When summer temperatures rise, audiences are wont to seek out the cool, climate-controlled confines of their local movie theater for relief.
Of course, this can backfire when the movie is “Basic Instinct” or “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” or some other erotically charged drama explicitly designed to make steam shoot out of your ears. To honor the season, Get Out has ranked the 25 hottest movies of all time.
And by “hot,” we mean sexiness, sultriness, good ol’-fashioned frisson. (Which is why, say, “Mercury Rising” didn’t make the cut.)
To compile the list, we gathered a panel of media professionals and romance experts to rank their favorites. They include Ted Casablanca, who writes a column, “The Awful Truth,” at eonline.com; Gayle Bass, movie critic at KTAR (620 AM); C. Margaret Tritch, publisher and editor of Valley-based Moving Pictures magazine; Ed Phillips, KTAR meteorologist, who knows what’s hot and not; and Dr. Dahlia Keen, a relationship counselor at Elite Personal Search, a matchmaking service.
Take it from the folks who know: These movies are so hot.
25. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (2005)
Homicidal spy games as foreplay? Why not? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play an estranged couple whose marriage enters the “I want to kill you” phase when each discovers their mutual line of work. Says Casablanca: “You can just tell Brad and Angelina are hot for each other, talking about how pissed they are at each other. It’s better than watching them do it."
24. “Damage” (1992)
“So hot my mother made me turn the TV off,” recalls Bass. Dirty old man Jeremy Irons (“Lolita”) plays a British parliamentarian who falls hard for his son’s beautiful fianceetwo E's, no accent, AP and Webster preferred (Juliette Binoche). How’s that for a wedding present?
23. “La Reine Margot” (1994)
With a 16th-century sectarian blood bath2 words raging, a French princess (Isabelle Adjani) risks everything to be with her lover, played by the superb Daniel Auteuil. An intoxicating tale of sacrifice and courage, and “a great historical and period movie, too,” according to Tritch.
22. “The English Patient” (1996)
Ralph Fiennes as bedridden human toast? Not so hot. Ralph Fiennes as a dashing cartographer in the war-torn Middle East who rides off with a colleague’s smoldering wife (Kristin Scott Thomas)? Now we’re talking. A distaff favorite.
21. “Maurice” (1987)
“Brokeback who?” quoth Casablanca. Rupert Graves climbs through James Wilby’s bedroom window and gives the repressed British gentleman “everything he’s been panting for” in this daring Merchant/Ivory offering.
20. “Gone With the Wind” (1939)
Clark Gable’s signature line — “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” — caused many a face to blush back in the day, and the classic tale of a turbulent romance set against the Civil War still causes a certain discomfort around the collar. Established Vivien Leigh as a screen siren to be reckoned with.
19. “Like Water for Chocolate” (1992)
The title refers to a Mexican euphemism for arousal, and the movie — about a young woman who pines for her brother-in-law — certainly cooks. A precursor to the recent wave of brilliantly sensual Mexican movies such as “Y Tu Mamá También.”
18. “Mulholland Drive” (2001)
David Lynch twists Hollywood fantasy into a Moebius strip of degradation, horror and obsession. Fresh-off-the-bus actress Naomi Watts helps an amnesiac beauty (Laura Harring) navigate the showbiz underworld, with distinctly hot results.
17. “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951)
No one jacks up the mercury like Tennessee Williams. As Blanche, Vivien Leigh gets by on the kindness of strangers . . . and some head-swimming sexual tension with Brando’s Stanley Kowalski.
16. “Great Expectations” (1998)
Keen gave high marks to this breathless, modernized reworking of the Charles Dickens story, starring Ethan Hawke as an East Village artist who pursues a haughty childhood love (Gwyneth Paltrow). Directed by noted sensualist Alfonso Cuaron (“Y Tu Mamá También”).
15. “Notorious” (1946)
“Notorious woman of affairs . . . Adventurous man of the world!” blared the tagline for Hitchcock’s classic postwar thriller. U.S. government agent Cary Grant presses German socialite Ingrid Bergman to infiltrate a group of South American Nazis. Semi-sordid sparks ensue.
