History of Sex in Cinema:
|Movie Title/Year and Film/Scene Description|
(National Lampoon's) Animal House (1978)
This very popular, low-brow, 'gross-out' anarchistic comedy from National Lampoon and director John Landis was the first big-studio comedy of its kind aimed specifically at the teen and college demographic. It was Landis' follow-up film to the previous year's Kentucky Fried Movie (1977). It set the standard for many subsequent teen comedies in the 1980s and after. Following the film was a TV series titled Delta House (1979).
The 'guilty pleasure' R-rated film was an unexpected major hit - and the first of many other successors. It provided star-making roles for many young actors (John Belushi, Kevin Bacon, Tom Hulce, Tim Matheson, Stephen Furst, and Karen Allen).
The quintessential college frat party film was set at fictional Faber College in 1962 in the misfit Delta Tau Chi fraternity house - known for debauchery, drinking, and other misadventures (including a toga party, which soon became a raging phenomenon). It pitted the fraternity in a madcap war against administrators and some ROTC members.
One of its classic scenes was the 'Peeping Tom' scene of prankster John "Bluto" Blutarsky (John Belushi, a Saturday Night Live regular) on a ladder outside a sorority house top story window. He glanced backwards to share a conspiratorial glance with the voyeuristic film audience behind him. He was spying on an undressing Mandy Pepperidge (Mary Louise Weller) who momentarily touched herself. After she engaged in a topless pillow fight with others - in the excitement his ladder tipped backwards.
A few of the other Delta fraternity members also scored with other females: slimy and suave Eric "Otter" Stratton (Tim Matheson) made out with Shelly Dubinsky (Lisa Baur) in a car.
In another great scene, new recruit Larry "Pinto" Kroger (Tom Hulce) debated with a devil and angel figure (his conscience) on his shoulders about whether to take advantage of passed-out coed Clorette dePasto (Sarah Holcomb) - not knowing that she was the mayor's 13 year-old daughter:
Behind Convent Walls (1978, It.) (aka Interno di un Convento, or Interieur d'un Couvent)
Director Walerian Borowczyk's erotic, well-photographed arthouse film was based upon notorious French author Stendhal's Roman Walks (or Promenades Dans Romanes). The soft-focus drama was one of a number of "Convent Erotica" sexploitation (or nunsploitation) films.
It told about an early 19th century nunnery run by a fervent sword-cane-wielding disciplinarian Mother Superior, Abbess Flavia Orsini (Gabriella Giacobbe). The pale-faced, sexually-repressed nuns reveled in rousing organ music in the chapel, danced to violin, performed sexy acrobatic leg exercises, and engaged in same-sex breast fondling in a confessional booth. The Mother Superior was appalled by the sensual urges of her charges, fearing that the "King of Darkness" had overtaken them.
To suppress their behaviors, she punished their hysterical, sacrilegious actions and sins against the Lord by forbidding them, although it was a vain effort, and forcing the guilty to repent and beg for forgiveness. She also resorted to searching rooms for contraband materials (including mirrors, love letters, dirty pictures, etc.).
The film's most notorious scene was one in which one of the nuns (Olivia Pascal) found a piece of wood (a large round dowel) on some broken window-pane glass, deflected from a woodcutter below. She took the wood and shard of glass back to her room and - while naked under her gown - she carved herself a large wooden dildo. She held the round stick of wood over a large bowl where the shavings were collected as she whittled. She commissioned another artistic nun (who was in the midst of drawing a figure of a man with an erect penis!) to draw a small image of the bearded face of Jesus Christ to glue to the handle base of the carved wooden phallus - for blasphemous masturbatory purposes to induce religious ecstasy. In the hard-core versions of the film, she pleasured herself with the Jesus-headed wooden dildo, while watching the image of Jesus in a hand-held mirror, and causing bloody injury to herself.
When caught using the bloody instrument which she had just rinsed in a white bowl, she claimed it was only a "stick...that fell from heaven as I came down the hall. It crashed right through the window at my feet." The Mother Superior was incensed that the nun also had a mirror in her possession, and asked: "What was going on?...Show me what was going on here!" The nun complied and demonstrated above her clothes, causing the shocked Mother Superior to call her "shameless."
