The erotic drama '9 1/2 Weeks,' released 25 years ago this week (on Feb. 21, 1986), wasn't a big hit in theaters. Much like the more explicit X-rated fare of its time, people were embarrassed to see it in theaters, but they made it a huge hit on home video. The movie turned out to be vastly influential as well, and not just because it showed viewers how to turn their refrigerator into a sex toy. Here are five ways it had lasting impact.
1. It made a star of Kim Basinger
Before '9 1/2 Weeks,' she was a slightly-past-her-prime starlet. Her fearless, raw turn quickly made her one of Hollywood's most sought-after actresses for more than a decade.
2. It jump-started the careers of two of Hollywood's perviest filmmakers
One was director Adrian Lyne, who thereafter became the go-to guy for deliberately provocative, button-pushing films about sex and class (notably, 'Fatal Attraction,' 'Indecent Proposal,' 'Lolita' and 'Unfaithful'). And screenwriter Zalman King would spend the next quarter-century making variations on the erotic scenarios he came up with here, first in feature films like 'Wild Orchid' and later on Showtime with series like 'Red Shoe Diaries' and 'Body Language.' He's the spiritual godfather of every movie on Skinemax.
Best Movie Sex Scenes of All Time
3. It all but killed Mickey Rourke's career
After this and 1990's 'Wild Orchid,' Rourke seemed typecast as a jaded sexual sadist. It would take nearly 20 years, with 2008's 'The Wrestler,' before he was taken seriously as an actor again.
4. It invented a new genre
Call it "designer kink." The movie wasn't just about lust for the flesh, but also lust for the lifestyles of the upscale New Yorkers played by Rourke and Basinger. Lyne shot each sex scene to look like a music video or a magazine fashion spread. For years to come, movie sex would be all about the art direction: designer clothes being shed as couples meshed atop designer furniture, showing flashes of designer body parts (like those of Basinger's body double).
5. Do try this at home
Well, maybe not some of the more extreme games that come later in the on-screen couple's increasingly manipulative, sadomasochistic relationship. But everyone who watched tried out some of the earlier, more benign sex play, like the use of ice cubes, or the movie's most famous (and most-parodied) sequence, the game of Guess Which Leftovers Are in the Icebox by the Way They Feel on Your Skin (which, by the way, is much messier and not as much fun in real life, though your mileage may vary.)
1926 (Feb. 21): Greta Garbo makes her Hollywood debut in 'Torrent.' 85 years later, we're still swooning.
1992 (Feb. 20): John Singleton becomes the first African-American nominated for a Best Director Oscar, for 'Boyz N the Hood.' He's also the youngest directing nominee ever.
1997 (Feb. 23): 'Schindler's List' is shown uncut on network TV. Today, amid the post–Janet Jackson fear of FCC indecency fines, no network would touch it.
1999 (Feb. 20): Gene Siskel dies. It's the beginning of a slow (11 years), painful demise for Roger Ebert's movie-review show, and for newspaper film criticism in general.
This Week in Celebrity Birthdays
Contrary to rumors, Abe Vigoda is not dead, but the 'Godfather' co-star did turn 90 this week (Feb. 24). Sidney Poitier turned 84 (Feb. 20), though he probably still looks about 60. Easy Rider Peter Fonda is now 72 (Feb. 23). Alan Rickman is officially a senior citizen at 65 (Feb. 21). Goonie-turned-hobbit Sean Astin hit the big 4-0 (Feb. 25). Drew Barrymore is 36 (Feb. 22). And Dakota Fanning is positively ancient at 17 (Feb. 23).
'Hall Pass' (R)
Starring:Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Stephen Merchant, Christina Applegate
Directed By:Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
What's It About? When their husbands go through midlife crises, two exasperated wives give the guys a week off from marriage to sow their wild oats.
Why Should You See It? This is being billed as the movie in which the Farrelly brothers finally mature. Rest assured, the 'There's Something About Mary' filmmakers are as vulgar, puerile and oddly sweet-natured as ever.
You Might Like It If You Like: 'Dumb & Dumber,' 'The Hangover,' 'City Slickers'
'Drive Angry' (R)
Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, Charlotte Ross
Directed By:Patrick Lussier
What's It About? Cage is an escapee from hell named Milton (get it?) who's on the trail of the kidnappers who killed his daughter and took her baby. There's a hottie (Heard) along for the ride and a demon (Fichtner) on his trail. Sound familiar?
Why Should You See It? Nic Cage, hot rods, hot babe, hellhounds. You know the drill.
You Might Like It If You Like: 'Ghost Rider,' 'Gone in 60 Seconds'
'The Grace Card' looks to draw spiritually minded audiences with this parable about a man who loses his faith after his son's accidental death. Louis Gossett Jr. stars.
Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
'Of Gods and Men' is another religious parable, from France, about a group of monks trying to get by in a secular world of violence and warfare. Lambert Wilson of the 'Matrix' trilogy stars.
Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
• 'Justin Bieber Never Say Never: The Director's Fan Cut' : In what's surely the fastest turnaround of a director's cut in history, the two-week old movie is re-released with 34 minutes of new footage (and minus 22 minutes of old footage), featuring more of what Beliebers have said they want to see: home movies, interviews, and new musical numbers. Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
• 'Unknown': Nicolas Cage may play a grandpa in 'Drive Angry,' but Hollywood's favorite butt-kicking old-timer is still Liam Neeson. Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
• 'I Am Number Four': Oh, the tormented romance between Dianna Agron and Alex Pettyfer! Oh, the drama! And we hear they made a movie, too. Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
New on DVD: Of last year's two animated comedies about supervillains gone soft, 'Megamind' is the slightly edgier one, with more jokes about the caped-hero genre it's making fun of. (Well, not so much edge to make it unsuitable for the little ones, judging by the 'Megamind' coloring books we saw in stores last fall.) Buy or rent the DVD | More new DVD releases
On Our Netflix Queue: A lot of critics thought Robert Duvall's wry performance in 'Get Low' as a hermit who plans his own funeral might make the Best Actor cut at this year's Oscars. Maybe he wasn't as crusty as Jeff Bridges, marble-mouthed as Colin Firth, antisocial as Jesse Eisenberg or close to death's door as Javier Bardem and James Franco. Still, if you didn't catch this in theaters and want to see if Duvall measures up, now's your chance. Buy or rent the DVD
On TV: Only three movies have ever swept Oscar's grand slam (Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay). They are, of course, 'It Happened One Night,' which invented the screwball romantic comedy as we know it; 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' featuring Jack Nicholson's towering performance as a rebellious mental patient; and 'The Silence of the Lambs,' starring Anthony Hopkins as the premier screen villain of the last 20 years. As part of its '31 Days of Oscar' programming, TCM is showing all three in a row on Saturday night, starting at 8PM ET. Check your local listings
Follow Gary Susman on Twitter: @garysusman.