her oncoming impurity and had been subjecting her, throughout her entire life, to shame-inducing words ("Help the sinning woman see the sin of her days and ways. Show her that if she had remained sinless, the curse of blood would not be on her"). She described how Carrie's period was ordained by God:
Following her cruel teasing during the celebrated prom finale, she enacted a fatal and bloody aftermath of retribution with her telekinetic powers - an example of sublimated sexual rage. She massacred prom-attendees (by incineration, crushing, and electrocution), before returning home in her blood-soaked prom dress and cleansing herself in the bathtub.
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976, Brazil) (aka Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos)
Director Bruno Barreto's NR-rated erotic comedy was a box-office smash hit - the most successful Brazilian film in history for many years.
[Note: An American remake came out six years later, director Robert Mulligan's Kiss Me Goodbye (1982), and starred Sally Field in the lead role, opposite James Caan and Jeff Bridges.]
Set in the 1940s, it told about the title character:
Her handsome wastrel husband Valdomiro 'Vadinho' Santos Guimarães (Jose Wilker), with whom she enjoyed long bouts of carnal sex, died while dancing in the street during carnival festivities.
She was remarried to boring, hard-working, dull and meticulous pharmacist Dr. Teodoro Madureira (Mauro Mendonça) - unremarkable in bed when compared to her ex-husband.
There were sexual complications when her ex-husband returned on his one-year death anniversary. He appeared as a ghost to make erotic and passionate love to her - and only she could hear and see him. Dona Flor relished the randy reappearances of her first husband alongside her in bed for strange threesomes.
In the Realm of the Senses (1976, Jp.) (aka Ai No Corrida)
Writer/director Nagisa Oshima's shocking and intense foreign film was about extreme, all-consuming sexual obsession, deadly madness, destruction of the servant/master dichotomy, and complete immersion.
It was seized and banned by US Customs and postponed in its censored release. Bordering on pornography in its uncut version with an orgy scene, sexual violence, sexual games, and frequent shots of an erect penis and fellatio, this film broke the taboo in Japanese cinema against showing female pubic hair and sex organs.
This erotic Japanese masterpiece about painful passion in mid-1930s Japan told the story of a torrid, increasingly intense and dangerous, true-to-life, almost non-stop sexual affair between:
After spying on Kichizo and Toku having sex, Sada developed a crush on Kichizo. In the scenes between submissive Kichizo and a dominating Sada Abe, there were explicit shots of unsimulated fellatio (while he passively laid back and smoked a cigarette) with a close-up of semen dripping from her mouth, unsimulated penetration, a wide variety of sexual positions and sexual acts, vaginal insertion of a hard-boiled egg before consumption, sex during a bloody menstrual period, penis fetishism, and masochism (forcible use of a wooden dildo, bite-wounds, S&M, among other practices).
Eventually, when Sada grew jealous of her partner's continuing sexual relations with his wife Toku and wielded a knife at her, she also threatened to destructively cut off Kichizo's penis - an eventuality that came true.
The most controversial and infamous sequence in the film was the depiction of the violent and disturbing practice of auto-erotic asphyxiation to aid their sexual excitement - first with her bare hands, and then with a red scarf. The film climaxed with his bloody genital dismemberment/castration after murderous strangulation so that she could keep his member inside of her. Afterwards, the empowered female carried around her master-lover's severed genitals in a handkerchief for four days - an enactment of her proprietary feelings about his member - until she was arrested.
with Sada Abe
S & M
Kichizo With Toku
Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus (1976, Fr.) (aka I Love You, I Don't)
Director/writer Serge Gainsbourg's debut film was banned in the UK when initially released, and often accused of perversion because of an unnecessary emphasis on anal sex. It also contained an explicit reference to fellatio (in a scene of the consumption of gooey cucumbers).
The English title of the film was also the title of a controversial 1967 song recorded by the director and his then-girlfriend Brigitte Bardot, unreleased until 1986. It was later re-recorded in 1969 in a more popular best-selling erotic version with Jane Birkin singing the song (and providing genuine orgasmic, breathy sexual moans and groans). The song was censored in various countries, and even the edited version in France was suppressed. The Vatican publically cited the song as offensive.
