The Notorious Uncut “Caligula!” Helen Mirren And Malcolm McDowell’s X-Rated Epic!

The Many Versions Of “Caligula”!

This is one of the most notorious films ever released for many reasons, like the fact that an all-star cast of Oscar winners finds themselves in a xxx-rated film!

First, let’s look at the trailer for the 1979 film, which is for the R-rated version – just one of several cuts that were ultimately created, and we will discuss them all…

Now, the story behind one of the most notorious films in movie history!

Here is the plot:

“The rise and fall of the notorious Roman Emperor Caligula, showing the violent methods that he employs to gain the throne, and the subsequent insanity of his reign – he gives his horse political office and humiliates and executes anyone who even slightly displeases him. He also sleeps with his sister, organises elaborate orgies and embarks on a fruitless invasion of England before meeting an appropriate end.”

Malcolm McDowell chews up the scenery in the film, which also starred such legendary Actors as Peter O’ Toole and Sir John Gielgud!

Helen Mirren also starred in the film, which was the first mainstream movie produced by the Publisher of Penthouse magazine…

The Many Cuts Of “Caligula!”

Here is where the story of “Caligula” gets even more fascinating: there are various versions of the film, ranging from the “R”-rated version which was heavily edited to remove a lot of sex and graphic violence…

There is also the legendary 160-minute “hardcore” version of the film, where xxx-rated sex scenes were added to the movie long after production had finished!

CTD11873…Scarborough…North Yorkshire…England…Group Shot

The film was always intended to be a graphic look at this controversial leader, and the film’s original Director Tinto Brass had a long history making “softcore” erotica – but this went even too far for him!

What happened was this: Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione added hardcore sex scenes into the movie – long after the original cast had finished filming – so those very big name Actors had no idea the film was being turned XXX-rated!

Acclaimed writer Gore Vidal did not want credit for his work on the screenplay, and legendary Actors Peter O’Toole and John Gielgud claimed to have been unaware hardcore sex footage was being shot for the film.

So, Was The Film “Disowned” By The Creators?

Even though the Actors had no idea what was happening behind-the-scenes, apparently the film’s creative team wasn’t upset because of the sex.

Here is great trivia courtesy of IMDB:

“Despite popular beliefs, Gore Vidal and Tinto Brass did not disown this film because Bob Guccione inserted hardcore sex and graphic violence sequences and changed the point of the film.”

In reality, only five or six minutes of the 156-minute version of the film was part of Guccione’s reshoot – that five or six minutes consists of the lesbian tryst in the secret room, and several inserts in the imperial bordello scene.

Everything else was shot by original Director Tinto Brass.

So Why DID They Disown It?

So, if not for the added sex scenes, what upset the creative team so much?

According to IMDB:

“Gore Vidal disowned the film because Brass and lead actor Malcolm McDowell changed the point of view of his screenplay. Brass disowned it because Guccione locked him out of the editing room (some in the industry suspect it was because Brass didn’t want to use Guccione’s hardcore inserts) after assembling the first 40 minutes of the film.

Guccione then proceeded to edit the film himself, but he often chose shots that were never meant to be included (the many zooms, out-of-focus shots, etc.), and also cut up certain scenes and put them in the wrong order.”

Hear The Inside Story!

Now you can hear exactly what happened here, by some of the stars involved!

In 2007, Image Entertainment released a 3-disc special edition known as the Imperial Edition. It features two cuts of the film, the 156-minute print and a new edit created from an alternate pre-release version which re-arranges some scenes and does not include most of the explicit sexual inserts added by Guccione (a few shots were left in by mistake and various outtakes from Brass’ shoot and a handful of 16 mm behind-the-scenes footage were used to fill in for the deleted material).

Both Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren take part in a full-length audio commentary, discussing the non-hardcore, pre-release version of the film – the film they THOUGHT they were making…the DVD also includes interviews with Tinto Brass, who discusses the film’s hectic production and botched editing; and Penthouse Pet Lori Wagner, who discusses the addition of the hardcore footage, including the lesbian sex scene in which she participated.

There is also a booklet included with the 3-disc set includes a discussion of the many different versions of the film, and states that a significant amount of footage remains unaccounted for – this movie should be studied in film school as a classic example of “crazy gone wild” – and with so much behind-the-scenes information and commentary, here is a ton to study!

Helen Mirren has gone on to Oscar glory, but she has other, very provocative films on her resume as well – see them all by clicking on my story here:

If you like this story, go to my website’s front page and sign on to follow me – there are NO ads at all, just lots of stories to come about the wild world of exploitation and cult films!

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Let me know if you’ve seen any or all of the various versions of “Caligula!”

Categories: Artsploitation, Cult Classics, Euro-Sleaze, Exploitation Films, Extreme Cinema, Grindhouse, JRsploitation, Nudity, Sexploitation Films, Talent / Celebrites, Uncategorized

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21 replies

  1. You may recall that I am a big fan of this ‘excessive’ epic. I saw it at the cinema, then bought the VHS, which had suffered many edits. I finally got the ‘Imperial Edition’ on DVD more recently, and enjoyed comparing the films, as well as seeing the full uncut version for the first time.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Caligula movie is tame even with all the xxx scenes added in real life the emperor was worse. The movie is just a snap shot of life then. Get the movie WITH SCENES in right order this time with nothing taken out and with the added xxx parts Bob put in. creedjo1atgmaildotcom


  3. Caligula movie is tame even with all the xxx scenes added in real life the emperor was worse. The movie is just a snap shot of life then. Get the movie WITH SCENES in right order this time with nothing taken out and with the added xxx parts Bob put in. creedjo1atgmaildotcom


  4. Thanks for the info. I remember seeing this movie many years ago. But I don’t remember seeing the explicit scenes which I have recently noticed from photos and gifs. I was surprised to think an actress like Helen Mirren would be giving blow jobs in a movie. Even if she did some nude scenes in Age of Consent. I think it makes it authentic with XXX scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All of the X-rated material was performed by other Actresses, brought in afterwards…Helen Mirren didn’t take part in any of that, but I appreciate that she took part in the special edition of the blu-ray to discuss her part in the film and what went on away from the “A”-list Actors! Thanks for commenting!


  5. Saw it while working in Copenhagen in 79. The sex parts didn’t seem particularly gratuitous even though the main cast did not participate , they reflected the desired ambiance of debauchery and corruption.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I saw the movie in the 70’s in a theater. It was SHOCKING for the time. Given that my sensibilities at that time were much more acute, I’m not sure if it was the full uncut version or simply what would today be rated R.


  7. I love this movie!
    Of course compared to the “Divine Emperor” IRL it was like Sesame Street. Twice.
    No offense, just no way it could have been shown. Tiberius was worse and ruled longer, Little Germanicus he literally raised to be a negative memory in hopes his subjects would curse his name less. Instead they idolized him as the kindest, most compassionate Emperor they had ever known (and likely true to the average Roman) just his fellow elites hated him. (with good reason)

    Kind of like “Naked Lunch” – which Cronenberg himself pointed out if he’d made the film 1:1 to the book’s language would have cost $100 million, been banned in EVERY country and gotten him and most of the cast and crew jailed.



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