The Mother Superior found herself forced to deal with more serious forms of sexual experimentation - masturbation, lesbianism, and illicit sex. Her own niece - the love-starved, chaste nun Sister Clara (the director's wife Ligia Branice) began to regularly meet up and be seduced by the Father Confessor's (Mario Maranzana) virile, and she had ecstatic sex with ne'er-do-well nephew Rodrigo Landriani (Howard Ross). The visits of the local meat butcher Silva (Alessandro Partexano), the "meat man," were restricted after he was found having a secret affair with pale-faced Sister Martina (Loredana Martinez).
One of the nuns, Sister Veronica (Marina Pierro) inflicted stigmata on herself with a bouquet of thorny roses attached to the crown of a crucifix.
The film ended with the Mother Superior accidentally dead of a poisoning overdose of laudanum, and a few of the distraught nuns had committed suicide.
Sexy Leg and
A Flurry of Sexual Activity
Coming Home (1978)
Director Hal Ashby's late 1970s liberal, well-acted anti-war treatise which ultimately cost about $7.2 million, grossed $32.7 million in the U.S. The successful film depicted the effects of the Vietnam War - in the intimate, steamy and provocative relationship (both sexual and romantic) between:
Her deranged, war-captain Marine husband Capt. Bob Hyde (Bruce Dern) was on a lengthy tour of duty in Vietnam, and formed the third part of a dangerous romantic love triangle.
As Luke was rehabilitated, he developed a strong and sensitive emotional relationship with Sally, and eventually they made love together. According to reports of the film-making, the sex scene was fraught with anxiety. Although Sally was on top during traditional intercourse, Luke was able to accurately gauge her sexual needs and provide her with her first orgasm through oral sex. Her pleasurable reaction was recorded on her face and in her squirming legs wrapped around his back. It was a very lengthy, milestone scene for a 1970s film.
When Hyde returned home from the front with a self-inflicted accidental injury, he confronted the two lovers with menacing anger, but ended up committing suicide by walking naked into the ocean where he presumably drowned.
Sally (Jane Fonda)
with Luke (Jon Voight)
Crazed (1978) (aka Nicole or The Widow's Revenge)
Writer-director István Ventilla's poorly-made erotic thriller from Troma Productions was at one time an impossible-to-find relic. However, it was released on DVD to capitalize on its rarity - to showcase 'one of a kind' topless nudity by one of its characters. It also tried to highlight the comeback of An American in Paris and Gigi's musical star Leslie Caron in the 1950s, now 47 years old, with the tagline:
In this case, it was the appearance of 24 year-old Catherine (credited as Kathy) Bach, and the film touted: "Her (Catherine Bach's) only nude scenes."
The suspenseful film's plot allegedly resembled one of the lost works of William Shakespeare, named Cardenio.
A slightly mad, wealthy and reclusive Nicole (Leslie Caron), a decadent and lustful bisexual widow, lived in a luxurious mansion with her strange and burly, live-in chauffeur-butler Malcolm (Ramon Bieri). In a flashback (the film's opening scene), he murdered his adulterous wife (Patrice Bough) and her male partner.
Socialite Nicole also became obsessed over young and innocent aspiring dancer Sue (Catherine Bach) in a ballet class, and befriended her by offering minor plastic surgery and a place to live at the mansion.
They shared a brief breast groping and cupping (possibly with a body double), as Nicole attempted to draw Sue into her plans for a threesome with dashing gentleman suitor Fletcher (Bruce Graziano), a car salesman whom she had seen on TV ads.
The film concluded with Fletcher's death (executed by Malcolm) and Sue's death - mauled by Nicole's trained Great Dane guard dogs.
|Fairy Tales (1978)
Independent filmmaker and director Harry Hurwitz (aka Harry Tampa) made a career out of three low-budget comedies:
In the mid-1970s, there had been a trend to release alternate sexy versions of full stories, such as Alice in Wonderland (1976), and Cinderella (1977).
