Hollywood knows sex scenes can make even a mediocre film memorable. Just imagine watching The Notebook without the passionate tension between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Or try sitting through Titanic minus the satisfaction of Kate and Leo’s forbidden intimacy.
If anyone on campus can pick a good sex scene, it’s Human Sex Professor John Michael Bailey, a self-proclaimed lover of the cinema. His tastes have transitioned “away from the typical American blockbusters, into the more quirky, alternative, foreign [type],” but he was more than willing to give us a list of his favorite sex scenes.
1. Body Heat (1981)
The “smoldering tension” between Kathleen Turner and William Hurt takes place in the midst of a Florida heat wave, which was made even hotter by the suspense between the main characters. Bailey says that the film was “imprinted” on him when he was just out of college. We’re sure that Turner being “at the height of her sexiness” had something to do with it. But Bailey says that students in his class are often unimpressed after viewing scenes from this movie.
2. Secretary (2002)
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays psychiatric-outpatient-turned-secretary in this movie full of intense and sadomasochistic sex scenes. “The one that I remember,” Bailey says, “is the one where he [James Spader] calls her in and he starts spanking her, spanking her hard. She’s shocked at first but, in the middle of it she starts holding his hand.” While the scene doesn’t actually involve any nudity or intercourse, it’s the precursor that’s hot enough to make up for it, he says.
3. Bound (1996)
If you were wondering when he’d get to the girl-on-girl action, here it is. From the creators of THE MATRIX, the Wachowski brothers attempt to illustrate a typical mobster movie complete with gangsters, violence… and yes, a lesbian love affair. Bailey remembers the scene between Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon as “one woman, who you think is this sort of a married straight woman, [seducing] a lesbian…and she does it very well.”
4. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
While Professor Bailey acknowledges the importance of the infamous tent scene, the one that best jogs his memory is between Ledger and actress Michelle Williams: “There’s this part of the movie where Heath Ledger has sex with his wife, and he flips her over…shortly after that Jake Gyllenhaal comes and they are caught kissing,” he says. “It’s memorable, it’s sad, and a great scene.”
5. Blue Velvet (1986)
This David Lynch film made Bailey’s list mostly for because it is disturbing and unpredictable. He refers to it as “a freak show,” and rightfully so: Kyle MacLachlan’s character hides in Isabella Rossellini’s character’s closet. Rossellini catches him, threatens him with a knife, and proceeds to sex him up, knife still in hand. “Later, something much more disturbing and worse happens with her boyfriend…overall it’s tension-filled and fascinating,” Bailey says.