History of Sex in Cinema:
The Greatest and Most Influential
Sexual Films and Scenes

(Illustrated)

1996, Part 2



The History of Sex in Cinema
Movie Title/Year and Film/Scene Description
Screenshots

Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996, India/UK)

Indian director Mira Nair's lush romantic melodrama about love and betrayal was set in pre-colonial, 16th century India. Because of the film's sexual content and frequent nudity, it was threatened with an NC-17 rating and therefore released un-rated in the US. While being filmed in India (where it was ultimately banned), its release title was changed to "Maya & Tara" and its controversial content was kept secret.

It told of two girlhood friends who as adults became competitive rivals for power and love in a love triangle:

  • Maya (Indira Varma), a lower-caste, seductive, and sensual servant girl
  • Tara (Sarita Choudhury), her handmaiden princess, born into royalty

Maya succeeded in arousing the lustful affections of the powerful, playboyish Prince Raj Singh (Naveen Andrews) on the eve of Tara's wedding day to the Prince and was then banished and exiled from the palace by her mother for being a whore. She also inflamed the jealousy of Tara when the Prince called out Maya's name during the sexual consummation of their vows.

Soon afterwards, Maya was trained in love-making by Rasa Devi (Rekha) through the Indian book of love (the Kama Sutra). She also fell in love with long-haired stone sculptor Jai Kumar (Ramon Tikaram) for whom she posed as a nude model for his life-sized statues, one of which was recognized as her likeness by King Raj (the former Prince). Maya was chosen to become part of the King's harem as his most favored courtesan.

In one lesbian-tinged sexual scene after Tara was repeatedly rejected by the promiscuous Raj with many mistresses, Maya taught her how to be a better lover by kissing down the length of her body.

Tara (Sarita Choudhury) and Maya (Indira Varma)

Jai, Maya's real love, was ultimately killed by the debauched, drug-addicted rival King after they fought in a near-naked wrestling contest, and the sculptor was sentenced to prison and death (by a stomping from an elephant).


Tara
(Sarita Choudhury)





Maya
(Indira Varma)

Kingpin (1996)

In this Farrelly Brothers ribald, gross-out comedy, down-and-out, middle-aged ex-bowling star Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson) was so broke that he was forced to have sex with his landlady (Lin Shaye) to pay the rent. After the scene of sex (implied) with her, he was seen kneeling and puking into the toilet, and the decrepit old woman was smoking in bed and telling him:

"Oh, stop it! It wasn't that bad. Oh, my little Roy toy. What is it about good sex that makes me have to crap? I guess it's all that pumpin'. Pump and dump! (Roy puked) You really jarred something loose, tiger. (In a pose that resembled The Graduate (1967), she pulled her socks up over skinny, varicose-veined legs) Oh, boy! I've got two bits of advice for you, Munson. Number one, why don't you forget about this bowling business and get yourself a real job. (More puking) Two, you still owe me another month's rent, so if I were you, I would start doing some tongue exercises before Friday."

She made the sign of cunnilingus - her spread fingers in a V shape with her tongue wagging in between.


Kissed (1996, Can.)

Co-writer/director Lynne Stopkewich's debut film was a controversial and provocative limited-release independent film about the taboo subject of necrophilia. It was originally rated NC-17, but two minutes were cut to make it R-rated for commercial video release. The non-exploitative film was advertised with the tagline: "A Film to Really Die For" and had one of the few depicted instances of actual necrophilia in a film.

It starred Molly Parker as the sympathetically-portrayed Sandra Larson - an assistant at the Wallis Funeral Home, where she engaged in embalming and exercised her obsession with finding spiritual calm and erotic attraction to the dead by kissing a corpse in a coffin ("I've always been fascinated by death. The feel of it, the smell of it, the quietness of it").

