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New Book Raises Old Questions About “Don’t Look Now” Sex Scene

New Book Raises Old Questions About “Don’t Look Now” Sex Scene (photo)

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When IFC created our list of The 50 Greatest Sex Scenes in Cinema we had a clear cut number one choice: Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland’s chronologically fractured lovemaking in “Don’t Look Now” by Nicolas Roeg. What wasn’t clear then, and has never been clear, is just how real that scene is. Rumors have persisted for decades that the reason the scene feels so authentic is because it was authentic: that Christie and Sutherland actually wound up having sex on the set in front of the cameras.

The latest to dredge up the legend is Peter Bart, the former editor of Variety, who claims in his upcoming book “Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, the Mob, (and Sex)” to have been present at the filming of the “Don’t Look Now” sex scene, where he, um, looked… then.

As reported by Jay A. Fernandez in The Hollywood Reporter, Bart claims he went to visit Roeg on the set of “Don’t Look Now” as one of the Paramount executives in charge of the production. By a fluke of timing, he happened to show up right when Sutherland and Christie were going at it. You should go read Fernandez’s piece for the full excerpt, but here’s one quote that spells things out in no uncertain terms:

“It was clear to me they were no longer simply acting: they were fucking on camera.”

Done deal, right? Wrong. The day after THR published the story they published a second story featuring quotes from Donald Sutherland, who refutes Bart’s entire account. Again as reported by Jay A. Fernandez, here’s what Sutherland said in a statement:

“Peter Bart mendaciously writes that he witnessed the shooting of the love scene in ‘Don’t Look Now’ and saw sex. Not true. None of it. Not the sex. Not him witnessing it. From beginning to end, there were four people in that room. [Director] Nic Roeg, [DP] Tony Richmond, Julie Christie and me.”

I take Sutherland at his word, though there’s a part of me that wishes he were lying and an even bigger part of me that wishes he would take credit for Bart’s story even if it wasn’t true (“Yep, I did it. We smushed.”). Though the rumors can’t be great for Sutherland’s marriage, Sutherland, Christie, and Roeg should take them as a compliment. Almost forty years later, people are still talking about this sex scene. While a lot of sex scenes from the period — and plenty after — have aged into laughable fakes, it remains intimate enough to spark debates over its veracity. The fact that we’re still having that conversation at all is as good a measure as any of “Don’t Look Now”‘s quality.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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