Five of the best
To Have and Have Not (1944): Lauren Bacall was only 19 when Howard Hawks noticed the young model on a magazine cover and cast her opposite Humphrey Bogart in this wartime thriller. When she and Bogart fell in love during the shoot, Bacall's role was expanded to include the legendary scene where she leans provocatively in a doorway and tells Bogart's character: "You know how to whistle, don't you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow . . ."
The Graduate (1967)
In Mike Nichols' celebrated satire, Anne Bancroft plays a bored older woman called Mrs Robinson who sets out to seduce her son's friend Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman). And in the film's most memorable scene she sits on a stool, folds her legs and informs Benjamin that "my husband will be back quite late -- he should be gone for several hours." In reality Bancroft was only six years older than Hoffman, but his gaucheness and her effortless sophistication made the generation gap seem very real.
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
Overall, Norman Jewison's slow-moving Sixties thriller is a stylish but rather vapid affair, but it does contain one very special moment. Steve McQueen plays a millionaire burglar being investigated by Faye Dunaway's insurance investigator. Neither trusts the other, but when they begin to play chess by candlelight, the game becomes a soft-focus metaphor for what they really have in mind.
Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
John Malkovich was superb as the scheming and amoral 18th-century adventurer Valmont in Stephen Frears' historical drama. As a bet with his friend and fellow sociopath the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close), Valmont is set the challenge of seducing the virtuous and pious Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer). And the scene where Pfeiffer literally shakes with emotion as she finally succumbs to Valmont's advances is very powerful.
Belle de Jour (1967)
In Luis Bunuel's erotic masterpiece, a young Catherine Deneuve plays Severine, a beautiful but frustrated Parisian housewife who is tired of her straightlaced husband and harbours wild sexual fantasies. Desperate for excitement, she begins working as a call girl at a high-class brothel, and the scene where she meets her first client is both disturbing and highly charged.