Fairy Tales was a low-brow, smutty, and vulgar musical sex comedy, an X-rated parody composed of various Mother Goose nursery rhyme characters. They were randomly placed into the plot, spouting leering and dirty sex jokes littered with double entendres, voyeurism, simulated sex, and some full-frontal nudity. The naughty film's tagline was: "Some Day Your Prince Will Come."
On his 21st birthday, an impotent Prince (Don Sparks) was not interested in a very-willing Naked Girl (Idy Tripodi) given to him by his advisors as a birthday present in his bed (she complained: "You're no fun!"). The Prince's manic sex expert Dr. Eyes ("Professor" Irwin Corey) joked: "They only make semen white and urine yellow so that you know whether you're comin' or goin'" - and "My moon is in Scorpio, and my Venus is five inches below my belly-button. Well, it's better there than in Uranus."
The Prince sought to find the virginal Princess Sleeping Beauty in the Land of the Fairies to "sire an heir" to the throne with her, before forfeiting his royal throne in only a few days. Sexually attracted to her painting ("I'm sure it would work with her"), the horny Prince set out on a quest to impregnate his comatose dream girl Sleeping Beauty (future 80's scream queen and Queen of the B's Linnea Quigley).
The fractured fairy tale elements included numerous characters during the Prince's journey:
Finally by film's end, after Gussie Gander failed to arouse the Prince, he came upon the awakening virginal Sleeping Beauty who asked: "I've been waiting for him to kiss me. What took you so long?" Soon after, the Prince made love to his Princess, and they drove off in a horse-drawn carriage to his castle where they constantly were in bed and refused interruptions.
The concluding epilogue featured the doorman strangely hawking three items: a love potion, an "official fairy tale Little Bo Peep sheep" for single lonely fellas, and "the official codpiece as worn by Sirus in this motion picture."
Little Bo Peep
Masked S&M Dancers
Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (1978, Fr./Belgium) (aka Préparez Vos Mouchoirs)
Writer/director Bertrand Blier's R-rated odd and unconventional comedy farce (the Best Foreign Film Oscar winner!) told about an unusual sexual awakening. Its tagline was:
It told about a long-suffering husband and wife's strained relationship:
Raoul went to great and drastic lengths to sexually satisfy his bored wife. He first tried to enlist other lovers to have sex with her and possibly get her pregnant. The first failed candidate was bearded, glasses-wearing schoolteacher Stéphane (Patrick Dewaere), a Mozart lover who also was meticulous about arranging his complete collection of Pocket Books.
However, success finally came through a match-up with underaged, high-IQ, precocious, socially-awkward 13 year old virginal boy, Christian Boloeil (Riton Liebman). After Solange rescued the boy from bullies' hazing, she brought him to her bed where he peeked at her beneath her nightgown as she slept. Although she was shocked by his explorations, she soon gave herself to him and ended up becoming pregnant by him.
Director John Carpenter's low-budget slasher film Halloween (1978), at its time, was the most profitable independent film in industry history, with a domestic box-office gross of $47 million.
The landmark film set in motion the Puritanical, psycho-pathological principle that surviving murder by a psychopathic killer was directly related to the degree of one's sexual experience. It also asserted the allegorical idea that sexual awakening often meant the literal 'death' of innocence (or oneself).
In the film's opening sequence (filmed from the POV of the young killer wearing a Halloween mask) - after teenaged Judith Myers (Sandy Johnson) had sex with her boyfriend Tommy (David Kyle), the six-year-old killer Michael Myers (Will Sandin as boy) took a large butcher knife, entered his near-naked sister's upstairs bedroom where he found her sitting and brushing her hair in front of a vanity table. After he surveyed her bedsheets, she turned and recognized her brother: "Michael!" The act of illicit sex stirred him to commit a hideous crime. Although she tried to defend herself, he furiously stabbed her to death in a brutal murder, and her bloodied body tumbled to the floor.
