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12 Notable Screen Kisses

by Kiss Me Cate
fact checked by Alex Hanton

A kiss – so simple yet so emotional. There is something about sitting in a dark theater watching the on-screen couple embrace for the first time that gives you chills. A kiss can be sweet, seductive, messy, romantic, awkward but above all, a kiss is intimate. Kisses once considered taboo for film audiences are now common place. Some kisses are still considered too much for the censors. It makes you wonder… it’s just a kiss after all. 100 years after the first movie kiss, all cinematic embraces can thank the 12 kisses below for the groundbreaking and memorable movie moments. The kisses are listed chronologically so the reader can view the milestones in movie kissing.


First Movie Kiss
The Kiss (1896)

“They get ready to kiss, begin to kiss, and kiss and kiss and kiss in a way that brings down the house every time.” – The Edison catalog

The first kiss seen by audiences, May Irwin and John Rice re-enacted a kiss for Thomas Edison. Considered a great scandal, it was, incidentally, the most popular film that year.


Most Kisses Ever in a Single Movie
Don Juan (1926)
Don Juan Seduction

“Why are you here at such an hour?” – Lucrezia
“If I am late – a thousand pardons!” – Don Juan

As the first Vitaphone film that mixed sound and music, Don Juan also held the record for the most screen kisses. John Barrymore would kiss his female co-stars a total of 119 times.


First Open-mouthed Kiss
Flesh and the Devil (1926)
Greta Garbo and John Gilbert – Kiss (Flesh and the Devil, 1926)

“And now look at us!” – Felicita

This open-mouth kiss might have had more to do with the passionate love affair between co-stars John Gilbert and Greta Garbo rather than the screenplay. Gilbert and Garbo would start in three more films together during their brief yet intense love affair.


First Female-Female Kiss
Morocco (1930)
Marlene Dietrich in Morocco

“You’d better go now. I’m… beginning to like you.” – Amy Jolly

Ever the seductress, Marlene Dietrich dressed in men’s tuxedo-ware and kissed a woman in this movie. She was also nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award despite knowing little English and speaking her dialogue phonetically.


Best Kiss Done in One Take
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
It’s A Wonderful Life Trailer

“He says it’s the chance of a lifetime.” – Mary to George

In his first movie after serving in the military, Jimmy Stewart was said to be nervous about his comeback film. In one take, Frank Capra was able to capture one of cinema’s most intense kissing scenes. Filmed during the Hays Code era of Hollywood, part of the kiss was censored for being too passionate.


Most Famous Kissing Scene
From Here To Eternity (1953)
From Here To Eternity – Kiss scene on the beach

“I never knew it could be like this. Nobody ever kissed me the way you do.” – Karen

The famous kissing scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr was censored for being too erotic. Interestingly, the scene was a last minute decision and improvised by director Fred Zinnemann.


First Interracial Kiss
Island In The Sun (1957)
1957 Island in the Sun, clip

“I just sat here thinking about you.” – Denis

Based on a novel by Alec Waugh, this film featured four different love affairs amidst the backdrop of race and politics in the West Indies. Star Joan Fontaine was said to have received hate mail for relationships depicted in the film. The onscreen pair would kiss later in the film (the clip shows their growing affections for each other).


First Male-Male kiss
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
Sunday Bloody Sunday – Domingo, maldito domingo (Dir. John Schlesinger, 1971)

“We’re free to do what we want.” – Bob
“Darling… other people often do what they don’t want to do at all.” – Alex

This story plot revolved around a love triangle between a man and woman and their affair they are both having with a young man. Peter Finch famously said of his kissing scene, “I did it for England.”


Greatest Age Difference for a Kiss
Harold and Maude (1971)
Cat stevens “Don’t be shy” (Harold and Maude, 1971)

“I like you, Maude.” – Harold
“I like you, Harold.” – Maude

Ruth Gordon was 74 and Bud Cort was 23 during the making of this quirky film. Cort later said about the film, “I think because it is totally timeless, reveals so much mystery and truth about the big questions of life, and contains two inimitable performances, if I do say so myself.” If Bud Cort had his way, he would have kissed Greta Garbo as Maude.


Best Montage of Kisses
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Cinema Paradiso (1988) – Official Trailer

“Out of the fire of love come ashes. Even the greatest love eventually fizzles out.” – Alfredo

This brilliant scene shows the grown up Salvatore watching all the clips of kissing, nudity and general passion the local priest had the movie projectionist, Alfredo, remove many years ago. Look for kissing scenes featuring Donna Reed, Joan Crawford, Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn, Gerta Garbo and Spencer Tracy to name a few.


First MTV Movie Award “Best Kiss”
My Girl (1991)
My Girl (1991) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

“Close your eyes.” – Vada
“But then I won’t be able to see anything.” – Thomas J

This precious scene was Macaulay Culkin’s first on-screen kiss. This kiss was awarded the “Best Kiss” award at the 1992 MTV Movie Awards.


Longest Kiss in Movie History
Elena Undone (2010)
Elena Undone Trailer

“Every time I think it’s impossible to love you more, I do. Ever deeper.” – Peyton

Ousting You’re in the Army Now (1941) by 18 seconds, Elena Undone is the longest kiss at 3:24. Considering that Jane Wyman and Regis Toomey’s lips were glued together, it seems fitting that a real 3 minute plus kiss now hows the title.

fact checked by Alex Hanton