Last Tango in Paris

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Last Tango in Paris is a 1972 drama film about a young Parisian woman who begins a sordid affair with a middle-aged American businessman who lays out ground rules that their clandestine relationship will be based only on sex.

Written and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.


  • [as Jeanne puts her hands on his crotch] That is your happiness, and my hap-penis.
  • Even if a husband lives 200 fucking years, he'll never discover his wife's true nature. I may be able to understand the secrets of the universe, but... I'll never understand the truth about you. Never.
  • Well, first you have to take a hot bath and if you don't you're gonna get pneumonia. Right?... and then you know what happens? You get pneumonia... and then you know what happens? You die! And then, you know what happens then when you die? I get to fuck the dead rat!
  • [to his dead wife at her wake] Our marriage was nothing more than a foxhole for you. And all it took for you to get out was a 10 cent razor and a tub full of water. You cheap, goddamn, fucking, godforsaken whore, I hope you rot in hell. You're worse than the dirtiest street pig anybody could ever find anywhere, and you know why? You know why? Because you lied. You lied to me and I trusted you. You lied and you knew you were lying. Go on, tell me you didn't lie. Haven't you got anything to say about that? You can think up something, can't you? Go on, tell me something! Go on, smile, you cunt! [crying] Go on, tell me... tell me something sweet. Smile at me and say I just misunderstood. Go on, tell me. You pig-fucker... you goddamn, fucking, pig-fucking liar. [sobbing] Rosa... I'm sorry, I... I just - I can't stand it to see these goddamn things on your face! [peels off her fake eyelashes] You never wore make-up... this fucking shit. I'm gonna take this off your mouth, this - this lipstick... Rosa - oh GOD! I'm sorry! I - I don't know why you did it! I'd do it too, if I knew how... I just don't know how... I have to... have to find a way...


  • Olympia is the personification of domestic virtue: faithful, economic and racist.
  • It's better not knowing anything.
  • [last line of the film] I didn't know his name...


Jeanne: I fell in love with him when I first heard him play piano.
Paul: You mean the first time he got inside your knickers.
Jeanne: He was a child prodigy; he was playing with both hands.
Paul: I bet he was!

Jeanne: Why do you hate women?
Paul: Because either they always pretend to know who I am, or they pretend I don't know who they are, and that's very boring.

Jeanne: Let's drink a toast to our life in the hotel.
Paul: No fuck all that! Hey listen! Let's drink a toast to our life in the country.
Jeanne: You're a nature lover? You didn't tell me that.
Paul: Oh, for Christ's sake... I'm nature boy. Can't you see me with the cows and the chickenshit all over me? Huh?
Jeanne: Oh, that's right. To the cows!
Paul: Cow.
Jeanne: I will be your cow too.
Paul: I get to milk you twice a day. How about that?

Jeanne: What are we doing here?
Paul: Let's just say we're taking a flying fuck at a rolling donut.

Paul: You ran through Africa and Asia and Indonesia, and now I found you... and I love you. I want to know your name.
Jeanne: Jeanne. [she shoots him]


About Last Tango in Paris[edit]

  • But apart from the film’s many qualities (and I have been able to sketch in only a few of them) there was a special air of excitement that night because there was some doubt if anyone who wasn’t there would ever see the film in its original form. Although shot entirely in Paris, it is an Italo-French co-production, and as such, if it is to benefit from all that the Italian system offers in the way of subsidies etc, it cannot be exported before it is passed by the Italian censorship board.
    An exception was made for the New York film festival, but the print was whisked in and out of the country too fast for there to be more than the one solitary screening – there was not even a press show. At the same time, the producer Alberto Grimaldi, flew in a half dozen Italian journalists; the idea is that the Italian censorship board is very responsive to foreign opinion. It is generally agreed that Pasolini’s Canterbury Tales would never have got past them if it had not first won the Grand Prize in Berlin. ...
    What they always can do [the producer and director] if the Italian censors don’t pass the film is to surrender the film’s nationality; it may cost them a little, but they would surely make it up on the film’s American release. But where else can it be shown? Germany, Scandinavia – yes. But France or England: I wonder. It is certainly the best possible test for a censor; everyone here agreed the film is not pornographic. On the other hand, it is graphic and explicit. In fact, it poses something of a quandary. But I dare say it will be solved eventually: Last Tango is manifestly too important a film to be put on the shelf. Meanwhile, the fur is going to fly.

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