The Hollywood kiss has a lot to answer for. For years, it's sold us the lie that a kiss is not a kiss unless it's sealed in torrential rain.

We’ve been led to believe the heart isn't really in it unless your legs are thrown around your partner's waist like they're an upright pommel horse. Most importantly, know that passion can only be derived from an initial burning hatred.

In real life, sizing up to a man in an ostrich feather robe to declare that his very existence fills you with disgust doesn't tend to end in a frenzied smooch.

But it's Hollywood. From Bacall and Bogey to Hoffman and Mrs Robinson, we've rounded up the most memorable movie kisses.

 

1. Romeo & Juliet

Say what you want about Baz Luhrmann's youthful, flashy take on Romeo & Juliet, for those of a certain age this 1996 blockbuster was an adolescent rite of passage, and nothing sums it up better than the masquerade ball scene.

Before Claire Danes' 'crying face' in Homeland before Jack and Rose climbed the bow of the Titanic; before the stratospheric fame that was to come, there was Claire Danes and Leonardo Dicaprio staring into each other’s eyes through a luminescent fish tank.

They weave through the party's extravagance, Romeo in his suit of armour, Juliet her innocent in angel wings, trying to avoid his eager advances. 

A heavy-handed soundtrack of Des'ree 'Kissing You' rises as the two escape into an elevator, the closing doors hiding their forbidden kiss by a half-second.

They lose themselves in the moment, 'sinning' again and again until the brilliant Miriam Margolyes (The Nurse) comes along to put a stop to all the nonsense.

Buy Romeo & Juliet

 

2. Weekend

Andrew Haigh's low key, low budget feature Weekend struck a cord with critics on its release in 2011 with its gentle and joyfully simplistic story of a 'boy meets boy' romance.

We meet the film's only true characters, Russell and Glen, after their one-night stand, sitting cross-legged in their boxers with mugs of tea, chatting. They part ways with a faux-formal handshake, but from then on, they can't seem to stay out of each other's lives.

It's a thoughtful, honest take on burgeoning love, and why we might choose to resist it. So honest in fact that the penultimate kiss is almost too much to bear.

On a train station platform, mumbled feelings replace grand declarations and the two are left kissing and trembling through a goodbye as Glen tries to mock the romantic gesture, “you're a bastard for coming down here”. In the end, Russell leaves the station alone.

Buy Weekend

 

3. To Have and Have Not

What is it about 1940s kiss scenes? They can never get the job done without a verbal tennis game of clever one-liners.

Bogart and Bacall pretty much cornered that market in this war-romance film. They can't even have a peck on the cheek without a preamble of witty exchanges.

In one of their finer moments, Lauren Bacall’s character Marie 'Slim' Browning walks a circle around Bogey and purrs “there are no strings on you, not yet” before he pulls her in for the standard 'forceful' classic movie kiss, the kind that looks like over-confident CPR. She then playfully slaps his face: “why don't you shave and we'll try it again”.

 

4. E.T.

Riding a bike through the sky with an alien on your front bars is all well and good, but the kiss scene in E.T. is one of the movie's underappreciated gems—not least because it's paired with one of the best kissing scenes of all time, the stormy embrace of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man.

As E.T. sits watching the film in his beer-filled ennui, his psychic connection causes Elliot to re-enact the movie. Surrounded by the mayhem of the frogs he's just unleashed in his school's science lab, Elliot passionately grabs the arm of a girl, pulls her in for a kiss, and stands on the back of a crawling classmate so he can meet her lips.

Beats bike-flying any day.

Buy E.T.

 

5. Amélie

Since its release in 2001, Amélie has been so exhaustingly copied—with its ‘quirky’ tone trickling into TV advertisements—it's easy to forget how enchanting it was on that first viewing.

Moments which should appear mawkish retain their charm, even the 'speechless kiss'. The entire film, she has been in pursuit of Nino, and when he arrives at her door, she can't bring herself to exchange words.

Instead, she kisses him tenderly on the corner of his mouth, the nape of his neck, the tip of his eyelid, and gestures for him to do the same.

Buy Amelie

 

6. Mulholland Drive

Disturbing, beautiful, at times incomprehensible, Mulholland Drive isn't always an easy ride, and there's nobody here you can trust, not the characters, and least of all the director, who originally planned for it to be a TV show.

It moves been time, between realities. On one of its LA road bends we meet Laura Harring as an amnesiac woman that has stumbled into the life of aspiring actress Betty Elms. Fancying herself as an amateur sleuth, Betty desperately tries to help this lost soul, but inevitably ends up falling for her.

Their first kiss is met with a flush of awkwardness ('Have you done this before?') that quickly falls into an intense eroticism with Harring's bright red berry lips radiating in shot.

Buy Mulholland Drive

 

7. The Graduate

 

If you ever want to hear an authentic male whimper, just watch Ben Braddock as he prepares for his first sexual encounter with Mrs Robinson in The Graduate.

His rapacious older woman arrives, and we see our man fall to pieces. Anne Crawford storms the screen in all her leopard print glory, blithe and impatient with her bumbling younger lover.

As she inhales on a cigarette, he lands a hurried kiss, leaving a brilliantly choreographed plume of smoke to escape from her mouth as soon as she is free.

Buy The Graduate

 

8. Rear Window

For Grace Kelly's (Lisa's) arrival in Rear Window, we're met with a low angle close up her face, dimly lit, her blue eyes piercing through the lens.

The camera cuts to Jeff (Jimmy Stewart), who cracks a faint smile as Lisa plants two lingering kisses on his lips. The whole scene lasts just over a minute, but stands out in the film for its noticeably different visual style.

We get a hint of the trouble simmering in their marriage; Jim passively accepts her kisses yet never moves toward her.

Buy Rear Window

 

9. Lost in Translation

Sometimes, the most palpable on-screen kisses are the ones that never come to pass. There's nothing like the static between two people who enjoy each other's company 'just a little too much'.

In Lost in Translation, we see how loneliness can breed these strange, indefinable relationships. Charlotte and Bob (Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray) find themselves in Tokyo, a few decades between them, each feeling neglected in their own ways, and begin a chaste 'affair'.

They are friends, father and daughter figures and hypothetical lovers. And when they hold each other for one last goodbye in Tokyo traffic, it makes perfect sense that we cannot discern the final sentence Murray whispers in her ear.

Buy Lost in Translation

 

10. Annie Hall

Few Woody Allen scenes are as Woody Allen as the first kiss scene in Annie Hall.

His hand, wringing hatred for dating conventions is so strong, the characters are shot from across the street, with Diane Keaton's back to the camera.

The stakes are just too high, so Allen’s character Alvy matter-of-factly suggests that they kiss and get on with their evening: "We'll kiss now and get it over with, and then we'll go eat. We'll digest our food better."

Buy Annie Hall

Browse our film shop for the latest new releases and classic DVDs

 

 

Related Posts