thescriptlab's 10 Great Seduction Scenes
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The Graduate (1967)
When you think of a seduction scene, 1967’s The Graduate, no doubt comes to mind. Not only is it an iconic film, but it has one of the most famous seduction scenes of all time. At his graduation party, soon-to-be 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) is convinced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) to drive her home. Upon arrival, she convinces him to come inside her house. And then, Mrs. Robinson turns on all of her tricks. The clearly uncomfortable Benjamin panics, saying, “For god's sake, Mrs. Robinson. Here we are. You got me into your house. You give me a drink. You... put on music. Now you start opening up your personal life to me and tell me your husband won't be home for hours.” Mrs. Robinson plays dumb. She coyly puts her leg up on the barstool. And now we get the famous shot. Through the gap in Mrs. Robinson’s leg, we see Benjamin say, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.” Mrs. Robinson goes on to manipulate him, making Benjamin feel foolish for the accusation. However, before you can say “cougar,” Mrs. Robinson is standing in front of him completely naked. She let’s him know that he can have her anytime he wants. While he doesn’t take her up on the offer that night, Mrs. Robinson ultimately succeeds as he calls her to arrange a meeting soon after. Me-ow.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Sometimes seduction can be about the little things... like ice cream. In 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, the Hoover family is determined to deliver Olive (Abigail Breslin) across the country so that she can compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty Pageant. One of the best scenes in the film comes when the family stops for breakfast at a diner. Olive orders waffles “a-la-mode.” Her father, Richard (Greg Kinnear), tries to convince her not to eat it. He explains that ice cream comes from cows and turns into fat on your body. He asks her whether the ladies who compete in the Miss America pageants or fat or thin, insinuating that if she wants to win, she must be skinny, and therefore, should not eat ice cream. The family is horrified, not wanting to give seven-year-old Olive a I-can’t-eat-ice-cream complex. The ice cream comes and Olive is clearly conflicted, ultimately deciding not to eat the ice cream, offering it up to the rest of her family. Everyone digs in, being playful and purposefully overexcited, all except Richard, her father. They joke, and laugh, hinting for her to eat some, and eventually Olive gives in yelling, “Don’t eat it all!” Richard tries to object, but is overruled by the family. The brilliance of this seduction scene is two fold; Richard successfully seduces his daughter Olive not to eat ice cream, but the family responds in tow by seducing her back to just being a kid and eat up. It’s like a tennis match, conflict and seduction volleyed back and forth, and in the end, Richard loses the match.
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
You know the scene. A distraught Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) screams at the bottom of the staircase in the pouring rain, “Stellaaa!” This classic film examines the strained relationship between Stanley, Stella (Kim Hunter), and Stella’s sister, Blanche (Vivien Leigh). One night, the brutish Stanley is playing poker with his buddies. He becomes extremely intoxicated and hits his wife, Stella. Blanche and Stella flee to their neighbor’s house for safety. Soon enough, Stanley comes around. He belts out, “Stellaaa!” trying to get her to come home. The audience, Blanche, and the neighbor don’t think that Stella will go to him... but she does. Stella descends the staircase and collapses on top of him. With no words, Stanley carries her home. It is in that moment that the audience realizes the power of their bond. It’s more than just chemistry; it’s animalistic. The scene not only portrays their relationship, but it is a precursor to the last scene of the film where Stella must decide if she will let Stanley seduce her once more.
The Notebook (2004)
Yes, America’s go-to romantic movie is on the list. Don’t lie. You know you teared up a bit at the end. In a tale as old as time, a poor boy falls in love with a rich girl. And as hard as they try, their lives are separated by social differences. But before all of that hear-ache, comes the seduction scene. Allie (Rachel McAdams) is on a date at the county fair. Noah (Ryan Gosling) spots her and is immediately smitten. Like any daring young man in the 1940s, he decides that the way to win her affection is to threaten his own life until she agrees to a date. Yes, he climbs the Ferris wheel that she is riding and while hanging there with fifty feet between his feet and the ground, he tells her he will let go unless she will go out with him (cue the girls, “Awww, romanitic”). Allie is stubborn and refuses to give in to his demands... until he takes one hand away. Slipping, slipping, until… she finally screams, “I’ll go out with you!”, but the war is not over. Noah gets his grip back on the Ferris wheel, and Allie pulls down his pants. Ah, a match made in heaven. While Noah’s seduction fails short term (she later refuses and is tricked into going on their first date), it wins in the long run by planting the seed of romance. So boys, lesson learned? Next time you want to win the girl, you just have to threaten to jeopardize your life until she caves. Oh, romance.
Miles (Paul Giamatti) is a failed writer, struggling to survive as a bitter English teacher. As a pre-wedding gift to his long-time best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church), Miles takes Jack on a week-long road trip through California’s wine country to celebrate Jack’s last week of singlehood. The two explore the vineyards where they ultimately search for their own identities... I know, I know. It sounds like a Yuppie’s dream movie, but it really pulls through as a great film. Upon arriving at the Windmill Inn, Miles meets a waitress named Maya (Virginia Madsen). Although he likes her, he is terribly awkward. Finally, the two really connect over a glass of wine. Miles gets poetic about Pinot, and Maya is won over. She tells him that she likes to think about “the life of wine.” Her words actually mirror Miles’ life, and you can see that it touches him. She builds and builds her words, ending with “And it tastes so fucking good.” She places her hand on Miles’... and what does he do? He ruins the moment. His one chance with her, and he pulls away, excusing himself to the bathroom. This seduction scene is great because it is so subtle and subdued (like a Pinot Blanc, if you will). And it’s delivered with a quiet urge: soft and slow, with intense multi-emotional layers.
