When you’re an aspiring actor and model in Hollywood, you spend a lot of time auditioning for roles and putting yourself in position to have sex on camera – sometimes even with multiple people. One of the most famous sex scenes of all time is the steamy one in which Michael Caine rolls around with his then-wife’s sister Joanna in his apartment as the camera watches.
But when you’re actually in it, performing oral sex while an actor laughs and plays with your hair is not exactly the most erotic experience. Especially when you’re not actually enjoying it.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered on this front. Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and revisit some of the hottest sex scenes from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
One of the most iconic sex scenes of all time is John Wayne’s (in)famous “testosterone poisoning” scene from the 1952 film The Long, Long Trailer. Basically the idea is that he has too much testosterone floating around in his body, which makes him a little too aggressive. While filming a hunting scene with his co-stars, Wayne decides to take a dirt nap. During the night, he gets woken up by two prostitutes camping out in his living room. He gets extremely agitated and physically intimidating, chasing them around and demanding they leave. Once they’ve gone, he settles down to sleep once more. During the night, he gets woken by two more prostitutes, who start arguing with the others about who gets to service him first. Then, a nurse enters the scene with a syringe to give him a shot of alcohol – and that’s when things really go downhill. The next day, the nurse finds him passed out in his bed with his pants around his ankles. The doctors discover that he’s developed type 1 diabetes, which is easily treatable, and in the end he has to give up his “manly habits” and live the rest of his life as a lady (more or less).
As you can imagine, this scene is iconic and often referenced in films and TV shows. But what’s interesting is that even though it’s not a very good movie, it’s one of the most popular ones in Hollywood history. Why? The reason is fairly simple: it’s one of the few sex scenes in movies that people actually wanted to see. It was relatively unique and exciting to see a grown man acting in such a childlike fashion. And it was also very taboo in those days; sex scenes were considered a bit embarrassing. People wanted to watch a movie about John Wayne hunting, but they didn’t want to watch him have sex. So the fact that it was graphic and contained nudity probably helped. Also, it’s important to remember that during the Golden Age of Hollywood, sex was portrayed in a much more positive light. Sexual politics were a lot different back then; the male-female dynamic wasn’t as rigid as it is now, and there was definitely less focus on gender. People wanted to see this movie – and they still want to see it – because it’s one of the few sex scenes that still hold up. It’s definitely still one of the most iconic sex scenes of all time.
On the Rocks
If you Google “Sexiest nude scenes” or “Hottest adult film scenes,” there are so many iconic images that pop up on your screen. One of the most famous sex scenes of all time is the one in which Marilyn Monroe lies on a couch completely naked while two men walk in, stare at her and leave sandpaper-covered beer nuts on her thighs. However, even though it’s one of the most iconic sex scenes in Hollywood history, it’s not exactly one of the most comfortable ones to watch. Monroe is often seen with marks on her thighs from where the beer nuts fell, and even though she was 54 years old at the time, it’s still considered a bit of a scandal. Why? It’s because she was still married to Joe DiMaggio when she filmed this scene. After filming, she filed for divorce and subsequently moved in with director Stanley Kramer, who was about 20 years her senior.
What’s fascinating is how, even though it’s still one of the most iconic sex scenes of all time, it didn’t do well at the box office. The scene was so scandalous that audiences didn’t want to see it – and it barely made its budget back. Why? It might have had something to do with the fact that, at the time, Americans still frowned upon divorce, and the fact that it was quite an open secret that Joe DiMaggio was already seeing other women. So, while Monroe’s performance is undeniably iconic and still makes people feel all sorts of emotions, it might not be the most comfortable of all time.
The Trouble With Tracy
Another iconic scene that stands out is the one in which Tracy and Hepburn lie in bed together, laughing and flirting. As they’re lying there, Tracy feels like she’s got cold feet and starts getting nervous. Finally, she confesses she’s just not sure she likes kissing women. Hepburn reassures her that men are usually much more aggressive than women, and encourages her to give it a try. As she’s saying this, Tracy rolls over and kisses her. To this day, this scene is often hailed as one of the greatest pieces of acting in film history. It’s not hard to see why. Hepburn plays the part of the loving and understanding woman, and just when you think Tracy isn’t budging, she gives in and starts kissing her back. It’s one of the most iconic scenes in Hollywood history because it shows feminine power, love and understanding.
But this wasn’t always the case. Back in the Golden Age of Hollywood, the feminine power trope was still very much a part of culture. However, starting in the 1950s, this started to slowly change. One of the key figures responsible for pushing this change was none other than Joan Crawford. Crawford grew up in poverty in New York City, and at a very early age she decided she wanted to be a model. She started taking classes with renowned photographer Carl Van Voorhis – who went on to become her mentor – and soon she was on her way to Hollywood. There, she became a major star thanks to her famous feuds, adversarial relationships and strong opinions. But what’s fascinating about Crawford is how she managed to use her celebrity in an unprecedented way. She became an advocate for women’s rights, co-founded the Screen Actors Guild alongside her daughter, managed her own production companies, and even starred in a few of her own films.
What’s interesting is that one of the first times that anyone associated with Crawford appears in a sex scene is in the 1941 film Suicide Bureau. In this scene, she plays a writer who hires several prostitutes to seduce and murder her husband. Even today, this scene is considered one of the most shocking and daring examples of the type of films that Crawford helped create. While this type of film is no longer made as much as it was in the Golden Age, it still exists and is considered something of a genre all its own. Let’s just say that, for the time that it was in production, Suicide Bureau wasn’t exactly Family Guy.
Speaking of Family Guy, let’s not forget about the hilarious depiction of Peggy Olson in Penelope. Olson plays the role of Elaine, Peter’s secretary who, unbeknownst to Peter, has a massive crush on him. One day, while Peter is out getting lunch, Olson sneaks into his office and puts on a show for him. She starts removing her clothes and performing various sex acts on camera. While this might sound a bit strange, this scene is actually very tame compared to some of the other ones on this list. It wasn’t intended to be particularly racy, and it barely contains any nudity. But it’s still considered somewhat of a classic.
What’s funny is that this scene was censored in some countries. In France, for example, where many big-budget films are usually banned because they contain nudity or sex, this scene was cut. Apparently, French censors thought that it was too racy for French audiences. So, while this scene might not actually be that great, it certainly still has an impact. Especially since it’s one of the few sex scenes that people actually want to see. It’s not often that filmmakers can pull off a scene like this, but when they do, it’s usually worth paying attention to.
Whether you’re a fan of vintage films or not, it’s hard to deny that they contain some of the all-time greatest sex scenes. While they might not exactly be comfortable viewing, at least we can be sure that they were much more creative and unique back in the day. And that’s something to be grateful for.