It can be tender, torrid, sometimes even tragic, but the perfect movie kiss can catapult a movie from mediocre to memorable. Some rush into the kiss as though the world were ending; some ease into it, like fitting two pieces of a puzzle together; and still others do a timid hit-and-run—a smack on the lips, and off they go!
Certainly, each style has elicited enough sighs and squeals and softly muttered “Awws” from us to forever etch the particular kissing scene in our minds—and every time we see the movie again, we are counting down the minutes until that remarkable mouth-to-mouth takes place.
Here, then, are 10 of our favorite on-screen smooches that never fail to have our legs buckling. (And the movies they’re in are pretty good too!)
RICK BLAINE AND ILSA LUND
When the woman who broke his heart walks back into his life with her husband in tow, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) feels betrayed, to say the least. But Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) is no double-crossing minx. Before she met and fell in love with Blaine in Paris, she had believed her husband to be dead, when in fact he was only in hiding. After telling Blaine the truth—that she still loves him even though her husband is alive—the two lovers melt into a heartrending reconciliatory kiss that is made all the more bittersweet by their inevitable separation. On the Casablanca soundtrack, Frank Sinatra croons “A kiss is just a kiss,” but this particular pucker is clearly something special.
(Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)
MILTON WARDEN AND KAREN HOLMES
From Here to Eternity (1953)
He’s supposed to be an honorable army man and she is married to his commander, but that doesn’t stop 1st Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster) and Karen Holmes (Deborah Kerr) from starting a secret love affair. In an iconic scene that has spurred countless copycat attempts (none of which come close), the lovebirds kiss passionately on a beach with their arms wrapped tightly around each other. Oblivious to the waves lapping at their embracing forms, the two remain lip-locked—and you are forced to wonder, “Have I ever been kissed like that?”
(Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures)
LADY AND THE TRAMP
Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Cartoon kisses can be really corny, since age restrictions put a damper on the sexy factor. But this sweet little smooch between Lady, the spoiled spaniel, and Tramp, the lovable mutt, is just too darned cute to leave off a best kiss list. On their first dinner date together at a makeshift candlelit table in a street alley, Lady and Tramp share a plate of spaghetti and soon a single strand of pasta. As they each suck up their half of the strand, the canine companions are brought closer and closer until they are lip to lip—or at least, muzzle to muzzle. Who knew puppy love could be so romantic?
(Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Distribution)
HAN SOLO AND PRINCES LEIA
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Nerds from east to west giggle into their popcorn every time they re-watch Han Solo and Princess Leia’s kissing scene—and then they press rewind! Certainly, the kiss gave us the epic lip action between two main characters so opposed to (yet so meant for) each other that you seem to have been waiting the whole series for. In this particular scene, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) teases Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) that she likes him more than she lets on, and then she calls him a scoundrel, and then he holds her hand, and then she becomes a shrinking violet, and then, finally, after all that foreplay, they kiss! This wins, hands down, over the Leia-Luke liplock (which we later learn is incestuous—ick!).
(Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox)
ROMEO AND JULIET
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
In this modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s most famous work, Baz Luhrmann creates a world which pits the Capulets and the Montagues against each other in a cold-blooded corporate war. But when Romeo (a Montague, played by Leonardo DiCaprio) sees Juliet (a Capulet, played by Claire Danes) for the very first time, it sparks a passion so fervent and so pure that not even the violent disapproval of their families can diminish it. Romeo falls for Juliet the moment he lays eyes on her, flashing heartbreaking grins in her direction and whispering sweet nothings into her ear until she finally agrees to come away with him. In an exhilarating sequence which unfolds right under her parents’ noses, Romeo pulls his lady love into an elevator and plants a kiss on her so amazing that director Luhrmann had to capture it from every possible angle. It was a kiss that made us jealous of Claire Danes for the rest of our lives—and long for a Leo of our own.
(Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox)
AMELIE AND NINO
In this quiet, quirky film about an extraordinary girl, we learned that a great kiss has less to do with its physical machinations (the pace, the alternating pressure, the torrential tongue) and more to do with the emotion behind it. Amelie (Audrey Tautou) is face-to-face with the man she likes (she’s been playing her own version of “hide and seek” with him for the entire movie), and instead of letting him speak, she kisses him—on the corner of his mouth, on his neck, and on both eyelids. He does the same to her—but at the very end of the sequence, he gives her a simple kiss on the mouth. The couple’s combined feelings of relief, gratitude, bashfulness, and longing permeate the scene so effectively that you won’t be able to resist pulling an Amelie on your own sweetheart as the credits roll.
(Photo courtesy of UGC and Miramax Films)
MARY JANE AND SPIDERMAN
Can you beat an upside-down kiss with a superhero in the pouring rain? We don’t think so. Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) thanks Spiderman (Tobey Maguire) for saving her, and in a big way: she peels off enough of his mask to expose his mouth and plants a soft series of kisses on him. We rejoice for Peter Parker, the man inside the spider-suit, who’s just been smooched by the girl of his dreams—the only problem is, she’s in love with Spiderman!
(Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures)
NOAH CALHOUN AND ALLIE HAMILTON
The Notebook (2004)
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams made us believe in their on-screen (and sometimes off-screen) romance as the unforgettable couple from The Notebook. After a misunderstanding between the two fledgling lovebirds leads to a seven-year separation without a word from either, Noah Calhoun (Gosling) and Allie Hamilton (McAdams) confront each other one rainy afternoon. When the truth is finally revealed—he did write her, she did wait for him—the lovers rush towards one another in a powerful, hungry kiss that spurs Noah to lift Allie off the wet ground and into his waiting bed. It’s dynamite!
(Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema)
JAMAL AND LATIKA
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
If there’s one thing we like, it’s a happy ending. Jamal (Dev Patel) and Latika (Freida Pinto) get just that after crime, betrayal, depravity, and injustice has pulled their love apart again and again. In the final scene of Slumdog Millionaire—which won eight of the ten Academy Awards it was nominated for—Jamal leaps across the train tracks and onto an empty platform where Latika is waiting for him. They stare at each other, trying to savor the moment of this reunion, and then Jamal takes his girl by the chin and gently pulls her into their much-awaited first kiss. Don’t tell us you didn’t cry after that (we won’t believe you!).
(Photo courtesy of Pathe Pictures)
EDWARD AND BELLA
Love it or hate it, The Twilight Saga is definitely here to stay. While its most recent installment, New Moon, had tween girls and grown women alike gaping at a plethora of abdominal muscles, it was the first movie, Twilight, that had hearts a-pounding for “vegetarian” vampires—who couldn’t kiss you, lest they thirst even more than usual for your blood. Nevertheless, there was a kiss—THE kiss, we should say—between protagonists Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart). And we have to admit, it was a good one. As they both perch on her bed, Edward inches towards Bella, slowly, so very slowly (by now, you are craning out of your seat, it’s so slow)—and when their lips finally meet, they are sealed together for a few moments by an intense, pulsating kiss. And then Edward pulls back. All together now: we want more!
(Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment)