A Movie A Day: Quint on CALIGULA (1980) You're an honest man, Proculus, which means you're a bad Roman
Published at: Dec. 4, 2008, 4:10 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Holy shit! There are a few movies in this world that just make me insanely happy that they exist… for the sheer reason that they shouldn’t.
Peter O’Toole, Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud and Helen Mirren starred in a film produced by Penthouse featuring hardcore ‘70s sex and some of the most twisted, vile, wrong and revolting imagery ever put to film.
I repeat, Peter O’Toole… Lawrence of Arabia… is in a Penthouse film partly directed by Bob Guccione, publisher of Penthouse.
This movie blows my mind a little bit. As decedent and insane as Caligula was thought to have been, this movie is even moreso. It’s huge, like Cleopatra or Ben Hur with graphic sex. There’s more cocks, vaginas, lesbos, homos, straighties, blow-jobs, midget sex, incest and debauchery than on any random google search.
And graphic violence… Unbelievable violence. There is literally a moving wall… has to be at least 100 feet high, with rotating blades on the bottom that is slowly pushed over people who have pissed off Caligula, buried up to their necks in the soil. As the wall moves over them, their heads are lobbed off.
They built that. A team of carpenters and painters put that wall together for this movie.
And the drama in the first half is actually quite good, surprisingly enough. Once Peter O’Toole dies and passes the crown to McDowell’s Caligula the movie rides his charm for a while, but becomes more and more muddled as Caligula grows crazier and crazier.
This is a 2 ½ hour long movie, ladies and gentlemen. It’s treated like a serious film, it has some serious damn people in it, but it’s clear that Guccione wanted a high class, high profile smut film, despite what the great actors involved might have thought it to be.
I can’t believe this movie exists.
There is literally a scene where McDowell fists a soldier. He lubes up this poor man (after making him watch while he deflowers his bride) and shoves his fist up his ass.
That scene was written somewhere and Malcolm McDowell agreed to do it… Actually, doing some research it looks like Caligula was originally meant to pop the new bride’s cherry, then do the same thing with the new husband, but McDowell drew the line at butt-fucking. Globbing his arm up with goo and shoving it in this dude’s ass was, apparently, a more acceptable alternative.
I don’t think I could ever watch this movie again (and yes, I watched the unrated 2 ½ hour cut), but I’m glad I’ve seen it. If someone told me about it, described the scenes I described above with the level of raw acting talent on display… Well, I’d call them a goddamn liar.
And to put a nice shiny cherry on top of the day's experience, I spent the majority of the day at a friend's son's first birthday party, filled with Elmo and Spongebob and family friendly fun... Then I came home to watch CALIGULA.
This movie exists. Unbelievable.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Sunday, June 29th: THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980)
Monday, June 30th: THE GOOD FATHER (1987)
Tuesday, July 1st: SHOCK TREATMENT (1981)
Wednesday, July 2nd: FLASHBACK (1990)
Thursday, July 3rd: KLUTE (1971)
Friday, July 4th: ON GOLDEN POND (1982)
Saturday, July 5th: THE COWBOYS (1972)
Tomorrow we follow the great John Gielgud over to David Lynch’s THE ELEPHANT MAN. Can’t wait for that one.