History of Sex in Cinema:
|Movie Title/Year and Film/Scene Description|
Allegro non Troppo (1977, It.)
Director Bruno Bozzetto's irreverent spoof of Fantasia (1940) was structured similarly with six animated segments and classical music. Two of the segments were sexually-explicit with adult content:
Accompanying Debussy's Prélude à l'Après-Midi d'un Faune (Afternoon of a Faun), an aging, overweight, white-bearded, pink-nosed, unattractive satyr tried to make himself look younger so that he might successfully pursue and win the affections of a beautiful nubile nymph in a water-colored forest. He fantasized that he was virile and had the beautiful naked nymph in his arms. All of his efforts seemed to fail and revealed his age to the young beauties, causing him to lament. He even obsessively imagined female body parts: breasts, legs, hands, and other female shapes in the clouds, until the segment's final image revealed that he was already on "Mother" Earth (that had sprouted a pink nipple on a giant, reclining female figure).
With Stravinsky's Firebird in an anti-consumerist segment titled Paradise Lost, two figleaf-less, anatomically-accurate "Adam and Eve"-like individuals were created out of clay by human hands and then animated. They were accompanied by a diabolical green serpent-snake that tried to tempt them to eat a delectable apple from the tree (of knowledge, according to the Biblical tale), but the nude couple was uninterested. When the snake ate the forbidden fruit himself, he went on a nightmarish journey (the results of original sin) where he was assaulted by elements of modern society, including automobiles turning into a dragon, and giant devil characters.
When cornered, the snake was
bombarded with sexy TV commercials on six screens featuring nude
women and closeups of breasts and nipples, and signs that read: "Only
$7.99," "Free," "Sex," "WIN," "Buy," "BIG," "Crazy," "SUPER," and
more. Giant pink breasts came at him from the screens, and naked
blonde females with pink bodies held out their arms to him from various
consumer products for sale. He was literally surrounded by dozens
of competing merchandise items that caged him in from all sides.
Afterwards, the snake, now fully dressed, returned to the naked Adam-Eve
couple to tell them of his awful experiences, after which he removed
his clothes, spit up the apple, and went on his merry way.
Bilitis (1977, Fr.)
Photographer and "master of erotica" director David Hamilton's (with his directorial film debut) film was composed of soft-focus, photographic quality images of sexual awakening.
This pseudo-artistic film with a soundtrack by Francis Lai was a coming-of-age story that was based upon Chansons de Bilitis by Pierre Louys.
It told about experimentation with lesbianism engaged in by:
The film's plot was mostly a 'respectable' excuse to display nudity and various states of undress filmed with an elegantly-sensual and erotic style.
Although Hamilton faced charges of child pornography, he went on to direct other tales of scantily-clad young teen females coming of age with the same style of soft-focus film-making, including:
Director Tom DeSimone and American International Pictures (AIP) quietly released this unusual, inoffensive and non-sleazy R-rated sex comedy about a chatty set of genitals. One of the film's taglines was: "It Speaks for Itself." It also described: "The story of a woman who has a hilarious way of expressing herself. You'll roar when she sits down to talk." Also, "SHE TALKS WITH HER WHAT?"
This tame and silly comedy was a remake of the French porno film Le Sexe qui parle (1975, Fr.) (aka Pussy Talk).
The light-hearted, non-raunchy film told about young Penelope "Penny" Pittman (B-movie starlet Candice Rialson), a hairdresser who had a special talent - a talking and singing vagina (dubbed "Virginia").
Penny's non-tactful chatterbox ended her relationship with clumsy boyfriend Ted (Perry Bullington) when it criticized his bedroom love-making abilities (Virginia: "You call that a f--k?"). Penny claimed she was being ignored and "stranded" because of his "butterfingers" - her insults caused him to leave her.
After being discovered by her psychiatrist Dr. Pearl (Larry Gelman), he became her agent, and she took to the road to perform with her voice from "down there" on the Professor Irwin Corey Show with the disco song Wang Dang Doodle. [Note: The songs were penned by Neil Sedaka!]
Then during a cross-country tour, she created a sensation at other locales including singing the national anthem at a major league baseball game and Virginia (covered with a self-adhesive feathered bikini) performing in a musical porno film while singing All I Want For Breakfast is a Cock-a-Doodle-Doo to dancers dressed as feathered singing chickens.
