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



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

La Dolce Vita (1960, It.) (aka The Sweet Life)

Federico Fellini's landmark masterpiece, semi-controversial and sensational, was about middle-class depravity and decadence. The episodic tale of a journey of seven days was a search to discover "the sweet life" by a frustrated, shallow, gossip and publicity-seeking, celebrity writer. Most of the film's activities occurred over seven nights (either consecutive or disconnected), and were always followed by a disappointing, dawning morning.

The main protagonist was playboyish gossip writer Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) who regularly attended parties, seduced socialites, and sought celebrity scandal for his tabloid stories. He had a decadent and hedonistic lifestyle of night life at clubs, orgies, and paparrazi-fueled events.

One night, he was charmed and smitten by bosomy, sexy, and seductive Amazonian blonde Hollywood starlet Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) in a low-cut black evening gown, who was dancing through the night streets with a white kitten in her arms. Then, she spontaneously waded, danced, cavorted and cooled off in the water of Rome's Trevi Fountain - to tempt him and seek his attention by her dampened, form-fitting clothing. She called out to him: "Marcello, come here, hurry up."

Near the film's end in the beach-house sequence, recently-divorced, exhibitionist Nadia (Nadia Gray) performed a de-personalizing, modified strip-tease to the cha-cha musical sound of Patricia - she removed her fur stole, pearl necklace, and bra (from under her dress), and then her dress, shoes and stockings as she laid on the floor. Under the fur stole, she removed her black slip - with only her black panties remaining on her nude body. However, after being mostly ignored by her disinterested and jaded guest audience, she covered herself up and ran off.

Soon after, Marcello unsuccessfully attempted to instigate an orgy (he rode horse-back on a young blonde woman crawling on all fours; he struck her butt a few times, then grabbed her hair, slapped her face, doused her with a pitcher of water, and threw pillow feathers onto her).

The Decadent Party - Striptease, Piggyback Ride, Feathers

Sylvia (Anita Ekberg)
in Trevi Fountain

Elmer Gantry (1960)

Director Richard Brooks' drama Elmer Gantry (1960) was derived from the title character in Sinclair Lewis' 1927 novel, regarding hellfire and brimstone charismatic preacher Elmer Gantry (Best Actor-winning Burt Lancaster). The fiery, flamboyant, high-energy revivalist evangelist was set up and framed by one of his old (and wronged) girlfriends - minister's daughter-turned-prostitute Lulu Bains (squeaky-clean, Supporting Actress Oscar-winning Shirley Jones in an against-type role).

She invited him to her place hours before being cast out of town by the law, following a brothel raid that he had sponsored to rout out sin. She had vengefully set him up and framed him, by having photographers positioned to take pictures from outside her window, so that they would be caught in a compromising situation - to ruin his reputation. When he arrived, she angrily criticized him for his hypocrisy:

"When you came bustin' in last night like God Almighty wearin' a tin star, I got mad, boilin' mad. All I could think of me - how you took me and ditched me. That's all I could think of, me. Little Miss Lulu, the dumb pushover. When the cops said get out of town in 24 hours, all I wanted to do was spit in your eye, blackmail ya, shake-down, anything to hurt ya. But when you walked in just now, gee honey, it was like the first time between us all over again. All goose-pimples. You'd better beat it."

He admitted that he had been wrong to run out on her back in Kansas, after having an affair with her that discredited her in the eyes of her puritanical father. When he offered a charitable handout of cash to "sort of tide you over," she instead asked for a kiss goodbye before she left for Paris: "Just kiss me goodbye, just once." She awaited his kiss - with her eyes closed - and when he hesitated, she placed her arms around his neck and approached his lips. The longer they kissed, the more passionate it became, and she rekindled her feelings for him. She realized that she had accomplished what she wanted, dimmed the lights, and then asked:

"Stay awhile. Talk to me. Don't go yet. Please don't go. Oh, tell me anything. Tell me a good strong lie I can believe but hold me, just hold me like you used to. Please."

But Gantry declined, because he had feelings for dedicated Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons) instead - detestfully called "that Bible broad" by the jealous Lulu. When he went to the door to leave, she apologized and admitted: "I could use some of that cash after all" - and sexily placed his charitable contribution in her garter.

Elmer Gantry
(Burt Lancaster)
with Lulu Bains
(Shirley Jones)

The Housemaid (1960, S. Korea) (aka Hanyeo)

Writer/director Ki-young Kim's psychological horror thriller was set in post-war Korea, with the themes of marital infidelity and predatory sexual obsession exhibited by the title character - the 'housemaid'. The lurid domestic melodrama was mixed with a critique of traditional and materialistic bourgeois values.

In a pre-credits sequence, a husband was speaking to his wife while reading a newspaper account about a businessman who committed adultery with a housemaid and brought terrible consequences upon his family - a clue to the film's framing device (with a surprise ending) and a premonition of what would happen:

Husband: "A man in Gimcheon committed adultery with his maid."
Wife: "Men are hopeless, taking interest in a maid."
Husband: "I disagree. Look at us. We're almost totally dependent on our maid. She cooks and washes for us, and is the first person to greet me when I come home from work. She is fully at our service."
Wife: "Such thoughts should not be said or practiced in our sacred household."

The main characters, a family of four, lived in a claustrophobic, two story western-style, South Korean house:

  • Mr. Kim Jin Kyu (Dong Sik), a handsome pianist, part-time composer and music teacher
  • Mrs. Kim (Ju Jeung Ryu), his pregnant seamstress wife
  • their two children: Ae-soon (Yoo-ri Lee), a crippled older daughter with crutches, and Chang-soon (Sung-kee Ahn), the younger mean, selfish and bratty son

To keep up their lifestyle, they hired an unstable, pig-tailed, chain-smoking, "not too bright" textile factory worker Myung-sook (Lee Un-shim) as the family's housemaid. Almost immediately, she began behaving unpredictably, erratically, capriciously and strangely -- she chased and caught a rodent with her bare hands in the kitchen and had an unusual smile on her face as she held up its corpse by the tail. She also developed an obsession with rat poison kept in the kitchen cupboard, voyeuristically spied on Kim giving piano lessons through a sliding glass door, and taunted the children.

The Seduction of Mr. Kim by the Housemaid

The pivotal event was when the seductive Myung-sook forced herself on Kim in her bedroom by letting her top drop at her balcony door. Not able to resist her half-nakedness, he grabbed her breast from behind, and she stood barefooted on his shoes. She locked her hands around his back before they had sex (off-screen, and symbolically, a tree was struck outdoors by lightning!) - and afterwards she became pregnant.

