One of the first commercially successful films, screened to audience wonder and critical disgust in 1896, is a little, one-take moving picture called The Kiss.
Produced and distributed by Thomas Edison's film company, this 47-second film showed a close-up of two stage actors performing the kiss they share at the end of the musical The Widow Jones.
Edison's advertisement of the film made each second count in an almost gleeful summary: "They get ready to kiss, begin to kiss, and kiss and kiss and kiss in a way that brings down the house every time." (For more on those dirty, dirty voyeurs of La Belle Epoque, check out Seminary Girls, Edison's 30-second film of a naughty, after-hours pillow fight in an all-girls dormitory.)
As film techniques evolved over the following century, the kiss evolved too - from an awkward smush of two faces together followed by a pan to the curtains all the way to close-up spit-swapping.
It continues to be a moment rife with scandal: Remember when the American Pride and Prejudice release included an added scene of Darcy and Elizabeth locking lips? And you thought you were shocked when Jonny Lee Miller used tongue in Mansfield Park.
6. Gone with the Wind (1939)
If there's one thing we learn early on in this epic romance, it's thatScarlett needs kissing badly, and Rhett's the one to do it
. Yet the strong-willed, stubborn Scarlett fights Rhett at almost every turn. Here, he pulls her in for a kiss before heading off to join the Confederate Army, delivering aspeech as memorable as the "hill of beans" farewell
at the end ofCasablanca
. Watch how the wartime blazes bathe the two in a warm orange glow.
5. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Tall and lanky, Jimmy Stewartplays up his loveable awkwardness
in the Christmas classicIt's a Wonderful Life
. Where Scarlett and Rhett are all fire, George and Mary (Donna Reed - who went on to be the quintessential housewife and mother inThe Donna Reed Show
) areso sweet and straight-laced that the anticipation of their kiss becomes maddening
. Luckily, they get a little push - in the form of a shared phone call and the resulting physical proximity. Thank goodness theydidn't have speakerphone
in the '40s.
4. From Here to Eternity (1953)
Montages of great moments in cinema history are rarely without this classic kiss on a Hawaiian beachas the waves wash over stars Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr
. Though popular with both audiences and critics alike, thissteamy scene did cause a small scandal
in 1950s America. In the years since, homages to this kiss abound - including one particularly awful moment in the 1998 flopSix Days Seven Nights
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Rundown: Audrey Hepburn's iconic 'do gets all wet in this film's climactic final scene. After reclaiming her poor, soaked cat, our heroine Holly Golightly races into the arms of the dashing Paul (George Peppard). As the two kiss in the rain and the film fades out,the soggy orange tabby is squished between them
- making it probably one of the most well-behaved felines in movie history.
2. The Princess Bride (1987)
You know a kiss is epic when it can survive thenarration of a grandfather and a prepubescent boy and still be just as romantic.
The kiss at the end ofThe Princess Bride
(with that not-so-subliminal voiceover telling us just how amazing it is) is so inspiring that even little Fred Savage can't resist.
1. The Notebook (2004)
Actors Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams accepted the annualMTV Movie Award for Best Kiss - known for its uneven history of recognition of progressive representation in Brokeback Mountain and regressive voyeurism in Cruel Intentions
- for this romantic adaptation. Love it, hate it, or love to hate it (if you're ever in Austin, try tocatch the Alamo Drafthouse's spectacular annual mockery of the film
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passionate kiss-in-the-rain became an instant modern classic. For another contemporary rain kiss, see 2002'sSpider-Man
- though isn't hanging upside down in the rain, we wonder, more waterboarding than romance?