If nothing else, the Trump presidential campaign has inspired a discussion of the abuse women face in their daily lives, both emotional and physical—this probably wasn’t one of his goals, but hey, thanks anyway, Donald—reminding us that we still have a way to go before reaching true gender equality.
Depressing though that may be, we’ve still progressed quite a bit over the past hundred years. Just think of the furor—and resulting apology—this summer when Twentieth Century Fox used an image of the bad guy strangling Jennifer Lawrence’s character to promote X-Men: Apocalypse.
In contrast, what follows are scenes from celebrated films featuring iconic actors, as well as one of the all-time greatest sitcoms. Watch them again and feel kind of weird.
Picture Snatcher (1933)
Every film geek knows the scene in 1931’s The Public Enemy where gangster James Cagney insults his girl Mae Clarke and shoves a grapefruit in her face. Most fans are less familiar with this one, featuring Cagney as an ex-con turned photographer. When Alice White comes on to him, he handles it like a gentleman: by knocking her unconscious, dumping her in the backseat of his car and giggling as someone else unknowingly drives off with her.
The Philadelphia Story (1941)
It won Oscars for Donald Ogden Stewart’s screenplay and Jimmy Stewart’s lead performance. But the most memorable moment comes when Cary Grant needs to decide how to respond to Katharine Hepburn breaking one of his golf clubs. He shows more restraint than Cagney… but not much more.
The Quiet Man (1952)
One of the more famous collaborations between John Wayne and director John Ford, this film earned Ford one of his four Oscars. The tale of a retired American boxer finding love after returning to the Irish village where he was born features an unforgettable scene in which Wayne roughly drags along Maureen O’Hara—yes, he does at one point literally kick her in the ass—while insanely cheerful music plays and the villagers all watch, including an old woman who helpfully offers: “Here’s a good stick to beat the lovely lady.”
Early James Bond (1962-1983)
Sean Connery made six Bond films between 1962 and 1971 and reprised the role in 1983. Look, 007 is meant to be a decidedly politically incorrect killer from a different era, but watching this montage of him slapping both asses and faces, sending away a woman by declaring “man talk” and choking a woman with her bikini top, it’s hard to avoid being skeeved. While Roger Moore and George Lazenby make appearances, the compilation below is seriously about Sean. And yes, it does get much creepier when you see Connery giving an interview to Barbara Walters in which he doubles down on his personal need to slap a woman sometimes.
It won an Oscar for Ring Lardner Jr.’s screenplay and established Robert Altman as a major director, as well as paving the way for a TV series that outlasted the actual Korean War. The scene where Sally Kellerman’s showering Nurse Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan gets her comeuppance from Elliott Gould’s Trapper John and Donald Sutherland’s Hawkeye plays like an outtake from Porky’s. Then you remember the prank isn’t being pulled by horny teens—it’s being done two guys in their mid-30s who are determined to publicly humiliate a female coworker—and suddenly everything’s icky.
Sam and Diane are having an argument, as the characters did many, many times through their five seasons of on-and-off romance. As usual, Ted Danson and Shelley Long show off the crack timing that earned each of them both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. Only this time it gets physical, with Diane slapping Sam and Sam… responding in kind. Then the scene keeps going in a way that the studio audience found hilarious at the time and today may leave you longing for Norm to come in and break things up already.