- To Catch a Thief (1955) - Hitchcock was well-versed in the power of suggestion. He took advantage of Grace Kelly's sexual allure and Cary Grant's deobonairre persona to create electricity on the screen. One could even say the chemistry between the two main characters was "explosive". The scene in question has Kelly and Grant, in a hotel room, in the dark sharing a passionate kiss while fireworks go on outside. Fireworks, of course, suggest something else happens shortly after. (link is the trailer)
- Young Man with a Horn (1950) - Kirk Douglas stars as a trumpeter who should fall in love with the angelic Doris Day but cannot help being seduced by femme fatale Lauren Bacall. They are married but frustrations grow as he realizes she has little to no desire for him. After much turmoil, Douglas' character confronts his wife when she is out with another woman. Yikes!
- Baby Doll (1956) - I often forget this was a film from the '50s and not from the '60s, as I usually classify it in my mind. It's so ahead of it's time. Eli Wallach is hot in this film. And I mean hot! He plays a Sicilian cotton-gin supervisor who likes to torment and tease another man's 19-year old wife. The girl, played by Carroll Baker, isn't quite capable of consuming her marriage as she's stuck in a little-girl mindset, which is probably her way of coping with growing up before she was ready. The infamous swing scene has Wallach's character seducing Baker's, who only pretends not to be interested. Very steamy. (link is the trailer)
- The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) - Elements of this film are sexual, but in the wrong way. Queen Norma Shearer plays invalid Elizabeth Barrett who is kept in her weakened condition without possibility of improvement by her overbearing father, played by Charles Laughton. Laughton did an excellent job at suggesting the father's incestuous infatuation with his daughter by evoking his conflicting passions through his eyes. The most uncomfortable scene is when the daughter tried to walk and he sweeps her off her feet and carries her away. Eek!
- A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) - It's New Orleans, the air is hot and dense with humidity, which makes the characters all that more bothered and restless. Besides Brando being absolutely gorgeous in every scene, the Brando/Stanley-Hunter/Stella-Leigh/Blanche sexual triangle is unsettling because each of the character's is not in their right mind. Stanely is frustrated, Stella is frustrated and Blanche is just plain off her rocker. Many of the scenes in this film are very sexy, but there is one that stands out. Stella descends the stairs towards Stanley, who's shirt is barely hanging on by a thread, she pulls him towards her and runs her hands down his muscular back. Is it hot in here or is it just me? (link is the trailer)
- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) - Sex is on the mind of every character in this film. Not sex in general but the lack of sex between the young married couple played by Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. While only very subtly suggested in the film, Newman's character is dealing with the internal conflict of being married to an attractive woman but still holding onto to the repressed homosexual attraction to his now deceased friend. Taylor's character is sexually frustrated and it doesn't help that his family blames her for not having had a child yet. To me the most sizzling of scenes is when Taylor wraps her arms around Newman pleading for sexual attention only to have him break free from her grip for the umpteenth time. Poor thing. (link is the trailer)
- Red Dust (1932) - I couldn't create this new list without including a Jean Harlow film. This film, which was later remade as Mogambo (1953), stars Clark Gable as a plantation overseer who has conflicting desires for floozy Jean Harlow and married Mary Astor. There are numerous sexy scenes in this film. Harlow naked in an outdoor bathtub, being man-handled by Gable. The howling wind conveniently moving up Harlow's skirt revealing her slender gams. The sexiest one is when Gable roughly pulls Harlow onto his lap, kissing her. This is the culmination of all the sexual tension between them. (link is the trailer)
- Design for Living (1933) - I am still surprised that this film was ever made. Miriam Hopkins stars as a woman who cannot decide between which of her two boyfriends (Gary Cooper and Frederich March) to keep, so she decides to keep them both in her life and moves in with them but forgoes a sexual relationship with either. Neither of the two men are happy about her decision but at the same time do they don't want to walk away and let the other snag her. The sexiest scene takes place in a car where Hopkins sits between her two beaus and plants a kiss on one then turns to plant a kiss on the other. Talk about sharing. Wow!
