The Sunday Intertitle: Let Jesus Fuck You

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I’m quoting Linda Blair, of course, so that’s alright then.

The profane headline is inspired by recent reading. In Dublin I acquired The Celluloid Mistress: or, The Custard Pie of Dr Caligari by English playwright Rodney Ackland. Ackland’s movie memoir details his involvement in the cinema on such projects as Powell & Pressburger’s 49TH PARALLEL, Brian “The Queen of Ireland” Desmond Hurst’s DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT, and Thorold Dickinson’s QUEEN OF SPADES, which Ackland actually started directing until forced out by an unsympathetic producer. (Dickinson looked and the rushes and said, “You’d never think this was a British picture!” “Is there anything wrong in that?” asked Ackland. “No!” said Dickinson, genuinely impressed, and he finished the film in the same style.)

At one point, Ackland documents a meeting with Howard Gaye, who played Christ in Griffith’s INTOLERANCE. Gaye recollected ruefully that when the crew stopped for lunch, he was left crucified for an hour and a half. Griffith, when he returned from his loaves and fishes, was greeted with an outburst of decidedly unchristlike language from his Messiah.

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This brought to mind a long anecdote from the shooting of THE KING OF KINGS, detailed in Lenore Coffee’s Storyline. According to L.C., the crew of the flick set up camp on an island where they could be removed from all modern appurtenances except for those pieces of technical apparatus essential to the actual recording of film images. DeMille was therefore rather put out that his star, H.B. Warner, insisted on leaving the camp for a luxury yacht every evening, still in costume and makeup as the Lamb of God. The nightly appearance of the twentieth century vessel ruptured DeMille’s sense of period and spoiled his enjoyment of the year 33 Anno Domini.

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When Coffee and her husband realized that Warner was meeting a girlfriend aboard ship, they decided that DeMille must be protected from this knowledge, since anything that tainted the feeling of sanctity he had built up around the film would have rendered him unfit to continue. When they further realized that Warner had insisted on keeping on his God the Son attire because his girlfriend was fulfilling some kind of perverse Bride of Christ sexual fantasy, they became even more determined to keep the matter under their collective hat (all writing teams own a collective hat, which they put on when collaborating).

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“He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”

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9 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: Let Jesus Fuck You”

  1. Why didn’t Welles get to dub his own voice?

    Welles outrage at being told he was in a film called RoGoPaG (“I was never in such a film!”) is very amusing.

  2. Does anyone in Italian cinema get to dub their own voice?

  3. I’m told that when Sophia Loren finally was allowed to speak for herself, Italian audiences laughed at her “low-class” accent. Much better to leave the speaking to the professionals!

  4. That title, um…grabs you. Funny story about DeMille and company.

  5. There is a very similar story about Sinead O’Connor when she played the Blessed Virgin Mary in Neil Jordan’s least worst film, The Butcher Boy. Her boyfriend at the time is now a prominent rightwing Catholic cultural commentator. What larks they must have had.

  6. That was kind of a casting masterstroke, and not just because the potential for amusing anecdotes was so very, very high.

  7. Of course, the fact that I myself have long hair and a beard means that I know NOTHING WHATSOEVER of the syndrome described here (will you stop giggling, you people in the back of the classroom?).

    Actually, being likened to Jesus became such a norm for me that when, once, somebody drecribed me as John the Baptist I felt distinctly demoted. As if Ruby Keeler had been reassigned the Joan Blondell role.

  8. I had long hair at school and was sometimes called “Jesus” but I never seemed to be able to make any sexual cache out of it. Probably comes from Protestant girls being too indifferent to the Messiah, while most of the Catholic girls were at the school next door, tantalizingly out of reach.

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