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August 5, 2014

Episode 178: Caligula (1979)

Caligula PosterSpecial Guest: Ranjit Sandhu & Alexander Tuschinski
Guest Co-Host: Maitland McDonagh

We begin "Roman Month" with the 1979 film Caligula is a biopic about one of the most-wicked rulers of Rome. It was directed by Tinto Brass until he took his name off it. It was written by Gore Vidal until he took his name of it. And, it was proudly produced by Bob Guccione of Penthouse magazine who didn't take his name off it. Caligula tells the tale of “Little Boots” and his anarchistic rule over Rome between 37-41 AD. Malcolm McDowell plays the title role and the film features well-known and respected British actors Sir John Gielgud, Sir Peter O'Toole and Helen Mirren... to name a few… along with a swath of Penthouse Pets.

Over 35 years later, Caligula is still as notorious for what's on screen as what went on behind the scenes.

Correction: Victor Mature was not in Nightmare Alley.

Listen / Download Now:

Bonus: Mission Caligula:

"I Am a God" by Paul Elstak
"Bring Me The Robe" by Doc Waffles
"Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" by The Smiths

Buy Caligula on DVD
Watch The Robe on Netflix
Buy The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
Buy The Robe on DVD
Buy Demetrius and the Gladiators on DVD
Buy I, Claudius on DVD
Buy Dirty, Dirty, Dirty by Mike Edison
Visit the official Tinto Brass web site
Visit Ranjit Sandhu's Caligula web site
Read Alexander Tuschinski's analysis of Caligula
Read the Vice story about the Bob Guccione Archives & Filthy Gorgeous
Play the Viva Caligula video game
Visit Maitland McDonagh's 120 Days Books facebook page
Visit the official 120 Days Books web site
Hear more about Gore Vidal on our Myra Breckinridge episode
Hear Maitland McDonagh on our Deep Red and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage episodes
Listen to our Equinox episode


Mission: Caligula from Alexander Tuschinski on Vimeo.


  1. Nice episode. Very interesting oddity the likes we will never see again.
    Have to make a correction though. Victor Mature was not in Nightmare Alley, that was Tyrone Power.

  2. Great episode on Jodorowsky's Caligula --- I mean Tinto Brass' Dune --- I mean.... gah, my head is spinning!

    Seriously though, an extremely informative & entertaining episode as usual. I'm glad to know Mr. Sandhu's book is still on the horizon. Knowing his real name helps. It saddens me that he was told to use a pseudonym in the wake of post-9/11 xenophobia. Are there really cult cinephiles who would be put off reading a book on Caligula because the author's name is of a certain ethnicity?

    1. Yeah, I edited that interview and I debated cutting that bit about the name but I thought it was too interesting not to leave in... because it's sad!

      Glad you enjoyed the episode.

      Although I'm the world's slowest reader, I'm looking forward to this book as well!



    2. I can relate to your "functional illiteracy", I'm no speed-reader myself.

      Steven Wright once made a joke like "My nephew has HD ADD. He has trouble concentrating, but when he does, he's REALLY focused!" That's kind of how I feel, haha.

  3. Great show as per usual! Can't wait for Mr. Sandhu's book! I was also quite tickled to find out I'm not the only one who confuses Victor Mature and Tyrone Power! great minds...etc.etc....

  4. Re: Helen Mirren.....Age Of Consent should be on your list....Michael Powell gets quite the performance, and James Mason never hurts either!!!!

  5. Loved both interviews! I hope the best for Ranjit Sandhu's book. I'm very impressed by Tuschinski's commitment as well :D

    Hey, you guys must watch L'Urlo, I told you already and I insist. I can't wait to hear your impressions about it :<

  6. Ranjit Sandhu sounds like such a sweet guy, I'll definitely be checking out his exhaustive website and book (if it's released as of 2016)! There's a very honest, direct but polite way about him, which I like.

    I want a "disobey" t-shirt like his :)

    His devotion to this film - of which every version even he describes as "bad" - is wonderful. That loyalty to an oddity or an unfinished/lost/divisive film feels like a very core geek "thing" and brings to mind Mike's feelings on Dune (which I share).

    Such a shame to hear about Ranjit briefly using a pseudonym post-9/11, which reminds me of all the name-changing done in the early-to-mid last century due to antisemitism.

    I wish him all the best!

    Great episode!

  7. If you guys bothered to read the short chapters on Caligula by the Roman writers Tacitus and Suetonius (which is virtually all the ancient history we have on Caligula) you wouldn't be stumbling around wondering if Gore Vidal is quoting Carl Panzram.

    1. Wow, I wish you had been around a few years ago to tell us that before we recorded. Thanks for your valuable -- albeit untimely -- insights!

    2. We have, but Vidal is a more contemporary reference which goes to the fact that Caligula's manic obsessions were not merely the product of a time and place but rather evidence of a toxic intersection of madness (Panzram's "one neck" desire) and absolute power, whic Caligula had.