The housemaid used many techniques to insinuate herself between Kim and his wife. The scheming Mrs. Kim learned of her husband's infidelity when he confessed to her, and she assured him: "I'll beg the girl on my knees...We can't let our precious lives be destroyed now." Moments later, she suggested that the housemaid throw herself down the tall stairway to induce a miscarriage and abort the baby (the incident was heard off-screen). The same stairway caused the death of the younger son. Remarkably, the jealous housemaid coerced the couple to agree that the husband could sleep in her upstairs bed: ("I want the father of my child"), so that she could bear him another son!

In the film's unforgettable climax (a memorable death scene), the crazed housemaid urged Mr. Kim to commit a double-suicide with her by ingesting rat poison dissolved in glasses of water: ("That'll make the living happy - Die with me! Make me the happiest woman!"). As they were dying from the poison, she gave a deranged speech: ("Don't worry. I'll be with you for eternity. I'll ask God to perform our wedding ceremony. The flowers will never wither, while the paths will glitter with jewels. And nobody will ever take you away from me" - lightning struck ).

Mr. Kim decided to climb down the stairs to die by his wife's side: ("You can take my body, but not my soul"), but the housemaid resisted his last request: ("If I lose you now, I'll never find you again in heaven"). She grabbed onto his left leg and ankle and was dragged down each step - with her head pounding or thumping into each stair-step. When he crawled into his wife's sewing room and collapsed dead at her feet - she spoke regretfully: "Oh, if only I hadn't wanted the new house."

In the stunning and jarring plot twist ending -- the camera pulled back to find both husband and wife alive. The scene returned to the opening pre-credits sequence. The entire 'housemaid' story was a cautionary "what if" tale between the husband and wife:

Wife: "I don't see how a man of good character could lose his head over a maid."
Husband: "That's man's weakness. A high mountain challenges him to climb it. A deep lake prompts him to throw a rock into it. A beautiful girl stirs his most primitive desires."
Wife: "Indeed! Men are beasts!"

Suddenly, the sliding door opened, and the housemaid delivered a tray of tea to the family! and then the husband broke the fourth wall and addressed the camera and audience, before ending with a laugh:

"Ladies and gentlemen, as men get older, they spend more time thinking about young women. That's how they get drawn into women, which could lead to their destruction. This is true for all men!"

The Wife's Plotting of the Miscarriage

The Younger Son's Death at Foot of Stairs

The Double-Suicide Poisoning

The Housemaid's Death on the Stairs

The Plot-Twist Ending


Pagan Island (1960)

Exploitational cinema, outside the bounds of Hollywood, began to further push the limits of censorship. The film's trailer about an idyllic shipwrecked sailer on a pagan island advertised that one could "watch these girls dance and make unashamed love in this tropical paradise."

This exotic, teasing and cheesy B-grade tale was cast by famous cheesecake photographer and model Bunny Yeager, who had taken some of the best-known Bettie Page photos.

The story was an improbable tale about marooned-shipwrecked sailor William Stanton (Edward Dew) on a small, uncharted South Sea island after floating for nine days in a life raft after his oil tanker exploded. It was populated only by beautiful but white-man-hating semi-naked native females, including:

  • Luana (Sharon Michael)
  • Malia (Allison Louise Downe)
  • Princess Nani Maka (Nani Maka)

The native women (all white!) were topless except for flower leis (although with very little explicit nudity) - who spoke broken English. The sailor taught Princess Nani Maka how to kiss, and fell in love with her, but her irate mother Queen Kealoha (Trine Hovelsrud) thought she had been violated.

Unfortunately for Nani Maka and Stanton, the Princess was about to be sacrificed as "the future bride of the gods." Stanton decided to rescue his lover and join her in a sacrificial rite together to the angry, all-powerful Sea God after he was hung upside down.

They jumped, hand-in-hand, into the God's golden temple under the lagoon, where they came upon a giant clam.

(l to r): Malia, Princess, Luana

The Native Girls

Princess Nani Maka
(Nani Maka)

Peeping Tom (1960, UK)

This highly disturbing, British psychological horror film from director Michael Powell was a variation on Psycho (1960) - see below. The notorious film nearly destroyed director Michael Powell's film career, and most critics loathed it, forcing the picture to be withdrawn from screens for almost two decades. When it was released, many shots in the film (including brief nudity) were cut, edited, or shortened.

It was about voyeurism in its lurid story of a shy young cameraman (and psychopathic serial killer) named Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) who murdered women with a phallic weapon - his camera (featuring a cross-haired viewfinder). The device had a sharp spiked knife inside one of the tripod's legs, and an ingenious mirror device attached so that his screaming female victims could fearfully watch themselves die.

In the pre-credits murder sequence, Mark (concealing his camera within his coat) came upon a prostitute on a street corner, who propositioned him for two quid. Without saying a word, he followed her to her nearby cheap upstairs apartment where he murdered her, as she began to undress. The scene was filmed from his point-of-view through the camera's cross-hairs. She backed up in terror and screamed when she realized that she was going to be impaled. Later, Mark privately viewed the projected film.

Due to an abusive childhood, Mark had turned into a voyeur with a morbid fascination for capturing terror on the faces of female victims at the moment of death - an affliction termed scopophilia, the morbid urge to gaze. On the side, he sold photographs ("views") of his soft-core, nude pin-up photo shoots to a round-faced neighborhood store-owner (Bartlett Mullins), who pedaled the pornography to elderly male customers (Miles Malleson).

In the final murder scene, model Milly (Pamela Green, a real-life 50s pin-up) asked herself as she reclined backward (while Mark closed the blinds): "I might as well talk to a zombie. Is it safe to be alone with you, I wonder? It might be more fun if I wasn't." His shadow covered her face, as he moved and stood above her nude body. [Note: It was reportedly the first nudity in British film history, according to some reports, although Nudist Paradise (1959, UK) was released earlier. She displayed, momentarily, one nude breast.] The film faded to black with loud piano chords on the soundtrack, before she was murdered (off-screen).

Model Milly's (Pamela Green) Final Murder Scene

Although Mark's female friend and downstairs lodger Helen Stephens (Anna Massey) discovered his horrible secrets, he spared her life and took his own, suicidally (in the same horrific manner that he often used) as the police arrived. He impaled himself in the neck with his own spiked device, as he spoke to Helen: "Helen, Helen, I'm afraid...And I'm glad I'm afraid," and then slumped dead to the floor. The words of a tape recording ended the film: "Don't be a silly boy. There's nothing to be afraid of" - "Good night, Daddy. Hold my hand."