14. “Against All Odds” (1984)
Ex-football star Jeff Bridges hunts down AWOL mob moll Rachel Ward in this sultry remake of the noir classic “Out of the Past.” “Great music, great chemistry, great passion,” coos Tritch.
13. “Last Tango in Paris” (1972)
In one of his last iconic performances, Marlon Brando plays a dissolute American who meets a young Parisian woman (Maria Schneider) and lays out a relationship that will be based solely on sex. Bass lauds the “sad psychology” of Bernardo Bertolucci’s masterpiece.
12. “Psycho” (1960)
Janet Leigh finds out what happens to bad girls in Alfred Hitchcock’s voyeuristic horror classic. The sight of a “sweaty, underwear-clad Leigh in a Phoenix hotel room in the summer” was enough to short out Phillips’ personal thermostat.
11. “Wild Things” (1998)
Poor kids, sex, rich kids, sex, charity carwashes, sex, murder and sex. Sounds like a Grade A guilty pleasure. Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell and Denise Richards turn red herrings into bedroom fun.
10. “Romeo and Juliet” (1968)
Casablanca is beside himself: “Their beauty, their love, their innocence, their passion ... their doom!” Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting make “for some of the classiest sex in the history of cinema ... almost like you don’t feel guilty for getting aroused, unlike with some of these other flicks.”
9. “Thief of Hearts” (1984)
How’s this for a sopping-wet feminine pipe dream: “Scarface” stud Steven Bauer plays a cat burglar who steals our leading lady’s personal diary and endeavors to fulfill every one of her fantasies. Keep an eye peeled for a young David Caruso.
8. “Casablanca” (1942)
It seems no movie list would be complete without some mention of the much-beloved wartime classic. As former lovers star-crossed by duty and decency, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman make cinema’s most indelible romantic duo.
7. “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988)
This is purely subjective, of course, but watching Uma Thurman’s Cecile de Volanges morph from a repulsed virgin into a ravenous pupil who can’t get enough of John Malkovich is one of the most stirring transformations the movie screen has ever seen. Vive le seduction!
6. “Double Indemnity” (1944)
Not much exposed thigh in this Billy Wilder-directed noir masterpiece — just the hint of a love affair gone deliciously venal. “Barbara Stanwyck, thy name is perfection,” trumpets Bass. As the insurance actuary/patsy, Fred MacMurray is good, too — even if he says “baby” too much.
5. “Titanic” (1997)
Not surprisingly, James Cameron’s romance-tinged disaster epic scored high with female panel members, including Tritch, who extolled its depiction of “love that lasts a lifetime” and “literally steamy sex scene.”
4. “Basic Instinct” (1992)
Dismissed as trash-cinema by critics, Paul Verhoeven’s taboo-busting murder mystery was a big turn-on for audiences, facilitated in no small way by Sharon Stone’s “flashy” performance. Mainstream erotica at its most rambunctious.
3. “Bitter Moon” (1992)
En route to Istanbul for their honeymoon, a seafaring British couple (Kristin Scott Thomas and Hugh Grant) meet a gone-to-seed American (Peter Coyote) and his beautiful French paramour (Emmanuelle Seigner). Tritch gave high marks to Roman Polanski’s “masterpiece of lust, love and forbidden fruit.”
2. “Unfaithful” (2002)
Filmmaker Adrian Lyne (“Fatal Attraction”) exceeded his own high standards by pairing Diane Lane and Richard Gere as an adulteress and her enraged spouse, respectively. Casablanca was especially moved by Lane’s love scene with co-star Olivier Martinez: “It’s so delicious because you know it’s so wrong ... and it’s a lot better than what her hubby is giving her.”
1. “Body Heat” (1981)
“Makes a Valley summer look like a frozen tundra” is how Phillips describes Lawrence Kasdan’s sticky noir thriller. Kathleen Turner persuades small-town lawyer William Hurt to kill her husband, invoking a tried-and-true film noir calculus: Murder + Adultery = Titillated Audiences.