What exactly are “good” sex scenes? In my book they’re scenes that make you feel something primal and deep down. Scenes that make you damp or hard. It doesn’t extend much beyond that.

This morning a friend asked for suggestions for some good ones. I thought she meant “out of the ordinary” so I mentioned the subtle eroticism of Gunnel Lindbloom‘s sex scenes in Ingmar Bergman‘s The Silence (’63). Or the Kris Kristofferson-Sarah Miles sex scenes in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace With The Sea (’76), or the Kristofferson-Jane Fonda scenes in Rollover. Or the stand-up fuck in Last Tango in Paris (’72). Or the Cry Tough bedroom scene between John Saxon and Linda Cristal. Or the Straw Dogs rape scene, which no one is allowed to mention because it represents the sordid sensibility of a reviled chauvinist.

Friendo: These are not good sex scenes. To me they have to be full of sensuality, tension, romance, love.
HE: What’s love got to do with it?
Friendo: I need one more title and none of these work
HE: How about those incredibly hot beard-stubble gay sex scenes in Andrew Haigh‘s All Of Us Strangers? Or Burt Lancaster & Deborah Kerr on the beach in From Here to Eternity, and in The Gypsy Moths? Or Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper in The Fountainhead.
Friendo: I like the ones more from my generation, like the 1980s
HE: Jesus, just Google it.

So she settled on the fabled sex scenes in Shakespeare in Love, The Year of Living Dangerously, Body Heat, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Betty Blue, 9 1/2 Weeks, Striptease, Witness, Damage, Bugsy, The English Patient. Bull Durham and The Notebook. They work for me also, sure, but everyone references them.