Threatening but Sparing
Helen (Anna Massey)

Mark's Own Suicide

Psycho (1960)

The classic Hitchcock horror/slasher film Psycho (1960) marked the decline of the Production Code. It was not rated until 1968, when an early version of the MPAA ratings system rated it M, for mature audiences only. A 1984 reissue re-rated the film R. The tale included such taboo topics as transvestism, voyeurism, stabbing as rape, implied incest, and hints of necrophilia.

It was heavily censored (and edited) in some locales for repeated views of its main protagonist in a bra - both in the first scene during a lunchtime dalliance, and also twice later.

The Opening Scene: Furtive Lunchtime Sex
Marion and Lover Sam Loomis

However, the film was most noted for the voyeuristic scene of Bates Motel manager Norman (Anthony Perkins) peering through a peep hole at motel customer Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) as she undressed and revealed a black bra - shot from his POV to implicate the audience in the viewing.

This unsettling sequence was followed by the shocking, carefully-edited shower murder scene of nude Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, and a body double) as she vainly resisted and shielded her breasts (never fully revealed) from a menacing, phallic-like knife while being savagely murdered.

Marion's Shocking Shower Murder Scene in Psycho

The film was also noted for having a view of a toilet -- something unusual at the time.

Norman Bates
(Anthony Perkins) Voyeuristically Spying on Marion Crane

Spartacus (1960)

Stanley Kubrick's big budget studio film told about rebellious, slave-born Thracian Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) who eventually led a rebellion of slaves against Rome.

The film was severely criticized for its infamous bathing-seduction scene (originally cut from the film, although restored to the theatrical release version in 1991) in a sunken tub (dark and partially veiled by see-through netting), between:

  • General Marcus Crassus (Laurence Olivier), a bisexual, prurient Roman patrician
  • Antoninus (Tony Curtis), his submissive 26 year-old Sicilian "body servant"

They engaged in a notorious, double-entendre conversation about bi-sexual experimentation and sexual preferences with their veiled culinary talk about the morality of eating oysters (females?) and/or snails (males?). Crassus expressed an affinity for sexual variety:

"Do you eat oysters?...Do you eat snails?...Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral, and the eating of snails to be immoral?... It is all a matter of taste...And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals...My taste includes both snails and oysters."

Also the film was noted for the near-nude scenes of buxom slave girl Varinia (Jean Simmons), Spartacus' love interest. Knowing that enslaved Spartacus had never had a woman, he was watched from a grate above his cell as Varinia stoically lowered her gown for him. Laughter from observers disgusted Spartacus, and he refused to take and mistreat the young woman.

During a bathing scene, Varinia swam (partially obscured by an overhanging fern).

In a later love scene, Spartacus told Varinia:

I want to know...everything. Why a star falls and a bird doesn't. Where the sun goes at night. Why the moon changes shape. I want to know where the wind comes from.... I want to know all about you. Every line, every curve. I want to know every part of you. Every beat of your heart.

The Oysters-Snails Bathing Scene

Varina's (Jean Simmons) Bathing Scene

Spartacus With Varinia

The Adventures of Lucky Pierre (1961)

Director Herschell Gordon Lewis' first fully-fledged and financially-successful, sexploitative "nudie film" (produced by David F. Friedman) was a blatant copy of Russ Meyer's successful The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959). It was advertised with the tagline: "DELICIOUS, DELIGHTFUL, DELECTABLE, DESIRABLE DAMSELS, UNBLUSHING, UNCENSORED, UNINHIBITED, UNASHAMED, UNADULTERATED Girl-Type Girls."

This one-hour long comedic film, made on a budget of $7,500 and shot in four days, consisted of nine short skits (some a film-within-a-film) each involving the beret-wearing title character Pierre (Billy Falbo) with nude ladies and amusing misadventures.

Main Segments and Description

"Pardon My Pigment"

A bumbling artist painted three nudes in the park.

"The Plumber's Friend"

A handyman repaired the shower faucet with a nude blonde woman in the tub.

"For the Birds"

A naturalist bird-watcher stumbled across two nude sunbathers.

"The Photographer's Apprentice"

A cleaner at the "Glamour Photo Studio" ended up taking photographs of three nudes who inexplicably vanished each time he snapped a photo.

"Drive-In Me Crazy"

A patron attended the drive-in screening a double bill: "I Was a Teenage Nudist" and "10 Days in a Nudist Camp" (as well as sixty-five cartoons!). The drive-in had an all-nude staff that served him popcorn.

The short subject feature was titled: "Picnic at the Playground," a "Movies-In-The-Rough Production" in which the same three girls who worked at the drive-in appeared nude at a playground!

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

Blake Edwards' groundbreaking romantic comedy, based on Truman Capote's 1958 novella, reportedly inspired director Radley Metzger to make a series of critically successful and overtly sexual films, such as The Dirty Girls (1964), Carmen, Baby (1967) - an erotic updating of Bizet's opera with voluptuous sex kitten Uta Levka as the title character, and his most successful feature Therese and Isabelle (1968). With the release of the film, it signaled that it was alright to be a single woman with an active sex life.

Paramount Pictures' romantic comedy featured an against-type portrayal ("as you've never seen her before") by pristine, squeaky-clean, skinny Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. [Capote had originally wanted curvy Marilyn Monroe for the role.] She portrayed a raunchy Manhattan socialite, noted also for her luxurious image - sunglasses and black Givenchy gown.

The compromised, desexualized film omitted most of the novella's references to Holly's sexual promiscuity and life of semi-prostitution. It had no explicit sex of any kind, although there was some frank sex talk. She was a free-wheeling, daring, sexually-active and flighty call girl (who lived, partially, on weekly payments in exchange for visits to ex-mob boss Sing Sing prisoner Sally Tomato (Alan Reed)).

Her upstairs neighboring tenant and eventual boyfriend was Paul Varjak (George Peppard), a struggling writer. He was the one who was sexually promiscuous - he was a "kept man" (gigolo) by icy and rich older NYC socialite "decorator" Emily Eustace Failenson (Patricia Neal), nicknamed 2E. However, the film basically followed a stereotypical and traditional gender love story between Holly and Paul as they became better acquainted.

The final scene, a typical Hollywood happy ending, began with a taxi ride to New York's Idylwild Airport by Holly, on her way to Brazil (to find a rich husband), accompanied by Paul who was trying to persuade her to stay. He professed his love for her ("Holly, I'm in love with you... I love you. You belong to me"). She told Paul that she didn't belong to anyone ("People don't belong to people...I'm not gonna let anyone put me in a cage"). Paul expressed his true love again ("I don't want to put you in a cage. I want to love you"), though she continued to call herself a "no-name slob." He gave her an ultimatum and then got out of the taxi:

"You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken. You've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say: 'Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness.'"

