Support Frock Flicks with a small donation! During Snark Week and beyond, we’re grateful for your small, one-time contributions via PayPal or monthly pledges via Patreon to offset the costs of running this site. You can even buy our T-shirts and swag. Think of this like supporting public broadcasting, but you get more swearing and no tax deductions!
Disclaimer: Frock Flicks assumes you are at least 18 years of age and/or not squeamish about discussing sex (or lack thereof). We cannot anticipate whether or not you are going to be horrifically offended by a frank discussion of sex, so it’s up to you, dear reader, to politely avert your eyes if such topics are too distasteful. Considering how we’ve been able to piss someone off somewhere over something as innocuous as a spelling error, we’re sure this post about sex is going to rile up some readers, but what the hell.
We here at Frock Flicks are not ones to shy away from sex on screen. We have discussed it at length in numerous podcasts (see: basically all of the Season 2 Outlander recaps) and so we like to think of ourselves as connoisseurs on the topic of movie sexytimes. That’s why it’s especially infuriating when you’re introduced to a couple of sexy characters in a flick and you wanna see some action, but the filmmakers get the filmic equivalent of performance anxiety. Instead of seeing some hot action, you get a couple of limp thrusts and then camera pans to curtains.
We’ve talked about some of the hottest sex on screen before, but we’ve never discussed the lamest sex on screen. It being Snark Week, and all, it just seemed like the time was right…
Setting aside the shitty history, the shitty characters, the shitty costumes, and shitty Mel Gibson, all of which we discuss on the (very drunken) podcast coming up tomorrow (we tease!), the real insult-to-injury here were the two brief “sex” scenes in the three-hour long film. In the first scene, Melliam Giblace runs off with his childhood sweetheart and, being a good Catholic boy, marries her in a secret ceremony in the woods, presided over by a hipster priest. Then it’s off to have honeymoon sex in the frigid Scottish forrest. We get to see some breasts and Mel’s nipples, but the scene cuts away almost immediately to the next morning where the newlyweds are getting dressed by what has to be a freezing-fucking-cold lagoon.
The second sex scene occurs about one small eternity later in the film between Mel and the Princess — the first, and only, time they meet in the movie. For reasons not really explained, the two complete strangers meet to discuss foreign policy or something. I guess. Anyway, it takes about two seconds for the international relations to begin, but even less time before the camera cuts away. For a movie that is 98% violence, obviously, sex was a step too far.
There’s one decent sex scene in the film, but even then, it’s pretty weak. The other major sex scene, however, is what originally inspired our “weaksauce sex” tag. Allow me to catch you all up with the details… The two main characters, Riccardo and Carlo, are brothers. Ricardo is a talented composer but kind of ugly; Carlo, on the other hand, is a gorgeous castrato who basically melts the pantaloons off any woman he comes across just by looking at her. The brothers have this long standing arrangement where Carlo seduces a girl, gets her all worked up, and then hands her off to Riccardo to “finish,” since Carlo is unable to do so himself. Anyway, there’s some stuff about music and opera, and whatnot, but the story sort of climaxes (ahem) when Carlo decides he wants to start a family with his girlfriend, Alexandra, and lacking a necessary pair of dangly bits, he cannot impregnate her. Enter Riccardo (ahem), who has graciously agreed to inseminate Alexandra on Carlo’s behalf.
I mean, the entire scene is actually pretty touching, as far as threesomes go. The problem I have with it, however, is that Riccardo basically does not move and yet, we’re somehow supposed to believe that he’s giving Alexandra a good seeing-to. I’ve seen sex toys just lying there with more passion than Riccardo.
Downton Abbey, Season 1, Episode 3 (2010)
The debate is still raging as to whether or not Lady Mary was raped by the rakishly handsome Turk, Mr. Pamuk. Thing is, the show decides to play for ambiguity — the lighting and the music make this seem like an actual seduction, but Mary’s protests right up until it’s clear he’s not going to stop unless she puts out argues that she really only acquiesced to make Mr. Pamuk go away with as little hassle as possible. But here’s the thing, for such a major plot point for the first two seasons, there’s no there there. The scene abruptly cuts away from them kissing and straight to the aftermath, which makes me skeptical that something like, oh, I don’t know, SEX wasn’t cut for delicate American sensibilities. However, Amazon Video insists this is the original UK version, so who knows?
You’ve got Aidan Turner, one of the hottest human beings currently on the face of the planet, and somehow this show consistently makes sex scenes into snooze fests. The first such example is in Season 1, Episode 3 when Ross and Demelza finally shag.
And it lasts all of 30 seconds and then cuts to the Cornish landscape. Talk about premature. To add insult to injury, there’s also the so-called “rape scene” in the second season in which Ross doesn’t take no for an answer, and afterward, he returns home to a pissed off Demelza who then settles the score with a mean right hook. So, sexual assault and spousal abuse! Good times!
The Affair of the Necklace (2001)
I could almost forgive this film anything for the fabulous costumes and a wet Adrien Brody in a towel. But it’s got a few weak points, like, oh, the sex scenes.
