Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Kiss is still a Kiss

A Kiss is still a Kiss...

I have to admit, I hate writing intimate scenes. It's so intimidating! I don't want a kiss to come off like a "how-to" video--"The woman places her hand on the man's shoulder and steps on tip-toe, angling her face approximately 25 degrees to the right...." Ick.

I want to capture the pure magic of that first touch of lips, the first slow slide of his hand down her spine, the touch of her fingers on the stubble of his jaw....

But I digress.

What made me think about kissing scenes was a video I watched right here on Romance Magicians, a compilation of great movie kisses. Some of the kisses were great. Some weren't exactly inspiring. And knowing how hard it was for me to write a great kiss, I wondered how hard it must be for actors to perform a great kiss. Because some of them are apparently very, very good at kissing on demand. I've noticed.

I have a few favorite movie kisses, you see. Yes, I keep a list. And probably at the very top of my list is the kiss between Cora (Madeline Stowe) and Nathaniel (Daniel Day Lewis) in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.

Cora and Nathaniel are in the middle of a highly-charged situation--the fort in under siege from the French—and Nathaniel has already gotten crossways with the British commander, who happens to be Cora's father, because he refuses to allow the colonials to leave the fort to check on their unprotected families, who are in dire danger from Indian war parties. In the middle of this fear-filled night, Cora and Nathaniel come together in a kiss that makes my palms sweat every time I watch.

What really works for me in this scene is that it's so obviously highly sexual and explosive, set as it is in a tense and desperate moment in the movie. And yet, it never comes off as anything but deeply romantic. Some passionate kisses can sizzle but lack the deeper sense of soul connection. This kis is my all time favorite because the actors and the setting created the sort of romance that we writers long to recreate—and our readers long to savor.

I also love the kiss between Bridget and Mark at the end of BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY. The situation is completely insane--Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is running through the streets of London in her knickers, chasing after Mark (Colin Firth), whom she's afraid she's driven away by some unguarded comments in her diary, which he accidentally read. When he calmly tells her that he's just gone out to buy her a new diary, she realizes that he's the solid presence she desperately needs in her drama-fraught life, and they share a kiss that melts the snow falling around them.

For a completely different reason, I love the first kiss between Clara (Joanne Woodward) and Ben (Paul Newman) in THE LONG, HOT SUMMER. Ben is a drifter, the son of an arsonist, who insinuates himself in the life of Clara's family, the wealthy but deeply disfunctional Varners. Clara is a teacher, a repressed, highly intelligent woman with dry wit and a love-hate relationship with her overbearing father. When Ben sets his eyes on her, she wants desperately to be appalled and disgusted.

But there's something about him that fascinates her, as well, and when he catches her late one night in her father's general store, where he's working as the manager, he lets her know in uncertain terms what his intentions are. He means to have her. He doesn't hide the fact that her father has chosen him to marry his spinster daughter, and he's figured out that it's smart to do whatever will Varner wishes. But underlying the mercenery pragmatism, Ben conveys the fact that he finds her entirely desirable on her own merits.

No wonder Clara, whose long-time boyfriend is sexually ambiguous at best, can't keep up the struggle long when he kisses her. It's not a happy kiss, or a very long one, but it's the first real crack in Clara's ice, and it was a great moment.

So, those are a few of my favorite screen kisses. What are some of yours?


Piedmont Writer said...

The kiss between Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan in Proof of Life is amazing. She's married to someone else, he's there to do a job, it's just the one kiss, but it's sooooo...I can't even describe it.

Christine said...

Just watched THE PRINCESS BRIDE for about the billionth time. I love that kiss at the end of the movie. Sweet and tender and full of promise.

Callie James said...

Okay, I have to say I agree with the Russell Crowe/Meg Ryan kiss in that movie. Russell is kind of a full-body kisser. Yum.

My favorite kiss of all time was on a soap opera a million years ago when Another World used to actually be on. This was the soap where Anne Heche got her big break, and she had the huge task of playing twins.

Her main role as Vicky is that perfect heroine you love to watch. She's beautiful, impetuous, and constantly getting into trouble, almost always for the right reasons. There's one scene when she steals her boyfriend cop's access card to get into the evidence room at the precinct. Ryan knows she's the one who took it. When he confronts her, she denies it, but he also learns with a phone call that the item she went to get is still there. He's still pissed that she went behind his back, but at the same time, he realizes she cares more about him and his job than whatever is motivating her at the time. He "gets" this in the conversation, and holy cow, when they kiss, that realization causes the emotion and tension between them to notch up several levels.

It was a huge break-through moment for her as a character as well, because the audience realized she growing (something her character refused to do quite often).

Jeanie said...

I LOVE The Last of the Mohicans! I also love the kiss scene at the very end of Pride and Prejudice between Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Oh, my! And the beach kiss at the end of Sweet Home Alabama when Josh Lucas says to Reese Witherspoon, "I was trying to make something of myself," and she says, "You 'bout done?" And one of the hottest scenes on film without a kiss at all is in The Big Country, with Gregory Peck and Jean Simmons. Peck goes into Blanco Canyon alone to face down bad guy Chuck Conners and his father Burl Ives. The look Gregory Peck and Jean Simmons exchange is smoking hot. Whoo!

Carla Swafford said...

I've noticed on most soap operas the girl kisses the guy's upper lip and the guy kisses the girl's lower lip. BLAH! When you get to see a "real" kiss, I usually sit up and notice.

Oddly, the kiss I remember the most (at this moment) is from FIRST KNIGHT. Being a lover of medievals, I was sorely disappointed by the movie. But that on kiss stuck in my mind and made the movie tolerable. Richard Gere's Lancelot had walked away from Guinevere and she asked for a kiss and WOW! he delivered. You can go to and check it out.

And then there's the new wave of nighttime in particular I love is GOSSIP GIRL. Rich bad boy Chuck and Rich bad girl Blair are a hot item. The fellow knows his stuff.