As the song says, “let’s talk about sex, baby!” Valentine’s Day is around the corner and, as we’ve seen for the last three years, with it brings the final (dear God please say this is true) installment in the Fifty Shades of Grey series. People have ragged on the films and books, rightfully so, for years, but the Dames wanted to offer something different this year. We bring you the top 5 movies WAY sexier than all three Fifty Shades films.
KRISTEN’S TOP 5
This list was a challenge because while I’m easily able to point out movies with sexy scenes – I actually did a whole series on my classic film website once – I couldn’t find many movies i loved where sex is prevalent. Hell, one movie I thought about including is….shall we say, questionable….and I didn’t want to feel like a creep for putting it down. (I’ve mentioned it on the show so you can figure it out.) With that, I picked five movies that I know have been able to elicit a swoon out of me. Are they all good? Actually all except one are so I consider that a win in my book!
Red Dust (1932)
It’d be easy for those who don’t watch a lot of classic cinema to say, “it was a different time so sex wasn’t present” which is false because there are quite a few sexy movies made before color arrived. In fact, nearly every film I included on this list doesn’t actually focus on sex specifically, but the feelings evoked by desire itself. Case in point, Victor Fleming’s pre-Code jungle romp, Red Dust. Clark Gable plays the owner of a rubber plantation who spends his days with the beautiful Vantine (Jean Harlow at her sauciest), a prostitute trying to leave the area. The chemistry between the two is palpable, and much of the sweat that’s worked up can’t all be because of the jungle atmosphere. There’s no denying the two are engaging in something, and once Mary Astor’s prim Barbara arrives it brings up questions of female respectability with regards to sexuality. Thought provoking, engaging, and hot as hell!
In Secret (2013)
I’m the last person who would say to you this adaptation of the Emile Zola novel is good. In many ways it works as an unintentional, French-set version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf slammed right alongside a remake of Double Indemnity. Actually, read the book before watching the movie which will A) make you realize the movie is WAY better and B) make you sad that the movie didn’t lean into the violence and “my cat totally thinks I’m a murderer” plotline the novel has. But sex! Yes, a lot of sex is to be had…for about the first 50 minutes or so. And if you’re a girl who loves her some Oscar Isaac this movie pretty much gives you everything you want. I mean, the man’s doing a lot of stuff…..that I don’t necessarily think I should put on this website for fear of attracting spambots. Just watch it, swoon for 50 minutes, and then turn it off.
“Hate can be a very exciting emotion” says Rita Hayworth’s Gilda in the 1946 film of the same name. Gilda is a sexy movie purely for Hayworth’s performance which oozes sex. She’s cheeky, seductive, and knows that she both wants to please herself and piss off ex-lover Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford). The two’s continued fighting of their feelings leads to them hurting each other in numerous ways – wow, between this and In Secret you can have quite the masochistic double feature – yet they’re crazy about each other.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
You didn’t think I wouldn’t include this movie on here, did you? Call Me By Your Name is probably one of the sexiest movies of the last few years. What Luca Guadagnino and James Ivory do is throw things back to studio era Hollywood, making a movie wherein the anticipation and fantasy of sex is more compelling than the act itself. There were valid criticisms about the movie panning away from showing actual sex, but I think it worked in the film’s favor. Watching Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer) dance around each other, literally and figuratively, while indulging in this flirtation of wits is just intoxicating. And when the two finally do get together, the awkwardness and pushing of the proximal boundaries will leave you in a heap. I never realized how much power could be derived from watching two people touch hands!
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)
Boy, do I wish this film got more attention last year. Angela Robinson’s exploration of the lives and loves of Professor William Marston (Luke Evans….dammit) is a heady mix of intellect and kink. In many respects this is a better depiction of bondage in a relationship than the 50 Shades series is. Watching Marston, his wife, and their mistress engage in consensual acts isn’t exploitative nor is it gratuitous. We’re watching a group of adults engage in something that’s risque and sensual. Watch their threesome to Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good” and you’ll probably have a difficult time watching Wonder Woman right away.
