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Movies That Are Definitely Not Porn
 Why was it whenever I chose to watch a movie that had a nudey scene in the middle of it, my Mum would enter my room at the point of said fleshy display? I could understand it if I had Debbie Does Dallas (1978) in my battered Betamax player but alas my movie connections were not that extensive. All I managed to hook myself up with was a copy of Last Tango In Paris (1972). And the moment Brando reached for the Flora my Mum would always poke her head round the corner to tell me dinner was ready. Perhaps it’s a sixth sense all mothers are born with, the detection of margarine tub movement from two hundred yards. I tried desperately to explain to my Mum that the technical term for this sort of film was the "Erotic Thriller”, but Mum knew the score. It was all a thinly veiled disguise to get some tits and ass on the big screen, the movie equivalent of the man who goes into the newsagents for a newspaper and just happens to nab a copy of Big Titted Spunk Guzzlers while he’s in there. The daily rag goes straight in the bin whilst the jazz mag’s staples groan under the weight of constant page rotation. There has always been a human aversion to cinematic fumbling, our embarrassment coming to the fore by pointing and giggling at said scene or by pretending we never saw it in the first place. We’ve all been there; it’s Sunday night and you’re watching a film with your folks rather than in the loose sanctuary of your bedroom. It’s a film none of you have seen before so it’s unexplored territory. Then that collective sinking feeling creeps up when everyone realises that this film has a sex scene in it. There is an undeniable discomfort attached to the watching of a sex scene with anyone but your other half, and even then it depends on the level of intimacy. Why we should be so mortified by the oldest pastime known to man is a bit of a mystery. So my retort when Mum would barge in to tell me tea was on the table? "Do you mind, I’m in the middle of watching a bit of the old in-out here…sheessh!”
 
- DON’T LOOK NOW (1973)
 
Nicholas Roeg’s accomplished thriller? A thinly disguised porno? Let’s examine the evidence shall we. Romantic setting; check. Ground breaking sex scene; check. Lead actor with dodgy moustache and seventies style white-man afro: check. Donald Sutherland couldn’t have been more John Holmes if he tried, short of strapping on a ten inch appendage. It’s a wonder his John Baxter doesn’t turn up at St. Mark’s Campanile to fix a broken photocopier. How Sutherland has maintained the porn-star look for all these years and yet retained his status as one of the coolest cats in Hollywood is one of life’s delightful mysteries. Of course there is much more to this film than facial hair and a pre-restaurant bonk. Based upon a 1971 short story by Daphne du Maurier we follow the Baxters as they escape to Venice after the tragic drowning of their young daughter. There is a serial killer on the loose in the City of Water though, and this coupled with John’s visions of his deceased daughter spell trouble for the couple. As psychological thrillers go it is one of the very best, with a shattering final scene that has left many an innocent viewer a twitching wreck, drooling and quivering on the living room rug. It is a perhaps a stretch to call it an erotic thriller, but that sex scene between Sutherland and Julie Christie is as infamous as any other facet of the film. It also set a precedent for films being renowned for one particularly steamy scene alone, Last Tango In Paris (1973), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), Betty Blue (1986), Original Sin (2001). The undeniable intimacy between the two performers led to the rumour that the scene was not improvised and the actors really did engage in some on-camera intercourse. The ultimate ode to Lee Strasberg’s and his Method acting philosophy? Sutherland and Christie remain tight lipped so you’ll have to watch and make your own mind up.
Tasty Morsel – The 1937 movie The Big Squirt was released in the United States under the title Don’t Look Now. And who said Hollywood doesn’t have a sense of humour?
 
- CALIGULA (1979)
 
