The 30 Most Important Sex Scenes in Movie History

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Welcome to Sexpositions, a weeklong Vulture celebration of sex scenes in movies and on TV.

Sex scenes have a rich, varied tradition in the cinema. They’ve gone through periods of near-ubiquity, as well as scarcity. In the 1960s and '70s, they were often used for shock value and to shake viewer complacency. In the 1980s, they were commodified in startling ways. These days, they tend to be relatively rare. But sex scenes have also been important — whether in the development of the cinematic idiom, or sparking controversy, or just plain helping break new ground in depicting intimacy. Some of the scenes on this list are seminal moments in film history (for better and for worse). Some are flash points that wound up changing our culture in interesting ways. Some came to represent nefarious, exploitative trends. And some are just unforgettable scenes that informed what came after them. It’s a mixed bunch. Here are the 30 Most Important Sex Scenes in Movie History.

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