The end of the decade brought a flurry of movie-themed features about cinema in the new millennium. We here at Bullz-Eye even tossed our hat into the ring, and one of the lists I submitted was of my favorite movie posters from the last ten years. One particular selection (a teaser poster for “Good Luck Chuck” featuring Jessica Alba holding a melting ice cream cone) was commented on by just about everyone on staff, so in keeping with the spirit of the incredibly sexy one-sheet, I decided to put together a list of some of the sexiest movie posters of all-time. Censorship may have played a big role in movies since their inception, but that hasn’t stopped studios from using sex to sell, and we can all agree that there’s nothing particularly censored about this sultry collection of posters.
“The Sin of Nora Moran” (1933)
Movie studios used to rely on painted images of their feminine stars to promote a film (just about every Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot vehicle had one), but of the hundreds of sexy poses to choose from, this poster for “The Sin of Nora Moran” is the cream of the crop. You may not be too familiar with its star, Zita Johann (whose biggest claim to fame is co-starring alongside Boris Karloff in the 1932 version of “The Mummy”), but between the virtually see-thru dress that she’s wearing and the manner that her body is positioned, it’ll certainly make you wish you were.
Putting aside the somewhat pedophilic nature of the story, Stanley Kubrick’s “Lo*li*ta” has one of the most alluring posters around. Though Sue Lyon was only 16 when she made the film (and playing a 14-year-old at that), the slightly blurred photo of her wearing those famous heart-shaped glasses while she innocently/playfully sucks on a red lollipop has remained one of the most iconic images of the last 50 years. Lyon never did look her age, but that doesn’t make you feel any less guilty for staring; something Kubrick no doubt intended with this beautifully composed shot.
“The Graduate” (1967)
An American classic. Anne Bancroft doesn’t even appear in the poster except for her outstretched leg, but then again, that’s the point. The mystery behind the image (which has been spiced up in this 30th anniversary version with Dustin Hoffman’s famous quote) is sexy exactly because you want to see more but can’t. Whoever was responsible for this poster is a genius, because it tells you everything you need to know about Mike Nichols’ cult classic without really saying anything at all.
“Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” (1968)
Apart from its hilariously candid title (I love the inclusion of the parenthesized “obviously” just below), this Hammer-produced Christopher Lee flick isn’t quite as tongue-in-cheek as its poster indicates. Still, you have to admire the mix of sex and humor in this photo. It looks absolutely gorgeous in black-and-white, and despite just barely featuring the woman’s open mouth and heaving breasts on the top and bottom borders (thus drawing even more attention to them), your eyes go straight to her neck. It’s all accomplished with a little splash of color in the form of two pink band-aids covering a vampire bite mark, and while it might not sound like much, it’s the highlight of what’s since become one of my favorite posters.
“American Beauty” (1999)
The poster for Sam Mendes’ award-winning film, “American Beauty,” is probably more sensual than sexual, but I’d be crazy to leave it off this list, if only because that image has become as classic as the one from “The Graduate.” Playfully hinting at one of the most memorable scenes in the movie, where Kevin Spacey dreams about Mena Suvari floating above his bed while bathing in a sea of rose petals, the poster is teeming with sexual innuendo without being tasteless.
“Almost Famous” (1998)
You may have never seen this poster for Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous” (in fact, I’m not even sure it ever appeared in the U.S. marketing campaign), but it’s definitely better than that boring close-up of Kate Hudson you’re used to seeing. Hudson’s performance as Penny Lane will likely remain the best work she’s ever done, and for good reason. Equal parts naïve schoolgirl and rebellious roadie, this image conveys everything we love about the character – from her innocent sexuality to her devil-may-care lifestyle. The cherry on top is the killer tagline (“Experience it. Enjoy it. Just don’t fall for it.”), though it’s probably too late to do you any good.
“Woman on Top” (2000)
Penelope Cruz already makes anything she’s in 300% hotter, but there’s plenty of heat behind this poster for “Woman on Top.” Not only does her teasing gaze melt you like chocolate, but she’s also playfully holding a red pepper to her lips. (The only way this could have been sexier is if it was strawberry instead.) And let’s not forget about the burning edges on the photo. So yeah, hot. What really sends this poster over the edge, however, is the title and tagline, which is not only one helluva double-entendre, but will undoubtedly raise your interest in the film.
In keeping with the theme of the movie, this is probably the kinkiest poster you’ll ever see. I’m not sure if that’s really Maggie Gyllenhaal showing off her long stems and derriere, but I’d sure like to think so. Either way, it’s an instantly memorable shot that also happens to be pretty economical with its space. There were plenty of other places they could have put the title, but the fact that they slapped it right there on her ass pretty much ensures you’ll start there and work your way down. The man who designed this poster deserves a medal of some sort. Or at least a handshake and a pat on the back.
“Sin City” (2005)
Though the Jessica Alba version is no doubt the more popular of the two, Brittany Murphy’s “Sin City” character poster is just oozing sexuality. That’s bound to cause some controversy amongst those that think Alba is the sexiest woman alive, but Murphy is smoking hot in that black lingerie, and she pulls off the white button-down shirt look with confidence. It’s too bad we won’t get to see Murphy reprise the character in Robert Rodriguez’s long-delayed sequels, because it was easily one of her best roles to date. On a side note, Rosario Dawson’s poster ain’t so bad itself. That is, if you’re into that kind of stuff.
This little-seen drama from director Sean Ellis doesn’t just use the half-naked shopper on its poster – she’s the centerpiece of a slick and stylish sequence in the film where the sleep-deprived protagonist imagines slowing down time so that he can better appreciate the beauty surrounding him. It’s a bit out of left field in terms of marketing, but who’s going to argue against using a partially nude runway model to sell a movie? It definitely worked on me, and chances are, it’ll work on you too.
Tags: Almost Famous, American Beauty, Anne Bancroft, Brittany Murphy, Cashback, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mena Suvari, Penelope Cruz, Secretary, sexiest movie posters, Sin City, Sue Lyon, The Graduate, The Sin of Nora Moran, Woman on Top