The film opened with her voice-over:

"When you die, your life flashes, and you disintegrate, radiating energy. When a thing turns into its opposite, when love becomes hate, there are always sparks. But when life turns into death, it's explosive. There are streaks of light, magical, and electrifying. Everyone senses something, some energy, some spirit, some sort of illumination. But I see it. I've seen bodies shining like stars. Some say there's no soul, no afterlife, that life and death is the straightest line on the compass, and nothing more. I say believe what you want, because no matter what you do, cut everything up, burn it all down, you're in the path of something beyond your control."

In the film's most talked-about scene about 45 minutes into the film, she had sex with the corpse of an accident victim under harsh and glaring flourescent lighting in the embalming room. In her panties and bra, she first twirled around and circled the table holding the corpse. After stripping her clothes off, she then moved onto the end of the metal table, climbed on, and straddled the pallid body. The intensity of her sexual feelings glowed a bright white before the scene ended.

The Film's Most Controversial Scene with Sandra Larson (Molly Parker)

By the film's grim ending, her romantically-obsessed student boyfriend Matt (Peter Outerbridge) learned of her love of death, so he decided to commit suicide by hanging himself naked (with her present, in his room filled with lit candles) in order to be with her forever. When she professed to love him, he replied: "No, you don't Sandra, but you will" before kicking over the stool and ending his life.

When she was alone with Matt's corpse at the funeral home, she thought to herself:

"Matt was gone, but not his energy. His star was the brightest I've ever seen, exploding and surrounding us. His love was so intense. I felt burned. Love is about craving, our craving for transformation, and all transformation, all movement happens because life turns into death. (She kissed his lips) I still work at a funeral home. I'm still compelled to cross over. But now I see Matt and I look into the center."





Sandra Larson
(Molly Parker)



Sandra with Matt
(Peter Outerbridge)

Norma Jean and Marilyn (1996)

Director Tim Fywell's innovative biopic feature film, a made-for-TV film for HBO, displayed two conflicting sides of the split schizophrenic personality of a young, love-seeking, tragic star - ultimately named Marilyn Monroe.

Although the film contained various inaccuracies, such as overdoing Marilyn's later psychopathic behavior, and the manner of her death, it was praised for its provocative sequences in which Norma Jean and Marilyn appeared together.

Glimpses of Norma Jean Dougherty (Ashley Judd) and Marilyn Monroe (Mira Sorvino)
Dream in Church
Flashing
Playboy calendar shoot
Marilyn at Poolside

The blonde bombshell was portrayed by two cast members:

  • Ashley Judd (in the actress' earlier years as Norma Jean Dougherty), including a dream sequence of imagining herself naked in church as she walked up the center aisle
  • Mira Sorvino (as the drugged-up actress Marilyn during her Hollywood sex star years) in a scene where she flashed her breasts by a swimming pool

In some scenes, Judd appeared as Marilyn's alter-ego by her side, especially as the star deteriorated due to drug addiction dependency.

The film included a recreation of the famous nude Playboy calendar shoot of Norma against a red backdrop, and Marilyn accompanied by Jane Russell (Erika Nann) imprinting both their famed breasts and hand prints in wet cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.


Jane Russell
(Erika Nann)


Marilyn and Jane Russell
at Grauman's Theatre

The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

Director Milos Forman's critically-acclaimed and provocative docudrama/biopic told the story of trashy adult Hustler magazine publisher/editor Larry Flynt (Best Actor-nominated Woody Harrelson) and his series of confrontations with the authorities over anti-pornography laws and his claim of First Amendment rights.

During its initial release, an attack upon the film by feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem coincidentally led to plummeting box-office, and Columbia's $35 million film took in only $20 million. She criticized the film for making Flynt look like an heroic free speech advocate, while ignoring that he had published images of sexual torture and mutilation on a regular basis.

In the film, a docudrama, love story, and courtroom drama all in one, Flynt was portrayed in his early adulthood as a womanizer and strip-club manager in Cincinnati, Ohio. He began to publish a newsletter (the future Hustler magazine) to market his club's nude strippers. The magazine took off when it published 'peeping-tom' photos of a nude Jackie Onassis and sold 2 million copies.

