In honor of the birth month of our nation, we collected the top 10 classic birthday-suit scenes from American movies with American themes. The fact that only a minority of them are healthy depictions of sex reflects our puritanical country’s fucked-up relationship with the topic. Feel free to light a sparkler and disrobe in patriotic solidarity — maybe you can make American sex a little more positive.
PSYCHO (1960) – The fact that the character of Marion is seen in a bra at the beginning of the film was scandalous enough at the time — but to have her gruesomely killed while naked in the shower? Shocking! According to IMDB, there’s a rumor that the release board didn’t initially okay the film because they were convinced there was a nipple shot in the shower scene. Of course, there wasn’t — the cinematography and score were so well done, people’s imaginations just easily filled in the blanks. We can thank Hitchcock for launching a long, sordid American tradition of combining female nudity with unspeakable violence for cheap thrills and entertainment purposes.
THE GRADUATE (1967) – Much like PSYCHO, THE GRADUATE’s most famous scene uses quick flashes of body parts. Of course, in this movie, the violence is all emotional and there is indeed a nipple shot. Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) famously tries to seduce Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college grad who’s struggling to figure out what to do with his life, especially now that he’s realizing the lives of his parents’ generation aren’t necessarily something to aspire to (what with them all being evil succubi and whatnot).
KRAMER VS. KRAMER (1979) – Ushering in an era of divorce as an acceptable option for unhappy marrieds in America, this heartbreaking movie details the impact separation can have on a family, including the awkwardness of a parent’s new single sex life. In this scene, the 7-year-old son confronts his father’s first sex partner since the split in the hallway in the middle of the night — she, of course, is naked. If your parents got divorced when you were young, then you know how impactful this scene can be; if your parents got divorced when you were young and you watched this movie around the same time, then you know how gut-wrenchingly traumatic it can be.
FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982) – We had to put in at least one classic American teenage boy fantasy: Phoebe Cates in a red bikini climbing out of a backyard pool in slo-mo and undoing the front clasp of her top. This all happens in the mind of the senior boy jerking off to her inside in the bathroom until the fully clasped Cates accidentally busts in on him while looking for a Q-tip for her water-logged ears. Payback’s a bitch.
HAROLD & MAUDE (1971) – A classic movie that cautioned against American consumerism, celebrated the pursuit of happiness (no matter how untraditional that happiness is), and championed the right to literally — and theatrically — die. Plus, with its tender love story (and post-coital bed scene) between 79-year-old Maude and 20-something Harold, it was the first movie to acknowledge that the elderly are sexual people too — and this was years before Viagra! Revolutionary.