…the cinematic kiss is open to endless interpretation. Scroll through the famous kisses of classic Hollywood, and you find yourself in a dense forest of sexual semiotics. There is yearning and hostility, defiance and pleading, male domination and female assertion. There are unlikely physical contortions and suggestive compositions, sometimes imposed by the anti-lust provisions of the code, sometimes by the desire to breathe new formal life into a weary convention. You can find upside-down kisses, side-by-side kisses and various attempts to solve the problems of height difference and hand placement. There is a lot of hair-stroking, cheek-caressing and finger-clasping, activities that, like kissing itself, manage at once to suggest and to mask other things. And because those other things remain unshown, the kisses themselves function equally as foreplay and as refusal, proof that the pair will go to bed together or symbolic compensation for the fact that they won’t.
A.O. Scott, “‘You Must Remember This’: A Brief History of Kissing in Movies”, The New York Times Magazine (14 December 2014), 50.