This duo, although not as famous as, say Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy or Doris Day and Rock Hudson, was a successful one in it's own right and produced some wonderful movies. My personal favorite one is Strangers May Kiss (1931). For those of you out there who are Norma Shearer fans (or Robert Montgomery fans), let me know which of these is your favorite by posting a comment (I love getting those).
Their Own Desire (1929)
The Divorcee (1929)
Private Lives (1931)
Strangers May Kiss (1931)
This one confuses me greatly and downright irks me. It reminds me of the pathetic cover of a certain BBC-Austen miniseries in which the American packaging showcased 2 models instead of the actors because they were better looking than the actual stars. It's misleading and wrong! This particular poster tells the audience, "come watch this film because you'll see sexy Marilyn Monroe strut her stuff." Those poor lustful souls will only come away disappointed to have seen her in just 3 short scenes.
As I write this, I cannot help feeling like a hypocrite. I did come to find this film as a Monroe fan wanting to see more of her films. I liked the film for what it was and not necessarily for Monroe's role. Yet this title is often distributed as a Monroe film. I'm hoping that in a few years this will be known only as a very good film noir.
Let's ignore Marilyn Monroe scared face in the corner for a moment and look at the other elements of this image, which happens to be the DVD cover. This is quite good. In the background, you have the asphalt jungle and the tagline "The City Under the City" which is representative of both the underground scenes and the "underground" network of hoodlums. Then set below the city you have the 3 main people involved with the actual heist (versus those involved with only the planning of the heist); Sterling Hayden, the hoodlum, James Whitmore, the driver and Anthony Caruso, the box man ~ explosives. Then right below them you've got the sex, i.e. Monroe. Clever thing about this image, is that it's on a tilt symbolizing the impending downfall of these characters (except the sex, which survives of course).
- Robert Osborne -Any movie benefits from a Robert Osborne introduction. Always impeccably dressed, he welcomes you into the movie with fun facts and quips. If your lucky, he will tell you a particular scene or image to look out for. And am I the only one that thinks that loft-style studio is beautiful. Could I move in? I think Osborne should introduce every DVD, no matter what the film.
- Edith Head - I didn't notice this the first time around, but caught her name in the opening credits. No wonder Barbara Stanwyck looks so stunning! The amazingly talented Edith Head dressed her. I wonder if she dressed the men? If so, I've got a few complaints. The main one being that Fred MacMurray's suits seem to hang on him while Edward G. Robinson seems to be bursting out of his.
- Film Noir Language - "Dame" "Hot Potato" "Outfit" "Dimwitted" "Song and Dance", this movie is chock full of colloquialisms. Yet what I find so intriguing is the wit and banter and the heavy heavy flirting! I wonder how much of the intricately sexy language was a result of passing this film through the codes. Did the language have to be clever to convey all the sex that had to be censored?
- Linear and Square - It's "straight down the line" until they get to the "end of the line." The plot movement is very linear. The sequence of events pertaining to the crime seem to happen back to back like a line of dominoes and the uncovering of the crime by Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) seems to happen in the same sequence as the crime does, it's just one step behind. Everything falls apart when Fred MacMurray's character breaks that line. The square element is the romantic entanglement which is at the heart of the story. Phyllis - > Walter - > Lola -> Nino. I could call it a circle, but this is film noir! It's all about the harsh angles.
- Fire - Did anyone notice Fred MacMurray's amazing ability to light a match with his thumb? I found this oddly sexy. As though he was so pumped up with testosterone and adrenaline that he thought nothing of potentially burning his thumb with the match. It was just a faster way to light a cigarette.
- Naughty Fred MacMurray - Most of you know him as the detective gone bad in Double Indemnity (1944) or the sleazy, womanizing boss in The Apartment (1960), but my mind's image of Fred MacMurray is quite different. To me, he is the loveable and charismatic actor of so many romantic comedies and dramas from the '30s and '40s. The rich but loving boyfriend of Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams (1935), the morally righteous lawyer married to a pathological liar in True Confession (1937), or the poor lovestruck suitor who has to compete with an even more endearing wheel-chair bound Ralph Bellamy in Hands Across the Table (1935). To see him be a little bit bad in this film was confusing yet very exciting.