He became romantically involved with (and later married) one of his dancer/strippers:

  • bisexual and free-spirited Althea Leasure (pop singer Courtney Love in her first major acting role, an uninhibited one)

Althea was seen performing an awkward strip routine. She boldly told Flynt: "You are not the only person who has slept with every woman in this club." Later, she was part of a threesome lesbian scene and a hot-tub scene (which Flynt joined) where she proposed marriage - she assured him that they could still sleep with other people. During one scene of a photo-shoot, the photographer and Flynt argued over whether to show the woman's vagina.

During a powerful speech before a gigantic backdrop of images of sex and violence/murder, Flynt argued with anti-pornography activists. He asked why photographing sex and nudity was criminally pornographic, but violence and murder was not. Flynt displayed pictures of sex intercut with famous Pulitzer Prize-winning photos of extreme violence, racism, war and the Holocaust.

"Judge sanely. Judge with your eyes open. What do you consider obscene? Is this obscene to you? Or perhaps that's obscene to you? Or maybe this is obscene - to you? But what is more obscene? This, or this? This, or this? You know, politicians or demagogues like to say that sexually-explicit material corrupts the youth of our country. And yet they lie, cheat and start unholy wars. Look at 'em. They call themselves men. They're sheep in a herd. I think the real obscenity comes from raisin' our youth to believe that sex is bad and ugly and dirty and yet it is heroic to go spill guts and blood in the most ghastly manner in the name of humanity. With all the taboos attached to sex, it's no wonder we have the problems we have. It's no wonder we're angry and violent and genocidal. But ask yourself the question. What is more obscene? Sex or war?"
(The audience responded: "WAR!")

He offered his thoughts on free speech after his 1988 court victory and vindication by the Supreme Court:

...If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it'll protect all of you -- 'cause I'm the worst...

After an assassination attack that left him paralyzed, the film's ending portrayed AIDS-stricken Althea dying from a drug overdose and/or drowning in a bathtub with a heartbroken Flynt embracing her. In the concluding frames, Flynt watched old videotapes on multiple monitors of his deceased Althea.

Althea's (Courtney Love) Death


Althea
(Courtney Love)






Larry Flynt's Speech

The Pillow Book (1996, UK, Fr/Nether.)

Peter Greenaway's NC-17 rated erotic drama about sex, death and revenge was noted for full-frontal male nudity and erotic scenes of the two lovers.

It told of a young Japanese-born girl named Nagiko Kiohara (Vivian Wu as an adult) whose Kyoto writer/calligrapher father (Ken Ogata) gave her a special ritualized birthday gift every year -- a face-painted poem, while her aunt (Hideko Yoshida) read "beautiful things" from Sei Shonagon's classic 10th century Japanese book of love called The Pillow Book. [Nagiko was named after the famous 10th century keeper of a Pillow Book or diary.] On her fifth birthday, Nagiko witnessed a life-changing sexual transaction - her financially-stretched father was forced to have sex with his exploitative, homosexual publisher "Yaji-san" (Yoshi Oida) in exchange for getting his work published.

When she reached maturity at age 18 and the ritual ended, Nagiko realized she was still fixated on having expressive verses inscribed on her naked body (calligraphy on skin) as a prelude for sex and erotic attraction from lovers who were expert calligraphers. She was forced into an unhappy, arranged marriage with her publisher's nephew (Ken Mitsuishi), who was unwilling to paint her body as she desired. He even jealously burned her pillow book, writings, and their house when the obsessively-dissatisfied Nagiko went on a sexual-spiritual search for a calligrapher who could seduce and satisfy her by painting calligraphy symbols on her body.

Nagiko (Vivian Wu) with Jerome (Ewan McGregor)

As a fashion model who had fled from Japan to Hong Kong, she met British expatriate and bisexual English translator Jerome (Ewan McGregor), and he allowed her to write her manuscript on his skin (a reversal of the normal pattern). One of the film's most expressive images was one of the lovers bathing in a tub together. Fatefully and fortunately, his lover was also her publisher, who had rejected her book.

