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Caligula

Year: 1979
Director: Tinto Brass
Producer: Bob Guccione
Writer: Gore Vidal
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud, Helen Mirren
The most interesting thing about this notorious soft porn film is this; it attracted some of the most noble acting talents of its day (Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud, Helen Mirren), it was funded by the Penthouse magazine empire, produced by publisher Bob Guccione, and shot in Italy, in part to get around US decency laws.

As it was, most of the personalities involved launched a waterfall of abuse, disavowment and litigation. Screenwriter Gore Vidal sued to have his name taken from the film, claiming star McDowell and producer Guccione changed the whole nature of the script. Director Brass disowned the project not (as is commonly believed) because Guccione wanted to make it a porn film, but because the producer locked him out of the editing suite. Both O'Toole and Gielgud claimed they had no idea graphic sex was even going to be in the movie.

Little of the debacle was worth the trouble however, as Caligula is neither interesting nor particularly titillating in the age of Internet porn. It simply tells of the rise and fall of one in a long line of bloodthirsty, corrupt and megalomaniacal Roman emperors, Caligula Ceaser (McDowell), who lusted after his sister Drusilla, killed his father to ascend to the throne, and abused his power in all manner of sordid vices.

As historically as we can imagine and certainly lavishly designed, but slow-moving and camp.

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