KAREN’S TOP 5
Okay, this week’s five is going to say a lot about me. I’ve always believed that the real sexiness of a movie is in the flirtation, the anticipation. That’s so much less interesting to me than watching a couple of people that notoriously hate each other off-screen pretending to be totally into each other for the cameras and a crew of 50+ people.
Haha! It looks like some of us are on the same wavelength, as you’ll see again soon. Come on. It’s Cary Grant. And it’s Ingrid Bergman. Was there ever a hotter couple on screen? I peeked ahead and saw that Lauren actually summed up exactly why this movie wins, so I’m just gonna let her take it.
An Affair to Remember (1957)
I could probably fill this whole five with Cary Grant movies, honestly. I won’t, but I could. This time around, Cary Grant is a celebrity with a fiancee AND a wandering eye. On a transatlantic cruise, he meets Deborah Kerr and I just love every moment of their interactions. When she tries to rebuff him and then when she gives in and they think they’re so clever at hiding their affair from the other passengers, but everyone knows? I just can’t get enough.
The Notebook (2004)
I KNOW! I’m SUCH a girl with this pick. But Ryan Gosling kills me dead and he and Rachel McAdams are just so damned gorgeous. They fight, they make up. They separate for years and find their way back to each other. Okay, yes, I know these two supposedly hated each other off-screen and I just said that isn’t very interesting, but…somehow…I feel like it WORKS for The Notebook. Every scene these two share just crackles with electricity.
I will not apologize.
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
For a movie that is entirely focused around a courtesan in the famed Parisian club/brothel it’s surprisingly…chaste? Is that the right word? Anyway, this movie is exactly what I was talking about. It’s about the flirtation and the anticipation. The chemistry between Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor is so perfect. There is so much tension in the moments when they can’t be together that it just makes it infinitely more gratifying when they find ways to connect. And when she starts singing “Come What May” at the end of the movie? I die.
Top Gun (1986)
If you didn’t know this was coming you clearly don’t know me at all! But, like, besides the love of my life, you’ve got a bunch of hot guys in those to-die-for Navy uniforms. And, of course, the beach volleyball scene where they definitely are not wearing much of anything. (Although, yeah, I know, who wears jeans to play beach volleyball?) And then there is every scene my darling Tom shares with Kelly McGillis. My favorite isn’t actually THE scene. It’s the one where they end up in the elevator together and have to pretend to ignore each other when someone else gets into the elevator too. Love it.
LAUREN’S TOP 5
There was always a strong sexual component to Hitchcock’s films, but no on-screen couple popped the way that Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman did in Notorious. Intense, passionate, fraught with peril and seething jealousy, Devlin and Alicia have one hell of a tempestuous love affair that becomes even madder after she runs off and marries Claude Rains at the behest of her lover. The film features a number of sexy scenes, including an extended take that has Grant and Bergman talking about roast chicken while making out, but one of my favorite moments is when, after a near-miss that almost has their espionage uncovered by Alicia’s jealous husband, Devlin grabs Alicia and kisses her. Bergman’s breathy “Devlin” is heart-wrenching in its need, as she briefly drops the cover of anger and aloofness and gives in to the emotions that are all but destroying her. Woof.
I make no secret that Cate Blanchett keeps overcomplicating my sexuality, and Carol is a big reason for that. Sexiness is so often about longing, and Carol is almost nothing but. The film brilliantly captures desire while rarely voicing it out loud, as Carol and Rooney Mara’s Therese twist around each other, hoping against their culture and their personal circumstances that things will work out. The sex scene is so powerful when it happens because of that build-up, but there’s also an inherent sweetness to the relationship that reminds us that sexiness can sometimes go hand in hand with, you know, love.
