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Most Memorable First Kisses In Cinematic History

Since the invention of movies, cinematic kisses have been sweeping us away into rapturous moments of romance. Watching a great first kiss can be almost as emotionally stirring as experiencing one in real life. Fantastic first kisses as depicted on film envelop the viewer in those glorious feelings of new beginnings and melting romance: Whatever the two participants have been going through prior to this moment, their lives are forever changed by their magical smooch.

But while great first kisses almost always look magical, they are rarely as romantic for the actors in question. There's bad breath, makeup, and costumes to deal with, not to mention production stresses. Other times, there are tensions between the actors, with the two kissers either at odds with each other, or, in quite the opposite scenario, dealing with their own sexual tension. All of this bleeds onto the screen, but the best actors can turn these real-world considerations into visible passion. Some of these kisses were fraught with real-world tension, some of them were effortlessly pulled off, and some happened between actors who hated each other. All of them are the most memorable first kisses in cinematic history.

The Princess Bride (1987)

Throughout The Princess Bride, Buttercup (Robin Wright) and Westley (Cary Elwes) have plenty of kisses — probably. It's just that the audience never gets to see them. The grandson being told their story (Fred Savage) is totally not into hearing about the kissing scenes, which he tells his grandfather (Peter Falk), who is reading to him while he's sick in bed. So Westley and Buttercup might have had a pretty epic first kiss earlier in the film, but we'll never actually know.

Finally, at the end of the movie, Buttercup and Westley are reunited and ride off into the sunset. The grandson has been so moved by their tale of love (and perhaps also by all of the swashbuckling, murdering, and pirates) that he allows his grandfather to keep reading. Thus, we finally get to see Buttercup and Westley engage in an unforgettable kiss. The grandfather's narration puts it perfectly: "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."

Back to the Future (1985)

The Back to the Future franchise is one of the most fun sci-fi trilogies around, but it's a little lacking in the romance department. Marty (Michael J. Fox) and Jennifer (Claudia Wells/Elisabeth Shue) aren't exactly swoony, and though Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen) get all googly-eyed, their relationship is more adorable than it is passionate.

But George (Crispin Glover) and Lorraine (Lea Thompson) are meant to be, to the point that Marty needs to do everything he can to get them together lest he cease to exist. For most of the movie, Lorraine ignores George, but when George saves her from Biff, attraction ignites. Their first kiss on the dance floor, while the band sings "Earth Angel," is a little bit naughty, a little bit nice, and altogether unforgettable. Plus, it's just what's needed to save Marty from fading into the unknown.

Atonement (2007)

Atonement tells the story of Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and Robbie (James McAvoy), two young people in love. Tragically, their romance is thwarted by World War II and the relatively devious and utterly destructive actions of Cecilia's younger sister, Briony (Saoirse Ronan). But before tragedy and heartbreak strike, Cecilia and Robbie have some seriously sexy moments early on in the film. 

First, there's a flirtatious scene by a fountain, where Cecilia dives in to retrieve a piece of broken vase wearing nothing but a slip. When she emerges, soaked, Robbie doesn't look away, and Cecilia doesn't want him to. Later, working-class Robbie arrives in a tux for a fancy dinner and greets Cecilia, clad in an iconic green dress. In the darkened library, Robbie and Cecilia finally collide and kiss like they've never kissed before. Thus, they declare their love in one of the hottest first kisses (and more!) in movie history.

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet is one of the most popular love stories ever told. Sure, it's also a bit of a warning to frantic teenagers who might act too hastily in young love and lust. But this story has been made into movies since movies first began, and its romance remains undeniably powerful.

One of the best film adaptations of this timeless love story is Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, in which Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio play the famous star-crossed lovers. Their first kiss happens in an elevator in the midst of dazzling costume party. Juliet wears a white dress and angel wings, while Romeo is in a knight's armor, meaning both of them look rather Shakespearean, despite the modern setting. Their flirtatious meet-cute unfolds while Des'ree's "Kissing You" plays, and escalates into the frenzied lip-lock in the elevator. It captures the whirlwind of their relationship perfectly.

Aladdin (1992)

Sure, Aladdin is animated, but cartoons can make us swoon just as well as live-action films — especially when the animated film in question is a Disney picture. Though Belle and the Beast's kiss after he transforms in Beauty and the Beast is a seriously passionate one many fans would put in the top spot, the first kiss between Aladdin and Princess Jasmine is our pick. 

