In 1973, Don’t Look Now got released, and so, it was rumored, did Donald Sutherland. So are the new filmmakers also going to remake the sex scene so realistic there’s still debate, 40 years later, about whether or not it involved actual penetration?
The Sutherland/Julie Christie coupling has been the subject of dispute for years—Sutherland has long denied the rumors and a producer reportedly corroborates his account. Makes sense. Actors act. But then there’s former Variety editor Peter Bart—then a Paramount executive—who maintains that he witnessed “[Sutherland’s] dick...moving in and out of her” first-hand.
I got my hands on a galley copy of the former Variety editor’s forthcoming book, Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, the Mob, (and Sex). In the book, Bart tells a funny, profane, revealing anecdote about visiting the Venice set on that “auspicious day.” At the time, Bart was a Paramount executive and, according to the new book, Roeg told him as he arrived on set, “Good day to come by.”
While he was watching the filming, Bart claims his mind drifted off for a few moments to other logistics of his trip before suddenly focusing back on the actors, who were completely naked. And — apologies for the adult language, I’m quoting from the book — he writes, “It was clear to me they were no longer simply acting: they were fucking on camera.”
According to Bart, he then had the following whispered exchange with Roeg:
Bart: Nic. Don’t they expect you to say “cut?”
Roeg: I just want to be sure I have the coverage.
Bart: His dick is moving in and out of her. That’s beyond coverage.
So there you have it. It was the Seventies.
But the anecdote actually carries over to a few months later, when Bart says he got a surprise visit at his Beverly Hills office from Warren Beatty, who was either dating Christie or had just broken up with her at the time. Beatty apparently had seen Roeg’s cut of the movie and angrily demanded that the scene be re-edited because it was graphic enough that you could see Christie’s, uh, julie. Bart demurred, saying that the censors would never let it through.
Beatty wasn’t appeased and insisted: “I want to cut the movie with you, pussy hair by pussy hair...”