To seek revenge against the publisher for his sexual humiliation of her father and to get her book published, she sent various men - beginning with Jerome - (with their skin bearing her "books") to the publisher, to strip and present her texts. But then Jerome betrayed her trust by making love to the publisher, setting up the film's tragic conclusion. Jerome asked for forgiveness, but Nagiko refused. Depressed, he took pills and accidentally overdosed. Eventually, the skin of Jerome's body was made into a pillow book, and she bore Jerome's child (Hikari Abe), who carried on the tradition of face-painting.






Nagiko
(Vivian Wu)

Poison Ivy II: Lily (1996)

Another erotic thriller, a direct-to-video release by director Anne Goursaud, this was the first sequel in a long series of direct-to-video 'Poison Ivy' films (see other entries):

  • Poison Ivy (1992) with Drew Barrymore - the first film in the series
  • Kurt Voss' direct-to-video Poison Ivy 3: The New Seduction (1997) with Jaime Pressly
  • Poison Ivy: The Secret Society (2008), also direct-to-video, with Miriam McDonald and Shawna Waldron

It had an entirely new cast and production crew, and was released both in an R-rated and unrated version. 20-something Alyssa Milano was making her second major erotic feature film, following Embrace of the Vampire (1995), also by director Goursaud - it was another attempt by the actress to cast off her child-star image.

In this one, Milano took the role of innocent Lily Leonetti, a California art student away from her sheltered home life in Michigan. She soon became obsessed by a box of nude self-portrait pictures (and diary) of a fearless, sexually-confident teenaged temptress named Ivy. She decided to become someone else (she described herself later: "Someone tough and infallible. Beautiful, sexy. Fearless. And it worked").

As she transformed herself into Lily by dressing more provocatively, cutting her hair, piercing her belly button, etc., she became more sexually desirable ("incredibly sexy") and passionate with her fellow student boyfriend, an amorous frosted blonde sculptor named Gredin (Johnathon Schaech). As they sat on a blue-sheeted bed together, he removed her black bra and felt her breasts from behind before they undressed further and made love. They also had sex against a shower glass door.

She also agreed to pose nude for married art teacher Donald Falk (Xander Berkeley), the father of Daphna (Camilla Belle) (the young girl that she babysat), and it was inevitable that Falk became sexually obsessed and madly jealous over her. After being stalked and nearly killed during a sexual assault by Donald (who fell to his death), Lily reconciled with Gredin after he saved her, and they expressed their love for each other.

 






Lily
(Alyssa Milano)

Stealing Beauty (1996, It./UK/Fr.)

Bernardo Bertolucci's R-rated film was a sex-drenched character study with gorgeous cinematography and visually-stunning settings (in Tuscany, Italy). The arty, soft-focus film also featured hedonistic lifestyles, sex, free-spirited nudity (including full frontal male and female nudity), drug usage, and some bad language. The film's director often objectified the seductively innocent actress in shooting her beautiful sexuality and rebelliousness as an erotic fantasy of his own.

It starred lovely Liv Tyler (daughter of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler) as 19 year old American Lucy Harmon on vacation, looking for her father and grieving after the suicide of her poet mother - with some artist friends of her late mother (including Donal McCann as sculptor Ian Grayson and Sinead Cusack as Diana Grayson), and also attempting to lose her virginity with a lover.

Although she rejected a former love named Niccolo (Roberto Zibetti), she found lyrical love and true romance with a young shepherd named Osvaldo (Ignazio Oliva) in a very gentle, non-explicit erotic scene before the glow of a nearby campfire.

At one point in the film, Lucy allowed herself to pose with one breast exposed. 'Virginal' Lucy's "beauty" was stolen as the idealized young female was eventually deflowered.



