This strange still from the 1978 remake of The Big Sleep shows Robert Mitchum trying to spank Joan Collins. He has her across his knee, but not face down, so the swat is landing around mid thigh.
The scene, which was cut from the film, is almost certainly the one that Joan Collins talked about in a recent article:
When I worked with the fabulous Robert Mitchum in Michael Winner’s remake of The Big Sleep, I was quite nervous because of his tough-guy reputation, and I expected to be black and blue from the fight scene we were supposed to do.
I’d just finished a film with another hard man – Jack Palance – who’d roughed me up severely in our fight scene. He was a bit of a bully and pushed me around savagely, no doubt to prove how butch he was.
But Mitchum, who epitomised the strong, silent type, was as gentle with me as if he was playing with a kitten. He had to wrestle me to the floor, fling me across the room, grab my hair, twist my neck and then, the grand finale, throw me across his knee and spank me.
Well, I didn’t feel a thing throughout it, and when I asked him how he had managed to make the fight so realistic without leaving the tiniest mark on me, he replied in his laconic manner: ‘Honey, I’ve been doin’ this for about a hundred years – I’m an actor who knows how to play rough, and I’m not about to hurt an actress just for a goddamn scene.’
The omission of the spanking scene is especially puzzling because press reports BEFORE the movie came out mentioned it too. When I wrote this post last year, there were comments from three readers who remembered reading these reports. Their accounts differed slightly:
DJ Black of Voice in the Corner said:
I actually remember this was reported years ago. She said in an interview with the Sun newspaper that her biggest concern about the spanking was whether or not her knickers were showing, apparently she was wearing a short skirt. I always assumed the TV people cut the spanking out.
Before the film came out in 1978, there was some publicity released and it mentioned that Robert Mitchum spanked Joan Collins. The Sun or the Mirror newspaper latched onto this and I remember reading with gleeful anticipation that soon I would be seeing Joan in the traditional ‘over the knee’ position, having a well deserved and overdue bottom warming.
When I eventually saw the film, some years later when it was aired on TV, I missed the first 25 minutes and as I didn’t see Joan get her comeuppance, I assumed that I had missed the vital scene.
So the next time I noticed that the film was on TV I recorded it and watched it from start to finish – still no spanking! I now thought that due to the political correct times I was living in (early 90s) the TV people, in their wisdom, had decided to censor the spanking scene. So since then I have seen the damn film about 3 more times hoping to see the uncensored version – but, sadly of course, there never was a censored version!
I bet Michael Winner has the deleted scene in his own personal archive though!
Many moons ago I saw a photo of what I have always assumed was the deleted spanking scene, with Joan Collins horizontal across Mitchum’s lap, only lying on her side while he looks down google eyed at her. But she was wearing a longish skirt with black pantyhose, which doesn’t match DJ Black’s account of a miniskirt scene with the associated risk of panty exposure!
I have seen the movie, also long ago, but can’t remember what else she wore in other scenes… It was indeed released in 1978, which seems late for a short skirt, so who knows, maybe she also got a miniskirt spanking in another movie she made ten years earlier. (We can hope.) A desultory investigation at IMDB revealed only that in 1975 she made a Glen Larson television episode with an interesting title: Stung from Behind!
Talking of titles, am I right in remembering that one of the newspapers headlined the story as ‘The Day Joan Got Her Bottom Smacked’?
Harry managed to track down the photo and sent it on to me. I found another picture on a Joan Collins fan site that looks like it was taken just before the spanking. Joan’s skirt isn’t short but it does have a revealing split so perhaps that’s why she was worried about her panties showing.
Note too that Joan is pointing a gun at Mitchum. In the top picture, Mitchum is now holding the gun himself in his left hand. Otherwise he might have been able to hold Joan in position a little more effectively.