At no point in the classic Hitchcock film “Northwest by Northwest” do we witness star Gary Grant’s bare butt writhing and thrusting on top of a naked Eva Marie Saint as he caresses her undulating breasts.
That's because “North by Northwest” was made in the 1950's, before people began having sex.
Or at least began having sex in the movies.
What the audience sees instead is the train they’re traveling on roar into a tunnel, the sight of which impelled me to beg my parents for years to take me on train trips that included lots of tunnels.
Back in the 50's and early 60’s, the epitome of celluloid sex was a profile shot of the rapidly maturing Mouseketeer Annette Funicello turning sideways or a glimpse of Barbara Eden's navel on a day the “I Dream of Jeanie” makeup man ran out of putty.
Nowadays I know every square inch of Anne Hathaway's anatomy almost as well as does the Jewish guy she married!
It was 1968 when naked boobs first came to neighborhood movie screens. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw what looked like eyes when a hot young blonde nonchalantly peeled off her top in the movie “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.”
I raced home and threw my entire collection of National Geographics in the trash.
Boobs thereupon began bouncing abundantly anywhere and everywhere on the silver screen.
Nowadays everything goes in the movies including any sense of propriety. It's a rare film that doesn't feature Mark Ruffalo hammering Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman switching teams with Mila Kunis, or Paul Reubens responding in kind in the audience.
But these days except when either the film - or my mood - truly calls for sex, I’d just as soon watch “Frozen.”
No, I'm not suggesting we return to the days of Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint acting like saints until the rapid approach of a well-timed tunnel. There were layers of reality and story-telling lost due to the sensitivities of the times. But there was also something discrete and respectful that’s missing today that helped make many of the older films classics.
It has never been my burning passion to turn on Turner Classic Movies and see Ethel Barrymore or Margaret Hamilton frolicking nude on a beach. The great screwball comedies starring the likes of Gary Grant and Katherine Hepburn are better without the alternate connotations of “screw” and “ball.”
And as for classics like “Casablanca?”
"Did you leave me for Lazlo because he had a bigger penis?"
"No, Rick, I left you because Victor Lazlo is my husband. Because he’s a great man and a great leader of our cause. And he has a bigger penis."
Nah, gimme my film classics straight - unabridged, crotch-less, boob-free and with a minimum of writhing.
I'm glad I got to see Isabella Rossellini's tits in “Blue Velvet.”
But I'm even gladder I never got to see her mom's.