NC-17 films: Why they got the rating
Box office: $36 million, or $225 million today
Marlon Brando was nominated for an Oscar for his role as an American widower whose wife had committed suicide. Maria Schneider, a 1970s sexual icon, played a carefree Parisian engaged to marry a pompous young filmmaker. Brando’s Paul and Schneider’s Jeanne meet at an apartment for rent, have a quick sexual encounter and decide to meet there again for anonymous encounters -- they know nothing about each other, including each other’s name. An explicit sex scene involving butter earned the film the X rating and was not part of the original script.
Critic Pauline Kael called it “a landmark in movie history” and critic Roger Ebert said it was “one of the great emotional experiences of our time,” but the film was banned in a number of countries for its sexuality and nudity.
In her later years, Schneider expressed regret about appearing in the film, saying “I felt a little raped” by Marlon Brando and director Bernardo Bertolucci.
MORE: ‘Last Tango in Paris’ actress Maria Schneider had a turbulent life | Obituary (United Artists / Associated Press)