Top Five Kisses in Historical Costume Movies

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Some of the best historical costume movies (and TV shows) are romances. Many of us love to watch two people developing a connection and overcoming obstacles in order to find true love — and on the way, a swoon-worthy kiss or two makes our hearts flutter. Let’s count down my top 5 on-screen historical costume kisses and get twitterpated all over again!

Honorable Mention: Brideshead Revisited (2008)

What’s the ONE thing missing from the original adaptation of Brideshead Revisited (1981)? A kiss between Charles (Jeremy Irons) and Sebastian (Anthony Andrews). It’s totally implied, but never actually shown.

Brideshead Revisited (2008)

Well, the 2008 version helps us out by showing us what that kiss could have looked like. This time around, it’s Matthew Goode (FANS SELF) and Ben Wishaw. They don’t go full-on make-out, but they do us proud with a touching moment:

Brideshead Revisited (2008)

 

#5: The Age of Innocence (1993)

What’s upper-crust 1870s New Yorker Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) to do when his life is perfect? He’s rich, he’s cultured, he’s part of the social elite, and he’s engaged to the sweetest thing east of the Mississippi, May Welland (Winona Ryder).

The Age of Innocence (1993)

Why, it’s to realize how imperfect and shallow his life is when the tragic yet bewitching Countess Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer) comes to town!

The Age of Innocence (1993)

Insert what feels like YEARS of yearning, including marrying that twit sweet young thing, when finally you get the real hottie alone in a carriage. Everyone else swooned over the unbuttoning the glove/kissing the wrist moment:

The Age of Innocence (1993)

But sorry, I like things to get a little bit more … physical!

The Age of Innocence (1993)

 

#4: Outlander (2014-)

Poor Claire Randall. She’s just trying to reconnect with her husband in Scotland after spending most of World War II apart.

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As one does, she falls through some standing stones and ends up in the 1740s where she’s forced to deal with Highlanders, avoid being raped, and wear a lot of wool.normal_scnet_outlander_stills_102_011

Luckily, there’s a hot young Scot named Jamie Fraser hanging around.
Outlander

In order to avoid the English rapist, Claire is told she must marry Jamie and become a Scot. Sounds fine, right? Until Claire learns that Jamie is a virgin!

Claire's stays | people.com

Thankfully, she discovers all is not lost as Jamie may be a virgin, but he’s not a monk.

Outlander Outlander-Wedding-Kiss

#3: The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Apparently Daniel Day-Lewis is a good kisser, because he’s on this list twice! Despite some latent racism, I’ll take manly yet sensitive Native American-raised Hawkeye over Newland Archer any day. He’s busy attempting to get the American/English colonists to calm the F down during the French and Indian Wars.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Until lovely Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe) and her sister turn up and need an escort to the fort their British colonel father is defending.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Things REALLY don’t go well for Cora and her sister.
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Luckily Hawkeye is there to fall in love with, and there’s time to fit in a quick make-out session at the fort. Sadly, it’s very dark, so hard to see exactly what’s happening here, but it’s hot.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

 

#4: Persuasion (1995)

Poor Anne Elliot. Her father may be a baronet, but she’s pretty firmly entered spinsterhood, having turned down the proposal of a young seaman with few prospects years ago. Now she’s stuck with her bitchy sister and toadying hangers-on.

Persuasion (1995)

Imagine her torment when the spurned suitor shows back up and turns out to be Ciarian Hinds! He’s a Navy captain now, and all hot and manly.

Persuasion (1995)

Insert LOTS of Anne yearning for her Captain while he ignores her, and potential other marriages for each, when finally she is able to slip him a big hint and he is ready to catch it.

Persuasion (1995)

He manages to get her away from her family and friends and the two share a beautiful kiss in the street, oblivious to everything else going on around them.

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#1: A Room With a View (1986)

I will brook no arguments: A Room With a View has the best screen kiss of any historical costume film. Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) is a proper, upper-class, young Edwardian woman off to visit Italy with her aunt (Maggie Smith) as chaperone.

A Room with a View (1986)

There, she meets hot young middle-class George (Julian Sands) and his overly expressive father. A Room with a View (1986)

Lucy tries to walk the proper path, wearing gloves at all times and hanging out with persnickety Aunt Charlotte.
A Room with a View (1986)

But luckily Lucy gets away from her aunt in a Tuscan field, and George decides to make a gesture.

A Room with a View (1986)

And oh, what a gesture it is!

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Which historical costume screen kisses make you swoon?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

35 Responses

  1. Stephani

    but… but… NORTH & SOUTH!! Okay, you only picked 5, I get it. But I have to put this one out there. Richard Armitage/Mr. Thornton has spent 99.5% of the film scowling, smoldering, and brooding and when he finally smiles so sweetly at Miss Hale and she can clearly resist no longer, and then he kisses her at the train station….it kills me every time.
    I guess I’m just a sucker for the dark brooding type.
    Okay, calming down now. And I do love Captain Wentworth and Anne’s first kiss scene.

