The Starring Role of Underwear in the Cinema

There are almost countless cinematic scenes in which underwear takes a starring role – and not just recent films, either. In the very early days of Hollywood, before the censors went berserk, things were surprisingly risqué … but even after the conservative viewpoint won out, lingerie and underwear has made regular appearances on the big screen – some very memorable for all the right reasons, some memorable as the image we wish we could un-see, and some not memorable at all.

So let’s take a look at just a snippet of those classic movie scenes we won’t be forgetting anytime soon – the good, that is.

Janet Leigh in Psycho.

This Hitchcock thriller from 1960 brought an unprecedented level of violence and open sexuality to the big screen – Leigh’s character is even seen in bed with a man she’s not married to! Her lacy bras, high waisted panties and half slips are ever so sexy…


 janet lee 9 "Psycho"Janet Leigh 1960 ParamountPhoto by William Creamer**I.V.

Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8

Playing a prostitute, Taylor wears what is possibly cinema’s most famous full-slip in a “morning after” scene. She later leaves the apartment with nothing over it but a fur coat…

 Butterfield 8 slip 2

Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch

Filming for this scene in 1954 created a furore on the streets of Manhattan – and spelled the end of Monroe’s marriage to Joe DiMaggio – who thought a “lady” would never allow herself to be seen thus! She wore two pairs of knickers for this scene, to protect her modesty from the gust of wind from the subway below … fans were delighted, filmmakers were delighted, and manufacturers of white briefs with lace trim were delighted as well. And all it took was a glimpse.


Anne Bancroft in The Graduate

A variety of lingerie scenes were part of this film, but by far the most famous image is that of “Mrs Robinson” peeling off her black silk stockings for Hoffman’s character as he nervously looked on. Hosiery was used as a sexy plot device to illustrate the nature of Mrs Robinson’s predatory urges…


Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies

The film may not be considered a classic, but the striptease scene of Jamie Lee Curtis certainly is. The high cut black lace g-string and balconette bra the actress wore for this scene were actually her own. Lucky husband!


Sigourney Weaver in Alien

Never has a pair of bikini briefs and a mannish singlet been so appealing to the eye. Weaver’s character spent much of the movie scantily clad as she worked on the ship and  battled slimy extra-terrestrials.


Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones

Shapewear came into its own and was no longer something we were embarrassed about when Bridget Jones pulled out her “enormous mummy panties”. We could all laugh along as she struggled into them, expending as much energy to do so as a good gym session would take. And the lecherous cad, Daniel Cleaver, wasn’t even turned off by them. Collective sigh of relief from women the world over.