She decided to curtail her plan and pursue him. The film ended, following traditional Hollywood norms, with them breathlessly kissing and embracing in the pouring rain in an alleyway, as the theme from "Moon River" played. Her rescued Cat was squished between them, as the camera zoomed in for a closeup, and then pulled away for medium and far shots.

Holly Golightly
(Audrey Hepburn)

The Ending Kiss:
Paul and Holly

The Children's Hour (1961)

This film was based upon Lillian Hellman's hit Broadway play The Children's Hour - and was first filmed by William Wyler as These Three (1936). It was extremely bowdlerized due to restrictions imposed by the Hays Office. However, this forward-looking film helped to contribute to the eventual breakdown of the Production Code and its strict censorship.

In the earlier drama of 1936, the rumor and accusation of a lesbian relationship between two teachers was changed to an illicit, though heterosexual, love affair (and romantic triangle) between one of the teachers and her colleague's fiancé. This 1961 film remake by Wyler also had to avoid the word 'lesbian.'

It told a serious story of female attraction between two headmistress-teachers at the Wright-Dobie School for Girls:

  • Karen Wright (Audrey Hepburn)
  • Martha Dobie (Shirley MacLaine)

Their 'affair' was witnessed (during eavesdropping outside their door) and reported by mean-spirited, vindictive, and manipulative 12 year-old student Mary Tilford (Karen Balkin) - the act was seen as unnatural, "bad things."

Mary's scandalous lie, to remove herself from a school where she was disliked, had devastating after-effects for the school and its administrators. It even created doubts in the mind of Dr. Joe Cardin (James Garner), Karen's fiancee who was planning on marrying her. Karen suggested to Martha that they go away somewhere to make new lives for themselves ("Let's pack and get out of here. Let's take the train tomorrow...There must be someplace we can go").

In a heart-rending, devastating, and overacted "coming out" scene, self-loathing Martha realized that the child's lie had uncovered her own suppressed lesbian-tinged emotions, although she tried at first to deny them. She broke down and hysterically confessed how 'guilty' and 'sick and dirty' she felt about her love feelings toward Karen:

Martha: "We don't love each other. We've been close to each other, of course. I've loved you like a friend. The way thousands of women feel about other women. You were a dear friend who was loved, that's all. Certainly there can be nothing wrong with that. It's perfectly natural I should be fond of you. Why, we've known each other since we were seventeen and I always thought that..."
Karen: "Why are you saying all of this?
Martha: "Because I do love you."
Karen: "Yes, I love you too."
Martha: "But, maybe I love you the way they said I love you. I don't know. Listen to me! I have loved you the way they said! There's always been something wrong, always - just as long as I can remember. But I never knew what it was until all this happened."
Karen: "Stop it, Martha, stop this crazy talk."
Martha: "You're afraid of hearing it. But I'm more afraid than you."
Karen: "I won't listen to you."
Martha: "No. You've got to know. I've got to tell you. I can't keep it to myself any longer. I'm guilty."
Karen: "You're guilty of nothing!"
Martha: "I've been telling myself that since the night I heard the child say it. I lie in bed night after night praying that it isn’t true. But I know about it now. It’s there. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. But I did love you. I do love you. I resented your plans to marry, maybe because I wanted you. Maybe I wanted you all these years. I couldn’t call it by name before, but maybe it's been there since I first knew you."
Karen: "But It's not the truth. Not a word of it is true. We've never thought of each other that way."
Martha: (bitterly) "No, of course you didn't. But who's to say I didn't. I'd never felt that way about anybody but you. I've never loved a man. I never knew why before. Maybe it's that."
Karen: "You're tired and worn-out."
Martha: "It's funny. It's all mixed up. There's something in you, and you don't know anything about it because you don't know it's there. And then suddenly, one night a little girl gets bored and tells a lie, and there for the first time, you see it. Then you say to yourself, did she see it? Did she sense it?"
Karen: "But you know it could have been any lie. She was looking for anything to - "
Martha: "But why this lie? She found the lie with the ounce of truth. Don't you see? I can't stand to have you touch me! I can't stand to have you look at me! Oh, it's all my fault. I've ruined your life and I have ruined my own. I swear I didn't know it! I didn't mean it! Oh, I feel so damn sick and dirty, I can't stand it anymore!"

In the somber and despairing ending, she committed suicide (by hanging herself in her room - her dangling feet seen in shadowy silhouette) when she realized that the lesbian rumors about herself were true.

Martha's (Shirley MacLaine) Suicidal Hanging
- Tragic Consequences
The Noose-Rope
(in silhouette)
The Locked Door
Karen's Reaction
Dangling Feet and Overturned Chair with a Single Shoe Beside It

Martha (Shirley MacLaine) and Karen (Audrey Hepburn)

(Karen Balkin)

The "Coming Out" Scene

Last Year at Marienbad (1961, Fr/It.) (aka L'Année Dernière à Marienbad)

This enigmatic, cinematically puzzling, and ambiguous New Wave film from Alain Resnais - a black and white expressionistic film and fragmented tale about dreamy seduction - mixed time (past and present), and reality (fantasy vs. memory). [Note: in the original screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet, there was an explicit forceful rape, but it was not fully pictured in the film.]

The setting after the opening credits, was revealed to be an opulent, enormous but empty European hotel or resort chateau in Marienbad (in the Czech Republic) - described by an atmospheric, deathly, ominous voice-over guided tour with lengthy tracking camera shots (slightly tilted upwards) - viewing the expansive hallways and long dark corridors, mirror-lined walls, statues, high ceilings with ornate chandeliers - and outdoors, geometric gardens, often with repetitive wording.

Eventually the tour entered the hotel's theatre for a play-within-a-film being performed, and attended by the hotel guests (impassive, unmoving, and coldly-still). The statuesque, immobile guests at the hotel appeared to be either trapped or automatons, or were they ghosts or dead souls existing in purgatory (including the main characters)?

The characters were nameless in the original screenplay. A traditional love triangle existed between a man (hero), woman (heroine), and husband:

  • X/Stranger (Giorgio Albertazzi), nameless, unmarried, the handsome hero
  • A/Woman-Lover (Delphine Seyrig) - the heroine, sleek, elegant and alluring
  • M (Sacha Pitoeff), brooding, jealous and threatening, her authoritarian husband (or escort)?

X/Stranger made endless and obsessive attempts to persuade and convince A/Woman-Lover that they had met before and had past associations (last year at Marienbad?), including having had sex at the hotel - his beliefs were seen in subjective imaginings (possibly his, possibly hers); the entire object of his intense, but flat and sometimes creepy, pushy questioning was to prove his delusional point, and persuade the woman of his account of the past, while she continued to protest his assertions. The two might not actually know each other, exist together, or even be alive.