In the dramatic film about a love triangle, an affair developed between:
Abandoning his own male lover Padovan, Krassky was attracted to Johnny, due to her androgynous and boyish look. She even claimed: "I have no tits and a big arse." The couple floated on a river naked with their rear-ends draped over the sides of an inner tube. They found that they had to resort to heterosexual anal intercourse (a taboo and painful sex practice) when he failed to maintain his erection during regular vaginal intercourse. Their first attempt led to masochistic Johnny's loud screams of pain, forcing the two to often be evicted before consummation.
At another point in the film, Krassky gave Johnny a gift: an old stuffed children's cuddly toy rescued from the decaying trash which she later held to her chest during masturbation - symbolically pairing sex and trash.
Their attempts at reaching sexual consummation, as she repeatedly offered her backside and 'played dead' were thwarted again and again in various motels/apartments, until they finally found satisfaction in the back of a garbage truck - a scene shot in arty fashion from above.
The film concluded, after they both achieved sexual satisfaction, with jealous Padovan assaulting Johnny in her bath. He wrapped a transparent plastic garbage bag around her head and attempted to suffocate her, but she was saved when Krassky drove up in a garbage truck. She was incensed that Krassky wouldn't retaliate against Padovan and told him to leave. The two men left her sobbing, naked, and begging as they departed in the garbage truck parked outside.
Director Lamont Johnson's sordid and glossy film was severely criticized for its cheap and exploitational nature. Rather than condemning rape, it was thought to exploit and sensationalize the crime and had to be drastically edited after preview audiences despised a lengthy rape-bondage sequence.
The film's tagline attempted to emphasize women's empowerment: "She believed she was the weaker sex until the day she was violated. The story of a woman's outrage and a woman's revenge." It also claimed: "LIPSTICK - It isn't always an invitation to kiss."
The R-rated drama told about a provocative fashion and lipstick model Chris McCormick (Margaux Hemingway in her film debut), who was the victim of an ugly, sodomizing rape. The spiteful and creepy Gordon Stuart (Chris Sarandon), the music teacher of her younger sister, was let into the apartment. Feeling rejected again, he suddenly brutalized her, threw her around her apartment, and angrily asked: "You f--k to get what you want, huh?" In her bathroom, he ordered her to put lipstick on her face ("Put it on"), forced her to look at her smeary face in a mirror, and mocked her. He asked: "Am I good enough to f--k?", and then raped her from behind as she screamed. He had tied her down to her bed with silk scarves and ran a knife blade across her body.
The rapist was brought to trial, but acquitted of the rape charges, to the dismay of prosecutor Carla Bondi (Anne Bancroft).
Chris sought lethal vigilante revenge against Stuart, especially after he also went after her 15 year-old sister Kathy (Mariel Hemingway in her film debut, Margaux' real-life sister) in an abandoned office building (with his hideous assault fortunately off-screen).
In the film's ending, lipsticked Chris used a pump-action shotgun to seek bloody and murderous justice (with an obviously tacked-on ending and voice-over which found Chris not guilty of the murder).
Revenge for Rape
Maitresse (1976, Fr.) (aka Mistress)
Director Barbet Schroeder's early daring, kinky and provocative erotic drama explored the double-life of a professional dominatrix prostitute.
The film was notable for its graphic portrayal of actual S&M practices, with real practitioners, masks, chains, torture racks, whippings, piercings, and more. The dark, X-rated film's tagline was: "A LOVE STORY ABOUT THE MYSTERIES OF LOVE."
The film told of the strained romance/relationship, involving a struggle for 'control' regarding domination or submissiveness) between:
She had a second dungeon-style apartment (accessible by a hidden mechanical staircase from her upper apartment) where she lived an alternate, subterranean existence and engaged in torture, bondage with whips and chains and various paraphernalia, and sadomasochism. She would wear a fetishistic tight rubber/leather outfit, a black Louise Brooks-style wig, and heavy makeup.
Although the world of S&M was unfamiliar to Olivier, he stumbled upon the downstairs torture chamber when burglarizing her building, and soon became obsessed with Ariane, a professional dominatrix. He learned that she was engaged in the unusually dark lifestyle to support her son, and that possibly true surrender and love (including a power struggle with both dominance and submissiveness) could only come through masochistic submission. Slowly, he became obsessed with her as their love grew for each other.