Lucy
(Liv Tyler)



Miranda
(Rachel Weisz)

Striptease (1996)

Writer/director Andrew Bergman's R-rated feature film was one of the least unsexy of all films - on top of being one of the most criticized films ever. It won the Razzie "Worst Picture" Award for 1996, even defeating Pamela Anderson's entry Barb Wire (1996) - Demi Moore also won "Worst Actress" for the year and Bergman won "Worst Director" and "Worst Screenplay." "Worst Screen Couple" was awarded to Burt Reynolds and Demi Moore. The video release of the film contained an additional two minutes of footage that was not in the theatrical version.

Moore was paid a record-breaking actress salary of $12.5 million for her stripper role in the picture - a role which she thoroughly researched at various strip clubs in preparation. It wasn't unusual for Moore to strip - she had done so on five previous occasions on film -- in Blame It On Rio (1984), No Small Affair (1984), About Last Night...(1986), Indecent Proposal (1993), and The Scarlet Letter (1995).

The detested film told about the stripper profession and Florida political corruption involving star Burt Reynolds as sex-crazed Congressman David Dilbeck. Surgically-enhanced and in-shape Demi Moore starred as Florida mother Erin Grant, a former FBI secretary, 'reluctantly' earning $15,000 in six weeks as an Eager Beaver Club dancer-topless stripper in Miami, to raise funds for an appeal to win back her 7 year-old daughter Angela (real-life daughter Rumer Willis) lost in a custody battle with her negligent, ex-con husband Darrell (Robert Patrick).

In one scene while standing on top of his coffee table, she stripped out of her black bra (down to her black thong) as the perverted, obsessed Congressman Dilbeck promised her - grabbing at her ankles and knees:

"Darlin', if you just come into Davie's life, good things will happen. You just don't know how much I worship you."

After she asked: "How much?", he told her about his twisted desire for her "fresh hot lint" obtained from her laundromat - confessing "I'm afraid I made love to it." She laughed incredulously: "Close your eyes. I've got a little surprise for you. Keep 'em closed. No peeking" - and smashed the spike of her high heel into his hand.





Stripper Erin Grant
(Demi Moore)

2 Days in the Valley (1996)

This intricately-told episodic, Southern California crime caper melodrama by director John Herzfeld (his directorial debut film) was inspired by Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) and noted for its sexy scenes of gorgeous, statuesque blonde sexpot and hitman's girlfriend Helga Svelgen (future Oscar-winner Charlize Theron in her feature film debut).

In a memorable bedroom scene after a shower with wet hair, the Norwegian model appeared from the bathroom wearing lacy lingerie (a white teddy and see-through silk robe). Sociopathic, black glasses-wearing boyfriend Lee Woods (James Spader) asked her to stop and pose for him: "I just want to look at you. (He laughed) God definitely broke the mold after you, baby." With her long legs, she strutted over to the bed where she sat down on a chair and adopted a Basic Instinct style, open-legged pose to further entice him. He remarked: "Not too tall. It's a world that's too short" as he crawled over and kissed her kneecap and inner left thigh while she arched her back. He jumped up: "God, you are beautiful!" he exclaimed.

After placing an ice cube in his mouth, he tossed her back onto the bed, and grabbed her throat - although she cautioned: "Don't put your hand around my throat...It makes me not trust you." He told her: "You can trust me, you can always trust me," then ripped open her gauzy top, and cooled her left nipple with the ice cube held between his teeth. She turned him over and reciprocated by ripping open his blue shirt while she sat astride him. She completely removed her top as he grabbed her breasts and they voraciously kissed. He added: "I guess I must really be in love with you."

The Ice-Cube Love-Making Scene With Helga (Charlize Theron)

The film was also memorable for Helga's catfight in a 2nd floor motel room with co-star Teri Hatcher (as ex-Olympic skier Becky Foxx) after they argued and Helga called her a "bitch." Helga was shot in the right side, while Becky fled to the street and was killed when hit by a car (off-screen).

Earlier in the film, Helga was pictured topless and dead in a faked photo to fool Roy Foxx (Peter Horton) into believing that she had been murdered.



Helga
(Charlize Theron)


Death of Helga
in Faked Photo


Catfight:
Helga vs. Becky
(Teri Hatcher)

Sex in Cinematic History
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


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