Anyone who’s familiar with Alfred Hitchcock knows that one of his favorite stories was about how he got around the censors in 1946 to film what he described as the longest screen kiss.
We are talking about Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman and their famous kissing scene in Notorious.
Hitch always maintained that it was the longest kiss on screen because they had gotten around the production code of the day by having Grant and Bergman, kiss, move from lips to neck , snuggle, kiss again, nestle, kiss — well you get the point.
It is a very sensual scene, no doubt about it. They’re standing on the terrace, overlooking Rio, and continually kissing while planning their evening– dinner and …?
But Hitchcock wasn’t the first to get around the code of the day. In the 1936 comedy with music, Walking on Air, director Joseph Stanley found a unique way to handle the situation.
The smoochers this time, Ann Sothern and Gene Raymond, are also kissing on a terrace, but seated.
As they kiss a young bellboy, who has a message for Sothern, sees them and looks on coyly. The camera cuts back to the kiss, then to the boy, now intrigued by the length of their kiss, then back to the couple, back to the boy, who, tired of standing, lies on a nearby chaise.
The camera cuts back to the kiss, continuing now for well over the maximum time allowed by the code. But then back to the onlooker. When the bellboy falls off his couch with a thud, the couple is finally stunned out of their clinch.
The director followed the rules. The screen showed them kissing for only 10 or 15 seconds — but by cutting back and forth between the couple and their voyeur, the director was able to establish that Sothern and Raymond were partaking of a long, deep, sensual kiss.
And this was 1936!
Those are two or our favorite — LONG — screen kisses.
By the way, Sothern and Raymond made a series of light romantic comedies with music for RKO in the mid 30’s. Check them out. They’re fun. Lush, as only Depression Era Hollywood could be.