The Romans were a randy bunch apparently, but up until 1979 only those with a strong sandal fetish got their rocks off to Hollywood’s Rome themed fare. Then along came a screenplay by American writer Gore Vidal that attempted to make up for the lack of historic romping by cramming as much naughtiness into a two hour movie as humanly possible. The script was co-financed by Penthouse Magazine; go figure. Unfortunately, the resulting film contained so much rude behaviour such vital movie ingredients as plot and structure were jettisoned to make way for its extreme girth. Not even a bevy of classy actors including Helen Mirren, John Gielgud and the appropriately monikered Peter O’ Toole could hide the film’s story telling flaws. But if it’s an intense sexual experience you are after, and you’re just too embarrassed to rent Deep Throat (1972), Tinto Brass’s Caligula (1979) is the movie for you. The film often has a cruelty to its sexual menace, scenes of penile castration, female urination and incest sitting alongside multiple orgies and mutual masturbation. It makes for a heady brew, all told in the detached realm of the distant Roman Empire, something that helps to separate the viewer when the going gets too rough for the more sexually straight-laced viewer. Despite the critical mauling the movie received, the frank depiction of hardcore sexual activity (somewhat dependent on what cut of the movie you watch) helped to lay the foundations for such later boundary pushing pictures as Baise-moi (2000) and Lie With Me (2005).
Tasty Morsel – Perhaps understandably, Vidal did not want any credit for his work on the film. Jack Nicholson no doubt also breathed a sigh of relief that he did not take the titular role that eventually went to Malcolm McDowell.
 
- BODY DOUBLE (1984)
 
The essence of any porn is the human fascination with voyeurism, the titillation of watching naked folks doing naughty things. Given porn’s taboo nature there haven’t been that many films that have dealt with the topic of voyeurism objectively whilst simultaneously satisfying one’s own darker viewing desires. Director Brian De Palma decided to test his mettle in 1984 with a picture that bravely stepped up to the plate. We meet Jake (Craig Wasson) a struggling actor who, upon discovering his girlfriend in bed with another man, takes up the offer of a theatre school friend to house sit for a while. He soon discovers to his initial delight that one of his neighbours is a rather shapely lady (Melanie Griffith) who gets her kicks from stripping with the curtains open. Jake soon develops a minor obsession with the woman but his affections lead him down some unexpectedly shady avenues. Coming off of the controversial Dressed to Kill (1980) and Scarface (1983) is was bold of De Palma to make yet another movie of such risqué content. Most critics gave the film a kicking, but they all missed the point. Taking a good number of pointers from Hitchcock’s most successful flicks, and Rear Window (1954) in particular. De Palma crafted a tight thriller movie that stimulates and scares in equal measure. Its proof positive that a movies with pornographic tendencies need not be the tacky effort most people expect them to be. That having been said, De Palma did decide to give fruity pop group of the moment Frankie Goes To Hollywood their movie debut. Keep your eyes peeled for them performing their signature hit "Relax” during the porn film within a film sequence.
Tasty Morsel – It is rumoured that De Palma wanted the film to be the first mainstream Hollywood movie that featured unsimulated sex scenes.
 
- 9 ½ WEEKS (1986)
 
No one likes a messy bugger. The trailing of food stuffs round the house in a squalid manner leaves nasty stains on the carpet and a funk in the air. There is one exception however. Should you find Kim Basinger lying semi naked at the foot of your fridge feel free to slosh as much grub as you like all over the place. That’s what Mickey Rourke did in 1986, and a fine job he made of it to. This Adrian Lyne directed vehicle tells the story of Elizabeth McGraw, a divorced art gallery owner who starts a very physical relationship with a stock broker named John Grey. The problem is their relationship is based on sex and sex alone, so when their intercourse takes on more violent overtones things get a little awkward. The poster for the film stated that "They broke every rule”. Whether that is the case depends entirely on your level of sexual mindedness, but in today’s era where MTV shows music-videos during daylight hours of equal raunchiness some might be let down by this advertisement promise. That having been said the movie will still linger in the memory thanks to the mental damage that John inflicts upon Elizabeth. He pushes her boundaries well past the comfort zone, often cruelly manipulating her to achieve his own sexual desires. It shows a murkier side to sex that is often missing in most movie portrayals, a side that makes the whole affair no less stimulating and a whole lot more thought provoking. Rourke continued his sexual provocateur work in Wild Orchid (1990) whilst Basinger kept it clean until 1991’s Final Analysis (1991).
Tasty Morsel – A direct to video sequel followed in 1997, entitled Another 9 ½ Weeks. The film, originally titled Love In Paris, sees Rourke reprise the John Grey role. Basinger was absent.
 