When he caressed her breasts in the garden, she responded:

"Leave me alone, please....Who are you? What's your name? You're like some phantom, waiting for me to come. Leave me."

In an existential dance of seduction, the two 'lovers' recounted a fragmented tale of their perceived reality and unrealized love affair. X's treatment of the details of the previous year's events at Marienbad were as if they were fictional segments of a conventional movie drama; he believed that A had previously promised to elope or run away with him when they again met, and that they had an unrealized love affair, but she claimed that she couldn't remember, made repeated attempts to rebuff and recoil from him, and became weary by his assertions

A: "I've never been in any bedroom with you."
X: "You don't want to remember."

Whether X was lying, experiencing a nightmare, or only confused about A's identity was open to question.

One incomprehensible premise was that A had been murdered by M because of the alleged talked-about affair (there was a brief sequence of M firing on A on her bed with a silencer-gun, and she fell back onto the floor, with her feet still on the bed) - and then it was possible that X had developed this fuzzy story in his imagination to assuage his guilt, by thinking of her as alive?

There was also a 'rape' scene - only viewed as fragmentary and incomplete - the short bedroom scene commenced when A was started by X's advance toward her on the bed; she backed up in fear against the bed's headboard - followed by another of the over-exposed (hallucinatory), feverishly-swift tracking shots (also seen earlier), down a long corridor towards A who was standing in the middle of a room with outstretched arms; separate takes of the same camera movement, but with minor or slight changes, were frantically repeated.

The Bedroom "Rape" Scene

By film's end, X's ambiguous allegations about what had happened were completely uncertain, although it appeared that the protagonist had gradually succeeded in readying A to leave the hotel one night for an unknown destination, as M watched them depart from a staircase. However, X's voice-over account was unreliable and described in the past tense:

"The grounds of the hotel were symmetrically arranged without trees or flowers, or plants of any kind. The gravel, the stone, and the marble were spread in strict array in unmysterious shapes. At first sight, it seemed impossible to lose your way. At first sight... Along these stone paths and amidst these statues, where you were already losing your way forever, in the still night, alone with me."

The Marienbad Hotel

(Delphine Seyrig)

X/Stranger (Giorgio Albertazzi) With A/Woman-Lover

M (Sacha Pitoeff)

In the Garden

The Game of 'Nim'

Washed-Out Tracking Shot

A's "Murder" by M

The Misfits (1961)

Director John Huston's film The Misfits (1961) was derived from a screenplay by playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe's husband in a troubled marriage. It was believed that Marilyn was deteriorating in health, from overuse of prescription drugs, depression and alcoholism. Gable was also in poor health and drinking heavily. Overexertion on the set led to a heart attack two days after the end of filming and his subsequent death.

It was the final, haunting, fully-completed film for the two major, yet aging, sex screen legends:

  • 59 year-old Clark Gable (once "The King of Hollywood") as Gay Langland, a washed-out, 'real-life' cowboy
  • 35 year-old Marilyn Monroe as Roslyn Taberas, a troubled ex-stripper and divorcee

[Scenes of Roslyn's face were mostly in soft-focus, while the harsh light of the black and white film accentuated the crags and wrinkles on the faces of the cowboys.]

The Two Aging Stars: Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable

In the opening scene set in Reno, Nevada, Roslyn practiced her lines for a quickie divorce with her experienced, wisecracking, spinster landlady Isabelle Steers (Thelma Ritter), to rid herself of husband Raymond (Kevin McCarthy). Through Isabelle, she was introduced first to ex-mechanic, former WWII pilot, and widower Guido Racanelli (Eli Wallach) and then in a local bar to aging, washed-out 'real-life' cowboy Gay Langland (Clark Gable), a rugged individualist. Langland told her: "You're a real beautiful woman. It's almost kind of an honor sittin' next to ya. You just shine in my eyes. That's my true feeling, Roslyn. What makes you so sad? I think you're the saddest girl I ever met." He suggested that he could be a "good friend" to her.

The two men were interested in the young voluptuous blonde woman, although she eventually fell in love with the gallant Langland - who was old enough to be her father. They were offered an unfinished house in the desert, abandoned by heartbroken Guido after the death of his wife, and they moved in together. Roslyn was exhilarated by the freedom and danger of the wide open spaces, and a new, growing passionate relationship with Langland.

In one of the earlier scenes in a crowded bar, Roslyn (wearing a trademark low-cut white dress with polka dots) surprised the wagering crowd with her expert paddle-ball skills, voluptuously shaking her chest and rear end with body English - causing one cowpoke to irresistibly spank her backside in rhythm.

She also met Langland's comrade - reckless, worn-out, injured 'rodeo cowboy' rider Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift). The three men planned to round up wild, misfit mustangs and sell them for dog food, an idea that appalled Roslyn. Like the mustangs themselves that were eventually allowed to run free, she also chose to be with Langland. In the film's final scene in the front seat of a pick-up, the two made a new start together. She asked him about raising a family together and taking the right path:

Roslyn: "Gay, if there could be one person in the world, a child who could be brave from the beginning - I was scared to when you asked me, but I'm not so much now. Are you?"
Gay: "No.
Roslyn: How do you find your way back in the dark?"
Langland: (nodding toward the nighttime sky) "Just head for that big star straight on. The highway's under it - it'll take us right home."

(Marilyn Monroe)

Roslyn with Gay Langland
(Clark Gable)

Naked - As Nature Intended (1961, UK) (aka As Nature Intended or Just as Nature Intended)

Since the late 1950s, the 'nudist colony' documentary film successfully challenged previous limitations on First Amendment protections for films.

This one, with a working title of "Cornish Holiday" of only one hour in length was made by glamour photographer and UK sex film pioneer George Harrison Marks. The film displayed some nudity (no private parts) and now functions only as a curiosity item. It claimed that it was "actually shot at Trewyn Sun Club" in revealing Eastman Color.

A group of three professional females (all using their real first names) from London were introduced, before they went on a short weekend trip in the summer:

  • Petrina (Petrina Forsyte), "nice-girl" office secretary, Pamela's apartment roommate
  • Jackie (Jackie Salt), shoe shop assistant, outdoorsy
  • Pam (cult model Pamela Green, girlfriend and business partner of the director, 39-23-36), Windmill Theatre nightclub dancer and "woman of the world"

In the teasing travelogue, the trio first visited the monoliths of Stonehenge, then the fishing village of Clovelly, Porthcurno (on the southwest coast) and its Minack Open Air Theatre, the ancient ruins of Tintagel Castle, and Land's End (with the tourist site of "First and Last House in England").

