Maria Schneider was just 19 when she starred in the controversial 1972 film LAST TANGO IN PARIS with Marlon Brando. The actress has died at the age of 58 from breast cancer. At the time the film was very controversial and viewed as soft core porn by some, however more serious film critics recognized the quality of this film and actor Marlon Brando was Oscar nominated for best actor that year.
The film involved a sexual relationship with an older man(Marlon Brando’s character) as well as full frontal nudity from the teenage actress, and the screenplay involved some elements of sexual violence, which helped to evoke some protests by both feminist as well as censorship groups. At the time the movie was rated X, however the X rating was very controversial in those days when mainstream films branded with the dreaded X rating were often mistaken for pornography, leading the MPAA to enact a new NC17 rating. However, the new NC17 rating often ran into problem with theatres avoiding such such films. An edited R rated version of the film was also produced.
On the small $1.25 million budget the film grossed more than $96 million dollars.
LAST TANGO IN PARIS was one of the only international films that Maria Schneider starred in. But, she was an actress in a long list of films in France. The actress was born in Paris, and a popular actress in her native land, however LAST TANGO IN PARIS failed to translate into much international success for her career. Marlon Brando received most of the fanfare for the film and greatly overshadowed the young actress, where it was only her fifth appearance in film at the time.
Maria Schneider will probably be best remembered as curly haired teenage beauty in LAST TANGO, however she turned against doing nudity in later film projects, unhappy about her role in the film. She came out as a bisexual in 1974, but caused controversy when she quit the set of CALIGULA in 1976, and checked herself into a mental hospital with some female lover. Up until 2008 she continued to star in both French TV and cinema.