- BASIC INSTINCT (1992)
 
When it comes to erotic thrillers Paul Verhoeven’s 1992 infamous Basic Instinct (1992) really is leading light of the genre. How Verhoeven managed to pack so much sex into one film without compromising its quality is a minor miracle. It is fairly easy to achieve mass audience success with this sort of film, but another story altogether when it comes to the critics. Overall though, the fickle reviewers of Hollywood seemed to love the film as well. It is easy to see why. Central to the movie is a rollicking good crime mystery, the sort that Alfred Hitchcock would love to have gotten his hands on, blonde bombshell and all. The fact that Verhoeven sprinkles the tale with all manner of naughtiness from anal sex and lesbian romping, to Sharon Stone flashing her south of the border lady-bits to a stunned movie viewing world makes it all the more satisfying. The film sees Michael Douglas’ Detective Nick Curran investigate the murder of a former singer. The main suspect appears to be crime writer Catherine Tramell (Stone) who just happens to have written a book that mirrors the murder perfectly. The story twists and spirals but Verhoeven’s sure hand guides it to a terrifically ambiguous conclusion. The sex scenes are stylistically choreographed affairs, only adding to the nihilistic sleaze that makes up Curran and Tramell’s shady lifestyles. And there was no finer pair to have grunting their way through an eighties/nineties sexy thriller than Stone and Douglas. The pair were never better than when they had their pants around their ankles, as they did in such classics as Fatal Attraction (1987), Cold Steel (1987), Sliver (1993) and Disclosure (1994).
Tasty Morsel – Stone swears that she din’t know that Verhoeven intended to utilise the knickerless leg-crossing shot that made the final film. Despite her dislike of the scene the actress agreed to appear in the 2006 sequel Basic Instinct 2.
 
- SHOWGIRLS (1995)
 
One thing sex should not be devoid of is humour. If you can’t have a chuckle at it now and again you’re really taking things too seriously. The fact that Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 erotic drama was meant to be a straight piece matters not a jot. If it can raise a smile and laugh with its absurdities who cares; at least it entertains. The story follows Elizabeth Berkley’s Nomi Malone as she climbs the stripper ladder of Las Vegas, hoping to go from two-bit tramp to headlining showgirl. Like any career grubbing it involves a lot of sex and whoring of oneself. Her main rival, and secret lesbian admirer, is Cristal Connors (Gina Gershon) whilst the man stuck between the two is entertainment director Zack Carey (Kyle MacLachlan). All manner of steamy encounters follow, none more memorable than Berkley’s swimming pool screw in which the actress does her best electrified dolphin impression. In the whole history of humanity I doubt that anyone, anywhere has had sex in such a way. The unintentional humour of this scene, and most of the others that follow, place the movie in that ultra rare film category, the "so bad it’s good” bracket. The good sport, down to earth chap that he is, Verhoeven turned up at the annual worst film awards, The Golden Raspberry Awards, to collect the seven trophies the movie scooped up that year. It was a display of great humour that won the man more respect than any of the 1995 Oscar winners managed to garner.
Tasty Morsel – The filmmakers had a definite pairing in mind when they first scouted the movie; Madonna for Cristal and Drew Barrymore for Nomi. Both politely declined the roles.
 
- WILD THINGS (1998)
 
Despite all this talk of gratuitous on screen screwing one should remember that it doesn’t always take a display of rampant bonkery to titillate. A shot of Denise Richards pouring ice cold Moët over her bare boobs works just as well. Even more so when she has Neve Campbell on backing vocals. As luck would have it just such a scene was the arousing centre piece of this 1998 John McNaughton picture. Wild Things (1998) bristles with sexual tension from the get-go. Two high school girls and their guidance counsellor create an elaborate fake-rape-scam to obtain a hefty compensation payout. The interplay between the three is taut and before long questions as to who is screwing who, both literally and metaphorically, rear their head. Just when things couldn’t get any better, up pops Bill Murrary, the perfect comedic cold bucket of water, to douse the growing carnal flames. Despite the movie’s reputation as one strictly for the lads it is in fact an equal opportunities thriller. The chaps have the aforementioned Richards and Campbell to drool over whilst the ladies are equally well catered for by the buff physiques of Matt Dillion and Kevin Bacon. And in case the women are still feeling left out, it is the fully clothed Campbell that comes out on top when all the shagging is said and done. Two sequels followed that both went straight to video, Wild Things 2 (2004) and Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough (2005). Alas, both sequels forgot to weave their naughty scenes into a satisfying narrative leaving them as nothing more than second rate soft-core thrillers.
Tasty Morsel – Sorry ladies; one of the scenes that got left on the cutting room floor was a shower scene between Matt Dillion and Kevin Bacon.
 
