The graphic sex scene in the supernatural thriller — featuring what appeared to be oral sex performed by Sutherland — was buzzed about even before the film’s release, and director Nicolas Roeg had to edit it in a fragmented manner to enable the film to receive an R rating in the US. In England, the film got an X rating.
For years after the film’s release, rumors swirled about the scene, with some saying that Christie’s then-boyfriend Warren Beatty lobbied to get the sex scene cut out of the film, and others saying that there was unedited footage of the scene floating around Hollywood that clearly showed they were having intercourse.
Finally, in 2011, former movie executive and Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart released a memoir entitled Infamous Players, in which he says that he was on the set and saw the much-ballyhooed scene being filmed. He wrote, “It was clear to me they were no longer simply acting. They were (having sex) on camera.”
That solves it, right? Not so fast. Sutherland vehemently denied Bart’s claim, saying that the sex was simulated and that Bart never saw it because only four people were in the room while filming: the two actors, the director, and the cinematographer. Peter Katz, one of the film’s producers, backed up Sutherland, saying, “While there was a sex scene captured on film, it was not a scene that would lead to the creation of a human being.”
You know what? Simulated or not, they must’ve done something right if everyone is still talking about it almost 50 years later!