Behind the Green Door (1972) was the first hardcore pornographic movie widely released in the United States. Directed by the Mitchell brothers and starring Marilyn Chambers as Gloria Saunders, the movie depicts her abduction to a sex theater, where she is perform various sexual acts in front of an audience, with characters including nuns and trapeze artists.
Prior to the movie's release, Marilyn Chambers had modeled for Procter & Gamble and Ivory Snow detergent. After the release of the movie, P&G recalled all products and advertising materials featuring her, unintentionally adding to the movie's hype. Along with Deep Throat, released later in the same year, the movie launched the "porn chic" boom and started what is now referred to as the "Golden Age of Porn." Made with a budget of $60,000, the movie ultimately grossed over $25 million (including its video release, which is controlled exclusively by the Mitchells).
In 1986, the Mitchells made a sequel to this film, directed by singer Sharon McNight and starring a newcomer named Missy (who was Artie Mitchell's girlfriend at the time and reportedly demanded to be given the role). The film, in which all sex performers used condoms and other protective paraphernalia, was a critical and commercial disaster and cost the Mitchells hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Behind the Green door is a well made film, pretty good camera work for a movie in this genre. It takes its time until it becomes explicit, but I did not feel inclined to push the fast forward button, since the film works pretty well as a movie and not only as a way to arouse the viewer erotically, though it still is an amazingly sexy piece of work.
One of the first porno chic crossovers, this 1972 film helped bring XXX movies to a mainstream audience. Anonymous young woman (Marilyn Chambers) is "abducted" to kinky sex theater where she performs on stage with a variety of other people for the delectation of an audience of voyeurs, who eventually perform among themselves. There are some fair SFX, though hardly on an ILM scale, and the story content is inherently slanted against any real involvement other than arousal by the viewer.
Pioneering, cabaret-style porn flick that inspired "Cafe Flesh", "Smoker", "Night Dreams" and porn surrealism typified by such XXX directors as Greg Dark, Rinse Dream, and even Rob Black. Marilyn Chambers is kidnapped by the directors, Jim and Artie Mitchell, and taken to a club that probably inspired "Eyes Wide Shut". She have sex with lesbians, black men, and anybody who wants a piece of her. The observers get horny watching and end up being observed groping and grinding with each other. Say you want you want about the film's raw technical quality, but it is quite an erotic experience. It takes its sweet time with the sex scenes and constructs a veritable cinematic inferno of lust and licentiousness. Although the initial tone is dark, it becomes lighter as Chambers' enjoyment of her predicament increases (the country-and-western music helps, too). There is no narrative, but Ms. Chambers does take a fascinating journey from fear to enlightenment and conveys these changes non-verbally. Her "performance" is strong and even led to a starring role a few years later in David Cronenberg's "Rabid" where she acquitted herself very well. Not surprisingly, Chambers is the most attractive female in the cast by far. It is her movie, as it should be.
Behind the Green Door is a ground-braking movie, it was the first adult movie with widely released in the United States, not only in adult theaters, but also in respectable mainstream movie houses. With Behind the Green Door the Mitchell Brothers changed the face of the adult film industry.
Marilyn Chambers stars as Gloria Saunders, and she plays a girl that's being kidnapped, and perform various sexual acts before an audience at an underground sex club. The plot line doesn't sound that complex, and it isn't either, but this movie has one great and interesting character played terrific by Marilyn Chambers. The story is also very artistically, stylish and most erotic. Behind the Green Door isn't "just a porn movie", is actually much closer to an art-movie. Is like, if Kubrick ever made porn, than I guess it would look something like Behind the Green Door.
Behind the Green Door is really a masterpiece in its genre, and one of the most important movies in the history of America. 9 out of 10.
Behind the Green Door has a deceptively simple central story, which nevertheless is layered with a great deal of really rather sophisticated exploration of sexual desire and the potentials of pornographic spectatorship.
The film begins in a truck-stop diner, as two drivers come in and are pressed by the chef to tell him the story of "the green door." The men are a little coy at first, but free coffee loosens their tongues. One of them begins to tell the story which we see... A single woman is kidnapped from her hotel and taken to a secret location where she becomes the centerpiece of a bizarre sexual show. Before the kidnapping, she is shown sitting isolated at an outdoors restaurant, keeping herself to herself and wrapped up against the cold as a boor at another table drones on to another fellow about what he got up to at the weekend. The film then posits that beneath her solitary exterior lurks a desire to be opened up to sensual pleasure and exhibitionism. She is kidnapped (by, significantly, characters played by the film's directors, the Mitchell Brothers) and taken to the show venue. She is met by a woman who tells her that she will not be hurt and that she will experience delights. She is stripped, massaged and dressed and then taken onto the stage.
The stage is set before a small audience of (mostly) masked onlookers, who have been told the "rules" of the club and seem to be all in on the secret society - they have to negotiate their way past burly doormen and agree to keep their counsel during the "performance." After a slightly grotesque Marcel Marceau-type clownery, the kidnapped woman is led on the stage and sexually explored by a gaggle of ladies. After she has been woken to feeling by touching and cunnilingus, the green door at the back opens and a black man with a large and already engorged penis enters to the sound of funk. He then stimulates the kidnapped woman, driving into her until they reach mutual orgasm.