In this film, the murders often occurred after sexual encounters when victims were distracted and off-guard. The dark silhouette of the serial killer Michael Myers was slightly visible to the right as teenaged Lynda (P.J. Soles) and her boyfriend Bob (John Michael Graham) made love in a bed next to a jack-o-lantern. Shortly later, Bob was killed by stabbing and Lynda was strangled with a phone cord.
The virginal baby-sitting main character Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) was able to escape mostly unscathed (as did the asexual Dr. Loomis, the young pre-teen Tommy Doyle, and asexual Myers himself!), but others who were more promiscuous and sexually-charged were less fortunate and suffered deadly consequences as stalked victims.
I Spit on Your Grave (1978) (aka Day of the Woman)
Director/writer Meir Zarchi's low-budget vengeance story was a notorious gang rape/vigilante film with exploitative splatter-horror film elements. The film was banned outright in many countries, and vilified by critics everywhere.
It told about thin NYC socialite/aspiring short story writer Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton, married to director/writer/producer Zarchi at the time of filming) who rented a remote and woodsy, lakeside dwelling in upstate NY (filmed in Connecticut) for the summer. When she first arrived at the home, she went skinny-dipping. She inadvertently met aimless locals at a gas station:
She was aggressively harrassed, confronted, and repeatedly violated by the four locals, who used one excuse that they were aiding Matthew in losing his virginity. The painful-to-watch sequence was graphic, lengthy (40 minutes in a 100 minute film!), and particularly vicious, including both a vaginal and brutal anal rape in the muddy forest.
There was a second attempted rape in her rental house by an impotent, slightly-drunken Matthew. He complained to his buddies: "I can't come, you're interrupting my concentration...I can't, not with people watching me." As Jennifer laid there helpless, Stanley told her: "Total submission. That's what I like in a woman. Total submission," then briefly bottle-raped her and thrust his crotch into her face, yelling: "Suck it, bitch!"
Afterwards, the traumatized victim's angry, cold-blooded revenge was enacted against each of the four attackers, two of which were carried out seductively:
The Two Brutal Rapes of
Jennifer (Camille Keaton)
Malibu Beach (1978)
The quintessential 70s teen beach film by director Robert J. Rosenthal had the taglines: "Before There Was 'Baywatch,' There Was ... 'Malibu Beach'," and "Everything Can Happen on Malibu Beach."
The simplistic film was very forgettable and bland, although typical of late 70's and early 80's teen-beach movies of the time, with a bare minimum of T&A shots.
The Crown International Picture was set at Malibu in S. California, and had all the typical ingredients of teen sex comedies, including a non-stop disco-inspired soundtrack and:
The main plot was about blonde and shy Malibu Beach lifeguard Dina (Kim Lankford), a very hot bombshell, often accompanied by her care-free school pal, Sally (Susan Player) and her boyfriend Paul (Michael Luther).
There was also horny and topless Glorianna (Tara Strohmeier) who was making out with Bobby (James Daughton) at the beach, but he became distracted and more interested in Dina after a midnight swim, although also competing for Dina's attention was muscle-bound older trouble-maker Dugan Hicks (Steve Oliver).
Sally (Susan Player)
Victim of Bikini-Stealing Dog
Midnight Express (1978)
Director Alan Parker's harrowing drama was factually-based upon the main character's account - an American student who described his experience in a 1977 book and told about his brutal imprisonment in a hellish Turkish prison for hash possession.
The screenplay was written by Oliver Stone, who took some cinematic liberties with the facts. When the film was accused of presenting anti-Turkish sentiment, Stone apologized (many years later) for his tampered celluloid version.
In the fall of 1970, young Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) was arrested at the Istanbul, Turkey airport when security guards found bricks of hash taped to his body. He was sentenced for drug possession to over four years in prison.
Over the years, he was stripped at gunpoint, and forced to endure beatings, rape (although fictionalized), and torture by sadistic guards. He was finally able to successfully escape in 1975.
In one scene during his incarceration, the sexually-desperate Billy asked his prison-visiting girlfriend Susan (Irene Miracle) to show him her breasts. She pressed them against the partition's glass so he could kiss them and pleasure himself. She sobbed: "I wish I could make it better for you."