Disturbing scenes of sexual depravity included a bourgeous party with punishment-seeking patrons. There was painful spanking that produced reddish welts, genital torture (nailing down a masked man's genitals to a wooden plank), a vaginal whipping, and the real-life bloody slaughter of a horse.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976, UK)
Director Nicolas Roeg's impressionistic, hallucinatory, disjointed, non-literal sci-fi film and parable about an alien on Earth seeking water for his drought-stricken planet Anthea. The allegorical movie included scenes of unusual, exploratory and explicit sexual encounters (with full frontal nudity of both major stars), cut from the film's initial UK release for US audiences.
It told of the developing relationship between:
After the scene of Newton's arrival on Earth, he soon acquired wealth as a tycoon, heading up a technological firm using advanced inventions from his home planet. When he revisited New Mexico where he had initially landed, he met up with lonely and unloved Mary-Lou, and before long, she had taught him about many human ways, including sex.
During one frenzied and loveless encounter, a drunk Newton threatened Mary-Lou with a blank-firing fake pistol, dipped its barrel into a glass of wine, and then licked it, before they both struggled with the weapon as sexual foreplay. She taught him about humanoid sex.
When she learned that aliens secreted a semen-like goo, and his true Anthean form (pale, androgynous, cat-eyed and hairless) was revealed to her, she was startled, frightened and repulsed, and peed down her leg. After a few decades passed, Newton eventually ended up corrupted and ravaged by alcohol and despairing depression - and unable to return to his doomed home.
There were also a lot of unrelated sexual scenes in the film: corporate villain Peters (Bernie Casey) had a sensual poolside scene with his loving wife (uncredited B movie queen Claudia Jennings), while young female students Helen (Adrienne Larussa), Jill (Hilary Holland), and Elaine (Linda Hutton) bedded their womanizing college chemistry professor Dr. Nathan Bryce (Rip Torn), who resembled a father figure. Bryce became aware of Newton's amazing technology after Elaine used one of Newton's self-developing cameras to miraculously photograph their love-making on a strip of film.
(Candy Clark) with
Tommy (David Bowie)
Sidney Lumet's critical look at TV news, Network (1976), included a side story of the affair between aging married man and network news head Max Schumacher (William Holden) and icy-cold, and work-obsessed VIP of Programming Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway).
During dinner at a restaurant, she related her unhappy, soul-dead personal life and sexual inadequacies, and how she passionately breathed and lived her work, television and high ratings:
During a weekend tryst in the Hamptons, without hardly pausing, she orgasmed during an intense ranting about programming challenges regarding "The Mao Tse-tung Hour":
1900 (1976, It./Fr./W. Germ.) (aka Novecento, or Twentieth Century)
Bernardo Bertolucci's epic-length, sprawling historical drama of Fascist Italy from 1900 to the WWII era was his follow-up film, another controversial one, after Last Tango in Paris (1972). The lengthy melodrama chronicled the struggles between leftist and rightest groups, exemplified by its two main male characters with divergent social standings. The two men were both conceived on the same day at the start of the 20th century.
It was greeted with both excitement and skepticism at the Cannes Film Festival for its near-pornographic scene of sexual exploration featuring big stars in an explicit sex act. The controversial scenes were edited out for the US release of the truncated film, and later reappeared in the over-5 hour, NC-17 re-release in 1991.
The major scene of contention involved three characters:
Alfredo and Olmo visited Neve, where both were viewed completely naked as they got into bed with her, one on each side. Alfredo asked: "Who goes first?" She sat up between them, and then as the camera moved closer to peer over the end of the bed, it saw that she was visibly fondling and mutually masturbating both of them (one hand for each penis).
Then, she considered a different approach and asked Alfredo: "Maybe you can do something better?" She grabbed Alfredo's right hand and guided it to Olmo's genitals. When he jerked away, she went back to pleasuring Alfredo. But then when she was forced to take a drink, she soon felt strange and suffered an epileptic convulsion, aborting their time together.
Earlier, the two prepubescent boys examined and compared the length of their penises. Alfredo married Ada Chiostri Polan (Dominique Sanda), after taking her virginity in a barn, while Olmo married independent minded Anita Foschi (Stefania Sandrelli) - who died during childbirth.
There were other violent scenes involving the disturbing and brutal Berlinghieri farm manager Attila Mellanchini (Donald Sutherland) who was later vengefully punished for his sadism. The final sequence portrayed the Italian socialist peasants overthrowing their Fascist masters - and the major true test of loyalty - would Olmo defend his life-long "padrone" friend?
A Real Young Girl (1976, Fr.) (aka Une Vraie Jeune Fille)
Director Catherine Breillat's feature debut was this erotic drama with strong and shocking sexual content.
