THE MAN who lifted the sheets on the sex lives of a generation of Americans is once again stirring passions, almost 50 years after his death, thanks to a film which goes on release in New York and Los Angeles tonight.
Dr Alfred Kinsey shocked America in the 1940s and 1950s with his references to oral sex and orgasms. Now the film that bears his name is wowing reviewers and outraging conservative activists.
If Bill Condon, the writer-director of Kinsey, was hoping to tweak a nerve in the United States - a country that manages at once to be prurient and puritanical about sex - he could hardly have asked for better timing. George Bush has recaptured the White House and moral rectitude was the force that helped him.
Portrayed by the Irish actor Liam Neeson, Dr Kinsey represents something else: call it moral and sexual inquiry. The film follows his life, from his marriage to one of his students, played by Laura Linney, to his first steps in recruiting researchers to help him conduct his groundbreaking studies into sexual behaviour in 1948 and 1953.
Audiences will also be able to observe how Dr Kinsey's helpers at Indiana University soon began to explore their own carnal horizons with one another - and with their boss. One scene captures a kiss between Dr Kinsey and the researcher Clyde Martin, played by Peter Sarsgaard, who gradually comes to realise his own bisexuality.
For conservative critics, Condon has committed the crime of making a hero of Dr Kinsey, a figure they regard as responsible for the breakdown of the moral code in the …