Last Tango In Paris (1972)

What's that wheezing and lumbering up the stairs with big heavy boots on? Keep your heads down: here comes meaningful symbolic drama from the nineteen seventies. Set your watches, kids - it's all downhill from here.

What is there left to say about Last Tango nearly forty years on? Well, people still remember it, which is worth pointing out at least: they even reissued it on its thirty-fifth, which is more than you can say for Blacula. Many, many others remember exiting the cinema on its first run and feeling like they'd just spent two hours playing cards with W. C. Fields. And yes, if you look hard enough in the dusty cupboards of film studies departments in windswept provincial universities you'll find still others, fewer but just as emphatic, doggedly insisting it is imperishable. That it's a milestone we can all agree on, though perhaps with slightly less uniformity when it comes to deciding what of. It's had no influence whatever on cinematic process or preoccupation - once you get past the outright pastiche that always follows a cause celebre - though it surely helped lower standards in a more general way. For me it's a key, perhaps even seminal example of the Jackson Pollock school of seventies cinema, where the material is flung randomly at the canvas and waits to be given life: the job of interpretation is not to find the meaning, rather the meaning actually resides in the process of interpretation itself.

Ultimately it's no more significant than a Roger Vadim picture, and far less easy on the senses, with some cynical peekaboo to numb the objectivity and one of Brando's most lugubrious non-performances to weight the sack down and stop it floating away. The chances of a seventieth anniversary reissue are, I humbly suggest, on the slim side.