This crude French film was made in 1975, but not released until 25 years later due to financial problems with Breillat's production company and sensational controversy surrounding the film. This film was promptly banned upon its initial release in France in 1976. Breillat would later become famous for the similarly-explicit Romance (1999, Fr.) and Fat Girl (2001, Fr.) which were also preoccupied with the representation of female sexuality.
This original and bold film charted the budding sexuality, self-exploration and awakening of sexually-curious, teenaged Alice Bonnard (Charlotte Alexandra), a French boarding student during a summer holiday.
It showed various closeups of her genitalia, urination and her fascination with bodily fluids (even her own ear-wax and vomit) and smells, and sexual fantasies by herself or with others (including frequent compulsive masturbatory scenes, once with a spoon and a bottle-top, and once spread-eagled between railroad tracks).
In one shocking fantasy scene, 14 year-old Alice was lying naked on her back (with her hands tied back with barbed wire), as factory worker Jim (Hiram Keller) in her father's sawmill dangled a live and wiggling earthworm over her genitals, then tried to insert it into her vagina, and when unsuccessful, finally segmented the worm into pieces and left the remains in her pubic hair.
Salon Kitty (1976) (aka Madame Kitty)
Italian erotic cinema director Tinto Brass' controversial yet beautifully filmed arthouse film was another advanced example of the pre-WWII Nazi-exploitation films that had begun to appear at the end of the previous decade. It pushed the envelope, with plentiful male and female nudity, a massive orgy, masturbation, lesbianism, and other transgressive material.
This historically-based allegory co-starred Ingrid Thulin and Helmut Berger, fresh off their appearances in another tale of Nazi licentiousness, Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969, It.). It was somewhat more extreme than Liliana Cavani's The Night Porter (1974) and Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo: 128 Days of Sodom (1975), but not as exploitational or sleazy as Love Camp 7 (1969), for example.
Set in the year 1939, it told about a Nazi-sympathetic brothel in Socialist-run Germany run by the title character Madame Kitty Kellermann (Ingrid Thulin). Power-questing Nazi officer Helmut Wallenberg (Helmut Berger) took over the whorehouse and stocked it with a new group of about twenty "good Nationalist girls." The commandant strolled along a line of stripped, "flawless" females to be tested, instructing them:
Another line-up of nude males joined the females, and they paired off for gymnastic-like sexual exercises - during a giant orgy.
During the procedures, Helmut's eye was attracted to blonde Margherita (Teresa Ann Savoy), and he took her as his mistress. His goal was to use Nazi intelligence to bug officers during sex with the members of Kitty's brothel harem, thereby winnowing out the loyal from those not fully committed.
However, Margherita fell instead for one of her steady customers named Hans (Bekim Fehmiu), a disillusioned Wehrmacht pilot with a conscience, who planned to defect to the Allies (leading to his torturous meathook death for treason). Helmut also found vile and deformed individuals (including a midget humpback) whom he forced blonde hooker Marika (Paola Senatore) to make love to in a barred cell, to test her tolerance for perversion and defilement.
Wallenberg's frumpy wife Herta (Tina Aumont) appeared in a small role, when she was forced to participate in a lesbian scene with Margherita.
The Giant Orgy
(l to r): Margherita with
Herta (Tina Aumont)
Sebastiane (1976, UK)
Outspoken homosexual writer/director Derek Jarman's feature debut film was this experimental, homoerotic cult film -- rated X upon release. The film's dialogue was in vulgar Latin (and required English sub-titles). The plot was inspired by the image in a Renaissance painting of a martyred Saint Sebastian - ordered killed by Emperor Diocletian, who had him stripped naked, tied to a pole and shot through with arrows. In historical fact, Sebastian was clubbed to death and his body deposited in a Roman sewer in 288 A.D.
The opening sequence was a 4th century Roman orgy in the decadent court of Diocletian. During the festivities, body-painted naked men, with comically-exaggerated giant penises, danced around a savagely-painted, white-washed lead dancer (Lindsay Kemp).
The main story was about Christian palace guard soldier Sebastiane (Leonardo Treviglio) in the Roman Imperial troops. However, the defiant guard was sent (or exiled) to a remote Sardinian outpost camp with eight soldiers - "nowhere to go, no one to fight, nothing to do." He was shunned by the Emperor for defending a Christian accused of arson, and at the outpost, he was whipped and tied to stakes in the ground under the blazing sun.