The Godfather (1972)
Perhaps no other film in history portrays the seduction of a lifestyle like Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. The first installment of the trilogy sees Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) take over the family business. But unlike his counterparts in the film, Michael spends the majority of his life as a “civilian”, uninvolved in the family business. Soon enough though, Michael takes his first step into mob life. After Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) is gunned down in the street, the family gathers to discuss their next move. Retaliation is a must. They agree that Michael should be left out of it. However, when a second attempt is made to kill Don Corleone, Michael steps up to the plate. The family agrees to take a hit out against Sollozzo and the corrupt cop, McCluskey. A usually silent Michael speaks up and says that they must do it now. He tries to convince them that he is the right one for the job, since Sollozzo and McCluskey want to meet with him anyway. Suddenly, Michael is in control. He dictates the entire plan, down to where they will plant the weapon, ending with “I’ll kill them both.” His older brother, Sonny, laughs at him. He calls Michael a nice college boy. He insinuates that Michael could never handle such a task, saying “bada-bing brains all over your ivy league suit.” Michael wins their confidence when he makes the point that no one will mourn a corrupt cop. Finally, with an intense stare Michael utters, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” And like that, Michael is the man for the job... a job that will lead him to become the next Godfather.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
You know the story. Joe Gillis (William Holden) pulls into the driveway of Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) to evade the creditors who are searching for him. At first Norma, a former movie star, mistakes him for an undertaker. However, soon she learns that he is a writer. She insists that Gillis reads her script. What’s great about this seduction scene is the way they both try to seduce each other- in completely opposite ways. Norma offers for him to sit down and sip champagne. At first, Gillis only obliges because “sometimes it’s interesting to see how bad, bad writing can be”. But soon, Gillis forms his own plan. He makes her believe that she needs him to work on her script. He acts extremely flippant. Gillis knows that she will be drawn to him when he responds with noncommittal (but positive) feedback. Sure enough, Norma plays right into his hands. She insists that he work on the script. Norma assures him that she will pay him a generous amount of money, which solves his current predicament. On his way out, Gillis narrates that he “felt kind of pleased with the way I handled the situation”. Little did he know, he had just taken the first step to an early grave.
About Schmidt (2002)
“A divorcee and a widower. Sounds like a perfect match to me.” Those are the words that escape Roberta Hertzel (Kathy Bates) lips as she attempts to seduce Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson). In About Schmidt, Warren takes an RV trip to his estranged daughter’s wedding in Denver. It is there that he meets up with Roberta, the mother of the groom. Roberta is outgoing and funny, and Warren is somewhat frightened of her. One day, Warren wakes up and finds that his back is hurt. Roberta becomes his housemaid, feeding him soup and telling him unnecessary stories of his daughter’s sex life. In the seduction scene, Roberta puts Warren in the hot tub. Suddenly, she comes out of the house and sheds her robe. She is completely naked. She jumps into the hot tub, nonchalantly. Warren is speechless. Roberta makes an advance by putting her foot on Warren’s thigh. Warren jumps out of the tub and races back to his RV. The chemistry between Bates and Nicholson is flawless. This scene proves that unsuccessful seduction scenes can be also be successful tools of comedy.
The Matador (2005)
Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan) is a hit man who travels the world. Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) is a downtrodden, conservative businessman. They meet one night in a bar in Mexico. The two are completely opposite. In every way. Against the odds, they strike up a conversation and start to become chummy. This encounter produces an awkward, but interesting relationship. Each man, though polar opposites, is falling apart at the seams. Eventually, the two men part ways. However, months later Julian shows up on Danny’s suburban doorstep in the middle of the night. The trained assassin makes small talk with Danny and his wife, but soon his true intentions are revealed. He gives a toast to himself, “a dead man”, and explains that he botched an assassin jobs in Manila and Budapest. Now, he is being hunted down because of it. That night, Julian wakes Danny up and leads him to his car. They sit in below freezing temperatures while Julian explains that he has been offered a way out of his “fatal predicament”. He must do one more job, and he needs Danny to do it with him. Danny bolts from the car, with Julian in tow. Julian begs, saying that Danny is his only friend. Finally, amidst the snow, Julian pulls the “You owe me” card. And just like that, an unlikely friendship becomes a business partnership, now with Danny assisting in “facilitating a fatality.”
“Help me Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope”. Classic, right? While when thinking about seduction you probably don’t jump to Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi... or maybe you do (whatever floats your boat). But in Star Wars: A New Hope, Obi-Wan must convince young Skywalker to learn the ways of The Force. After rescuing Luke from a group of Tusken Raiders, Obi-Wan reveals that he knew Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker. He served with him in the Clone Wars as a Jedi Knight. He goes on to give Luke Anakin's lightsaber. He tells him that "a young Jedi named Darth Vader... betrayed and murdered your father." Yes, Obi-Wan pulls the dad card, the light saber card, and finally the Princess Leia hologram card. However, Luke is seemingly unmoved. Obi-Wan tells him that he “must do what you feel is right, of course”, not wanting to pressure Luke too much. Obi-Wan’s tactic works, and eventually Luke joins the fight against the empire.
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