- The Wig - It stands out. Even director Billy Wilder thought it was a bit ridiculous. Yet one couldn't envision Barbara Stanwyck in the role of the conniving femme fatale without the curly, blonde wig. It's severe but she's severe. It's over the top, but she's over the top. It just works. And also there is something that happens to a woman when she goes blonde. Like Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity (1953), they go a little bit bad, or in Stanwyck's case a whole lot. However, this is all coming from a brunette who has a serious case of blonde-envy.
- Secondary Romances - They work. Period. I love them and oftentimes I find them more interesting than the primary romance. In this case, the forbidden love between rich daughter Lola and Nino who is poor and rough around the edges. Very intriguing.
I don't like this at all but will have to come to terms with it. I'm intrigued enough to want to see more Boston-based films from eras past to get a better understanding of this cold, conservative Boston which is so foreign to me.
So Warner Home Video and TCM, listen up! We the people who love Norma Shearer films demand a DVD boxed set of her movies! Or at least a larger selection of DVDs in print! Here are some suggestions of what I think would make for excellent boxed sets.
Marie Antoinette (1938)
Below is a list of what I believe are the top 10 sexiest scenes in classic films. I hope you've had the pleasure of seeing at least one of them.
1. Rear Window (1954) - Grace Kelly walks in on a sleeping Jimmy Stewart and wakes him up with a seductively soft kiss. Then plants numerous little kisses on him after showing him her overnight bag. WOW! (link is a short clip)
2. Double Harness (1933) - Ann Harding slips into something more comfortable while at playboy William Powell's apartment. So scandalous that it was discovered many years later that the 2-1/2 minute clip was taken out of many copies of the movie. (link is another related clip)
3. Red-Headed Woman (1932) - What scene of this film isn't sexy? I think they all were. Jean Harlow is red-hot as she seduces her wealthy boss played by Chester Morris. He's fed up with her seduction and confronts her at her apartment. She traps him in her bedroom by locking the door and hides the key in her cleavage. Yowzah! (link is another related clip)
4. A Free Soul (1931) - Norma Shearer is in a figure-clinging dress (and nothing else, if you know what I mean) when seducing gangster Clark Gable. She reclines on a sofa and beckons him to put his arms around her.
5. The Cabin in the Cotton (1932) - The sexual tension between Bette Davis and Richard Barthelmess is intense. The most famous scene is Bette line to Richard: "I'd kiss ye, but I just washed ma' hair". She teases him almost endlessly, until one day, the rich southern belle takes the poor boy up to her room, in her mansion, and then well, you know. (link is the trailer)
6. Spartacus (1960) - One of the opening scenes in which Kirk Douglas is slaving away under the hot sun, combines his muscles, a nice tan and a lot of sweat. It's just all very good.
7. North by Northwest (1959) - Hitchcock was a very very clever man. The final scene with Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant, on a train, in a bed... then cut to a shot of a train entering a tunnel. Talk about suggestive. (link is a featurette about censorship of the movie)
8. Woman of the Year (1942) - You are probably surprised that this is listed here. However, the scene where Katerine Hepburn's character meets Spencer Tracy's character for the first time is electric. The chemistry between them was unmistakeable. This was their first film together and it lead to their real-life romance of 27 years. (link is the trailer)
9. The Seven Year Itch (1955) - One of Marilyn Monroe's most iconic roles. Besides the famous flowing skirt scene, this film is rife with Monroe's special doses of blonde bombshell. Monroe is hot (because it's summer and for other reasons as well) and is trying desperately to find ways to cool down. In the meantime, she gets the married Tommy Ewell all hot and bothered. The air-conditioner scene is my personal favorite. (link is the trailer)
10. Cat People (1942) - Feline Simone Simon is seductively bad. There is something very alluring about the bathtub scene. She seems delicate yet dangerous. So subtle! (link is the trailer)