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Barely Legal: 30 Nearly Pornographic Mainstream Films

Full-frontal nudity, steamy threesomes, one-for-the-money shots — these movies pushed the envelope and still played multiplexes
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Yellow I am Curious
Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

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'I Am Curious (Yellow)' (1967)

It wasn't just the pubic hair on display that got Vilgot Sjoman's political screed-cum-melodrama seized at customs when it was brought here in 1969, put at the center of an obscenity case tried by the Supreme Court and considered one of the more notorious films of its day. (Although the few scenes in which actors Lena Nyman and Borje Ahlstedt show off some hairy nether regions certainly helped distinguished this Swedish import from the usual foreign-film fare.) No, what put this story of a radical student having an affair with a married man in boiling hot water was the sequence in which Nyman plants a kiss on her costar's penis in full view; that was enough to brew up a shitstorm that woud end up breaking down censorship barriers and ultimately help usher in an age of cinematic permissiveness. No one talked about the interview footage of Martin Luther King Jr., or footage of actual Vietnam War protesting, or the cheeky subversiveness of the movie's antiauthoritarian humor. They focused on the genital smooch. The curiosity and the contrversy helped garner it a broader audience. And the rest is history. DAVID FEAR

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