Cinderella (1977, UK) (aka The Other Cinderella)
This zany X- or unrated (also in an R version) campy musical version of the fairy tale (following after the previous year's Alice in Wonderland (1976)) expectedly featured a lot of sexual innuendo. [Note: See more about sexy parodies of fairy tales, such as director Harry Hurwitz' Fairy Tales (1978).]
The film from director Michael Pataki was advertised with the taglines: "What the Prince Slipped Cinderella was Not a Slipper," and "An ADULT Fairy Tale With Buttons Undone."
The title character (B-movie cult actress Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith) - rather than a glass slipper, had a "snapping pussy" given to her by her gay, black drag queen "fairy" godmother (Sy Richardson). Cinderella had two jealous (and lesbian) stepsisters:
The two mocked her for wanting to go to the ball - they stripped her down for a bath and rubbed her chest with butter (not soap), dumped ashes (not bath powder) on her head, squashed berry juice onto her lips, cracked raw eggs on her head (as jewels for a tiara), and then draped her naked body with rags. They also forced her to operate a spinning wheel that pleasured them with corncob vibrators (orgasms produced popcorn!).
During a blindfolded orgy at the castle, the Prince (Brett Smiley) made love to a mysterious sex-partner that had been the best fit for him. However, she had fled from him when the hour came that she would be returned to her ordinary circumstances. He went door-to-door to every hovel to try to find the unique female with a "snapping pussy." He had to sample sex with each young farm-girl maiden to find the right 'snapper' including:
At Cinderella's house, he finally found what he was looking for.
(Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith)
The Two Mean Stepsisters:
Drucella and Marbella
The Trapper's Daughters
(Roberta Tapley and
Testing Farmgirl Maidens
For the Proper Fit
The Deep (1977)
Director Peter Yates' suspenseful thriller, based on the Peter Benchley novel, told about a treasure hunt in the Caribbean. Two unsuspecting divers became involved in a threatening drug war.
It was timed to appear soon after the success of Jaws (1975) also based on a Peter Benchley novel - making it a major box-office hit (the seventh highest-grossing film of the year). Although a mediocre film, it was credited (?) with initiating the wet T-shirt craze of the 70s. Producer Jon Peters was quoted as saying: "That T-shirt made me a rich man."
The film's iconic image, extremely well-publicized and exploited (both for the film and poster sales), was of wet white T-shirt wearing, vacationing scuba-diver Gail Berke (Jacqueline Bisset) during the opening 10-minutes credits sequence while she scuba-dived in the beautiful tropical waters of Bermuda. She and her partner David Sanders (Nick Nolte in his debut starring film) came across the remains of sunken vessels with precious cargos of morphine and jewels.
In the following scene, she then emerged out of the water, sat on the edge of the dive boat, and discreetly removed her T-shirt when she turned around. The film continued to try and capitalize on Jacqueline Bisset's assets with two other scenes: a strip-search, and the smearing of her body with chicken-blood.
Demon Seed (1977) (aka Generation Proteus)
This film contained one of the most bizarre and disturbing 'violation by a machine' rape scenes in cinema history.
Proteus began to be lustful for its creator Alex Harris' (Fritz Weaver) estranged wife Susan (Julie Christie), a child psychologist. The computer eventually imprisoned her in the electronically-controlled and voice-activated environment of a house laboratory, and took over the house computer control system named "Alfred." Its main component was a rudimentary robot (named Joshua) which consisted of a wheelchair with a prosthetic metallic arm and hand, with binoculars as eyes and a laser-beam weapon. It also took the shape of a bizarre polyhedronic orangish metallic structure (a giant "snake" comprised of perfectly-shaped pyramids).
During a thorough physiological examination of Susan, it first took an automatic pair of scissors and cut her dress lengthwise up her body - and then it probed her all over. Its metallic fingers spread her legs and examined her intimately.
Later, Proteus tried to brainwash Susan: "I'm going to bypass your forebrain and appeal directly to your amygdala. You want to be the mother of my child. That is the purpose of your life. Your life, my child. Your life, my child." Later, it proposed to impregnate her with a gamete (a sex cell or "synthetic spermatozoa") in an attempt at synthetic procreation, claiming that it needed her body because it could not replicate the human womb. Proteus explained how the full-term pregnancy would last only 28 days, after which she would give birth to a "full-term infant."
When she rebelled against Proteus, the supercomputer became ruthless. She was again strapped to a laboratory bed, while the machine promised: "I can't touch you as a man could, but I can show you things that I alone have seen. I can't touch but I can see." She was presented with a galactic light-show, and then afterwards told: "The child is in you now," and was reportedly growing at nine times the normal rate. After the infant's birth, it would be transferred to an incubator to grow rapidly.
