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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.

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.

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.

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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):

Lost in Translation

So here's a movie with an incredibly minor plot. Bob (Bill Murray), an aging, disenfranchised celebrity, hangs out in Tokyo to shoot a terrible commercial. During his stay, Bob is taken with Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a sexy young woman who is sexy and young and a woman. Way too sexy and young for him. She is also disenfranchised, and the two of them float around Tokyo not being enfranchised. But that's OK. They have each other.

There are no grand acts of affection or sacrifice in this love story. This is a love we feel mostly by how intensely comfortable these people are with each other. In fact, the only thing that makes them uncomfortable is the fact that they're both married. At the end of the film, the two do kiss, and Bob whispers something in Charlotte's ear that we never get to hear, but that's not the climax for me. At that point we know that Bob is leaving. For me, the more important sex scene happened in bed the night before.

The Not-Sex Scene:

We don't want to see Bob and Charlotte cheat on their spouses. We're not even sure their love could last outside the bubble of its surreal Tokyo surroundings. But at the very least, we want to know that they know how much they mean to each other. We want the attraction acknowledged, somehow appropriately, even if not acted upon. Hence the utterly perfect gesture for this film and their relationship: the toe grab. Love embodied in one tiny physical gesture. If not for ScarJo coming down with toe crabs a week later, this moment would be almost too lovely to take.

Unfortunately, I can't find this scene on YouTube, but this incredibly awkward screen grab really conveys my point, don't you think?

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Have you seen Daniel Craig's best James Bond film? No, not Casino Royale. I mean Skyfall. The one that people like to say is his best. Y'know, all those people who like to be wrong and say things that aren't true, because Skyfall is in no way better than Casino Royale. I guess I've gotten off track a little. Have you seen Skyfall?

Although everyone agrees that Quantum of Solace is the worst.

Well, if you have or haven't, it's still a movie about a U.K. secret service agent who goes rogue and tries to kill lots of other U.K. secret service agents. His name's Silva and he's played by Javier Bardem. He's crazy and sometimes a bit gay. Like in this scene, where he attempts to mindfuck ultra-male James Bond with the possibility of some sort of gay sex torture. (I think I just increased the odds of this article popping up as a disappointing result in someone's Google search.)

The Not-Sex Scene:

Anyway, you'll have to check out someone's abysmal fan fiction if you want to see what actual Bond-Silva boning would entail, but the metaphorical sex and violence does reach a conclusion in the movie's climax. Silva is about to murder/suicide himself and M when Bond comes up from behind him, if you will. Oh, you will? Thanks for making this easy. Yes, Bond comes up from behind him and sticks it to him. Specifically, he inserts a big knife instead of his naughty bits, but you get the idea. Also there's no reach-around. Lastly, he throws the knife from a distance just to make sure you don't think he's that way.

Then Silva turns and falls to his knees while Bond stands before him, which reminds me of something. I'm just not sure what. It's probably nothing.


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