- CRASH (1996)
 
Director David Cronenberg was a man fully versed in the art of cinematic controversy by the late nineties. Twenty eight years of challenging film making placed him as one of Hollywood’s most unique directors and writers. But even he was a little taken aback by the furore kicked up by his adaptation of JG Ballard’s 1973 novel Crash. To be fair though, Crash even by Cronenberg standards, is a pretty controversial tale, portraying a group of disturbed individuals who get the sexual kicks from car crashes. Whether the story is an excuse for a number of nasty sex scenes, including having intercourse with a deep gash in one woman’s leg and masturbating to crash test dummy footage, or whether it is an intellectual study of the hidden depths of human sexual desire really depends on your point of view. However, if you find yourself watching the film purely for reasons of titillation alone you may wish to book yourself a session with your local psychiatrist. Undoubtedly, and as the movie shows, there are a good few people out who will watch the film just for such kicks. And you thought porn was all bouncing boobs and cheeky innuendo. Hats off to Cronenberg and his cast of accomplished actors, including James Spader, Holly Hunter, Rosanna Arquette and Elias Koteas, for pushing the boundaries of conventional cinema whilst maintaining their professional dignity and challenge to push the boundaries of art.
Tasty Morsel – Ironically, the role of Vaughan that eventually went to Koteas was offered to Michael Hutchence the former lead singer of rock band INXS.
 
- EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)
 
It’s said that off-screen chemistry more often than not leads to a total lack of on-screen chemistry. Thus, most directors usually steer well clear of plonking real life couples in front of the camera. But Stanley Kubrick is not most directors. The helmer had broken so many rules on his way to creating some of the greatest pieces of cinema he figured one more wasn’t going to hurt. So it was that Mr and Mrs Tom Cruise found themselves in the roles of Mr and Mrs Harford in this adaptation of the Arthur Schnitzler novella Traumnovelle. In it Dr. Bill Harford sets off on a night of dark sexual discovery after finding out that his wife Alice came close to having an affair some years earlier. The apparent lack on connection between Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise was lambasted at the time of the film’s release. But again the critics really missed the point. The relationship between the Harford’s is meant to be frosty and distant. The Cruises would have been wrong to play the couple it with any of the affection they felt for each other at the time. The fact that Cruise and Kidman ended up divorcing not long after is neither here nor there. The movies decadent eroticism is under pinned by a deep sense of the macabre, particularly once Cruise finds himself at a masked orgy, a gathering which he has no right being at. It is Kubrick’s way of highlighting the darker side of human desire, drawing the viewer towards the delights of more sinister needs whilst simultaneously terrifying them with the concept. And we also get to see Kidman’s bum. Result.
Tasty Morsel – Sadly Stanley Kubrick passed away a mere four days after presenting Warner Brothers with the final cut of the film after what was an incredibly long shoot.
 
- LUST, CAUTION (2007)
 
Its one of the most amusing traits of humanity that sex holds sway over so many of our life facets, music, fashion, advertising. Films certainly haven’t escaped its giggly clutches, so no matter how classy a movie’s pedigree is, if it has a ground breaking sex scene in the middle of it you better know that the nobbing will garner much more attention that the film’s technical and artistic panache. Based on the 1979 novella of the same name by Eileen Chang, Lust, Caution (2007) tells of a group of university students in 1942 China that plan to kill a prominent government official who is sympathetic to the Japanese occupation of Shanghai. The group plan to lure the official to his death by setting him up with a beautiful young woman. To ensure that the official is successfully hoodwinked the woman engages fully with the man, which results in three incredibly steamy sex scenes. These were no ordinary bonks though, and when the movie was released in Western markets warnings were given to audiences not to try and emulate the complex trysts for fear of snapping a spine or two. It was the sort of dazzling publicity money can’t buy. There is much more to this Ang Lee directed feature than a couple of acrobatic fumbles though, specifically the wonderful art direction and the incredible central performances by Tang Wei and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. Their portrayal of the central couple is a tantalizing dance that goes well beyond their physical frolics, solid proof that sexual scenes need not be exploitative or tacked on extras to draw in the masses.
Tasty Morsel – It is rumoured that the infamous sex scenes took over 100 hours to shoot. It has also not been confirmed whether the scenes were simulated or not. ­­
 
Category: My articles | Added by: Dave (2013-05-07)
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