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Last Tango in Paris

NC-17 1973 | Drama
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You know a film’s controversial when a judge demands all its copies be destroyed—and throws in four months of jail time for its director. Bernardo Bertolucci escaped with a suspended sentence and an Oscar® nomination for his troubles. Aside from opening the floodgates for eroticism in mainstream cinema, this 1972 masterpiece also provides the stage for a powerhouse performance from Marlon Brando as a grieving widower seeking solace in a stormy anonymous affair. Don’t let the title fool you—the film is not about the “tango,” per se, so don’t go recommending it to your grandmother just because she’s a rabid fan of Dancing with the Stars. Fun fact: Brando was up against Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford for the Best Actor Oscar® that year; they all lost to Jack Lemmon.

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Top 10 Fun Facts

  1. Sometimes a lot goes a long way: the original version of "Last Tango in Paris" screened for over four hours running time.
  2. Here's a great way to not have to look at a naked woman: According to Maria Schneider, Marlon Brando's lines were taped to her body for many scenes due to his disinterest in memorizing his lines.
  3. No frontal nudity for Brando because he claimed his "penis shrank to the size of a peanut on set." This is from his book "Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me," from the chapter "A Compendium of the Various Sizes of My Penis While in Different Locations."
  4. A '70's "X" became an '80's "R" When United Artists re-released the film it got a new rating. Sadly for millions of 14 year old boys it was not "PG-13".
  5. Bernardo Bertolucci claimed the idea of the film came from a fantasy he had of "seeing a beautiful nameless woman on the street and having sex with her without ever knowing who she was." Surprisingly, this thought had never occurred to any other man ever in the history of the world.
  6. The "butter scene" was not originally in the script and was sprung on Maria Schneider the day of shooting, thought up by Brando and Bertolucci without consulting her. I'm sure if they had, she would have added sour cream, chives, and bacon bits.
  7. Marlon Brando didn't like most of his dialogue in the script, so he improvised the majority of his lines. Legend has it that he would do that in real life, too.
  8. The line "Go, get the butter" was voted on Premiere Magazine's "100 Greatest Movie Lines" as number 67. The line "Please pass the butter" from my dinner last night was not voted for any greatest anything.
  9. While filming, Bernardo Bertolucci tried to explain the point of the film to Marlon Brando, suggesting that his character was Bertolucci's "manhood" and that Maria Schneider's character was his "dream girl." Brando later maintained he had no idea what Bertolucci was talking about, and I maintain that Schneider's character bears little resemblance to Diana Ross and the Supremes.
  10. Believe it or not Marlon Brando's co-star Jean-Pierre Leaud never met each other. Leaud was so intimidated by Brando he had to shoot all his scenes on Saturday.