Meanwhile, two other blonde females were also introduced at their place of work, a petrol station, where they pumped fuel, before leaving town:

  • Angela (Angela Jones)
  • Bridget (Bridget Leonard)

The two were described as outdoor types who liked to rough it, and they were members of a nudist colony (or sun club). For the weekend, they were also on their way to escape the city and bask nude in the sun by the beach.

After about 35 minutes of the film had elapsed, the trio finally visited the nearby beach in Cornwall, England, changed into their bathing costumes, and came upon Trewyn Sun Club's Private Beach owned by a local nudist club. There on the oceanside, they met up with the other two girls who were nude sunbathing.

Pam (Pamela Green)
Petrina (Petrina Forsyte)
Jackie (Jackie Salt)
Bridget (Bridget Leonard)
Angela (Angela Jones)

Soon, all five were cavorting nude (there were many views of breasts and buttocks, but no genitalia), and playing a game of 'football' with a large beach ball.

Eventually, after posing and running in the surf, the two nudists invited their three new converts to their nudist park sun-club, where they were members. All of them enjoyed socializing and walking around in the nude, meeting naturist families, taking a tour, swinging on a swing and hammock, and playing ping-pong.

The film ended with narrator explaining how the girls had one regret - not discovering the club many years earlier:

"Oh well, there'll be plenty of sunny times to come. And from now on, if you want to meet Pam, Angela, Jackie, Bridget and Petrina, you'll know where to find them. Come to think of it, I might try it myself. It seems so natural and free to spend the lazy days of the warm summer as nature intended."

Pam's Meeting With Angela and Bridget

At the Beach

At the Nudist Club (l to r): Bridget, Pam, Jackie, Petrina

Bridget and Pam





Paris Blues (1961)

This melodramatic Martin Ritt film, shot on location in Paris, was noted as being the first to star an African-American actor (Sidney Poitier) as a romantic lead character. The story's themes were music, love, and racism. It was subtitled as "A Story of Young Lovers," and featured music by Duke Ellington and a guest appearance by Louis Armstrong.

In racially-tolerant Paris, two male characters (who both worked in a Left Bank nightclub) romanced two vacationing American tourists, there for a two-week holiday in the autumn:

  • Ram Bowen (Paul Newman), a trombone-playing, aspiring composer
  • Lillian Corning (Joanne Woodward), Ram's girlfriend
  • Eddie Cook (Sidney Poitier), an expatriate jazz musician
  • Connie Lampson (Diahann Carroll), Eddie's girlfriend
Two Couples

Eddie decided to marry Connie and return to the US, despite knowing the racial discrimination he was bound to face. Ram fell in love with Lillian, but was reluctant to marry her ("What do you want to do? Wrap me up and take me home? We had a good thing going. What do you have to spoil it for?"), and join her in the US as a second-rate trombonist.

Eddie and Ram

Ram with Lillian

Eddie with Connie

The Sinister Urge (1961) (aka The Young and Immoral)

Writer/director Ed Wood Jr.'s campy, low-budget crime drama was notable for Wood's usually cheesy and silly dialogue, poor pacing, and wooden performances. This was, ironically, Wood's last "straight" or mainstream film, as the B-director of schlock films would turn to creating soft-core porn in the future. It was partly inspired by the earlier success of Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).

The film's outrageous cautionary claim was that pornography was directly responsible for "dope peddling" and the murder (!) of young aspiring starlets, all pornography models.

The film opened with a terrorized half-dressed female named Shirley (Betty Boatner) running on a deserted dirt road and finding a pay phone booth in a city park. She made a distressed phone call to the authorities and a squad car was dispatched. Her brutalized corpse was found at the scene by cops. The police muttered that it was latest in a string of murders with the same M.O. [In a subsequent scene, it was revealed that Shirley had discovered too much about the smut racket, and threatened to use blackmail on them. She was silenced by a knife stabbing in the park.]

The police officers complained about how the "smut" business (a "girlie/dirty pictures" racket peddling bondage photos and other smut) was responsible for instigating killers to imitate the pictures with sex crimes:

"I'll give you 50-to-1 this girl was connected to that smut picture racket too."

In the next scene, photographer/director Jaffe (Harry Keatan) in his porn studio was snapping photos of a panel of scantily-clad starlets when there was an unexpected vice raid. Dozens of metal film cans with smut reels were seized ("It's look like we hit the jackpot this time!") and the females were apprehended.

The main characters were soon introduced:

  • Johnny Ryde (Carl Anthony) [a transparent allegory for Wood himself], a pornography ("smut business") director
  • Gloria Henderson (Jean Fontaine), Ryde's floozy and brassy "mob" boss and the financier of Ryde's film work
  • Dirk Williams (Dino Fantini), a sex-crazed, porn-addicted henchman for Ryde, and a compulsive psycho serial killer (with a "sinister urge" to knife victims) - a prime suspect

In the film's plot, a naive and innocent Midwesterner named 'Mary Smith' (Jeanne Willardson) was an aspiring actress who had come to Hollywood like so many others, but eventually ended up in a porn flick made by Ryde and Gloria - before being murdered by Dirk. He had seen her "dirty" semi-clad photographs, lost control and raped and knifed her to death in a park.

The police officers, let by Police Lieutenant Matt Carson (Kenne Duncan), used a transvestite cop to patrol the area, track down the murderer and smash the smut picture racket.

The film's climax came when the targeted suspect Dirk was to be smuggled out of state (by Ryde and Gloria), but their plot was actually to eliminate him by sabotaging his car - however, their plan failed. Dirk vengefully returned and shot Ryde to death - and then Gloria shot and killed the remaining dark figure on her patio. She thought she was murdering Ryde, but she actually shot Dirk. She called the police to report the killing (after hiding her murder weapon under her couch cushion): "Dirk Williams just shot Johnny Ryde here in my home....He took off right after the shooting," and then hid her murder weapon under her couch cushion.

When the police arrived, she was ultimately shocked to learn that her story wasn't corroborated by the evidence. Dirk was a dead murder victim on her patio. She had claimed that Dirk shot Ryde and then fled, but Dirk was lying dead:

Lieutenant: "Who'd you say this guy was?"
Gloria: "Johnny Ryde."
Lieutanant: "You knew him pretty well?"
Gloria: "I should. He worked for me...."
Lieutenant: "...Now, let's get this straight. Dirk Williams shot Johnny Ryde, and then Dirk beat it out of here, huh?"
Gloria: "That's right. What do I have to do, draw you a picture? He shot Johnny Ryde right over there."
Lieutenant: "Show her, Randy."

When she was shown the victim's face, she exclaimed: "Dirk, no, that can't be Dirk! Uh-huh. No, that's not Dirk!" And then, Ryde's body was also discovered behind some bushes on the patio ("Looks like Johnny's here after all!"). Gloria was suspected of murdering Dirk: "You're gonna have a lot of explaining to do down at headquarters"). Knowing that she was trapped in a lie, she reached for her gun under the sofa cushion - but was prevented from grabbing it.

