The new documentary Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies gives a lesson in onscreen sex from the silent era all the way up to present day. The film, which is now available on-demand, specifically looks at some of the sex scenes that changed everything in Hollywood. Some of them even pre-date the La La Land we know now, according to Jonathan Kuntz, a film historian at UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television.
"Probably 20 minutes after they invented film somebody thought, 'Wouldn't it be neat if we started photographing naked people," Kuntz says in the documentary. "In fact, you could say there has been nudity in films from before there were films," he says in the new documentary.
All of that is to say, there are a lot of movie sex scenes to choose from when making a list like this. It's why the 36 that made the final cut vary wildly. There are movies that made history by being the first to show a kiss, a glimpse of pubic hair, or a sexually promiscuous cartoon cat. Other films tackled taboos that forced viewers —and the MPAA censors — out of their comfort zones by showing two men in the throes of passion or how a grapefruit can be used in masturbation.