This inspires the audience to begin masturbating, touching each other and finally indulging in an orgy. The kidnapped woman fellates three acrobats who descend on ropes and the cast and watchers come together for a Dionysian romp. This ends with a series of slow-motion money shots involving distorted special effects. After she has been covered in cum, the kidnapped woman is suddenly "rescued" by a member of the audience and taken back through the green door. Then we're back in the diner, with the chef desperate to know more. The drivers have nothing more to tell him, and one of them drives into the night. As he drives, he sees the lights of the city shining and a vision of himself making uninhibited love to the kidnapped woman.
The central story of the kidnapping and show is specifically structured as the fantasy of the drivers at the diner. All of the more controversial aspects of the show - the strangely acquiescent victim, the secret society of privileged voyeurs, the black man as representative of sexual prowess and primal sexual urges - are suggested by the film as fantasies of these working class white men, tales they tell to enliven their rather barren, powerless and sexually frustrated lives (they have no real women in their lives within the film).
There's also an intriguing strand of the film which posits that watching a pornographic performance will inspire an audience to indulge in its own licentious sexual activities. The audience of the show are soon touching and screwing each other (and its telling that their bodies are mostly not as attractive as the performers in the show), and the driver is lost in his own self-generated pornographic fantasies at the end.
The film is a remarkable and wonderfully self-conscious dream of male desire, a desire which wants women to agree to their own induction into a realm of uninhibited pleasure. It isn't suggested in the film that such a realm can exist in reality, but the audience participation suggests that the filmmakers hoped that their spectators might be inspired to sexual activities of their own. The most intense section of the film is the entrance and sexual performance of Johnny Keyes, the black ravisher - he is an astonishing presence, and the moment before he enters Marilyn Chambers (a woman with considerable star quality) suggests a collusion between the two characters which could also be a collusion between the two performers - it is genuinely erotic and laden with the temptation to see these two people as genuinely wishing to transgress social and ethnic sexual barriers.
The film fully deserves its reputation as a classic of the golden age of porn, a genuinely seminal work. The title refers to the popular song, a 1950s hit for Jim Lowe and it possibly was inspired by a story by O. Henry, also called The Green Door.
Behind the Green Door is the great granddaddy of adult films. This film is the brain child of Jim and the late Artie Mitchell, producers of adult film loops, who decided to make the first feature length adult film. Behind the Green Door would also lead us into the Golden Age of adult entertainment. The film ended up being a huge theatrical success, partially due to the fact that Marilyn Chambers became the Ivory Snow girl just before the film's release. So how has this important piece of cinematic history held up over the years. Depending on your tastes, very well. If you are a lover of the classics, this film is sure to please.
Despite the fact that Behind the Green Door was shot on a shoestring budget, the sets are very well done. They are much better than what you will find in the average adult film being produced today. Most of the film, I believe, was shot at the Mitchell Brothers owned O'Farrell Theatre. The cast is great too, with stage cast being very attractive, a rarity in the early seventies. Not all of the audience members are attractive though. For instance the corpulent woman in the audience is a major turn off, but casting like this makes the film seem more true to life that what you get today. The cast does a good acting job too, not that there is much for them to do. An interesting thing to note is the club's bouncer is played by Ben Davidson, an NFL player for the Oakland Raiders.
The sex in the film is very tame, especially by the standards of today. However, this film shows very successfully that you can tame sex and still have a very erotic film. There is a massive amount of variety in the scenes throughout the film to keep the scenes from getting monotonous. As the sex is tame, this film is a prime candidate for couples. For its time, the sex here was considered hardcore and in some places even controversial. Its rather amazing to see how much society has changed in 30 years. For viewers who care, there are no condoms used in the film. The sexual themes present in the film are vaginal and oral sex with fingering, lesbian and orgies.
This brings us toward the end of the film, which answers the age-old question of what a cum shot looks like in slow motion. What starts out as a well done very arty slow motion cum shot ends up becoming this hugely drawn out special effects laden scene. Instead of going on with the film after the cum shot is over, the cum shot ends up being shown over and over again repeatedly for several minutes with various types of visual special effects that I really could have done without. What may have been very impressive 30 years ago has turned into annoying today.
The film is well written and as with many of the films produced during the golden age, the writing resembles a mainstream film more than the adult films of today do. Not all the scenes are written to include sex, some are just used to actually tell the story present in the film. The music used in the film is excellent as well. It is not your average 70s porno sounding music track and adds to the originality of the film.
As with all films, not everything is perfect. The three biggest problems that plague the film are the earlier mentioned cum-shot sequence. The earlier mentioned casting of the audience, where some of them are not very pleasing to the eye, detracting from the orgy scene. The final major problem lies in the editing of the film. It can be very choppy at times which becomes distracting. However, this film proves that with its shoestring budget that you don't need to use a lot of money to make a good porno.