It appeared that Gloria would be put away, and the end of the smut ring had finally come: "Now this cleans up her game, and puts an end to the murderous sex at that."

Gloria Killing a Dark Figure on Her Patio, and Trying to Pin It on Dirk

Splendor in the Grass (1961)

Youthful sexuality, sexual repression, and neurosis were the themes of director Elia Kazan's daring, controversial, and hyperbolic melodrama Splendor in the Grass (1961). The time period of the plot occurred during the late 1920s and early 30s at the start of the disastrous Depression in a rural, SE Kansas town, coinciding with the intensity of a first love and the devastating consequences of repressed sexuality upon a pair of love-struck teenagers. The film's tagline expressed this theme: "There is a miracle in being young...and a fear." A poster also described the reality of a 'first love' when feelings that were new and somewhat frightening were heightened by a constricting society.

The mood and story line of the stormy relationship between two star-crossed, teenaged lovers paralleled William Wordsworth's poem: "Though nothing can bring back the hour, Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower, We will grieve not, but rather find, Strength in what remains behind." The two Kansas senior high-schoolers from Commerce HS who met and fell obsessively in love were:

  • Arthur "Bud" Stamper (Warren Beatty in his film debut), a hunky All-American sports hero
  • Wilma Dean "Deanie" Loomis (26 year-old Natalie Wood), beautiful, dark-haired, repressed and tortured

They became sexually awakened, faced repressed sexual attitudes, parental pressures, turmoil, social constraints and class differences, and ultimately broke up and were traumatized without consummating their love.

In the film's opening scene, the young teenaged couple were making out in an open, yellow roadster convertible after school in the early evening - on a lover's lane a short distance in front of a raging waterfall. The attractive couple were passionately kissing and breathing heavily - their raging hormones were symbolized by the flow of churning water over the falls behind them. He begged her to go further, but she resisted expressing her physical needs. Angry at her, sexually frustrated and slightly humiliated, Bud left the car and stood by the waterfall, stating: "I'd better take you home," as she slipped on her boyfriend's striped letter sweater.

Throughout the film, Deanie's body language exhibited tremendous sexual longing. After returning home, she leaned backward as she stroked her hair and neck. She hugged a pillow as she reclined on a sofa with her legs extended. Her domineering and controlling mother Mrs. Frieda Loomis (Audrey Christie) tried to instill her own sexual fears into her. Her rigid, puritanical mother vowed that boys never respected a girl who went all the way - love-struck Deanie was troubled by her own emerging, raw physical feelings. Prudish Mrs. Loomis asserted that women don't enjoy sex or have sexual urges, and that they dutifully have sex with their husbands only to have children. She was always physically repelled by her husband and men's aggressive tendencies.

But a virginal Deanie was already experiencing (and repressing) strong, out-of-control physical drives, although she struggled with wanting to be 'a good girl' and worried about staying pure until marriage. Deanie threw herself onto her bed, cast away her brown bear in disgust, grabbed her pillow, and thrust her chest into it. Her sexual longings burst forth as she imagined hugging her sweetheart while glancing at Bud's many pictures plastered above her dresser.

The next day in an overheated love scene, head-over-heels in love Deanie showed her sacrificial devotion to Bud after he had shown interest in someone else. She peppered him with kisses all over his face - and then when they heard voices, they retreated into the side dining room. Through a framed doorway, the camera eavesdropped on them. Deanie pressed her groin into his as they leaned against a door. Bud forcefully grabbed her shoulders and pressed her down to her knees to make her confess her utter obedience to his will. She confessed:

Bud, I can't get along without you. And I would do anything you'd ask me to. I would! I would! Anything!

After her vow of complete submission, she rolled over onto her back on the floor in a sublime, vulnerable state of passionate surrender, moaning orgasmically and begging for "anything" to happen: "Oh Bud. - Bud! - Bud."

In the film's most emotionally-raw sequence, Deanie was soaking and sweating in a bathtub full of steaming hot water - attempting to relax and purge herself of poisons and anxiety about Bud's new relationship with flapper-styled, not-so-innocent, slutty Juanita Howard (Jan Norris). She rocked her head left and right (with her eyes shut) as she sighed feebly and told her mother that she felt better. But the tension visibly mounted when she was quizzed by her mother about Bud. Their bickering and argument soon rose to a feverish pitch when her mother threatened to call Bud and she screamed: "Don't you dare!" - and she was questioned about the spoiling of her virginity:

Mrs. Loomis: What's been the matter the past few days?
Deanie: I'm sorry I've troubled you. I don't want to worry you. I don't want to worry anyone.
Mrs. Loomis: Is it all on account of...because of Bud? Because he doesn't call for you anymore?
Deanie: I don't know. I don't know, Mom.
Mrs. Loomis: I have a mind to call that boy and tell him....
Deanie: (sitting up furiously and screaming) Don't you dare! Don't you dare, Mom! (She covered her face with both hands and lay back down into the tub - and then tried to assert herself, with her right hand covering her mouth.) Don't you dare! Don't you dare!...No, Mom! Momma, if you do something like that, I'll do something desperate! I will, I will, Mom! I will!
Mrs. Loomis: (standing over her) Deanie, how serious had you and Bud become? I mean, well, you know what I mean. Deanie - had he - had anything serious happened? Did he - did he spoil you?
Deanie: (raging and laughing hysterically and uncontrollably) Spoil??? Did he spoil me? (She turned and submerged her head under the steaming water. She flailed around and then sat up again.) No. No, Mom! (hatefully) I'm not spoiled! I'm not spoiled, Mom! I'm just as fresh and I'm virginal like the day I was born, Mom!
Mrs. Loomis: Stop it! Stop it!
Deanie: I'm a lovely virginal creature who wouldn't think of being spoiled! (She stood up in the tub and stepped out with her arms outstretched.) I've been a good little girl, Mom! I've been a good little, good little, good little girl! I've always done everything Daddy and Mommy tell me. I've obeyed every word. I hate you, I hate you, I HATE YOU!

Deanie's (Natalie Wood) Bathtub Scene

After confessing her prudish celibacy and that she had been 'a good little girl," she screamed invectives of hate at her mother and ran naked toward her room.

[Note: Although Natalie Wood had agreed to be filmed nude in the scene, potentially the first ever by a major star in a mainstream film, Hollywood censors cut the shots of her nudity. What was left was a brief shot of her running naked away from the camera toward her room, with only a brief view of her upper back.]

