Characters kiss all the time in movies. But a great screen kiss is more than just about two people with the hots for each other finally getting some action; a super smooch actually has viewers puckering up in empathy. Just in time for July 4th’s fireworks, here’s a handful of some of the most explosive displays we’ve ever seen on the big screen.
Courtesy Everett Collection
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in 1939’s “Gone With the Wind.”
‘Gone With the Wind’ (1939)
When rogue Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) tells schemer Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) that “you should be kissed, and often. And by someone who knows how,” he knows what he’s talking about. And when he finally plants one on her, she gets with the program pretty quickly.
20th Century Fox Licensing/Merch
Cary Elwes and Robin Wright in 1987’s “The Princess Bride.”
‘The Princess Bride’ (1987)
When Cary Elwes is just farmboy Westley to Robin Wright’s Buttercup, they lock lips with the sun blazing behind them. But after a long separation (and his transformation into The Man in Black) they share another at the end, characterized this way: “Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”
Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart in 1946’s “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ (1946)
After returning from an alternate reality in which he never married the love of his life, no wonder Jimmy Stewart’s George rushes into his wife Mary’s (Donna Reed) arms when he gets home, and mashes her face with kisses.
Everett Collection / Everett Col
Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in 1953’s “From Here to Eternity.”
‘From Here to Eternity’ (1953)
In real life, rolling around in the sand as waves crash over you and your lovers’ legs is not super comfortable, but Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr made it sexy as they swapped smooches in the Hawaiian surf in an iconic romantic scene.
Angela Bassett and Taye Diggs in 1998’s “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”
‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back’ (1998)
There’s a lot of playful, passionate pecking that happens before Stella (Angela Bassett) and awesomely-named Jamaican local Winston Shakespeare (Taye Diggs) realize they can take their romance into the real world, but once they do and he takes her head in his hands for that big show-stopping number, that’s all she wrote.
Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in 2002’s “Spider-Man.”
The man behind the mask (Tobey Maguire) turned everything upside down when he planted one on Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) … while in the inverted, hanging position. Comic-book inspired movies aren’t usually a first choice for hot romance, but this one kiss changed everything.
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in 2004’s “The Notebook.”
‘The Notebook’ (2004)
You try spending seven years apart when you’re as adorable and sexy as Rachel McAdams (Allie) and Ryan Gosling (Noah). Then you try a kiss. In the rain.
George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn in 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961)
She’s been sketchy with her affections throughout the entire film, but when Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) finally figures out that her home is really with the adoring guy next door “Fred” (George Peppard), it’s a movie-ending moment for the ages. Bonus: More rain.
Molly Ringwald and Michael Schoeffling in 1984’s “Sixteen Candles.”
‘Sixteen Candles’ (1984)
After spending the movie feeling miserable that everyone forgot her milestone birthday, Samantha (Molly Ringwald) comes home to find the hottest guy in school (Jake, played by Michael Schoeffling) sitting on her dining room table with a cake and lit candles. They lean over the pastry to plant one on each other and … roll credits.