    Reply
    • AshleyOlivia

      My enjoyment of that scene is tempered by the fact that he’s taken off half his clothes. I get that they are trying to communicate to the audience that his sojourn in Helstone has loosened him up, but it’s about as subtle as the rock to the head Margaret endures for him….

      Although Richard Armitage gets all the stars for turning staring out a window into the sexiest thing imaginable.

      Reply
      • Janette

        I love that scene too though I have to suspend disbelief because of the historical inaccuracy. People didn’t snog at railway stations in the 19c. I was really thrown by that scene when I first watched the series and wish they had kept to the ending in the book.

        Reply
  2. hsc

    I ran across the following quote from Hugh Grant some time back: he was asked who was the best kisser of all his co-stars, and he eagerly replied, “James Wilby. The man has a tongue like a conger eel.”

    I haven’t seen it again since reading that assessment to verify, but strangely, I don’t remember a Hugh Grant/James Wilby kiss in “Maurice”.

    Reply
  3. AshleyOlivia

    So glad Outlander made it on to the list! I also love, love, love the kiss at the wedding that opens the episode, which Jamie says afterwards made him realize that maybe Claire wasn’t so sad to be marrying him after all…

    You should also do a list of worse movie kisses of all time. The 2007 Persuasion would be at the top of my list. Don’t believe me? Watch and wait for the weird guppy mouth motion. Such a shame, too, because I love the rest of the movie, even if Sally Hawkins’s hair styling leaves a lot to be desired. (Plenty of bobby pins, but also more hair gel than a 90s boy band)

    Reply
  4. lmmerrill

    “Room with a View” – absolutely! And, if you did a “worst kisser” list, DDL would make that as well, also for “Room with a View” – that mis-kiss on Lucy – all we needed to know about who she will end up with!

    Reply
    • Emily Barry

      Haha! That kiss is so perfectly awkward. His pince-nez falling off… And Lucy’s SO excited in the lead-up, and you can tell she’s thinking, “Oh, kissing! I remember that!” But no, Lucy, that was just George!

      Reply
  5. Susan Pola

    Outlander, Room With a View, and Age of Innocence are on my list too. Other films are Princess Bride, Maurice, Wings of the Dove and Frank Langella’s Dracula.

    Reply
    • MoHub

      Princess Bride not only has one of the great kisses in film, but it has Peter Falk telling us how great a kiss it is.

      Reply
      • Susan Pola

        Yes, he reads ‘…most chaste, most passionate kiss…’ Love that each time I see film. ‘Have fun storming the castle, boys’

        Reply
  6. Charity

    Glad Last of the Mohicans is in there — that’s a HOT kiss.

    Umm… mine:
    1) Emma (Paltrow / Northam — kissing under that enormous tree, the cute little smile right before he goes for the lips, just flutters my poor little heart)
    2) North & South (yup… YUP)
    3) Jane Eyre (the miniseries version, and particularly all the highly inappropriate, very out of book character, snogging going on in that bedroom before she tells him to get lost *fans self*)
    4) Dracula (Okay, okay, I know the Frank Langella ’79 movie is total CHEESE, but that kissing / ear nibbling sequence in the garden gets me every time)

    I feel like The Princess Bride’s ending kiss deserves an honorable mention…

    (Also, on a different note — “Doctor Thorne” is coming to Amazon Prime next week. Victorian drama. Poofy skirts. Hair ribbons. Grouchy drunks. Flirty looks. Anthony Trollope adaptation. Quite cheeky and delightful. Dunno if it’s your cup of tea, but I can’t wait to watch it again.)

    Reply
  7. MC

    I have to agree with all the previous mentions of the North & South kiss. The whole scene is just all so lovely, the build up and the score and the way it was shot. I love that it conveys such a depth of emotion while still being quite innocent.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      Clearly I need to brush up on North & South! I watched it years ago and loved it, but it’s been too long that my memory of any specifics are fuzzy.

      Reply
  8. Bonnie

    I’m so glad you included Persuasion, and I agree wholeheartedly with A Room with a View for the #1 spot. Might I also mention the almost-kiss in Pride and Prejudice between the lovely Matthew Macfadyen and Kiera Knightley? And I believe the top spot needs to be shared with Helena Bonham Carter (again!) and Linus Roache in The Wings of the Dove. The first three minutes of that film are as sexy as it gets. Later, there’s another tryst in the rain, but the train/elevator scene is intense.

    Reply
  9. Julia

    When I think movie kisses I think of Gone With the Wind every time. Specifically the one where she’s in mourning and Rhett comes to visit her. Oh! and Titanic for sure.

    Reply
  10. ladylavinia1932

    Oh my God! I forgot about Keanu Reeves and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón’s bedroom kiss in the 1995 period drama, “A WALK IN THE CLOUDS”.

    Reply
  11. Susan Pola

    Somewhere in Time is such a wonderful romantic movie. Christopher Reeve was so handsome, sexy and his character seemed out of place in the modern era. Must watch again.

    Reply
  12. Ron

    Lucy !!!!!

    A rain of flowers descended
    (sweet in the memory)
    from the beautiful branches into her lap,
    and she sat there
    humble amongst such glory,
    covered now by the loving shower…

    Reply

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