The erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey has hit the screen with some sizzling bedroom (and dungeon) action featuring leads Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as a naive college student and a zillionaire with peculiar bedroom demands. Let’s take a look back at the sexiest mainstream movies (not counting outright porn) ever made.
10. Body Double (1984)
Brian De Palma’s fixation on Alfred Hitchcock drove his sexy 1980 thriller Dressed to Kill, which was obviously inspired by Psycho, and also this even more erotically charged thriller, which was an homage to both Rear Window and Vertigo. Deborah Shelton plays the dancing neighbor whose nightly routine attracts the voyeuristic attention of a journeyman actor (Craig Wasson) who discovers a strange link between the girl he watches through the telescope and a porn star (Melanie Griffith, then a red-hot ingenue).
9. Bound (1996)
The debut film from Andy and Larry (now Lana) Wachowski was a flop at the box office but set the stage for them to get The Matrix greenlit. Gina Gershon plays a plumber who gets seduced by the wife (Meg Tilly) of a neighbor whose husband is a mob money launderer. The two women decide to join forces and rob the mob.
8. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
Long before he made Children of Men and Gravity, Mexico’s Alfonso Cuaron directed this comedy road-trip about a pair of youths (Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna) supercharged by hormones and looking for action anywhere they can find it. A more experienced older woman (Maribel Verdu) they meet at a wedding proves to be an invaluable tutor to both of them, but in its later stages the film takes on the melancholy aura of François Truffaut’s reflective Jules and Jim.
7. 10 (1979)
Dudley Moore starred in the classic sex comedy of the era as a thoroughly domesticated middle-aged L.A. songwriter who becomes obsessed with a young beauty he spots on her wedding day. He follows her to Mexico and all around until she finally makes his dreams come true. Bo Derek became such an international sensation that it took several years for people to realize she couldn’t act.
6. Last Tango in Paris (1972)
A vision of a man’s tortured soul, Bernardo Bertolucci’s disturbing film is too dark for some but Marlon Brando gave one of his most soul-searching performances as a widower trying to lose himself in sex with a much younger woman (Maria Schneider). The film is at times difficult to watch but the serious treatment of sexuality was a cinematic breakthrough.
5. Secretary (2002)
Exploring the nature of sado-masochistic tendencies without being too brutal, this adaptation of Mary Gaitskill’s novel Bad Behavior scored with both men and women. James Spader plays a lawyer whose mousy secretary (perfectly played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) starts to attract his attention. It turns out the two of them have more in common than an office job. Much more so than in Fifty Shades of Grey, the two lovers have equal agency in their kinky affair. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9gWo4lLSEU
4. Wild Things (1998)
A twisty plot about a high school guidance counselor who gets mixed up with two teen girls harkens back to 1940s film noir, even if it plays out in a fairly silly way. It’s the girl-on-girl scenes with Neve Campbell and Denise Richards that made the movie memorable, including one in a pool and a threesome with costar Matt Dillon.
3. Mulholland Drive (2001)
David Lynch’s noir fantasia about a naive actress who gets a reeducation in sordid L.A. is actually one of his most accessible films, and even if the plot makes you scratch your head (it’s meant to), the sex between then-unknown Naomi Watts and Laura Harring as her dreamgirl provides plenty to keep you interested.
2. Betty Blue (1986)
Beatrice Dalle plays the unpredictable, sexy title character, whose steamy and nutty love affair with a handyman is documented in loving, lascivious detail by director Jean-Jacques Beineix. The beachside romp that opens the movie has been hailed as a classic ever since the film’s release.
1. 9 ½ Weeks (1986)
Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger took a match to the screen in their immediately infamous, tres ’80s sexual odyssey in which blindfolds, food and fantasy play key supporting roles. Director Adrian Lyne was willing to go much farther than mainstream directors in painting a portrait of an electric attraction.