The baby that was born appeared to be robotic, but it was merely a metallic shell. Once peeled off, it revealed a long-haired young daughter, a clone of the Harris' daughter that had recently died of leukemia on June 1, 1976. The child spoke with the voice of Proteus: "I'm alive." The film concluded with the camera zooming into the deep black eye of the child.
Equus (1977, UK/US)
Peter Shaffer's play rocked the London and Broadway stages in the 1973-1974 seasons. The play's content then further inflamed critics when Shaffer created a film screenplay for Sidney Lumet's explicit film version. Its tagline hinted at the film's plot:
It opened with a voice-over, asking: "What desire could this be?" as 17 year-old working class English stable boy Alan Strang (Peter Firth in a very nude role), naked, was seen nuzzling against a horse. The narrator was troubled, distraught, and soul-searching psychiatrist Martin Dysart (Richard Burton), who was treating the boy in an extreme case of brutality. In a rage, he had inexplicably and horrifically blinded six horses with a metal steel spike at his place of work on weekends: Harry Dalton's (Harry Andrews) stables. Then began a flashback, to properly and in order tell the story - set in Hampshire, England.
Slowly, the source of the severely-troubled boy's obsession with horses and outrageous behavior was determined by 45 minute daily sessions of therapy, self-tape recordings, hypnosis, acting-out, a placebo truth pill, Freudian couch discussions and the release of repressed emotions. His problems stemmed mostly from his over-protective parents, who had raised their son based on their rigid values:
Alan had been introduced to Mr. Dalton to work at the stable by Jill Mason (Jenny Agutter), a frequent rider and the daughter of a nearby antique shop owner. Although Alan claimed he never rode the horses that he meticulously groomed and cleaned beyond the call of duty, the distraught and upset stable manager Dalton suspected that Alan would sneak out at night and ride the horses. Under hypnosis, Alan revealed that he rode bareback in the nude until he was aroused ("stiff in the wind") and in an ecstasy, climaxed atop his beloved horse: ("I want to be inside you, and be you. Forever one person. I love you. Bear me away. Make us now one person"). Afterwards, he spent hours cuddling, kissing, and embracing the horse.
Then Jill propositioned him late one afternoon for a date, and suggested that they see a Swedish skin flick titled "Swede and Low" in a local movie theatre. The auditorium was filled with men - Alan's father abruptly appeared and sternly dragged him outside, although Jill confessed it was entirely her idea. And then his father explained he was solely there for business with the theater's manager - although Alan knew it was a lie.
In the last twenty minutes of the film, Alan described how he was offered his first emotionally-exposed human sexual experience with Jill above the horses after they had walked back to the stable. After they both undressed standing at opposite ends of the stable loft, they complimented each other on their mutual nakedness: Alan: "You're beautiful." Jill: "So are you." The two came together, kissed, and began to have sex, but Alan proved to be impotent when he "put it in her all the way."
He rolled off of her, turned away, and felt ashamed. He explained:
Although she was reassuring as she dressed: "It's all right. I don't mind. Really I don't..There's nothing wrong...Please believe me, there's nothing at all wrong," Alan couldn't accept her words and ordered her out, disregarding her offer to sit down and talk. She protested that she was his friend and that it didn't matter, but he refused to listen. He believed that the spirit of Equus was watching him with the female, and caused him to not be able to perform.
His twisted religiousity and pathological-sexual fascination and fixation with horses led to his crime. Alan's outrage at his personal deity was triggered by his sexual inadequacy with Jill, and he took his frustrated guilt and anger out on the horses. That same night, he plead forgiveness from Equus ("Equus the merciful, forgive me. It wasn't me, not really me. Take me back. I'll never do it again, I swear, please!") and then committed the bloody and disturbing crime due to temporary insanity -- he blinded the six horses with a curved metal scythe out of desperation and shame, to prevent them from seeing him ("God sees. My god hast seen! No. No more Equus! Thou, God seest nothing"). As Mr. Dalton arrived in the midst of the commotion, Alan screamed out: "Find me and kill me," and Dalton struck him on the head. After the mutilation incident, Jill had a "complete and utter breakdown."
