The 5 Greatest Movie Sex Scenes (Where Nobody Has Sex)

People like movies, and people like sex, so it's not surprising that when there's a physical attraction between two characters on screen, the odds are high that their genitals will soon be in contact.

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That means sex. Was there a less awkward way to say that?

But sometimes strong sexual tension doesn't explode into erotic release. The characters don't give in to that feeling, and instead all that emotion and/or attraction manifests itself in some other physical act. Some distinctly non-sexual contact is made, carrying all the lust, love, or desire of sex. Here are my five favorite movie sex scenes that contain no sex.

#5. Pulp Fiction

For those of you who've never seen Pulp Fiction, I hope your captors soon release you from your 20-year imprisonment. Also, not sure how they're letting you online. Anyway, as everyone knows, one of the central stories in Pulp Fiction is the date between gangster Marsellus' wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), and his hit man employee Vincent (John Travolta). Well, not really a date, because Marsellus would torture/murder any man who went on a real date with his woman. Instead, Vincent's job is to keep Mia out of trouble. Sex can't happen, and that's tough, because Mia looks just like Uma Thurman, and Uma Thurman is hot. Also she's kinda hip and flirty, which typically don't go well together. For example, try to imagine a hipster giving enough of a shit about anything to reach orgasm.

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"OK -- Modest Mouse before their hit single "Float On" having an orgy with Arcade Fire before they were discovered ... yes, yes.
Dammit, lost it."

So Vincent and Mia eat and talk and dance and flirt, and then he heads back into the danger zone of her home, where she does a sexy dance to a Neil Diamond cover. (Back in junior high I once got to second base while listening to UB40's "Red Red Wine," so you better believe that's a powerful aphrodisiac.) Anyway, luckily for Vincent, instead of jumping on his manhood, Mia just does lots of heroin and almost dies.

The Not-Sex Scene:

While not quite as bad as screwing Marsellus' wife, Vincent knows that letting her die would also be kinda bad, so he enlists the help of his drug-dealing friend. It's soon determined that the only thing that can save Mia is a shot of adrenaline right to the heart. So yes, Vincent totally penetrates Mia and makes her scream, but not with his penis -- with a hypodermic needle penetrating her breastplate and entering directly into her heart.

In many ways, the scene mimics the classic sexual overtones of stake-driving in vampire movies. A phallic symbol, penetration, screaming, and blood. All the visceral parts of sex in a memorable scene where no one get laid.

#4. The Silence of the Lambs

When most people think of The Silence of the Lambs, sex is not the first thing on their minds (unless they have a fetish about guys who tuck their junk between their legs). But serial killer/sociopath/cannibal Hannibal Lecter loves FBI trainee Clarisse Starling. And if you read Thomas Harris' abysmal sequel Hannibal, you'll see that Lecter eventually brainwashes Clarisse and gets to be her boyfriend and have sex with her and everything! But not in The Silence of the Lambs. In this not horrible novel/film, Clarisse respects Hannibal's massive intellect and internal code of conduct, but never loses sight of the fact that he is a monster. A murderous, repugnant monster. Accordingly, the love and desire is one-sided and fated never to be consummated (until Harris loses his mind and moral center and writes the truly awful Hannibal. Have I mentioned that it sucks?).

The Not-Sex Scene:

We feel Hannibal's yearning through the glass of his cell from the very beginning, but he is separated from Clarisse. And even when he's moved to his symbolically absurd gothic bird cage of a cell, there is no chance of physical affection. Still, he manages to touch Clarisse's hand as he hands her a file he's reviewed at her request. Just a finger caress that carries more longing and consequence than most big screen sex. Jump to the end for the touch. Jump nine months past that to see Clarisse's ring finger give birth to ax-murdering triplets.

#3. Educating Rita

Here's a movie from 1983 that many of you might not have seen, and that's too bad, because it's one of my favorites. If you're going to see it (which you should), you have my permission to skip this entry to avoid spoilers -- that is, if you're the kind of twatastic jackass who yells "no spoilers" about 30-year-old movies.

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"Wait. Romeo AND Juliet both die? Thanks, jackass. I hadn't seen it yet!!!"

Anyway, Michael Caine plays Frank, a drunken, disenchanted literature professor who hasn't written poetry in years. Julie Walters (young, thin, kind of hot, and not at all Ron Weasley's mom) is Rita, a working-class hair stylist yearning to be cultured. What follows is not unlike Pygmalion or My Fair Lady, but such comparisons really sell the film short. Rita evolves from a plucky working-class plebeian to a pedantic, elitist snob before finding herself somewhere in the middle. She shakes Frank out of his malaise, inspires him, makes him jealous, drives him further into drink, and ultimately remains his friend as he takes off to Australia for a sabbatical and a new life.

Frank never tries to kiss Rita, he never corners her uncomfortably, they never stand too close or wind up sharing a broom closet together with comically flirtatious results. In many ways, we only know that the attraction exists because we the audience like them both so much and want it to.

The Not-Sex Scene:

Rita spins Frank in her chair and vows to take 10 years off his life. Then she gives him a haircut. In that act, she reclaims part of her former self (the beauty parlor past she was ashamed of) and helps give birth to a new Frank. One who can start fresh. There is contact, joy, and renewal (jump to 5:20):

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