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Caligula (1979) is an adult film about the notorious Roman emperor.  Malcom McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy and Helen Mirren starred, with John Gielgud and Peter O’Toole in supporting roles.  Tinto Brass directed, and Franco Rossellini and Bob Guccione produced.  Though he disavowed it after Brass made revisions, Gore Vidal wrote the script.  Guccione, the Penthouse publisher, added sexual scenes in post-production, directed by Giancarlo Lui and using Penthouse Pets.  Oral sex, intercourse, orgies and lesbianism are featured.  (After the erotic acts were inserted, Brass disavowed the film, too).  Extreme violence is also shown.

Caligula is a well-made film.  The actors are first-rate.  (Helen Mirren called it an “irresistible mix of art and genitals”).  The subject, of course, is very disturbing but it mirrors Caligula’s vicious life accurately.

S. Gray

October 2022

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