What most people now remember about the controversial 1972 erotic drama film Last Tango in Paris is the butter-assisted anal rape scene, which a young Maria Schneider later asserted was an unscripted and non-consensual sexual violation, perpetrated by the film’s star Marlon Brando with the full acquiescence of director Bernardo Bertolucci.

At the time, however, Schneider made another observation on the making of the film, then considered just as shocking. ‘Bertolucci was in love with Marlon Brando,’ she claimed, ‘and that’s what the movie was really all about. We were acting out Bernardo Bertolucci’s sex problems, in effect trying to transfer them to film.’

Bertolucci and Brando in 1972

Betty Dodson picked up on Maria Schneider’s insight, and created a series of illustrations which were commissioned by Evergreen, a monthly magazine published by Grove Press. They cleverly use poster-like imagery to develop the idea of the homoerotic connections between actor and director, referencing then-current preoccupations around male bonding and consciousness-raising. When Dodson delivered the edgy artwork, Grove took legal advice and decided that they were too controversial to publish.