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FOR ALL THE ADVANCES that have been made in presenting gay and lesbian images in mainstream cinema, there aren't a lot of queer smooches that stick in our collective memory. But as long as queer kisses make some audiences swoon while others go e-e-ew every silver-screen smooch counts. Whether you go rent all these movies or take a second look at The Celluloid Closet (a.k.a. That's Homotainment!), here are ten kisses that shook our world.

Morocco (1930)--Before the Production Code came along and swept the homos under the rug (and into the closet) filmmakers were allowed to be a little polymorphously perverse when the mood struck. In this pulpy romance bodacious nightclub chanteuse Marlene Dietrich dons a tuxedo and puckers up with a young lady. Sure, she's doing it to turn on hunky Gary Cooper, but there's no denying the sparks between the gals.

The Killing of Sister George (1968)--Viperish BBC executive Mercy Croft (Coral Browne) puts the moves on Childie (Susannah York), the girlfriend of dykey soap actress June Buckridge (Beryl Reid), in a sequence steamy enough to be cut by censors in various New England states in 1968. Just two minutes long, this love scene went beyond anything mainstream audiences had seen before.

The Sergeant (1968)--Back in the days when it was permissible to show gay characters only if they offed themselves at the end of the movie, we got closeted Army guy Rod Steiger feverishly planting one on a repulsed John Phillip Law. The film ends with Law blithely watching Steiger go off into the woods with a shotgun, never to return. Don't ask, don't tell--don't watch.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)--Director John Schlesinger wisely avoided making a big deal out of Peter Finch's clinch with Murray Head in this love triangle between a gay doctor (Finch), a straight employment counselor (Glenda Jackson), and the bisexual artist (Head) they both love. It's straightforward and sexy without any dramatic buildup or any cues to the audience that they are seeing something shocking or unusual.

Deathtrap (1982)--Not until The Crying Game would a gay plot twist take audiences so much by surprise, especially since it was Superman stud Christopher Reeve sucking face with Michael Caine. Arguably the first mutual kiss (on-screen, anyway) between major male movie stars.

Personal Best (1982)--Who says jocks can't be sexy'? Writer-director Robert Towne clearly has some sort of jones for track and field, judging from the way he shoots runners in this film and in his later Without Limits, but he also stages a gorgeous love scene between Patrice Donnelly and a pre-boob-job Mariel Hemingway that's sweet and romantic--and suffused with more twilighty "magic hour" lighting than all the episodes of Providence combined.

Making Love (1982)--0K, yes, this oh-so-serious film about homosexuality could easily be called Guess Who's Coming to Brunch? But for early-'80s Hollywood, this melodrama about a married man leaving his wife for another man was quite bold, even if it plays namby-pamby today. And the love scene between Harry Hamlin and Michael Ontkean was pretty tasty.

The Hunger (1983)--If Chanel ever makes a fragrance called Undead, the commercials would look a lot like Tony Scott's overly art-directed vampire saga. Still, it's hard riot to quiver when a piano-playing Catherine Deneuve starts putting the make on a tipsy Susan Sarandon, setting the stage for some scorching kisses followed by gauzy amour.

Desert Hearts (1986)--Leave it to a woman (director Donna Deitch) to create a lesbian sex scene in which the undeniably palpable chemistry--between Helen Shaver (as a repressed woman getting a Reno divorce) and Patricia Charbonneau (as a lusty local gal)--relies as much on the characters' burgeoning love as on the actresses' sensuality.

In & Out (1997)---Schoolteacher Kevin Kline gets outed in former student Matt Dillon's Oscar acceptance speech (writer Paul Rudnick was inspired by Tom Hanks's Oscar-night acknowledgment of a gay teacher when he won for Philadelphia--a movie which, come to think of it, doesn't contain a single gay kiss). Kline refuses to fess up until tabloid reporter Tom Selleck gives hint a long-lasting, full-on lip lock that sends poor Kevin hurtling out of the closet.

Both funny and sexy, here at last was a jokey kiss that laughed with us, not at us; and for once, straight audiences kept their e-e-ews to themselves.
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Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 15, 2000

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