Just as the last Twilight fad comes to a close, Fifty Shades of Grey has stepped in to snag the title of “most popular romance series”, and is already creating hype with talk of a movie (especially since the likes of flawlessly-gorgeous Ian Somerhalder and Ashley Benson might play the leads). But the idea of a sexy-yet-tumultuous relationship characterized by a need for control isn’t really new. And there are quite a few steamy and intellectually-satisfying films to watch while waiting for the more bubblegum version to come out:
9 1/2 Weeks
This 1986 erotic drama based on an actual memoir is Fifty Shades of Grey, about 2 1/2 decades ago (just swap Christian Grey for John Gray–how’s that for a coincidence?). A young Mickey Rourke plays the devastatingly-handsome love interest of equally-stunning Kim Basinger, who embarks on a relationship that thrives on the feeling of sexual danger and excitement while also constantly dangling above emotional abuse. But, mainly, it’s one of the hottest films ever made. And that’s why we watch.
Practically an indie rom-com about S&M, this delightfully quirky film tells the story of a girl with a history of self-mutilation, who soon finds she is sexually attracted to her new boss–a man who may just be the sadist to her masochist. Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader are hard not to fall for, with their mutual shyness and bizarre personalities, and the whole film, though dealing with some heavy topics, never feels too overbearing or really anything besides a feel-good romantic tale. Who would’ve guessed?
Last Tango in Paris
By far Marlon Brando’s most provocative role (and arguably one of his best), this film was sexually shocking when it came out in the 70s, and still holds up to its reputation. Paul, a man staying in Paris is consumed with thoughts of his wife’s suicide, and decides that a cure for his pain is starting an anonymous relationship with Jeanne (Maria Schneider), who is renting the same apartment he is. They make a pact to only have sex (and wild sex, at that) and not even know each other’s names, but even bitter men like Paul might want something more later on.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Francis Ford Coppola directs this classic story with his own twist. Gary Oldman plays the complicated vampiric icon, who seduces Mina Harker (Winona Ryder) and always maintains some sort of power over her. And he does a bunch of other awful stuff, like hypnotize and kill her friend. Whoops. But Mina’s love for him always feels passionate and real, and you can’t help but want them to be together, despite, you know, all the murder.
My Summer of Love
A rich girl who is endlessly bored meets a middle-class simpleton and the two ladies hit it off immediately, partaking in some sexy summer activities (think casual river make-out sessions), along with sharing details about their personal lives. But one of them lies and manipulates the other, complicating their relationship in the long run. But still, steaminess ensues.