Throughout almost the entire film, the Roman soldiers at the sweltering desert outpost rough-housed, played practical jokes on each other, skinny-dipped, and engaged in various games or contests. They always appeared undressed or wearing only loincloths, and sometimes completely naked (with full-frontal male nudity).
The film included an explicit and frank depiction of outdoor homosexual love-making between two of the muscular and sculpted soldiers, Anthony (Janusz Romanov) and Adrian (Ken Hicks), having same-sex intercourse in a pool of water. A relaxed indoor bath scene also revealed the genitals of a number of the soldiers, one of whom was shaving his entire naked body with a curved knife.
Sebastiane rejected the final homosexual advances of his desperately-smitten, drunken, and lustful pagan commanding centurion, blonde Severus (Barney James), to engage in sodomy:
As a result, he was eventually martyred. He was tied naked to an upright stake and penetrated with arrows.
To the Devil a Daughter (1976, UK)
This lurid Hammer Film Productions' horror film, directed by Peter Sykes, was another theatrically-released occult melodrama from the British film studio - their second-to-last film ever made (and their last official horror film). It was a respectable but weak work, trying to capitalize on and compete with the more sensational aspects of two previous films: Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968), and The Exorcist (1973). The film, injected with sex and violence, was very loosely based on a version of Dennis Wheatley's novel. The film's tagline stated:
The gory, violent and nasty film starred Richard Widmark as occult writer John Verney living in London, and stand-by Christopher Lee as sinister, ex-communicated, and heretical German priest Father Michael Rayner, head of the Church of Our Lord.
It was one of the earliest of actress Nastassja Kinski's film appearances, which brought her continuing notoriety due to her fully-nude appearance in the film at a young age, and further charges of exploitation.
The film's disjointed plot told about a terrorized young virginal woman, Catherine Beddows (15 year-old Nastassja Kinski), raised from birth as a nun practicing in a Bavarian convent, in an order called The Children of the Lord. Her distraught father Henry Beddows (Denholm Elliott) had signed Catherine over to the care of Father Rayner, who was leading a mysterious group of Satanists who practiced black magic and held various strange rituals.
In one scene, a pregnant German woman named Margaret (Isabella Telezynska) was tied by her wrists to the bedposts and held down with her legs strapped together as she went into labor - and an unseen baby burst out of her belly. Rayner wanted to release the hell-spawned force into the world through the vessel of Catherine's body via an avatar - the ultimate personification of the god Astaroth. Turning 18 years of age, Catherine would be sacrificed to revive or rebirth the world's new Anti-Christ demon ruler, by baptism in her blood.
The American occult novelist Verney, who was asked by a desperate Henry (in exchange for secret occult information) to look after his daughter Catherine, found himself protecting her.
The film anti-climaxed with the strange sight of the grotesque, blood-stained demonic fetal child trying to enter Catherine's womb, a Satanic orgy conducted on an altar (with a masked Rayner raping a drugged Catherine), and her abrupt saving by Verney as the film ended.
Catherine's Altar Rape
This surreal, graphic, and tasteless Russ Meyer film was co-written by Reinhold Timme, a pseudonym for film critic Roger Ebert. It had all the ingredients of a typical soft-core nudie-flick, including an inter-racial group of prostitutes, awful dialogue, kitschy music, bawdy humor, lots of nudity, a mostly incoherent plot, and colorful characters (including hick rednecks, a white supremacist, and an Adolf Hitler caricature). It was advertised with the tagline:
The image accompanying the poster portrayed the right side of the letter U in the film's title in the shape of an erect phallus. Various jokes were very off0color, such as Pocohontas' line to a partner: "It's all red. Looks like you've been f--king an Indian."
The main character in the backwoods sex comedy was a Shakespeare-quoting wood-nymph (who found pleasure next to tree trunks), credited as a one-person nude "Greek Chorus" (Francesca 'Kitten' Natividad). She spoke about her role, as she nakedly straddled a large tree branch, extended her right hand, and various parts of her body were seen in huge closeup - her pubic area, and each nipple:
At various times in the film, she would appear to comment upon and explain the action.
The sketchy plot was a bizarre murder mystery, where everyone could be a suspect. It opened with an S&M sequence performed upon the Hitler character, who was then promptly murdered in a bathtub. In addition to the plentiful nudity (including lots of wild sex in the woods), there was incredulous gory violence:
The Greek Chorus
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