Hollywood has produced many classic films over its long and storied history. During that time, it has also produced many legendary sex scenes that have helped films to become infamous. This is a history that goes back to the classic era of Hollywood and it is a history that continues to be written to this day.

Over the long history of Hollywood filmmaking, there have been many notable sex scenes. We have taken the time to put together a list of the all-time most iconic ones. With this said, these are 20 famous Holywood sex scenes that are simply unforgettable.

Don’t Look Now (1973)

1973’s Don’t Look Now is a fitting place to start when talking about the most legendary and famous Hollywood sex scenes of all time. This film saw Donald Sutherland involved in one of the most famous on-screen sex sessions ever with actress Julie Christie.

This scene is considered by many to be among the greatest sex scenes ever filmed. Though Sutherland himself admits that he was quite nervous during the shooting of this scene, the end result was a piece of true cinematic sex history. The impressive reputation of this legendary Hollywood sex scene has made it a fitting place to kick off our top 20 list.

Persona (1966)

The sex scene in the 1966 film Persona is another one that is iconic within the history of Hollywood. This film is the creation of famed director Ingmar Bergman. The unique thing about this iconic Hollywood sex scene is the fact that the sexual activity is conveyed through the telling of a story.

That story is about an orgy on a beach and the way that it is told has helped it to become infamous. For this reason, this legendary sex scene ranks among the greatest of all time. For many people, this is one of the most erotic pieces of cinema ever released by a Hollywood studio.

Brokeback Mountain

2005 saw the release of the iconic film Brokeback Mountain. The romantic drama details the sexual relationship that develops between a pair of cowboys who find themselves working in isolated circumstances The film gained tremendous international acclaim and its infamous sex scene between stars Heath Ledger, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

This legendary moment has gone down in history as one of the most iconic same-sex sexual encounters in the history of film. There was little doubt when compiling this list that Brokeback Mountain would be among the top 20 greatest Hollywood sex scenes.

In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

1976’s In the Realm of the Senses is a French/Japanese pornographic art film that contains some of the most legendary Hollywood sex scenes of all time. It is a film that was the subject of a tremendous amount of controversy during the time of its initial release.

A major part of the intrigue and the controversy with this film and its legendary Hollywood sex scenes is the fact that they were not staged. The film’s stars such as Eiko Matsuda and Tatsuya Fuji can be seen engaging in unsimulated sexual activity with each other.

This fact made In the Realm of the Senses one of the most infamous films of all time and it has made it a member of our list of the top 20 best film sex scenes ever.

Basic Instinct (1992)

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It would be difficult to claim accuracy for any top 20 list of iconic Hollywood sex scenes without including the legendary Basic Instinct from 1992. This erotic thriller includes murder plots and plenty of sexual tension.

Much of this is brought on by the performance of actress Sharon Stone. She is involved in what is surely the film’s most memorable scene where she exposes her lady parts to the police while they interrogate her.

This is one of those movies that is synonymous with the term Hollywood sex scene and it should be no surprise that we rank it among the top 20 best of all time.

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ is one of the most controversial Hollywood films ever produced. The Martin Scorsese piece covers the life of Jesus and his struggles with fear, and temptation.

Another central theme of the film is his temptation with lust. It is due to this temptation that the film has landed its spot on this top 20 list. During the film, Jesus is seen imagining himself in sexual situations.

A key point of the movie is Christ’s relationship with Mary Magdalene, a prostitute. Due to its overall status as a controversial and iconic film, along with its infamous sex scenes involving Jesus, it would be impossible to leave The Last Temptation of Christ off of this top 20 list.

It Happened One Night (1934)

We are now hitting the way-back machine with this one. 1934’s It Happened One Night is another movie that contains one of the most legendary Hollywood sex scenes ever. The Frank Capra produced romantic comedy employs elements of what is known as screwball comedy.

This film falls into the category of pre-Code Hollywood work. This was an era where there was plenty of implied sexual innuendo in the cinematic works created at the time. Though this movie was filmed pre-Code, the legislation was coming and so the production staff worked hard to tread a thin line.

This resulted in great success for a film that has plenty of suggestive sexual elements to it. The way that suggestive sexuality was pulled off in this movie has made it an all-time classic and a deserving member of this top 20 list of greatest movie sex scenes.

Ekstase (1933)

We are staying within the realm of classic cinema for this one as well. The 1933 Czech erotic drama Ekstase is another piece of work that set the stage for future Hollywood sex scenes that would come after it. In this film, a woman takes a lover to fill the void that has been left by her passionless marriage.

The movie includes scenes such as nude swimming and running through fields naked. It might also be one of the first movies ever filmed to portray sex as well as the female orgasm.

All of these factors make Ekstase a true classic and one of the most iconic films when it comes to the topic of the Hollywood sex scene.

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

The name Last Tango in Paris immediately stirs up sexual imagery for those who are familiar with the iconic movie from 1972. This legendary erotic drama was directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and it details the anonymous sexual relationship between a young woman from Paris and an American man who recently lost his wife to suicide.

This film stirred up plenty of controversies as well as plenty of praise. It involves an anonymous sexual relationship where the two individuals avoid sharing personal information. This includes names among the pieces of information that the two keep from each other. The movie features an iconic scene of sexual abuse that has gone down in infamy within Hollywood circles.

In the end, the young Parisian girl Jeanne ends up shooting her lover/sexual abuser Paul while planning to tell the police that she didn’t know who he was and that he tried to rape her. It is easy to see why this legendary film continues to hold a special place in Hollywood history. It definitely contains some of the most iconic sex scenes of all time.

Body Heat (1981)

We have now arrived at the 1981 movie Body Heat. This is another film that contains a Hollywood sex scene that has gone down in history as one of the best and most memorable.