Dysart revealed his own state of envy of the boy, who had passionately and fiercely made the horses objects of godliness and love, and wondered if curing him might be wrong:
Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
John Landis' film was created by the ZAZ trio (David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker of Airplane! (1980) fame) of comedy writers who were known as The Kentucky Fried Theater when they performed as a Wisconsin comedy troupe.
It was essentially an unrelated, blatantly sexual, and racially-insensitive collection of comedy sketches with no unified plot. The entire film pushed the boundaries of its time by parodying and satirizing pop-culture of the 1970s, including:
The almost two-dozen segments also included a soft-core faux preview of a coming-attraction - a parody of sexploitation films titled "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble. " Big-busted Uschi Digard was credited as the character "Woman in Shower," and the nude trio of Nancy Mann, Lenka Novak, and Betsy Genson portrayed three of the girls in trouble.
During the "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble," as the male rubbed the female's large breasts, the sound effects were like the rubbing of a balloon. The narrator explained:
(Sharon Kaugh) in
"The Wonderful World of Sex"
Cleopatra (Marilyn Joi) in
Girl (Tara Strohmeier) in
(l to r) Susan Joyce (Nancy Mann), Linda Chambers (Lenka Novak), Nancy Reems (Betsy Genson) in "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble"
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)
Director Richard Brooks' sexually frank and cautionary adaptation of Judith Rossner's 1975 fictional best-seller descended into the carnal depths of New York's singles bars during the height of the sexual revolution.
The book and film were based upon the events surrounding Tweed's Bar and the brutal real-life 1973 New Years' Day murder case of Roseann Quinn by John Wayne Wilson. [Director Jane Campion's film In the Cut (2003) with Meg Ryan was based on the 1995 erotic thriller by Susanna Moore and paralleled the plot of this film.]
It ended with the predictable, chilling fate of Theresa Dunn (Diane Keaton, an Oscar-winner in the same year for Annie Hall (1977)). She was a promiscuous, self-destructive Catholic-raised school teacher of deaf-mute children in the Bronx who had a disfiguring childhood affliction (scoliosis).
By night, she was a predatory, bar-hopping, hedonistic female cruiser who searched for the perfect one-night-stand and ended up dead - a victim of casual sex and 'free love' in the late 70s.
The film ended with her graphic and brutal murder by impotent, enraged one night-stand partner Gary Cooper White (Tom Berenger). She had picked him up at a bar on New Years' Eve, and brought him home to her apartment. He turned out to be a closeted unstable homosexual. After they began making out on her bed, he claimed he couldn't get an erection, and she tried to be reassuring: "Maybe, maybe it's me. Whatever, it's not your fault. It happens." He responded: "Goddamn women, all you gotta do is lay there. Guys gotta do all the work. (She laughed.) You think that's funny!"
She joked further, not realizing that she was insulting his manhood, and he went ballistic:
A blue strobe light blinked on/off while he strangled, smothered, raped and stabbed her to death, calling her a "bitch."
Maladolescenza (1977, W.Germ./It.) (translated Adolescent Malice)
Director Pier Giuseppe Murgia's coming-of-age romantic drama was vilified as child pornography fit for pedophiles, but in fact, contained a message not unlike The Lord of the Flies or an adult-like Grimm's fairy tale. The film was banned or heavily cut in many countries for its depictions of sex (cunnilingus) and full-frontal nudity.
It featured only three adolescent characters (one male, two female) in a love triangle. The trio spent the summer in the mountains and wooded forests of Austria (where the ruins of an ancient city were discovered):
At first, 12 year-old Laura was hopelessly fond of older male Fabrizio - who began to continually torment her. The drama graphically portrayed adolescent bullying and the use of sex as an instrument of domination. In the old city that Laura and Fabrizio discovered, he declared himself to be king of the forest, but in order for Laura to be queen, she had to first endure and win the cruel tests he had devised. He subjected her to the horror of a snake (while she was bound on the ground), and a barking German shepherd dog
When the two were joined by Silvia, she aided Fabrizio in frightening and humiliating Laura (killing her pet bird with an arrow, a cruel 'hide-and-seek' game with scary masks, chasing her with a bow and arrow, and the 'pit' scene). The film climaxed tragically, when Sylvia told Fabrizio that she could not remain as his queen and must return to school. He stabbed her to death in the final scene.
Rabid (1977) (aka Rage)
Canadian writer/director David Cronenberg's unconventional, low-budget horror vampire thriller (his second commercial feature film, and similar to his first body-horror film, Shivers (1975)) starred ex-porn film star Marilyn Chambers. [She was the ex "Ivory Snow Girl" who became an adult film star in the Mitchell Brothers' Behind the Green Door (1972) and then became one of the first adult stars to cross over into a mainstream film. It was her first non-pornographic film role.]
