For as long as there has been Hollywood, there has been kissing. Per a 2014 NEW YORK TIMES profile on the topic people have been locking lips since the 19th century, As the TIMES described it:
The very first moving-picture kiss, in a 25-second short made by Thomas Edison in 1896, shows the problem clearly. The man and the woman in the frame — a good-natured pair whose interaction is more playful than earnestly amorous — sit next to each other. He is in profile. She is snuggled against him, with her face turned away from his and toward the camera at about a 45-degree angle. Their first attempts at kissing, which interrupt a steady (and of course silent) stream of talk, are odd, sideways forays. The corners of their mouths meet while she keeps looking at the camera. And then suddenly, he pulls away, smooths his impressive mustache, turns her face toward his and plants one squarely on her mouth.
The world was set further aflame when per the TIMES, the groundbreaking open-mouthed kiss was in the 1926 film “Flesh and the Devil,” with Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. And a year later, again per the TIMES, (t)here is a passionate male-male kiss in “Wings,” the silent World War I flyboy melodrama that won the first Best Picture Oscar in 1927. Three years later, in “Morocco,” Marlene Dietrich, in a tuxedo and a top hat, kissed a woman while singing “Quand L’Amour Meurt” (“When Love Dies”) to a nightclub audience that included Gary Cooper.
At that point, Hollywood decided enough was enough, Per today’s HOLLYWOOD FACTOID:
From the ’30s through the mid-’60s, Hollywood followed the Motion Picture Production Code, which banned, among other things, “excessive and lustful kissing.” Though it didn’t specify a time limit, three seconds was the unofficial standard. So if you’re ever watching a Golden Age classic and wondering why the romantic leads keep pausing to walk and/or talk between kisses, that’s why.
Of course, the liberal 70s modified the archaic code and, today, there’s way more than kissing that’s going on.
You can call that progress. But once you’ve seen May Irwin and John Rice kiss, everything’s relative.
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