This picture of Sharon Tate is a very poignant image. Considering the horrific circumstances of her death, all pictures of her are haunting really. We will never see her as the aging character actress, or as the faded star wheeled out on chat shows. She will always be that icon of late sixties glamour.
Roman Polanski directed his soon to be wife as she is spanked by Alfie Bass in the 1967 comedy horror movie Dance of the Vampires. It is seen through the eyes of two men (one played by Polanski himself) who have been woken in the night by raised voices coming from an adjacent bathroom. The beautiful redhead Sarah is in trouble for taking a bath when her uncle had forbidden her from doing so.
As it becomes clear that he is going to spank her, we see the two push and jostle each other outside the door as they each try to get the best view. Ultimately, it is this “through the keyhole” view that the audience gets too, turning us into similarly frustrated voyeurs, as Bass takes her across his knee and warms the seat of her white night gown while proclaiming “No Baths! No Baths!”
The views are snatched and unsatisfying but the scene must rank as one of the most tantalising of cinema spankings.
I used to suspect a body double had been used but this excellent still, which appears to be from an out-take, is pretty conclusive and also makes you wonder what other footage or photographs Polanski might have in his ‘private collection’!
When the film was first released in the United States, MGM wanted to market it as a farce, and gave it the title The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck. Polanski was less than pleased.
Over the years it has been reported in most sources that studio head Martin Ransohoff cut the film for the American release. An article in the Saturday Evening Post May 6, 1967 by John Bowers revealsthat Ransohoff actually discussed cutting the spanking scene with Tate while the pair were having dinner in Beverly Hills.
The place was as crowded as Alvaro’s in London, the customers practically the same. Ransohoff wore an open-neck sport shirt and shapeless coat, and he talked business. “Listen, sweetie, I’m going to have to cut some stuff out of The Vampire Killers. Your spanking scene has got to go.”
“Oh, don’t do that. Why would you do that?”
“Because it doesn’t move the story. The story has got to move. Bang, bang, bang. No American audience is going to sit still while Polanski indulges himself.”
“But Europeans make movies differently than Americans,” she explained to the producer she once feared. “Blow-Up moved slowly. But wasn’t it a great film!”
“I’ll tell you something, baby. I didn’t like it. If I’d have seen it before the reviews, I’d have said it’d never make it. It’s not my kind of picture. I want to be told a story without all that hocus-pocus symbolism going on.”
“But that one scene, Marty. When the girl shows her, ah – ” (only Sharon said the Anglo Saxon word). In Hollywood, New York and London they all talked now about Blow-Up, dwelling on that scene.
“Yeah, I got to hand it to the guy for that one,” Ransohoff said, chuckling. “He pulled a good one off there.”
Tate clearly believed that the spanking scene would get her a lot of attention and help to make her more famous.
Uniquely, this cinema spanking has been revived on the stage as part of a successful musical based on the film with music by Jim Steinman.
In this picture of the cast from a production of Tanz der Vampire, the man in a dark jacket and white shirt in the centre is Polanski.
Good stills of the stage spanking are very rare compared to say, Kiss Me Kates, but Harry recently sent me this nice example of Heikki Vainionpaa spanking Raili Raitala in a Finnish production which opened in 2011.