Only You (1994)
Yes, it’s a cheesy romantic comedy, but the combination of young Marisa Tomei and a baby-faced Robert Downey Jr. is just so damned adorable and…well, kinda sexy. The pair meet cute on Tomei’s trip to Italy, where she’s gone to try to find the predicted man of her dreams whose name was conjured years before during a game. Through a few slips of mistaken identity Downey Jr. seems like he might be that man. The charm of the pair works considerably to this film’s advantage, but that lovely, silly romantic quality doesn’t undercut the sheer sexiness of every single one of their interactions.
The Gay Divorcee (1934)
OK, hear me out. No, there is no sex. This is a film from 1934 with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. And that’s why it’s sexy. Astaire and Rogers rarely even kissed on-screen, but they remain one of the Golden Age’s greatest romantic couples because they – ahem – left it all on the dance floor. Watch them dance to “Night and Day” and tell me you didn’t just see two people fucking without taking off their clothes.
The Long Hot Summer (1958)
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward sweat their way through a Mississippi summer as she tries really hard to resist his “cold blue eyes” and ridiculously chiseled body. He’s bad and she knows it and boy does that make things difficult. This film is all about sex, though the word is hardly spoken. There are some other machinations as Newman’s Ben Quick worms his way into the Varner family (headed by Orson Welles, no less) and seduces pretty much everyone but the supposedly cold Clara, but those things don’t matter. The second Ben and Clara begin to spar you forget the rest of the plot, and when Newman strips down to his underwear to practically howl at Woodward from her balcony? I mean…damn. The heat between Newman and Woodward all but burns the screen down.
KIMBERLY’S TOP 5
Sexy films…what qualifies? Different people have different quirks. Magic Mike? Body Heat? Not for this lady. Compiling this list proved to be quite a challenge. Sexy scenes are a dime a dozen, fewer films spring to mind as being sexy throughout. Here is what I came up with.
This is potentially an unconventional choice, I know. However, hear me out. This film makes my list for three reasons: Laurence Olivier, George Sanders and a surprisingly hot chemistry between Oliver and leading lady Joan Fontaine. First and foremost, Sanders and Olivier are two of the greatest orators to cross the screen. Just watching those two together is enough to elicit a giggle for yours truly. I have simple tastes. However, adding in the heat behind the DeWinter relationship, the film clocks as surprisingly sexy.
A Room with a View (1985)
A Room with a View comes out of the idyllic glossy string of Merchant Ivory films which hit screens in the 1980s. The film features an all-star cast led by Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands. The film brings together the stunning Merchant Ivory visuals with beautiful Italian locations, as well as the passions of first love. This is the romance we all deserve. A cute boy, the Italian country side and fantastic cinematography. I wish my first love was like that.
The Sheik (1921)
Rudolph Valentino is still known in film circles for his passionate and exotic film roles before his untimely death in 1926. Now, this film is far from a popular or well-aged choice. (This is a silent film after all.) Valentino was one of the biggest sex symbols of the silent era and this is the role which fueled it. Valentino looks great in the part and he feels great. This is old school exoticism and romanticism at its finest. Watching the film from the right perspective you can see what fueled the star’s popularity in the 1920s.
Once again, I’m choosing to represent the Merchant Ivory films from the 1980s. This time we have Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves and James Wilby struggling through the complexities and passions of a new relationship. Besides my shameless crushes on Graves and Grant, Maurice features stellar romantic plot lines. Graves is absolutely stunning in one of his earliest starring roles as Alec Scudder. The repressed passion in this narrative speaks for itself. Add in the flawlessly beautiful Merchant Ivory visuals, and you have a sexy, sexy film.
The strength behind Notorious hinges (outside of the stellar Hitchcock direction) on the incredible chemistry between leads Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. The most iconic moment in the film involves a kiss between the film’s two leads. In the scene, which lasts just over three minutes, Bergman and Grant exchange a series of kisses and embrace. To intensify the scene, Hitchcock films it from an intimate close-up, accentuating the already electric chemistry between his leads.