SOME OF THE steamiest love scenes in recent times (at least to this completely unbiased reporter) take place between Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin in "Sea of Love."
The film was crafted along the theme of boy meets girl, boy suspects girl is psychotic post-coital killer, boy discovers girl is not psychotic post-coital killer (although not exactly chapter head of the Sweet Adelines, either) and falls in love.
Oh, sure, I know what you're thinking.
You're thinking: Geez, not that same tired old plot again! Not another psychotic post-coital killer who terrorizes the city and baffles the police by snuffing out her lovers with two shots to the head from a 9mm. Please, give it a rest!
Yep, my thoughts exactly. Hell, that sort of thing nearly happened to me, oh, 10 or 12 times when I was dating.
Yet it was the love scenes between the smoldering, enigmatic Barkin and the moody, high-strung Pacino that made the film truly memorable. Oh, yes, truly memorable indeed. As I recall, I left the theater with about six JuJubees stuck on various parts of my dampened face, evidently having had trouble finding my mouth with all that feverish coupling taking place on the screen.
The truth of the matter is, though, that many men feel uncomfortable watching these scorching love scenes. Especially those scenes where the actors are really going at it, flopping all over each other like a couple of freshly caught mackerel for what seems like hours.
All these super-human bedroom histrionics make many of us men feel terribly inadequate as lovers. Therefore, as we leave the theaters with our JuJubees stuck to our dampened faces, we worry that we have neither the imagination nor the technique nor the stamina to put on such an Olympian performance in real life.
(Not that I myself worry about any of this. But you hear things. Locker-room talk. You know how it is.)
All I know is, you don't walk out of a movie like, say, "Bull Durham" with your wife or girlfriend and say: "Hey, what say we jump on the kitchen table and try that business that Costner and Sarandon tried?"
No. You just don't do that. Not right after the movie. Believe me, you're setting yourselves up for a major league letdown.
Another reason you don't do that is because, well . . . because we're all adults here. And, let's face it, we've all seen that sort of thing before. I mean, what normal, healthy All-American couple doesn't every now and again jump on the kitchen table and kick aside the salt and pepper shakers for a little lovemaking?
(Speaking of unusual places to, ahem, show affection, in the movie "Fatal Attraction," Michael Douglas and Glenn Close fool around in an elevator.
(AN ELEVATOR! What is that all about? Hey, if you're in that much of a hurry to get hot and heavy, I suggest taking the stairs two at a time and getting up to that apartment where -- I know this is a novel idea -- they have a bed!
(For God's sake, don't fool around in the elevator. Some little old lady gets on at the 14th floor and sees the two of you going at it, she's liable to keel over right there. And pretty soon you'll have ambulances screaming up to the building and paramedics swarming all over the place. Talk about ruining the mood.)
The intriguing thing about love scenes is that even veteran actors admit they're difficult to do.
Oh, it's not that you're worried about messing up your lines, as the scripts for these scenes are basically all the same:
Jessica (climbing on kitchen table): "Ohhhh, Fredrick . . . uhhh."
Fredrick: "Mmmmm . . .call me Fred."
Jessica: "Ohhhh, Fred. . ."
Clearly, it's not the first few minutes of "Hamlet." So if you're an actor, you're not exactly sweating through the sheets worrying about messing up the dialogue and blurting out "Ohhhh" when the line should read "Mmmmm" or inadvertently throwing an extra "uhhh" in there.
No, the problem with filming these scenes is this: Let's say
you're Al Pacino and you're in bed (or leaning against a wall, take your pick) with Ellen Barkin and the director barks: "Action!"
Well, I don't know how to break this to you two lovebirds, but you're not exactly alone. Two feet away is a camera crew. And a couple of guys holding boom mikes. And dozens of assorted assistants, go-fers and hangers-on all standing there bug-eyed damp-browed while the two of you pant and groan and grope at each other like . . . like animals!
Talk about embarrassing.
I get JuJubees all over my face just thinking about it.