Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Major lesbian content/Gender Bender
Short Take: Looks at sex on movie screens during the 20th century. Includes interviews with Donna Deitch and Hilary Swank.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 2003
Duration: 100 min
Language: USA/English
Writer: Steven Smith
Starring: Donna Deitch, Hilary Swank, Richard Roeper, Cecil B. DeMille, Hugh M. Hefner, Rex Reed, Will H. Hays, Howard Hughes

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Sex at 24 Frames Per SecondThis documentary produced by Playboy looks at sex on movie screens throughout the 20th century. Primarily focused on American films, it is a collection of clips of memorable sex scenes with discussion of those films that pushed the envelope for their time period.

Most of the focus surrounds straight sex, of course, from the erotic in the earliest silent films, through the development of Hollywood sex symbols, European and cable tv influences, and the mix of sex with violence, horror, comedy, and more. Much of the time is spent on actresses who exuded sex despite production codes of the time – like Mae West, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, etc.

Marlene Dietrich gets special mention as a woman who attracted both men and women. Clips or comments on these films with lesbian and gender bending content are included: The Sign of the Cross (1932), The Children’s Hour (1961), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), Caligula (1979), Personal Best (1982), Henry and June (1990), Basic Instinct (1992), Showgirls (1995), Wild Things (1998), Cruel Intentions (1999), Mulholland Dr. (2001), Kissing Jessica Stein (2002), plus Queer as Folk.

Desert Hearts director Donna Deitch is interviewed about her groundbreaking depiction of a ‘sexy and positive and real lesbian love story.’ Oscar winner Hilary Swank discusses playing Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry.

It’s an ambitious 101 minutes, covering a huge number of films and personalities too briefly and missing some you might expect, but it does a nice job of conveying major themes over time. (AB)