As they sing "A Whole New World," the duo flirts, and Aladdin offers Jasmine a sweeping view of life outside her palace walls. When Aladdin drops Jasmine off back at her royal balcony, Carpet takes things into his own tassels, and flings Aladdin up into Jasmine. The two initially face-plant into each other and make big bug eyes in surprise, but then they settle into an utterly genuine first kiss. Jasmine's glimpse over her shoulder as she heads back inside says it all.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars' Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo(Harrison Ford) have a relationship fraught with bickering, love, sexual tension, frustration, and tragedy. But their first kiss starts a romance that goes on to cross the galaxy, survive the downfall and resurgence of an empire, and last for decades.

In The Empire Strikes Back, as Leia is trying to fix a bit of machinery, Han approaches her from behind. The two flirt a bit while Han rubs her hand. Leia calls him a scoundrel, Han likes it, Leia asserts she likes nice guys, and Han says he's a nice guy, right before he plants one on her. Some criticize this kiss, and the early days of their relationship in general, citing Han's aggression and persistence. That's fair enough, but it's undeniable that for many Star Wars fans, this kiss is an iconic declaration of Han and Leia's love.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is not a romantic movie, nor does it even feature a love story. But some sparks do fly in Steven Spielberg's story of a lost, lonely boy and his alien companion.

With Elliott (Henry Thomas) off at school and E.T. left alone at home, the abandoned creature gets into some beers in the fridge and puts on the John Wayne movie The Quiet Man. At this point, Elliott can feel E.T.'s feelings, so Elliott acts drunk, frees some frogs, and starts a bit of a classroom riot. As E.T. watches John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara embrace in a passionate kiss, Elliott nabs the girl with a crush on him (Erika Eleniak), gets a boost from another classmate, and plants a kiss on her. John Williams' score sweeps unforgettably over the whole moment, making it a kiss as stirring and memorable as it is truly unique.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

This first kiss isn't so much passionate or sexy as it is totally adorable. It's the kind of kiss that comes from pure comfort with another person, and chemistry big enough to make it work.

In Good Will Hunting, titular character Will (Matt Damon) takes Skylar (Minnie Driver) out on a date. They go to a joke shop for some goofy fun, followed by dinner at a low-key burger joint. As the two chat and flirt, the chemistry between Damon and Driver becomes absolutely palpable. Their improvisational banter comes to a head when Skylar suggests they get their good night kiss over with before the end of the night. Thus, the two lock lips with their mouths full of burger, with a giddy Skylar chuckling the entire time. You can't help but smile when, after the smooch, Skylar says, "I think I got some of your pickle."

Moonlight (2016)

A film already being cited as one of the best movies of the current century, Moonlight features revolutionary love stories between Black men, both familial and romantic.

The first kiss between Chiron and Kevin (Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome) is a tender, intimate moment filled with excitement, trepidation, and hope. This kiss went on to win Best Kiss at the MTV Movie Awards: During his speech, Sanders said, "This represents more than a kiss. This is for those who feel like the others, the misfits. This represents us." Jerome added, "This award is ... for us artists who are out there who need to step out of the box to do whatever it takes to get people to wake up." Kevin and Chiron's kiss indeed made history — and it did it by being a gorgeously captured moment of longing, love, and genuine connection between two unforgettable young men.

Spider-Man (2002)

There have been many Spider-Men on screen since Tobey Maguire first flung his web in 2002's Spider-Man. But his kiss with Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane tops all other kisses in every other Spider-Man-centric film.

After rescuing Mary Jane from muggers, Spidey, also known as Peter Parker, hangs upside down from a building while Mary Jane stands in the pouring rain. They flirt a little bit, with Peter telling her she has a habit of getting in trouble, and her replying that he has a habit of rescuing her. Then Mary Jane insinuates that she's going to thank him, pulls his mask down to the bridge of his nose, and gives him a rain-soaked, upside-down kiss. The kiss is sexy for sure, but a little less so when you find out that Maguire couldn't really breathe while kissing Dunst. Still, his temporary waterboarding was worth it for this iconic moment.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

There's really no denying that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have serious chemistry together. While La La Land saw them fall in love through song and dance, they get a little more R-rated in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Their first kiss is a steamy one that is just an appetizer to the rest of their evening together.

After not getting an expected proposal from her boyfriend, Hannah (Stone) marches through the rain back to a bar where Gosling's Jacob hit on her a few nights prior. Looking for a quick hookup, Hannah marches over to Jacob while he's hitting on another girl and plants a hard, long kiss on him. Jacob lifts her off her feet and takes the hint. The two head home together where things get even more goofy, sexy, and fun between them, including a reenactment of the Dirty Dancing lift scene and Gosling's impeccable abs. 

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The love between Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America (Chris Evans), and Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) lasts through centuries. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, after Steve travels back in time to place the Infinity Stones back where they belong, he decides to stay in the 1940s with Peggy and live out the rest of his life with her. That's some serious devotion.

