Sex! (and love in movies that lied to me about it)

Screenshot from Charade showing Cary Grant and...
Screenshot from Charade showing Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have I got your attention yet? I thought I’d say a thing or two about everyone’s favorite topic. You can stop reading right now if you’re expecting me to be dirty. I washed my brain with soap earlier today, so this will be no porn-post.

After years of extensive research, conducted mainly in my living room and using only the most authoritative and cutting-edge resources on the subject of sex in American movies (such as, but not limited to, Turner Classic Movies and that local Serbian channel replaying “Casablanca” every Tuesday, every week, all year long) I have concluded that Cary Grant never had sex. In the movies, that is. In real life he was a nasty sleaze, apparently. In his movies, though, he could never get out of his suit and tie fast enough. The man always wore the same combination of suit and tie. Have you noticed that? They saved a bundle on wardrobe in his movies (savings, I suspect, they later spent on LSD). Grant even took showers fully clothed. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever seen “Charade.”

Here are some other people who never had proper sex in their movies.

Audrey Hepburn. Too fragile. Any sexual activity would have rendered her incapable of walking for the better part of a decade. Also, I imagine the Givenchy dresses she wore weren’t easy to get out of. Like Cary Grant’s suits, which were glued to his body, or laminated, like his hair.

Grace Kelly. Way too cold. She would have rendered any potential lover frozen in his nether region for the better part of…well, his life.

John Wayne. Oh, man! He didn’t even try. Never had a more sexless man ridden a horse across movie screens around the world. He had a distinct talent for making every scene he ever filmed utterly unsexy.

James Stewart. That man had all the time in the world, which is usually too much time for those desiring to have sex today. Filming a love scene with Stewart would have taken three days. And that’s just the part where he and the woman talk about having sex. The part where they would’ve had to push the two beds together would’ve taken a whole week. In those old movies there were no double beds, apparently; all bedrooms contained two single beds separated by about a mile of safe, sex-free space. No man’s land, if you wish.

Humphrey Bogart. Good god, he was always in a bad mood, or had a headache. Or both. In fact, his bad moods must have been a product of migraine headaches. I wonder if I’m the first person ever to diagnose him in this way. Hmmm…That would explain his inability to smile, ever. I imagine kissing him ranked right up there with kissing an ice cube.

Ingrid Bergman. She was in two movies with Cary Grant. No sex there on account of that damn suit. And one movie with Bogie, during a spell of one of his migranes. Enough said.

And how could I forget Marilyn Monroe. You’re now thinking she is an exception to my list and that my argument is shot to hell by the mere mention of this sex symbol. Wrong, pilgrim, wrong! She suggested sex, she never actually had any. This was, in fact, the very basis of her appeal.

I could keep going like this for a long time. But I think you get the point. Classic movies=no sex.

At some point (early 1970s?) American actors started having proper sex. Marlon Brando. Total opposite of John Wayne. That guy could make any scene sexy, or scary, or both. I submit to you exhibit A, “Last Tango in Paris.”

Michael Douglas, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, these people had proper sex in movies; often with each other.

I’m speeding through names now because I’m trying to make a point. Sex sells, everyone knows that, so there’s more of it in movies now than in 1953. Makes sense, don’t it?

I’ve been watching lots of old, newer, new, and newest American movies lately, as part of the inevitable Road to the Oscars retrospective various TV channels entertain us with every year around this time. It is my conclusion that the men and women writing, directing, and producing most movies nowadays live in a world populated by characters hypnotized into a dream-like state where sex happens mostly in the region above the waist. Seeing what happens below, I guess, would make soccer moms just die of shame, their children having been conceived by the act of kissing alone (or were dropped by storks, literally). Sex to these Californian magic-makers is a thing that happens after a long conversation about topics ranging from “Why we should still stay friends” to “But I don’t want to ruin our great friendship.” Interesting concept, this much feared ruination of friendship by sex. I live in a world of messy people who have messy relationships. And I’ve never met anyone who talks like Justin Timberlake or Ashton Kutcher in their movies about no strings attached and friends with benefits. Sex to the dream-weavers from Hollywood writing this drivel is what happens between two people who inevitably fall in love and therefore have every chance, guaranteed, to be wildly happy for the rest of their lives. To these spinners of fantastic lies, the equation is as follows: sex=love=eternal happiness. I’m sad to say, I haven’t had a chance to take that math class yet.

In European movies, Serbian in particular, sex is frequently a nasty business meaning nothing more than…sex. In our movies people often have sex out of anger, lust, vengeance, or simply because they’ve got a few minutes to kill while they’re waiting for the next train. Rarely does it threaten friendships and, shockingly, it doesn’t always happen out of beautiful love seen through a fogged out pane of glass. It’s not always earth shattering, mind blowing, or life changing. It doesn’t always inevitably lead to the greatest romance in human history, or at least since Adam and Eve (and look how that turned out!). Sometimes it really is nothing more than just sex.

Maybe our general outlook is just grimmer (read, more realistic). We lack that Western belief in the happy ending for every story. By nature Slavic people are the world’s greatest pessimists. We are cynical in most situations, never more so than on the topic of love and/or sex. Nothing irks me more than predictable, sappy, unrealistic endings of movies like “Love and Other Drugs.” Right, ‘cause in real life a guy like that would definitely sacrifice his chance to be successful and married to a healthy woman for a girl he knows will soon turn into a heap of helpless flesh he’ll have to care for 24/7. Yep, life abounds with couples like that!

If the one predictable thing about life is just how unpredictable it really is, how come the movies about our lives are so damn predictable?

Let me put it this way. What’s the greatest romantic movie for the generation that learned about love and sex in the 1990s? “Titanic,” maybe?  If that had been a Serbian movie, they both would’ve died.


4 Replies to “Sex! (and love in movies that lied to me about it)”

  1. I almost had sex once, but it wasn’t on the Titanic.

    I think that in Europe there’s a shortage of those lop-sided Hollywooden bed sheets that cover the lady up to her McCarthy-prohibted woman-bosoms but show the man down to the manly man-waist.

    Historically in my family the women bite the heads off the men once they’ve mated, even if it was with each other.

  2. “Any sexual activity would have rendered her incapable of walking for the better part of a decade.” You are hilarious! I would love to read a post of your in Serbo-Croat so I can practise. I am certain you are equally as hilarious but with Balkan flair 😀 What does ma bre nosi bre mean btw – it was in your post about google translate and how it was a feeling as well as a phrase that would be difficult to accurately render an English equivalent to…

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