10 Best Women Underwater Scenes

The 10 best women underwater scenes illustrate the old film school trope that water often symbolizes sex in movies. In some films, this is truly symbolic and not always sexy. But most Hollywood executives aren’t capable of such subtlety. As critic Roger Ebert puts it in his movie glossary: “In Hollywood story conferences, ['wet' is a] suggested alternative to nude, as in: ‘If she won't take off her clothes, can we wet her down?’”

  1. “The Deep” This 1977 film must clearly (no pun intended) take the number one spot on the list. Jacqueline Bisset’s ten-minute diving sequence in a white T-shirt made the film a hit and launched the wet T-shirt craze that lasts to this day. The film’s producer claimed, "That T-shirt made me a rich man."

  2. “The Blue Lagoon” 1980’s version of “The Blue Lagoon” gained notoriety and huge box office turnout for casting young Brooke Shields and Chris Atkins as naked castaways exploring their sexuality. It also spawned numerous imitators (see below). The underwater swimming scenes were artistically filmed, but that’s not Brooke in most of them; it’s stuntwoman Kathy Troutt, who, unlike Brooke, was of legal age.

  3. “Paradise” Two years after “The Blue Lagoon,” this knock-off cast Willie Aames as a low-rent Chris Atkins and Phoebe Cates in her first movie role. The setting was a desert oasis instead of an island, but nobody was fooled. Phoebe’s long shower under a waterfall was only one of several nude scenes, but it was overshadowed by her next movie.

  4. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” Unlike “Paradise,” Cameron Crowe’s 1982 debut film, directed by Amy Heckerling, is a beloved classic. A realistic look at life in high school with a cast of future stars, it also contains a fantasy sequence in which Cates emerges from a pool and pops her top. The scene is often listed among the sexiest movie scenes of all time.

  5. “The Color of Night” Another candidate for the sexiest movie scene–at least according to “Maxim” magazine–was in this forgotten thriller from 1994. Jane March, acclaimed for her sexy role in “The Lover,” took another nude turn in this film. A sensual underwater love scene remains the movie’s main contribution to history.

  6. “Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down” This 1990 Spanish film has the double distinction of earning the last MPAA “X” rating and one of the first “NC-17” ratings. Part of it was a verbally graphic but otherwise unremarkable sex scene. What really shocked the MPAA censors, it seems, was the image of lovely Victoria Abril masturbating in the bathtub with a wind-up toy. Director Pedro Almodovar didn’t look away, but the MPAA wanted everyone else to.

  7. “Sirens” Preacher’s wife Tara Fitzgerald takes a walk on the wild side in this 1994 erotic drama. While her husband lectures a libertine artist for painting with nude models, Tara is seduced by the untamed Australian wilderness. When models Elle Macpherson and Portia de Rossi join her for a swim, she’s seduced by them, as well.

  8. “Ecstacy” Sexy underwater scenes aren’t limited to the liberal later half of the 20th century. In this 1933 Czech film, Hedy Kiesler takes a sensuous (and uncensored) nude swim before a meeting with her lover. The notorious scene didn’t stop her from having a long Hollywood career under the name Hedy Lamarr, although her husband was less than pleased.

  9. “Tarzan and His Mate” One year later–and just before the Hays Office began its 30-year reign of deciding what Americans wanted to see–lovely Maureen O’Sullivan took a nude swim in this jungle adventure. Olympic swimmer Josephine McKee was Jane’s body double and yes, she was visibly nude. The scene was filmed with tamer alternate versions for districts where censorship was already a problem.

  10. “Jaws” This scene has to make the list for sheer historic value. In 1975, American cinema was changed forever when this film became a mega-blockbuster hit. Creating the next blockbuster became the main focus of Hollywood, a trend that continues to this day. And it all started with this opening scene, when actress Susan Backlinie takes a nude nighttime swim that ends in tragedy, instantly uniting sex, violence and money into a lasting film formula.

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