[Note: The prison visitation scene was humorously reinterpreted in Jim Carrey's The Cable Guy (1996).]
Pretty Baby (1978)
Louis Malle's American debut film was a semi-scandalous picture upon its release. The semi-historical, gorgeously-photographed, documentary-styled film was set in a 1917 New Orleans bordello in the red-light district of Storyville. Customers were entertained with ragtime music by cathouse piano player "The Professor" (Antonio Vargas).
The film was highly controversial and improperly charged with promoting child porn in the 1970s, although today, it would be considered tame. Various later versions were edited (with dark shading or re-framing closeups) to avoid portraying underage nudity. The tagline described the film's point of view:
It told the plodding, tragic, coming-of-age story of a virginal, pre-teen 12 year-old Violet (Brooke Shields) as a child prostitute, who was accompanied by her languid brothel mother Hattie (Susan Sarandon). Brothel patrons bid in an auction for the honor of taking Violet's virginity. In one of the more contested scenes, the brothel madam, Madam Nell (Frances Faye), later offered the naked Violet in her bath to a dumbfounded customer:
Violet and her mother were both often photographed nude by much older Ernest Bellocq (Keith Carradine) - who also married the young girl - signifying the complete loss of innocence after Hattie had abandoned her (she had married a rich client and moved to St. Louis)!
When the coquettish Violet reclined for a long period of time on a chaise lounger as the obsessed Bellocq fiddled with his camera for more picture-taking, Violet became frustrated, lept up, and approached the camera angrily and rebelliously: "I'm tired of lyin' here....It's always one second more with you, and why do you want to take my picture again and again and again?...I don't have to stay here and listen to you yell at me. Well, I'm leaving, and you won't have anyone to photograph anymore." To spite him, she smashed a photographic plate and scratched out the image on another. He viciously slapped her across the face and ordered: "Get out, get out Violet, before I kill you if you destroy any more of my pictures."
One of the worst turkey films (or flops) ever made was "sin-sational" Mae West's final film (her first film was in 1932, 46 years earlier) - it was an embarrassing and campy effort directed by Ken Hughes and distributed by Crown International Pictures. The sex comedy was based on her own Broadway musical, titled Sextet. The bawdy Mae West maintained her sex-kitten persona while parodying herself at the age of 85.
It was about aging Hollywood actress Marlo Manners (Mae West) who was in London, paired with her newlywed sixth husband, young British nobleman Sir Michael Barrington (32-year old Timothy Dalton), and now known as Lady Barrington. They were spending their honeymoon in a hotel suite which was also the site of an international conference composed of diplomats. The couple was constantly being interrupted by hotel personnel, requests for interviews, PR demands, fans, reporters, and fashion and photo sessions. There were a host of cameo and guest appearances by many celebrities, including Beatle Ringo Starr, Tony Curtis, George Hamilton, Alice Cooper, Rona Barrett, Regis Philbin, and George Raft.
One of the most improbable and awkward scenes found Lady Barrington in a gymnasium surrounded by studly, sex-hungry muscular men from the US Gymnastics Team.
She was in the process of dictating her scandalous memoirs, and often croaked uncomfortably unfunny double entendres or quips as she strutted around:
At one point, Sir Michael spoke/sang to her the disco hit and their signature tune Love Will Keep Us Together, which West lip-synched. At the end of the film, when she finally found herself in bed, Sir Michael complimented her, and she had a comeback:
Stay As You Are (1978, It/Sp.) (aka Cosi' Come Sei)
This little known provocative European film from director Alberto Lattuada was released in the US in late 1979.
It told about a May-December romance (and possible incest) between:
Giulio was sexually-tempted by Francesca, but worried about it because she resembled the woman he had an affair with two decades earlier - and she might be his own daughter. The film included full frontal female nudity, and scenes of various interludes of love-making and playfulness, including a notable bedroom and breakfast scene, in which she encouraged him to spank and then bite into her rear end, and another unusual scene in which she offered him a cup of her pee.
