It takes all sorts to make a meme. With the bigger, more prolific ones, the level of community engagement is often somewhere between good and stratospheric. Quick and easy content though they may provide, I always enjoy contributing myself, and they certainly helped me through the past couple of years, which were difficult in so many ways.
My own meme, on the other hand, has decelerated to the point where I genuinely thought, at one point, that it would come to a complete stop. Scrabbling through the digital ether to bring it back today, I chanced upon a scene I’ve never seen before, as recommended by helpful reader SA. With acknowledgement to him, then, let’s dive into…
Appearance: The Corporate Ladder (1997)
Characters: Nicole Landon & Matt Taylor
I haven’t actually seen The Corporate Ladder, but both the trailer and synopsis feel familiar. Maybe I actually have seen it and forgotten… or maybe it’s just yet another business-themed thriller that’s exactly like everything else. This was, however, made by Playboy, so it’s a fair assumption that there will be some amount of nudity at some point.
Ah, there’s an affair. I see.
Kathleen Kinmont plays Nicole, the ambitious young assistant to rich advertising executive Matt (Tony Denison, using his full name for this, as opposed to using ‘Tony’ for his more recent work and his one appearance in Charmed). She is helping his career while also helping herself to a bit of Matt. He’s married, of course, with a baby on the way, but The Corporate Ladder is a Playboy movie, so we all know where this is going to end up.
There’s some stuff about murder as well, and insofar as I can tell, someone does actually fall off a ladder at some point. So it has that going for it.
This is a sex scene between Nicole and Matt (their first) and the most obvious thing I’m getting from it is how loud it is. Their lusty moans and hesitant dialogue such as
We’re not doing anything. You’re doing it.Nicole, who hasn’t quite got a grasp of what pronouns mean
are done at such a volume that I had to turn it down on my VLC player and rewatch the first thirty seconds at 50%. Even then, the sound effects are very prominent – there isn’t any music either, which makes them more so.
This isn’t to say that Kinmont and Denison can’t act, because they can. In fact, the first 40 seconds are a very good example of how to do a seduction scene (even if it does move quite quickly). Nicole is undressing Tony from behind; his resistance is token, and her manipulation of his hand (the “you’re doing it”) to his own crotch is a nice touch. At 00:42 exactly, however, there is a jump cut to something completely different.
Because suddenly there is music. And suddenly there is Nicole doing a kind of awkward striptease in front of what looks like a collage of Year 6 work on a classroom wall. Eventually she gets around to taking the rest of Matt’s clothes off, of course, but quite a lot of time is devoted to showing Nicole in her undergarments (white bra; white knickers; white stockings), because… well, because Playboy, I guess.
There is, of course, the classic “we’re having an affair so let’s do it on a table” trope in play here, and it’s during the lead-in to this we finally get a shot of Nicole’s breasts. I mention this because she appears to take her bra off no less than three times between 01:19 and 01:27 (maybe it’s the same shot from different angles. No, that’d be too “director-y.”). But she’s an attractive woman, so that’s nice to see.
At this point there was a bit of movement on her part so I did have to wonder if they were supposed to be having sex by now, but no; the next shot (which I think I may have seen on a planking website) clearly shows that Matt still has his pants on. There’s certainly a lot of kissing going on, and what might be loosely termed frottage, but no actual sex happens until…
…actually, I can’t tell.
What happens next is a serious of jump cuts between 1.5 shots of various… things happening. Some of them are sex; some are just undressing and some are random mucking about. There’s no actual sequence to it, and that’s clearly deliberate. The final 24 seconds do, to their credit, show continuous sex in one position, so if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s in here somewhere!
For all I’ve said here, this isn’t a terrible scene. It’s short, and one couldn’t really call it a traditional sex scene. The setting (his office) is a little drab, and the music is uninspired – it doesn’t really lend itself to the old grey whistle test. I’m also not overly fond of Denison’s performance as Matt (he looks a bit gormless), but then again, he isn’t really given much to do here. The focus is on Kinmont as Nicole.
But it is shot well, and the seduction bit at the start is steamy, and the end bit is all right for what it is. Nicole also has this seemingly permanent grin, which I suppose serves its purpose. In the context of the rest of the The Corporate Ladder, I suppose this sort of scene is almost a necessity in establishing what’s going on here.
It’s not an all-time great, for sure. But it will do.