The one with the duplicated line


I have a question, but first, something nice.

In THE BIG SLEEP Bogie asks the phony bookshop girl is she has “a Ben Hur, third edition, the one with the duplicated line on page 116?”

She doesn’t, and neither do I, but I do have The Film Director as Superstar by Joseph Gelmis, and on page 168, during the Bertolucci interview, there is a poetically perfect duplicated line:


After Bert claims that BEFORE THE REVOLUTION was “a way to exorcize my own fears,” dealing as it does with a young bourgeois European trying to disassociate himself from his background to become a revolutionary. Gelmis asks Bert whether he in fact succeeded, since his next film, PARTNER, seems to deal with those fears all over again.

Bert says, “I think it’s the same story. I’m still exorcizing.

Then Gelmis asks a question about the influence of Pasolini.

“I think it’s the same story. I’m still exorcizing,” says Bert. And then, “common.”

A duplicated line! The stray word “common” shows that something else was supposed to go there. But the repetition of a sentence in which Bert confesses to repeating himself is a magnificent intervention by the universe, in the form of a printing malfunction. There’s no escape, Bert!

At the top, my edition. Below, the other edition.


So, I would like to know what BB actually said, so if you have a copy of the book that’s a different imprint from mine, please look it up and tell me. On the other hand, I love it just the way it is. THERE ARE NO ACCIDENTS.

11 Responses to “The one with the duplicated line”

  1. David Ehrenstein Says:

    The real question has to do with what Bernardo is “exorcising.” Pasolini and Godard were his mentors. The latter he pretty much abandoned after “Partner.” Pasolini by contrast hung over his life for some time. They both came from the bourgeois upper classes. But Pasolini identified (and pursued) the underclass. Not simply the “lower class” but those many rungs beneath it. Bernardo wasn’t with him on that score. He stayed exclusively with his own class. Sexually? Most likely. Agostino (Allen Midgette) kills himself because he’s in love with Fabrizio who can’t return his love in the same way. Midgette pops up frequently in Pasolini before he moved to New York and became a Silver Factory star (” Four Stars,” “Lonesome Cowboys”), also appearing Godard and Gorin’s Maoist western “Wind From the East.” He currently reside in upstate New York.

  2. In The Conformist, BB gives us not only Clerici, so ashamed of his “twilight urges” that he becomes a fascist, but also Anna Quadri, who is married to the left-wing professor but also evidently attracted to Clerici’s wife, in an open and unashamed way. She’s clearly positioned as an opposite to Clerici, someone really free (even if the Quadris are also condemned for being bourgeois).

  3. David Ehrenstein Says:

    IOW, Clerici and Anna are the two faces of Bernardo

  4. Sudarshan Ramani Says:

    I think with Bertolucci, exorcizing those fears were the engine of his films and the minute he stopped doing that, either because he had achieved a kind of harmony, or that there wasn’t an alternative or revolution to exorcize from anymore, he didn’t have anything more to say which explains the decline of his later films.

    Still, at his peak, Bertolucci was formidable — Prima della Rivoluzione, Partner, Il Conformista, The Spider’s Strategem, Last Tango in Paris, Novecento, The Last Emperor — are masterpieces. The Sheltering Sky and Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man aren’t too far behind.

  5. Agreed.

    Neil Snowden via FB supplies the missing line. In answer to the question about Pasolini’s political influence, BB says “No, I was always like this. Marxism in Italy is very common.”

    Which is good to know, but obviously the misprint is more evocative, like the truncated ending of Kiss Me Deadly that leaves Mike Hammer’s fate a mystery…

  6. David Ehrenstein Says:

    I rate “The Sheltering Sky” much higher. Bernardo “got” Bowles — which is no easy thing to do. The whole point of this unaccountably popular book is that Kit “becomes” Port after his death — going off with the smoking hot Arab chieftain. Over and above all it’s about the desire for one’s obliteration. Kasper David Friedrich is constantly evoked in scenes where the characters peer over landscapes from high cliffs — staring into the abyss. Debra Winger is truly something special here

  7. tangential question, but in your edition WHO is that strange effigy supposed to be of? It haunts me. I thought it was a Spitting Image puppet at first, but then I realised it predates them by decades. Are the British always created grotesque effigies of celebrities?

  8. Bertolucci did say he was disappointed by the flatness of the desert in Lawrence of Arabia and preferred Sternberg’s Morocco…

    The ugly figurine looks to me like a fairly close caricature of Norman Mailer (interviewed within), although I have a hard time picturing the circumstances in which the noted author would do drop into an exuberant “Mammy!” pose.

    It’s kind of in the tradition of the toby jug, I guess… Which you can google if need be, but at your own risk.

  9. Matthew Davis Says:

    I’d lay odds the cover is proto-Spitting Image. Fluck and Law spent the 70s making caricature models and puppets for magazines, colour supplements, adverts, demo marches, etc.

  10. Make sense…

    Tiny print: “Cover design by Peter Fluck.”

    Say, it just made me think, I wonder if he’s distantly related to Diana Dors, whose original name was Fluck (considered unsuitable for a movie star).

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