Valentine’s Day isn’t the only holiday likely to be filled with kisses. New Year’s Eve is often a big night for lip-locking as many wish to start the new year off with a smooch at the stroke of midnight. With New Year’s Eve arriving in theaters this weekend, we thought we’d look back at some of the more memorable movie kisses over the years.
With a great movie kiss, it’s all about the context. Who’s doing the kiss, what led to the kiss and in some cases, what the kiss amounted to. Whether it’s a stolen kiss, like the one Squints manages to get in The Sandlot, one that breaks a spell as we see in Beauty and the Beast, or one that serves as a warning, as in The Godfather II, a great smooch can go a long way in a movie. Here are some of our favorite movie kisses.
Growing up, we all heard stories, urban legends, really, about the older brother of a boy down the street who knew a guy who, when he was eleven, made out with his fifteen year old babysitter. These tall tales were passed around like Smores. Deep down, we knew most of ‘em had to be bullshit, but what if one of them had a chalk line of truth? Wasn’t it worth hoping just in case? During the summer of 1962, Michael “Squints” Palledorous, a rather normal, even unimpressive adolescent baseball player, put the moves on Wendy Peffercorn, a high school-aged goddess in a red swimsuit. Lotioning and oiling, oiling and lotioning, she sat on her perch above the swimming pool, close enough to set partially-developed hearts aflutter, yet far enough to remain just out of reach. It likely would have remained this way forever, had that normal and unimpressive boy not decided to be decidedly extraordinary. With a confident, almost grinchy delight, Squints plunged off the diving board and waited to be saved. Wendy Peffercorn, both hot and competent, was busy performing CPR when that little bastard grabbed her neck and opened his mouth. He kissed her long and good, a just reward for a boy who dreamed big.
Never Been Kissed
Josie Gellar (Drew Barrymore) was worse than a nobody in high school. She was the girl who walked down the hallway getting laughed at and pranked for the amusement of some of the more popular kids at her school. Despite going on to achieve one of her dreams in finding early success as a copy editor, she wasn’t much less awkward in her adult years as she was as a teen. She’s given an opportunity most people aren’t in returning to high school as an undercover reporter and finding acceptance among the same types of people who once rejected her so aggressively during her adolescence. But she’s still never been kissed. Let’s put aside the inappropriateness that her teacher, Mr. Coulson (Michael Vartan) fell for her while he thought she was a student. The point is, the connection was there and, putting her job on the line in the process, Josie risked the ultimate humiliation by inviting Sam to give her her first kiss in front of everyone at a baseball game. Will he show up? It almost seems like he won’t and the disappointment in seeing Josie standing alone in the stadium while everyone watches is heartbreaking. But then he arrives and gives her the kiss she’s been waiting for. It’s as perfect an ending as it is a beginning.
Beauty and the Beast
At the heart of a good chunk of Disney movies there lies a memorable kiss. The kiss is at its best when it is the target, something for our protagonists to aim at or strive for in the face of opposition. Ariel has a meaty she-octopus and the problem of those temporary legs to stand in front of her kiss. Cinderella relies on her slipper – a dainty prop – to lead her to her one big moment. The Lady and the Tramp have social hierarchy and some messy spaghetti – easily remedied, but still. While I’d like to claim Aladdin and Jasmine’s surprise balcony kiss as Disney’s focal kiss achievement, girl gave it up too early! Beauty and the Beast’s lengthy, spectacular kiss takes the cake in this market. Sure, there’s the whole subplot with the witch and the rose is a rose is a rose until the rose dies, but Belle and Beast are so awkward and unforthcoming they dance their way around the chance to be together over and over again. The suspense with Beast’s social issues and Belle’s side plots with Gaston and her father could make or break that kiss at any moment. By the time it happens, it truly feels earned.
In and Out
When high school English teacher Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) gets outed at the Oscars by a dimwitted former student, his entire small town is thrown into chaos-- it was 1997, after all, and the idea that a single, Shakespeare-loving teacher would be gay was still a little scandalous. Probably the biggest wrench in the works is TV reporter Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck), who's chasing the big story of Howard's sexuality even when Howard himself is convinced he isn't gay. Peter doubts him, and tries to prove it when he and Howard run into each other on the side of the road, and Howard for the thousandth time insists he isn't gay, despite the fact that he knows exactly what Barbra Streisand's 8th album was, and can't help wrapping his leg around Peter when he kisses him. The entire scene is full of brilliant physical comedy from Kevin Kline, and former Magnum P.I. Tom Selleck is surprisingly believable as the most comfortably out gay man at the movies in the 90s, but the best part of the scene comes at the end, when Howard's mom shows up and Howard blurts out the most innuendo-filled explanation of all time: "This is my Peter-- my friend, Peter! We just ran into each other at the intersexual--homosection--INTERSECTION."
Let’s be honest: the audience typically there buying tickets for superhero movies are not there to watch the relationship blossom between the hero and his gal pal. So if you can make the macho men and nerds remember a single kiss between your film’s two stars, then you did something very right. I am, of course, referring to the liplock between Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. What makes the kiss so perfect is that it’s a storyteller taking advantage of their main character’s skills – if the wallcrawler can hang from buildings, why not let him? The real moment, though, is when Mary Jane begins to pull off Spidey’s mask. While at first he’s afraid that she is going to reveal his identity, all she wants are his lips so that she can give a proper “thank you.” Hell, The kiss is so damn powerful that Mary Jane even goes as far as to try and replicate it in Spider-Man 2 with her fiancée, but it’s just not the same. She just wants more of that sweet, sweet Spidey lovin’ and even a world famous astronaut can’t satisfy that craving.
Noah and Allie’s post-boat-ride rainy kiss is more about the build-up than it is about the kiss itself. These are two people who fell in love fast and hard one summer, only to have the relationship brought to an abrupt halt when the summer came to a close and Allie’s wealthy parents expressed their stern disapproval of the match. Years have gone by and both have tried to move past the affair. Neither know that there are 365 unread letters from Noah tied together somewhere in a neat stack. When a newly engaged Allie learns that Noah has rebuilt the house that, in a perfect world, was to be theirs, she visits him and the two share a polite afternoon in a rowboat looking at swans and trying not to feel more about the situation than what they can handle. All of that falls apart when the rain comes pouring down. Allie yells at Noah for not writing and lets out the obvious frustration she’s been holding in for years. Noah responds with an equal amount of emotion, which culminates to a passionate kiss in the rain (and then some). Both feel cheated and frustrated and hurt, and still completely in love with each other and that comes through in the kiss.
The Godfather, Part II
There are surely many different kinds of kisses. Most are romantic. Others comical or cute. Yet, for some odd reason very few are, um, 'of death.' However atypical to the traditional movie kiss it may be, the lip lock in The Godfather: Part II is undeniably one of the most memorable. In Sicilian culture there is a symbolic joining of the lips that, instead of sealing your relationship, it seals your fate. In a pivotal scene from one of the greatest American films of all time, The Godfather: Part II, Michael Corleone and his brother Fredo are attending a New Years Eve bash in Havana. Moments before Michael finally pieced together it was Fredo who (unknowingly) betrayed the family which resulted in an attempted hit on Michael and his family. The scene is one of the most striking from an already fantastic film - the ferocity in which Michael, the younger, more powerful brother grabs Fredo and plants the intense kiss on his mouth is both breathtaking and heartbreaking. "I knew it was you Fredo, you broke my heart. You broke my heart!" Happy New Year!