Kinski's role was the precursor to her role in director/lover Roman Polanski's Tess (1979).
The Stud (1978, UK)
This late 1970's camp film from director Quentin Masters was a sordid tale of sexual lust and illicit love that concluded with the decline of the film's male "stud." The pretentious tale was adapted from the book by Jackie Collins, the younger sister of the film's main star. After the film's success, a companion film sequel was released titled The Bitch (1979).
Its main character, however, wasn't the stud but a nymphomaniacal and decadent Mrs. Fontaine Khaled (mid-40s Joan Collins), the wife of wealthy London businessman Ben Khaled (Walter Gotell). She was employed as her husband's members-only disco night-club hostess, where she had made the club's virile and studly manager Tony Blake (Oliver Tobias) her personal plaything - she threatened his job if he didn't comply with her sexual needs.
A series of silly sex scenes (including elevator love-making) culminated in a notorious group orgy scene at a Parisian swimming pool. It involved her swinging on a swing and having sex at the same time with Tony. He also began an affair with Fontaine's manipulative and nubile step-daughter Alex Khaled (Emma Jacobs). Alex used Tony to seek revenge at Fontaine for cheating on her father. The husband learned of Fontaine's indiscretions, cut off his wife's support, and had his thugs beat up "the stud."
An Unmarried Woman (1978)
Director/writer Paul Mazursky's serious and groundbreaking (but dated) feminist film, a romantic drama, portrayed the character of a Upper East Side Manhattan wife who suddenly became insecure and "unmarried" when her long-standing marital relationship abruptly ended. The lengthy tagline foretold the plot:
It told the story of NYC mid-30s wife/mother and art-gallery worker Erica Benton (Oscar-nominated Jill Clayburgh) who was suddenly dumped by her stockbroker husband Martin (Michael Murphy) of sixteen years for a much younger woman, a schoolteacher. Erica was casually nude with Martin in the opening scenes, and then was unprepared when he sobbingly confessed on the street that he had been engaged for over a year in an affair: "I'm in love with somebody else." She bluntly asked: "Is she a good lay?", then shortly later threw up in a garbage can.
She displayed obvious confusion, humiliation, nausea and anger toward all men while seeking a divorce and engaging in therapy with lesbian psychiatrist Tanya (Penelope Russianoff). She sarcastically told others how it happened: "He was buying a shirt in Bloomingdale's and he fell in love." She had a number of uncomfortable experiences including a pass made at her by family physician Dr. Jacobs (Daniel Seltzer). She also felt depression and loneliness, and was overwhelmed by having to see other men or to pursue dating, although she was advised: "I'd risk it with some new men." A blind date with an infatuated and clueless Bob (Andrew Duncan) at a luncheon went poorly.
She was nervously talked into a one-night stand with smooth, gold necklace-wearing co-worker and womanizing swinger Charlie (Cliff Gorman). She confided in him: "I've only slept with one man in seventeen years," and although the sex was good, something was missing.
Later, she found a more reciprocal loving relationship with handsome and respectful, divorced English artist Saul Kaplan (Alan Bates) - but in the end she decided to part ways during the coming summer. She finally realized that she had to be in control of her life as an unmarried and independent woman.
History Overview | Reference Intro | Pre-1920s | 1920-26 | 1927-29 | 1930-1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934-37 | 1938-39
1940-44 | 1945-49 | 1950-54 | 1955-56 | 1957-59 | 1960-61 | 1962-63 | 1964 | 1965-66 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969
1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989
1990 | 1991 | 1992-1 | 1992-2 | 1993 | 1994-1 | 1994-2 | 1995-1 | 1995-2 | 1996-1 | 1996-2 | 1997-1 | 1997-2 | 1998-1 | 1998-2 | 1999-1 | 1999-2
2000-1 | 2000-2 | 2001-1 | 2001-2 | 2002-1 | 2002-2 | 2003-1 | 2003-2 | 2004-1 | 2004-2 | 2005-1 | 2005-2 | 2006-1 | 2006-2
2007-1 | 2007-2 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014
Index to All Decades, Years and Features
- 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.