10 Movie Womanizers, From Shame to Shampoo

Michael Fassbender in Shame
Michael Fassbender in Shame

The movies are full of bed-hopping men -- think of Humphrey Bogart's serial flirtations in The Big Sleep (1946), and Richard Roundtree laying his way uptown and down in Shaft (1971). But in Steve McQueen's Shame, womanizing is not just an outgrowth of the plot -- it is the plot. And it's just the latest example of a sub-genre we'll call the Lothario film. Particularly plentiful in the wake of the Sexual Revolution, Lothario films are the pictures that deal with men tripped up on their own swinging dicks. Here, fond memories of our favorite dicks and the collateral damage they left in their wakes.

10 Movie Womanizers, From Shame to Shampoo

10. Alfie (1966)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Lothario: Michael Caine

In the year of Blow-Up, as David Hemmings wrestled with models in hip Notting Hill, Alfie offered a look at sex among the working class in a resolutely unsexy Swinging London. Wearing a slack expression and reciting his nihilist philosophy to the camera in aiche-dropped Cockney, Michael Caine's Alfie is perhaps the most boorish womanizer on this list: lofty and bullying with his mistresses, depending on his stallion-like physical presence alone to keep him satisfied. Featuring a dismal illegal abortion scene, it's a time-capsule of the moment just before sex and consequences were parted.

10 Movie Womanizers, From Shame to Shampoo

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9. Play Misty for Me (1971)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Lothario: Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood has produced a long line of out-of-wedlock children and films since '71; this was the first of the latter. Misty examines the hazards of free love, with Clint playing a DJ whose on-air whisper keeps the sheets hot at his Carmel-by-the-Sea bachelor pad, until one casual lay (Jessica Walter) first refuses to take the hint, then comes back with a knife. A "Hell hath no fury" film that inverts assumptions about masculine predators and feminine victims.

10 Movie Womanizers, From Shame to Shampoo

8. Shampoo (1975)

Director: Hal Ashby

Lothario: Warren Beatty

Warren Beatty co-wrote the screenplay with Robert Towne and, bouncing between L.A. trysts on his motorcycle, starred as hairdresser George Roundy. The opposite of aggressive bluster, Beatty's reserved, shy, withholding performance is lovely tiptoe approach -- his whisper is what draws the women closer. If George is ultimately as fleeting and impossible to hold as the Santa Ana wind, he is also granted a measure of heroism amid a rising tide of materialism: "I don't fuck for money. I do it for fun."

10 Movie Womanizers, From Shame to Shampoo

7. Fellini's Casanova (1976)

Director: Federico Fellini

Lothario: Donald Sutherland

Fellini's favorite theme was the attrition of la dolce vita, and he was given a natural subject in the person of Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, Venetian-born diarist and legendary cocksman. Per the libido-tormented director, Casanova was "The evil version of the Italian male . . . a sinister Pinocchio who refuses to turn into a well-behaved boy." "Donaldino" Sutherland plays Casanova as a sexual automaton humping across what Fellini called his "electrical wax museum" of 18th-century Europe, constructed in Cinecittà studios.

10 Movie Womanizers, From Shame to Shampoo

6. The Man Who Loved Women (1977)

Director: Franois Truffaut

Lothario: Charles Denner

Charles Denner, funny in his desperate, intent pursuits, plays Bertrand Morane, a Montpellier engineer described by one of his mistresses as "the wolf with a worried look," who decides to write the story of his life. A lesser-known late masterpiece, Truffaut's film is a swirl of questions about the paradoxes of sex, such as: "Was it possible to find pleasure without hurting someone?" with a wonderful framing device that dares to suggest that a Don Juan might be fondly remembered rather than regretted.

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