Deanie Desperate to Make Love

When Deanie met up with Bud a few months later at a party, wearing a sexy low-cut red dress, she made desperate sexual advances toward him - to consummate her feelings for the greatest love of her life. Lustfully, she risked everything when she begged him to make love to her. Again he rejected her during the failed reunion - for not being 'herself' ("a nice girl") and for denying her pride. She cried out: "I haven't any pride. I haven't any pride."

Her emotional frailty caused her suicidal thoughts and tortured madness to resurface ("I just want to die. I just want to die"). She was subsequently hospitalized in a sanitarium.

Bud with Deanie

(Natalie Wood)

Victim (1961, UK)

Director Basil Dearden's non-judgmental, ground-breaking film-noirish thriller was a daring landmark film with its head-on presentation of the 'un-talked about' topic of homosexuality in the early 60s, when Britain still had anti-sodomy statutes as law.

The controversial film was denied a seal of approval from the MPAA as a result of its subject matter and explicit use of the word 'homosexual.' Six years after the film's release, the UK's Sexual Offenses Act of 1967 finally decriminalized homosexuality between consenting adults over the age of 21 (with a number of exceptions). It was reportedly the first film in Britain to use the word "homosexual."

The film was advertised with the tagline:

"The Screen Comes of Age!"

Its story involved a self-confessed, beleaguered, non-practicing homosexual and wealthy lawyer named Melville Farr (Dirk Bogarde, in a role as the screen's first gay hero - and remarkable since Bogarde later was revealed as gay in his private life). He risked his marriage and career to track down a creepy, slimy blackmailer (Derren Nesbitt) over accusations of closeted homosexuality.

Peter McEnery co-starred as Jack "Boy" Barrett (Farr's chaste 'boy friend' from his past as a Cambridge student, who eventually committed suicide by hanging himself in jail, where he was incarcerated for embezzling money to silence the blackmailers). Sylvia Syms portrayed Laura - Farr's stressed, estranged but supportive wife.

In one of the film's most tense moments, Laura asked her husband:

"I want to know the truth. I want to know why he hanged himself ... Someone found out he was a homosexual and blackmailed him? ... It takes two to make a reason for blackmail. Were you the other man? Were you?"

He burst out an admission of his past indiscretion to her:

"I stopped seeing him because I wanted him. Do you understand? Because I wanted him!"

Melville Farr
(Dirk Bogarde)

Viridiana (1961, Sp./Mex.)

Luis Bunuel's subversive masterpiece, winner of the Grand Prize (Palme d'Or) at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival, was originally banned in his home country and condemned by the Catholic church for its perceived indictment of Catholic self-righteousness, blasphemy and obscenity, and for its hinted themes of incest, rape and necrophilia.

In the plot, devout Spanish convent novice Viridiana (Silvia Pinal) was compelled to visit her reclusive, lecherous widower uncle Don Jaime (Fernando Rey). He was still mourning the death of his wife due to a heart attack on their wedding night in his arms - without consummation.

The first view of the uncle's estate was actually the legs and feet of jump-roping young Rita (Teresa Rabal), the daughter of Don Jaime's maid Ramona (Margarita Lozano) - the lonely, admiring Don Jaime was watching her innocent activity, and offered her a new jump rope. The initial meeting between Viridiana and her uncle was somewhat chilly.

As Don Jaime played the organ, in Viridiana's bedroom, she partially disrobed and revealed her shapely legs when she removed her dark stockings. She also unpacked her suitcase, carrying a small wooden cross and a crown of thorns. In the secretive privacy of Don Jaime's bedroom (with a veil draped over his dressing chest), he was seen admiring his wife's wedding clothes - he slipped her white, high-heeled satin shoe over the top half of his right foot. He also modeled her corset in front of a mirror. When Viridiana appeared, he was entranced by the sight of her bare legs in front of the fireplace.

Don Jaime had one last favor of the reluctant Viridiana - to satisfy his obsession with her similar looks to his deceased wife ("You look just like her"); he clothed his niece Viridiana in his wife's wedding gown. He admitted: "I can't keep my eyes off you" and reluctantly confessed ("You must think I'm mad") that he would like to marry her ("I never want you to leave this house"). She was repulsed: "You can't be in your right mind. I've been so happy here, and now you've spoiled it all." Don Jaime promised to drop the subject, but then after his servant Ramona secretly drugged her tea drink, Don Jaime carried Viridiana into the bedroom, reclined her on the bed, kissed her, loosened the top of her dress, buried his head in her breasts, and was tempted to rape her.

The next day, he falsely confessed to her that he had taken her virginity to keep her from returning to the convent for her final vows. When she was still determined to leave, he admitted that he lied ("I only possessed you in my thoughts") - but the ultimate result was his own guilty self-humiliation and a suicidal hanging with a jump rope. In his will, he had left his property to her and his illegitimate son Jorge (Francisco Rabal).

Another of the film's most controversial scenes was a drunken parody and re-enactment of Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' by a destitute group of thieves, beggars, drunks, lepers, cripples, and whores who were being supported by the virtuous and idealistic Viridiana. They took over the house after she had invited them to live at her uncle's crumbling estate, and she had briefly left to formalize inheritance of the property. While she was absent, they invaded the house and nearly destroyed it. They killed goats for a feast, dirtied the tablecloth, and broke expensive china and furniture.

The Controversial Last Supper Scene

They 'freeze-framed' for a mock group portrait at the table - it was pictured to the sounds of the "Hallelujah Chorus" in Handel's Messiah. At that moment, one of the filthy female beggars, Lola Gaos (Enedina), pretended to be the 'photographer' and metaphorically suggested snapping the picture by lifting her skirt.

The celebration reverted into an orgiastic riot, with dancing, ribaldry, violence, food-fighting and cross-dressing. Anachronistically, a syphilitic beggar clothed himself in the dead wife’s corset and her veil and performed an obscene dance, while another couple had sex behind the living room sofa. One of the celebrants even attempted to molest and rape Viridiana when she returned to the house.

Totally disillusioned or maybe more sexually aware of herself (after two attempted rapes), Viridiana submitted to playing a game of cards, to the sounds of the early 60s pop tune Shimmy Doll ("Shake Your Cares Away") - as the camera retreated backwards through a closeted doorway. The film ended with a suggested possible menage a trois scene between ex-nun Viridiana, servant Ramona, and her lothario, rakish cousin Jorge.

Viridiana (Silvia Pinal) with Uncle Don (Fernando Rey)

Beggar Dressed in Wedding Clothes

Sex Behind the Sofa

Final Threesome Card-Playing

Sex in Cinematic History
History Overview | Reference Intro | Pre-1920s | 1920-26 | 1927-29 | 1930-1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934-37 | 1938-39
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