Wednesday 20 November 2019

The top 10 Irish movie sex scenes

Joe O'Shea

Jonathan Rhys Meyers says he "hates" doing sex scenes and director Neil Jordan reckons they are "embarrassing for anyone involved".

It's not quite "no screen sex, please, we're Irish", but you would be forgiven for thinking that the last thing any Irish actor or director wants to do is get down and dirty on film.

Irish actors and film-makers don't usually do sex scenes in the soft-core, cosmetically enhanced style of your typical Hollywood bonkbuster.

Irish movie sex-scenes are usually chaste, often subliminal or just plain weird (transsexual attraction in The Crying Game; Milo O'Shea trying to pleasure Jane Fonda to death with his musical Orgasmatron in Barbarella; the small town sexual confusion of Breakfast On Pluto).

Sigmund Freud, who famously said of the Irish: "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever", would nevertheless have had a field day with our treatment of sex in movies.

From Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne in The Quiet Man to just about any movie involving Stephen Rea, our relationship with sex in the movies reflects how we deal with it in real life. In other words, it's kinda complicated.

There haven't been a lot of famous Irish movie sex scenes but the top 10 would have to include:

1. The Quiet Man (1952)

John Ford borrowed from The Taming of The Shrew and cast Maureen O'Hara as the fiery object of John Wayne's passion in this much loved piece of Paddy-whackery.

The iconic cottage scene sees Wayne fire a stone through a kitchen window before grabbing Maureen O'Hara as she tries to bolt through the half-door, kissing her roughly while a storm blows through the rafters.

"A bold one, you are! Who gave you leave to kiss me!" says O'Hara after she slaps The Duke in the chops (sex and violence, '50s style). With very little dialogue and plenty of passion, it's still a powerful scene today and was hot enough in 1952 for the Irish censor to cut it.

2. The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

Pierce Brosnan did plenty of cheesy sex scenes with various Ivankas as 007. But Navan's gift to the women of the world really burnt up the screen when he reprised Steve McQueen's famous role as gentleman thief Thomas Crown.

After much smouldering with Rene Russo (the investigator sent to shut him down), they finally get it on in primitive style on a grand marble staircase. It's primal, grown-up sex and there's even a gratuitous shot of the famed Brosnan Buns at the end.

3. James Joyce's Women (1985)

Grand Dame of Irish theatre Fionnula Flanagan loses the run of herself altogether with a tour de force performance in what is virtually a one-woman show about the women in Joyce's life and works.

As one hot-under-the-collar critic said at the time: "The highlight comes in a long, sexually explicit monologue where she shows wonderful comfort with her body and expresses aspects of the feminine psyche not often seen in films". Yikes!

Or as Molly Bloom would have said: "Yes, I said yes!"

And this from the lady who was recently seen on our TV screens playing Peig Sayers.

4. Barbarella (1968)

When the Christian Brothers had the young Milo O'Shea in Synge Street School, they probably didn't foresee the day when he would be trying to pleasure Jane Fonda to death with a DIY Orgasmatron.

But as the evil Dr Durand-Durand in Roger Vadim's bonkers '60s sci-fi classic Barbarella, Milo does indeed strap the future aerobics queen into his dastardly "ex-sex-ssive" church organ and proceed to tinkle her ovaries.

Barbarella survives and even enjoys the ordeal and Milo's character would go on to inspire Simon Le Bon to form the '80s super group Duran Duran.

5. Match Point (2005)

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson share a fatal attraction and a waterlogged tryst in a storm-tossed wheat field in Woody Allen's sub-Hitchcockian tale of lust and murder amongst the English upper-classes.

It's supposed to be sexy, but as the rain pours down you can't help thinking: "They'll catch their deaths if they're not careful."

6. Excalibur (1982)

John Boorman's version of the Arthurian legend sees Gabriel Byrne (in his breakout screen role) seduce his enemy's wife Igrayne (Katrine Boorman) with the help of the wizard Merlin.

The scene where Uther Pendragon (Byrne) rides his steed across a magical mist to have relations with Igrayne marked the former Bracken man as a sex symbol in waiting.

7. The Company of Wolves (1984)

Stephen Rea (who never seems to get a straight sex scene) gets mutilated by a werewolf just as he is about to bed his new bride in this simmering psycho-sexual take on the Little Red Riding Hood fable from Neil Jordan.

8. The Crying Game (1992)

Reluctant IRA man Stephen Rea (again) almost bites off more than he can chew when he tries to bed Dil (Jaye Davidson) in another Jordan tale of sexual confusion.

9. The Edge of Love (2008)

This tale of wartime London, Dylan Thomas and the two women he loved (played by Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller) sank without trace but at least Corkman Cillian Murphy got to have a tasteful, soft-focus bedroom wrestle with a naked Keira Knightley.

10. Colin Farrell's Sex Tape

In 2005 a sex tape featuring Colin Farrell and former Playboy model Nicole Narain appeared on the internet, prompting a major lawsuit from the Dubliner, who ruefully called it "the most expensive 14 minutes of my life". Reviews were mixed.

Irish Independent

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