The erotic thriller was both directed and written by Lawrence Kasdan. It is his directorial debut and it certainly made a statement. Stars such as Ted Danson, Kathleen Turner, and William Hurt make up an all-star cast.

Considering the fact that Body Heat contains a stirring performance by Kathleen Turner, it is no surprise that it has earned a spot on our list. She is considered to be one of the Top 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History according to Empire Magazine. She was a part of one of the most infamous and beloved movie sex scenes ever caught on camera in this iconic movie.

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

The next Hollywood sex scene that we are covering on this top 20 ist comes from the 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry. The Kimberly Peirce-directed movie details a transgender man who is looking to find himself.

The film is groundbreaking in many ways regarding its portrayal of the struggles that the transgender community faces in terms of acceptance. The most infamous scene in the movie involves the rape of the main character Brandon by two male acquaintances.

For many reasons, Boys Don’t Cry is an important movie. It is also a movie that has to be included in this list of Hollywood sex scenes.

Caligula (1979)

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The 1979 film Caligula has gone down in infamy for its portrayal of the sexual debauchery of the reign of the infamous Roman emperor Caligula. The erotic historical drama features performances by Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, and Peter O’Toole, among others.

The fact that Caligula was produced by Penthouse Magazine provides some insight into the raw sexuality that is portrayed. There are many iconic sex scenes throughout the film as it documents the rise and the fall of one of Rome’s most notorious emperors.

The Brown Bunny (2003)

Vincent Gallo’s 2003 movie The Brown Bunny is an experimental drama that has become quite infamous. Gallo is also one of the stars of the iconic movie. Much of this infamy derives from the sex scene that occurs between stars Chloe Sevigny and Gallo.

The oral sex scene in The Brown Bunny is one of the notable points that has helped the movie to achieve such a lasting status in the memory of those who have seen it. There is little doubt that this Hollywood sex scene is among the most memorable and iconic to take place in the last twenty-odd years.

Secretary (2002)

The next movie on our top 20 list of the best Hollywood sex scenes is 2002’s Secretary. This film can be classified as an erotic black comedy that is mixed with romantic drama.

It is based on a Mary Gaitskill short story of the same name and s directed by Steven Shainberg. There is plenty of sexualized content that has helped to land Secretary on this top 20 list. The film features BDSM activities between a lawyer and his submissive secretary. This includes plenty of pet play and erotic spankings.

These are a few key factors that have helped the film to become one of the most iconic Hollywood pieces with heavy sexual content to come out in recent decades.

Unfaithful (2002)

Unfaithful is a 2002 thriller drama that features one of the best Hollywood sex scenes in recent memory. The movie is filled with hot and steamy sex scenes that take place in various locations.

It is a movie that follows the adulterous relationship of a young woman and a stranger that she came to know through a chance meeting. The portrayal of this adulterous relationship, along with the hot sex scenes have helped Unfaithful to achieve its status as one of the most iconic films containing erotic content during the past couple of decades.

The Idiots (1998)

The 1998 movie The Idiots is the next one that we are detailing on this Hollywood sex scene top 20 list. The Danish comedy-drama was directed by Lars von Trier. The heavy sexual content in this movie helped to make it a controversial one.

It was unique given the fact that it is a narrative film. The group sex scenes, including an infamous shower scene all combine to land The Idiots a well-deserved spot on our list of the best all-time sex scenes across the history of cinema.

Wild Things (1998)

Wild Things is another one of those legendary pieces of cinematic work that contains unforgettable sex scenes. This crime thriller was directed by John McNaughton. It stars Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, and Neve Campbell, among others.

The infamous sex scenes contained in the movie include a threesome and a lesbian sex scene. These legendary Hollywood sex scenes have helped Wild Things to earn a strong spot within the history of film. It has also landed the movie a spot on our top 20 list.

Y tu mamá también

Y tu mamá también is a Mexican road film from 2002 that has landed a spot on our top 20 list for its iconic sex scene. There is plenty of sexual activity, along with lots of heavy drug use in this film. These are all factors that have made it a controversial piece of work but they have also made it a beloved one.

This film highlights the adventures of a pair of teen friends Tenoch and Julio. From sex with their girlfriends to their adventures living as bachelors when their girls head off for a trip to Italy, this movie delivers when it comes to the institution of the Hollywood sex scene.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl is a movie that contains one of the most iconic and violent sex scenes ever filmed. It is easily the most violent sex scene on this list. That is saying a lot given the fact that there are several rape scenes that are also included.

This might literally be the craziest sex scene in Hollywood history. The scene in question involves stars Neil Patrick Harris and Rosamund Pike. Pike’s character murders Harris’s character while they are in the midst of sexual intercourse.

There is a lot of blood involved in this scene that certainly counts as one of the craziest sexual encounters in film history.

Blue Lagoon (1980)

It should come as no surprise that a legendary film like 1980’s Blue Lagoon would be where we wrap up this list of 20 memorable Hollywood sex scenes. The romantic survival drama stars Christopher Atkins and the lovely Brooke Shields.

They portray a pair of teens that are stranded on a remote island. As they come of age, their sexual needs start to manifest. This leads to one of the most iconic, memorable, and in many ways, controversial sex scenes in the history of Hollywood cinema. Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to conclude our list of 20 memorable sex scenes from the world of Hollywood film.


These Hollywood sex scenes have become some of the most iconic moments in the history of the film. It is common for fans of these iconic movies to immediately have their thoughts drift to these infamous sex scenes whenever the subject comes up. One thing that this list clearly demonstrates is the fact that the Hollywood sex scene has become a real institution in the world of film.

Hollywood has been cranking out memorable sex scenes for decade upon decade now. During that time, these Hollywood sex scenes have earned their positions among the most legendary of all time.


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