This huge, time-defying romantic gesture all starts with one quick kiss in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. As Cap, Peggy, and Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) head off to fight Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) one last time, Cap prepares to jump off the Jeep and head into his own battle. Before he departs, Peggy grabs him by the collar and plants a kiss on him. It's not long, but it is passionate, and it sparks a romance that spans decades.

Cruel Intentions (1999)

1999's Cruel Intentions provided a major boost to the careers of young Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe, and Selma Blair. They joined Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Sarah Michelle Gellar in this modern adaptation of the 1782 novel,  Les Liaisons dangereuses. 

The movie is total bait for horny teenagers, and features a racy kiss between Blair and Gellar's characters, Cecile and Kathryn. Though the moment is a bit of a tease (one some reviewers found exploitative), at the time, it was still relatively revolutionary to see two people of the same sex kissing in a mainstream movie. As Chelsea Steiner at The Mary Sue put it, "While the kiss was gratuitous and very much for the male gaze, it was many of our first experiences seeing any kind of queer kissing on the big screen. For many queer women and folks, that kiss was something of a light bulb moment."

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

As Harry Potter grows up throughout the eight movies that make up his franchise, he goes through normal teenage rights of passage. First crushes, first breakups, and first kisses all figure into his journey. While the Harry Potter movies feature some great kisses between couples that ultimately end up together, like Hermione and Ron and Harry and Ginny, Harry's very first kiss remains the series' most memorable smooch.

Harry has his first kiss with his crush, Cho Chang, in a romantic moment under the mistletoe. But it's an experience Harry describes as "wet," because Cho cries during the act. Harry's not bad at kissing, it's just that, as Hermione explains, Cho is "feeling sad about Cedric, and therefore confused about liking Harry, and guilty about kissing him." Being a teenager is stressful, But Harry and Cho's kiss is still a great first effort.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

For much of the 1946 Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey and Mary Hatch pretend to not be madly in love. They have a first dance and fall in the pool at his kid brother's prom, then spend the night strolling the streets together. A few years later, when Mary returns to Bedford Falls from college, George's mother sends him off to say hello. When potential suitor Sam Wainwright calls to talk to Mary, George is finally forced to accept his feelings for her. George's lofty ambitions to leave town have been thwarted at every turn, but he makes darn sure he doesn't lose Mary as well. After denying that he's ever wanted to marry anyone, he simply can't contain his feelings any longer. The two plant hectic, passionate kisses on one another while saying each other's names. It's a pretty passionate moment for 1946!

In & Out (1997)

1997's In & Out revolves around Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline), a teacher from a small town in Indiana. After a former student of his wins an Oscar for portraying a gay soldier, he thanks Howard in his speech and claims that Howard is gay. This comes as a major surprise to Howard, who is days away from marrying a woman.

As the movie unfolds, Howard explores his sexuality and faces the realities of coming out. The big first kiss involves a reporter played by Tom Selleck, who plants an intense, 12-second kiss on Howard. The kiss is incredibly awkward, clumsy, uncomfortable, and not at all sexy, but it is memorable for knocking some hesitancy around gay relationships out of the viewing public and being one of '90s cinema's few same-sex kisses. It's a far cry from what we see today, but at the time, this kiss stood out.

Dirty Dancing (1987)

There are a ton of steamy scenes in Dirty Dancing – so many, in fact, that it can be difficult to precisely recall when Baby (Jennifer Grey) and dance instructor Johnny (Patrick Swayze) first kiss. They get so close throughout the movie while working on their sultry dance numbers that one might assume they kiss a lot.

But Baby and Johnny's first kiss actually goes way farther than just a kiss. It finally happens during the scene in which Baby and Johnny have sex for the first time — a bit of a scandalous choice in 1963.  Baby heads up to Johnny's shack of an apartment and confesses her love. The two then seductively dance to Solomon Burke's 1962 song "Cry to Me," gyrating and dipping before they eventually disrobe. They finally kiss one another before they lie on the bed, at which point the scene fades suggestively.

Titanic (1997)

James Cameron's Titanic is probably one of the most romantic movies ever made, yet it is also shrouded in tragedy. But in the depths of the film's saddest moments, the romance between Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) is a stalwart life preserver. 

Their big moment comes at the front of the giant ship, right after Rose has changed her mind about getting off the boat with Jack when they dock. Jack shows her how to climb the bars at the very tip of the ship's bow, and hold her arms out to feel like she's flying. At this moment, bathed in the glow of the setting sun, Jack and Rose finally kiss. As the scene transitions, the two of them fade into the sea as the Titanic's shining bars transform into those long sunk beneath the sea. Jack and Rose go on to do some more sexy smooching in the back of a car in the cargo hold (literally steaming up the windows in the process), but that first kiss is simultaneously romantic and haunting.