One of Europe's leading figures in softcore erotic filmmaking, Tinto Brass has earned an international reputation for his blend of artiness and thematic extremity; his over-the-top style has also earned comparisons to American director Russ Meyer, though while Meyer's trademark has always been his obsession with the bustline, Brass is known for his fascination with the derriere. Tinto Brass was born in Venice, Italy, on March 26, 1933. While Brass received a degree in law, instead of opening a practice as an attorney he opted to follow his passion for film and moved to Paris, where he found work at the Cinémathèque Française, one of the world's leading film archives. In the mid-'50s Brass returned to Italy, and got his foot in the door of the film business as an assistant director to Roberto Rossellini on the documentary India. In 1963, Brass graduated to directing with the neorealistic drama In Capo al Mondo. Over the next several years, Brass would try his hand at everything from sci-fi comedies to spaghetti Westerns, but the style and themes for which he would become best known began to surface with his 1969 film Black on White, about an woman tempted into infidelity by a black man during a visit to London, and 1970's L'Urlo, a bizarre satire in which a runaway couple explore their most base emotional and sexual appetites.
Brass' lush but unconventional eroticism arrived in full flower in 1976's Salon Kitty, concerning a house of prostitution favored by members of the Nazi SS; the film was an international hit, and Brass was tapped by Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione to direct his multi-million-dollar production of Caligula, based on a screenplay by Gore Vidal. The film became Brass' biggest international success, but it was a hollow victory; Guccione took the project away from Brass after principle photography was completed, and Brass, Vidal, and many members of the cast ultimately disowned the film. While his future projects never quite matched the blood-and-sex extremity of Caligula, his niche as a creator of offbeat softcore sex dramas (often with political or social undertones) was set, as evidenced by such films as Capriccio, Cosi Fan Tutte, and L'Uomo Che Guarda; in 1995 he even made a film, Fermo Posta Tinto Brass, which purported to be adapted from sexual fantasies sent to him by his many fans.