Still, there’s always this, which sort of makes up for it:
What are your least favorite sex scenes in historical movies?
Must admit I was cruelly let down by Crimson Peak… Got all chuffed by internet previews, got comfy with popcorn… And God I blinked and almost missed half of it!
C’mon, it’s Hiddles, that was cruel and unusual punishment for sure.
Well, at least I had the wonderful sets and costumes to make up for it! (BTW, did you notice evil sister hat at the picnic? It’s a face!)
Watching Crimson Peak I personally thought that Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska lacked so much chemistry they almost had anti-chemistry. They both looked so uncomfortable during the sex scene I was glad it didn’t last longer.
Same here! The movie would have been a million times better if there was actual chemistry between them….
Mia was equally charmless/chermistry-less in Madame Bovary…omg
OUTLANDER. Rapey, fakey and porny (in the bad 70s way) all at once.
Daw, but I liked the wedding night scene!
Wedding night scene was awesome. This show has shagging galore in season 1 and season 2 is almost teetotaler dry. Only wanted more and not of the kind: Claire lays back and ‘thinks of England’ while Louis XV performs the shortest sex act in French shagging history.
I know that the author treated the scene in the book as a brief and not exciting bit, but come on Louis ogled her at the ball and seems to favour her throughout, would he just f*** her w/o foreplay? The man is scorching, but not as scorching as Jamie (Sam).
not so Brave heart, Mel is meh and please snarkTom Cruise tomorrow along with Braveheart.
And here I was, thinking I was alone in the thought that Outlander was a little “meh”/”what?” in that department!
Original Sin. They bought the two hottest actors in the world at the time Antonio Bandaras and Angelina Jolie. The bought the location, the costumes and the sets, but they forgot to buy a coherent script or plot. Their shagging should have made up for the plot holes but nope, it was so boring I ending up washing dishes by hand.
I just wanted to say that, after a couple trips to Cornwall, where my daughter and her family live, that Poldark’s depiction of sex is pretty accurate. 30 seconds of groping, then you go look at the countryside.
That is a wonderful post. (Mind you, there are a couple of questions I’d like to ask, but I’m too polite to do so.) This might also describe my trips to Hampshire to visit my own daughter; the real men are apparently all somewhere up north.
Oh man, Farinelli. What bugs me, is that if someone made a contemporary film, about a young woman who had undergone female genital mutilation, we wouldn’t spend most of the film focusing on her trying to shag-by-proxy. Or at least I hope not, I hope that we would instead get a sensitive exploration of the psychological impact that a sexual violation, happening in childhood, would have on a person.
What the film omits (among many other well, facts) is that FARINELLI was a composer too, not just his older brother Ricardo, and Handel. I would have liked the film to explore Farinelli’s frustrations, not just romantically/sexually, but also musically, as a composer, being taken seriously as a man, and as a gentleman, being descended from a wealthier family than most castrati, and later elevated by a knighthood in Spain. There is no mention of his longtime friendship with the poet Metastasio, of Prince Ferdinand and Princess Maria Barbara (later king and queen) of Spain, the ballerina who fleetingly captured his heart, or his sister Dorotea, whose son he would live with in his later years, becoming as fond of his grand-niece as if she were his own child.
Unfortunately the film ditched exploring any of this in favor of a confrontation with Handel that never happened, and a love interest who never existed.
No strong opinions about the other scenes listed here, except that Dowton Abbey was perhaps intentionally “ambiguous”…and has proved a source of irritation ever since.
Wow, thanks for all the extra info! You wouldn’t be able to recommend some decent literature on Farinelli, would you?
Currently I am trying to make my way through “Farinelli: Le castrat des Lumières” by Patrick Barbier, a good biography, but available only in French. For a basic introduction to the castrati, you can try “The World of the Castrati” (Histoire des Castrats) by the same author.
The most recent, thorough academic overview is “The Castrato” by Martha Feldman, available only in English. This book however, assumes a knowledge of music history and the castrati. Another introductory book is “The Castrati in Opera” by Angus Heriot, but it is now considered a little dated!
Holy moly, what was my mother doing taking me to the cinema to see Farinelli when I was TWELVE? I do not remember that.
> Melliam Giblace
This is the best thing I’ve read all day. Possibly all week.
My main beef with sex in costume dramas is when it doesn’t happen at all. Like every adaptation of Jane Eyre, ever. I mean, the book doesn’t end until she has her first child, could we maybe have an actual sex scene after “Reader, I married him” as a payoff for 2 hours (4 in the case of the Clarke/Dalton miniseries) of pent-up chemistry? And “Effie Grey”! FFS, the entire movie is about Ruskin NOT shagging her, is it too much to ask that we see Millais give her a good going-over before the credits roll??
Just because the source material was prudish doesn’t mean the adaptations have to be, people!
So yeah… Orlando Bloom and Eva Green in Kingdom of Heaven. WHAT A LET-DOWN.
Someone expected ACTUAL SEX on “Downton Abbey”? Come on, this is Masterpiece Theatre: courteous-liberal-minded-Episcopalian turf. They think about sex, but they don’t do it. Theo James galloping across the English countryside is sex enough.