7.0/10
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204 user 116 critic

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Ultimo tango a Parigi (original title)
NC-17 | | Drama, Romance | 7 February 1973 (USA)
Trailer
1:31 | Trailer
A young Parisian woman meets a middle-aged American businessman who demands their clandestine relationship be based only on sex.

Writers:

Bernardo Bertolucci (story), Bernardo Bertolucci (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
2,781 ( 510)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marlon Brando ... Paul
Maria Schneider ... Jeanne
Maria Michi ... Rosa's Mother / La mère de Rosa
Giovanna Galletti ... Prostitute / La prostituée
Gitt Magrini Gitt Magrini ... Jeanne's Mother / La mère de Jeanne
Catherine Allégret ... Catherine (as Catherine Allegret)
Luce Marquand Luce Marquand ... Olympia
Marie-Hélène Breillat Marie-Hélène Breillat ... Monique (as Marie-Helene Breillat)
Catherine Breillat ... Mouchette
Dan Diament Dan Diament ... TV Sound Engineer / L'ingénieur du son
Catherine Sola Catherine Sola ... TV Script Girl / La script-girl
Mauro Marchetti Mauro Marchetti ... TV Cameraman / Le cameraman
Jean-Pierre Léaud ... Tom - un cinéaste, le fiancé de Jeanne (as Jean-Pierre Leaud)
Massimo Girotti ... Marcel
Peter Schommer Peter Schommer ... TV Assistant Cameraman / L'assistant-opérateur
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Storyline

While looking for an apartment, Jeanne, a beautiful young Parisienne, encounters Paul, a mysterious American expatriate mourning his wife's recent suicide. Instantly drawn to each other, they have a stormy, passionate affair, in which they do not reveal their names to each other. Their relationship deeply affects their lives, as Paul struggles with his wife's death and Jeanne prepares to marry her fiance, Tom, a film director making a cinema-verite documentary about her. Written by Erich Schneider <erich@bush.cs.tamu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You will never see the most highly acclaimed film of our time on television. This may be your last chance to see it in a theater. (1975)

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated NC-17 for some explicit sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Maria Schneider, the infamous "butter scene" was never in the script and it was improvised at the last minute by Marlon Brando and Bernardo Bertolucci, without consulting her. Bertolucci confirmed that during a press tour. He said he didn't tell Schneider that Brando's character would use butter as a lubricant in the film's rape scene "because I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress. I wanted her to react humiliated." The director's admission caused public outcry. Schneider told the Huffington Post "Marlon said to me: 'Maria, don't worry, it's just a movie,' but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn't real, I was crying real tears." She felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn't console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take." See more »

Goofs

When Jeanne disappears during her bridal gown fitting, Tom goes running down the street to find her in the pouring rain. As he gets about fifty feet from the camera he sudden runs into a section of the street that is dry and there is no rain coming down. He apparently ran past the maximum range of the rain making equipment they were using for the shot. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Paul: [with his hands over his ears at the overwhelming sound of a passing train] Fucking GOD!
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Alternate Versions

For its original UK cinema release the BBFC suggested cuts to dialogue during the scissors scene and a heavy reduction of the infamous sodomy scene, though the former was rescinded when it was decided that the cuts would be difficult to make without ruining the scene. Instead a proposed cut of 20 secs was required to the sodomy scene to remove shots of Paul smearing butter on Jeanne's buttocks and some overhead shots of sexual thrusting. The latter was also waived following an appeal from the director and instead a mere 10 sec cut was made to the butter smearing. When the OPA (Obscene Publications Act) was extended to cover films a few years later BBFC censor James Ferman waived the cinema cut, and all post-1978 releases (including TV showings) have been the fully uncut version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in You Will Believe: The Cinematic Saga of Superman (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Shenandoah
(uncredited)
Traditional
Performed by Marlon Brando
See more »

User Reviews

Brando's most personal film
26 January 2000 | by DC1977See all my reviews

Widely denounced as obscene upon its release and unjustifiably notorious for two of its scenes, Bernardo Bertolucci's 'Last Tango in Paris' is a savage story of lust and sexual debasement.

Marlon Brando delivers a ferocious performance as Paul, a middle-aged American expatriate tormented by his wife, Rosa's recent suicide, her infidelities and his failure to understand their relationship. In meeting a 20 year old girl, Jeanne, played by Maria Schneider, in an empty apartment, Paul hopes to form a relationship purely on his own terms and at his own pace, i.e. one he can understand fully. He insists on a new form of relationship, so basic that even their names were kept secret from each other, where she submitted to his every desire, where he could punish himself and relieve his despair and anger towards his wife by punishing Jeanne. Paul's only other interest is in Marcel (Massimo Girotti), Rosa's lover, for whom he has a curious respect and maybe a desire to obtain through him a better understanding of his own wife.

Despite his overpowering talent, Marlon Brando has often shown poor judgement in his choice of projects and has frequently trudged through films with no apparent effort or interest. In 'Last Tango in Paris' he gives everything and produces a performance of unrivalled force. Unfortunately the obvious improvisation in the film prevents the character of Paul from staying within check as he gradually becomes too much like Marlon Brando in the second half of the film. Nonetheless, when Brando is off-screen the film becomes hollow in comparison and is replaced by Jeanne's relationship with her fiance, an annoyingly pretentious TV director (Jean-Pierre Leaud).

This is a truly unique film and Bertolucci successfully highlights the romance in an affair that is fundamentally destructive. Brando's performance is remarkably powerful and intense, eclipsing every other player and dominating the entire film.


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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

7 February 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Last Tango in Paris See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$36,144,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$36,182,181
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (rough cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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