Based on the ridiculously popular book series, the film adaption of Fifty Shades of Grey may be THE most anticipated movie of the year—by the female crowd, anyway. The casting of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele met with controversy, let alone their, shall we say, unconventional sexual relationship. Fans are highly anticipating which of “those” scenes will be included. The big question is: Just how far will the film go?

Which got us thinking about all those movies with controversial sex scenes. You know the ones. They made you kind of blush in the dark or squirm in your seat.

Although some of these films may be tame when you look at them by today’s standards, they each had tongues wagging over their sexual content when they were originally released. Did we miss any?


7 Films Famous for Controversial Sex Scenes

9 1/2 Weeks (1986)

THE PLOT: A statuesque blonde becomes involved in an impersonal affair with a man she barely knows, and soon, it’s all about the sexual games. Ice cubes, cherries and honey, anyone?

THE CONTROVERSY: One of the most controversial movies of the 1980s, it is based on a memoir. Yes, this film was a true story of obsession, domination and sexual power that turned a self assured woman into an obsessed submissive. The scenes of sadomasochism had to be toned down for the audiences of the time.

7 Films Famous for Controversial Sex Scenes

The Accused (1988) 

THE PLOT: A hard partying woman is gang raped at a bar while male spectators cheer it on. She stands strong along with her lawyer during the prosecution of the crowd for criminal harassment. The new message: Verbal sexual harassment is also a form of violence.

THE CONTROVERSY: Critically acclaimed and winner of many awards, including an Oscar for Best Performance of an Actress in a Motion Picture (Jodie Foster for her portrayal of the victim), some felt that the graphic rape scene veered into gratuitous voyeurism.


7 Films Famous for Controversial Sex Scenes

Basic Instinct (1992)

THE PLOT: In this erotic thriller, a police detective becomes entangled with the prime suspect in a murder he is investigating.

THE CONTROVERSY: The flashing of Sharon Stone’s lady parts during the infamous interrogation scene rocketed the actress to fame. The violent sex scenes originally earned the film an NC 17 rating but were cut back to an R rating to appeal to a wider audience.


7 Films Famous for Controversial Sex Scenes

Ice Storm (1997)

THE PLOT: Based in the 1970s, dinner party goers escape the doldrums of their lives through alcohol, adultery and sexual experimentation.

THE CONTROVERSY: The movie portrays “key swapping”, aka adult mate swinging, and teenage experimentation with drugs and sex—all with tragic consequences.


7 Films Famous for Controversial Sex Scenes

American Beauty (1999)

THE PLOT: An older man, trapped in a sexless marriage while his wife has an affair, becomes infatuated with his daughter’s teenage best friend.

THE CONTROVERSY: Concerns were raised about the film’s glamorization of a grown man smoking pot and fantasizing about an underage girl. He nearly acts out those fantasies when she tries to seduce him.


7 Films Famous for Controversial Sex Scenes

Secretary (2002)

THE PLOT: A mentally vulnerable  young woman is hired to be a secretary to a domineering attorney. After she makes multiple typos, he punishes her by spanking her in an office. She’s humiliated and turned on which leads to her sexual awakening.

THE CONTROVERSY: At its core, it is a provocative, funny love story that portrays a BDSM relationship as normal.


7 Films Famous for Controversial Sex Scenes

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

THE PLOT: Two young men are in a sexual relationship while working as farmhands in the 1963. Both men eventually marry women, only to meet up for occasional fishing trips. The marriages eventually collapse and the love story between the two men leads to tragedy.

THE CONTROVERSY: The movie was pulled from some theatres when it was discovered that it portrayed gay sex in the same graphic manner as heterosexual sex.

About the author

Patricia Thomas

Patricia is a proud geek raising two little geeklings along with her geeky husband. You can find her on Twitter fangirling about her latest obsessions. Since she spends 8 months out of the year living in a barren winter waste land, she dreams of living bare foot on a tropical beach someday.

Get Brazen In Your Inbox

Sign up to receive our daily or weekly newsletter.