In any case, 50 Shades of Grey was enormously popular, and a film adaptation is about to be released. I have no idea how good this movie will be, of course, but it got me thinking about erotic films from the past that are likely more interesting or sexy than 50 Shades of Grey is probably going to be. Even for a person inclined to enjoy the upcoming film, these are a few worth digging up. In no particular order:
6. 9 1/2 Weeks (1986)
While it initially tanked at the domestic box office and suffered from mixed reviews, 9 1/2 Weeks has gone on to be considered an erotic classic of sorts. Its strength lies in the realistic relationship dynamic shared by leads Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke, and the sex scenes show more realistic portrayals of passion than many similar films. Over the years, 9 1/2 Weeks has gained a sort of cult status and is better regarded now than it was upon release. It's also interesting to see Mickey Rourke as an attractive leading man in the days before he started looking a lot like Frankenstein.
5. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989)
This film is beautifully realized, but Peter Greenaway's masterpiece of brutality, dark humor and eroticism is certainly not suitable for all tastes. It has enough violence and scatological content to create a very disturbing ride for sensitive viewers seeking, say, a typically romantic film. But lots of great erotic films are pretty dark, and this one fits in that category. It's a beautifully shot film with amazing cinematography, gorgeous sets and costumes designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. There is a very erotic relationship between the mob wife character, Georgina (played by Helen Mirren), and her secret bookstore-owning lover, Michael (played by Alan Howard). Most of the film takes place in a restaurant owned by Georgina's crime family kingpin husband, Albert (played by Michael Gambon), and things go very very badly for some of this film's characters. The movie has plenty of strong content, including a lot of nudity, and was released in America as "Unrated" when given the choice between that and an X rating. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover is one of the most interesting films on this list, but is not for everyone.
4. Last Tango in Paris (1972)
This film by director Bernardo Bertolucci is infamous for a variety of reasons, but is widely considered one of the most important erotic movies ever made. The plot is a weird one that ends with one character killing the other, so it's not exactly a fun movie. One can't watch Last Tango in Paris without feeling something; it's a film that evokes strong reactions in nearly everyone. Starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider as a couple who begin a strange sexual relationship, it was extremely controversial, and was given the equivalent of an X rating, or outright banned, in some countries. Bertolucci was himself arrested in Italy on obscenity charges. Still, Last Tango in Paris is a classic of erotic film, and many critics consider it to be one of the best movies of that type ever made.