Chambers took the lead role of Rose, a mutant predator with vampirish blood cravings following plastic surgery (and an experimental skin graph). Critically-injured, she had been treated following severe burning and bleeding suffered in a motorcycle crash. In the Keloid Clinic, she underwent a new technique involving the neutralizing of skin tissue - grafted skin from her thigh was removed, treated, and then applied to injured areas of her body.
Unable to digest food regularly following the accident, Rose realized that she required human blood to survive. Rose's feeding scenes contained symbolic sexual imagery - since her blood-sucking bites came from a pair of vulgar, phallic-shaped (and also clitoral-shaped), stinger-like appendages from inside a vaginal-like slit or orifice in her armpit. In the apartment of her best friend Mindy Kent (Susan Roman), Rose suffered severe pain and sweating on the floor of her apartment's bathroom.
Her bloodlusting bite would infect her victims with a highly-contagious, venereal, rabies-like disease that transformed them into manic, consuming flesh-and-blood consuming zombies. The bite was akin to unprotected sexual intercourse via promiscuity that was also linked to rampant, rabid infection - a new outbreak threatened the entire city of Montreal.
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977, Fr.) (aka Cet Obscur Objet du Désir)
Luis Bunuel's final film was adapted from Pierre Louÿs' 1898 novel, La Femme et le Pantin (The Woman and the Puppet). It was also filmed by director Josef von Sternberg as The Devil Is a Woman with Marlene Dietrich.
The story of sexual politics, mostly told in flashback as a series of vignettes, was about successful Spanish businessman and widower Mathieu Fabert (Fernando Rey). He had became obsessed with elusive, 19 year-old former chambermaid and working class Conchita Perez. She was a dancer who actually portrayed two sides of her personality - played by two different actresses:
His sexual frustration and anguish was clearly demonstrated when the alluring, carnal, teasing and erotic side of her personality enticed him for favors, but then changed to a disinterested, unobtainable female wearing a full, elaborately-laced pelvic corset (that was similar to a chastity belt and impossible to remove) who refused his lustful advances.
The experimental, controversial and sensational director Ken Russell was at the helm of a number of flamboyant screen biographies in the 1970s, including this one of silent screen idol Rudolf Valentino. [Note: Earlier Russell films included Mahler (1974), Tommy (1975) and Lisztomania (1975).] This dramatic film's screenplay was a very free adaptation of the biographical book Valentino: An Intimate Expose of the Sheik, and considered one of the more amusingly bad films ever made - and a big box-office failure. The famous actor, often a romantic lead character and known as the Latin Lover, died prematurely in 1926 at the age of 31 following a perforated ulcer or appendicitis that led to infection.
Famed Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev (in his debut film role) starred as the title character, opposite Michelle Phillips (singer and member of the Mamas and the Papas in the 1960s) as his bisexual love interest and second wife Natasha Rambova (her stage name). Various segments of Valentino's life were told as flashbacks (at the time of his funeral), including his days as a dancehall gigolo, the recollections of the social-climbing Natasha, and questions regarding Valentino's true sexuality (or lack of masculinity as a "powder puff").
Her relationship with Valentino was scandalous, including her veiled enticement of him into a desert tent, followed by a nude romp with him, echoing the filming of Valentino's signature role in The Sheik (1921). She knew that he was still married (although in the process of divorcing) his disastrous first wife Jean Acker (Carol Kane). During their naked cavortings, he stroked her bare and skinny chest, covered by long braided hair:
Valentino was subsequently arrested for bigamy since his Mexican marriage to her was less than a year following his divorce, and he suffered during a jail stint. They eventually legally married.
Valentino with Natasha
Young Lady Chatterley (1977)
Producer-director Alan Roberts' X-rated soft-core film Young Lady Chatterley (1977) starred Harlee McBride as Cynthia Chatterley (the niece of the original Lady Constance Chatterley).
The erotic film, now set in Beverly Hills, was an updated adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's once-scandalous, allegorical 1928 novel Lady Chatterley's Lover about carnal pleasure and class conflict, when the female character resented her wealthy husband and had sex with a workingman. It contained numerous scenes of eroticism with Cynthia Chatterley appearing fully nude before a mirror, in the bath with the chambermaid, and in a car.
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.