The Seven Minutes (film)

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The Seven Minutes
Thesevenminutes.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Russ Meyer
Produced by Russ Meyer
Screenplay by Manny Diez (uncredited)
Richard Warren Lewis
Based on The Seven Minutes 
by Irving Wallace
Starring Wayne Maunder
Marianne McAndrew
Music by Stu Phillips
Cinematography Fred Mandl
Edited by Dick Wormell
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 23, 1971 (1971-07-23) (United States)

  • December 11, 1971 (1971-12-11) (Japan)
Running time 115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,415,000[1]

The Seven Minutes is a 1971 American drama film directed and produced by Russ Meyer. The film was based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Irving Wallace.

Plot[edit]

After a teenager who purchased the erotic novel The Seven Minutes is charged with rape, an eager prosecutor who is against pornography (and preparing for an upcoming election) uses the scandal to declare the book as obscene, sets up a sting operation where two detectives enter a bookstore, purchase a copy of the eponymous book, whereupon the prosecutor brings charges against the bookstore for selling obscene material. The subsequent trial soon creates a heated debate about the issue of pornography vs. free speech. The young defense lawyer must also solve the mystery of the novel's true author.

In examining the history of the book, the defense attorney discovered it was written by J.J. Jadway, an American expatriate living in Europe, originally published in English by a publisher in France, and eventually picked up by various tawdry publishing companies in the United States, most of whom tried to emphasize the more lurid and salacious aspects of the book. The book's content is considered so sexually explicit that it was banned as obscene in over 30 countries. Apparently. J.J. Jadway was so despondent over the treatment of his book that he committed suicide; one of his friends found him and reported it.

As the trial takes place, the prosecutor finds ordinary members of the public who find the book grossly offensive (one of whom admits on cross-examination by the defense that she cannot even repeat out loud one of the words used in the book to describe what the female protagonist was doing in bed with her lover), while the defense finds professionals in academia and the media who attest to the book's value as literature. The prosecution then puts the young man who committed the rape on the stand to say the book drove him to it.

The attorney defending the book is contacted by Constance Cumberland (Yvonne deCarlo), a member of a local decency society, who decides to testify in court about the young man who committed the rape, and other things surrounding the book. She had spoken with the young man, and his motivation for the rape was not the book, but his own fears over his sexuality.

Constance also admits she knew J. J. Jadway, the book's author, and he did not die of a heart attack in Europe in the 1950s as was reported, and she knew that the book's content was not intended to be pornographic, but an examination of a woman's sexuality.

When she is asked how she could know this, Constance responds with a bombshell, "Because I am J.J. Jadway, and I wrote The Seven Minutes." She had gotten a friend to publicize the fake suicide of "J.J. Jadway" in order to discourage investigation into the book's author because, more than 20 years ago, it would have been bad for her, then, if it were discovered she was the author, but she should not hide any longer. She proceeds to explain that the man whom the female protagonist of the novel was having sex with, as the book showed, had had problems with impotence, and had become able to experience intercourse because of her. Her feeling of what this man reawakened in her, herself not having taken a lover for many years, makes her realize she wants to be with him, all of this occurring inside her head during her experience of the seven minutes of intercourse.

The jury finds the book not obscene. The prosecutor says that decision only applies in that part of the state, and he can try again somewhere else in California. The attorney who won the case chastises him, by pointing out that it is ridiculous to try to restrict what adults choose to read in their homes when no harm has been shown (which it was in this case, since the book was simply a scapegoat used to explain away the rape case of the young man.)

A note at the end of the movie states that the average length of a session of lovemaking is about seven minutes in length.

Cast[edit]

Production notes[edit]

This was Meyer's second, and last, mainstream production for Twentieth-Century Fox. The film began production soon after the success of Meyer's highest grossing film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.[2] As with many of his movies, Meyer used several actors from his previous productions, including then-wife Edy Williams, Charles Napier, Henry Rowland, and James Inglehart. Established actress Yvonne De Carlo makes an appearance along with veteran character actor Olan Soule. A young Tom Selleck also had a role in the film, and DJ Wolfman Jack made a cameo appearance.

Known as "King of the Nudies"[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11] for his work in the sexploitation film genre,[12][13] Meyer planned nude scenes in this mainstream film.[14] He informed female lead candidates that nudity would integral to their roles,[14] and after casting interviews, considered Marianne McAndrew to be suitable.[15] He subsequently signed her for the lead role of Maggie Russell.[16] McAndrew, previously known for her work as the prim and proper Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly!,[17] accepted the role based upon her wish to change her own image and in order to gain more work within the industry.[17] She reported that during the filming itself, Meyer was "considerate and gentlemanly".[16]

Reception[edit]

The Seven Minutes received a lukewarm reception from both audiences and critics and was Meyer's first commercial failure.[2][18]

New York Times reviewer Roger Greenspun wrote of the film, "I don't think that a court of law is the right Russ Meyer arena, and The Seven Minutes, which had started out pretty well, bogs down hopelessly in its courtroom legalisms and its absolutely non-cliff-hanging rush to unearth the real identity of the mythical J J Jadway", citing some problems with the film being its complicated plot and "enormous cast of characters". In addressing the film's use of nudity, he wrote "[Meyer] has never been so much concerned with undressing his girls (there are maybe five seconds of nudity in "The Seven Minutes") as admiring their appetites, their overwhelming proportions (but not so much their seductive flesh), their often destructive and self-destructive wills."[19]

Variety wrote that Irving Wallace's original novel was a "potboiler" "which averted the essence of the problem in resolving the story," and noted that Russ Meyer was himself a "censor-exploited as well as a censor-exploiting filmmaker", who began with a story handicap and added a few of his own. They expanded that Meyer used "cardboard-caricatures of his heavies" which obscured issues, and included the "regular time-out for the sexually-liberated dalliances which have been his stock in trade."[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p256
  2. ^ a b Russ Meyer at filmreference.com
  3. ^ Myers, Cynthia (December 14, 1969). "Gal on the go". Toledo Blade (Google News Archive). Retrieved 9 July 2010. [dead link]
  4. ^ Thomas, Kevin (November 30, 1969). "King of the Nudies on Biggest Film Caper Yet". Los Angeles Times (ProQuest Archiver). p. S18. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  5. ^ Associated Press (October 19, 1969). "Sex Film Producer Gets Major Script". Eugene Register-Guard (Google News Archive). Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  6. ^ Cross, Robert (February 16, 1969). "The 'skin-flicks' of producer Russ Meyer". Chicago Tribune (ProQuest Archiver). p. A8. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  7. ^ "Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 01, 1963". Albuquerque Tribune. October 1, 1963. p. B7. 
  8. ^ "King Of The Nudies to Film 'Dolls' Sequel". Mt Vernon Register News. September 26, 1969. 
  9. ^ Todd McCarthy and Charles Flynn (1973). Todd McCarthy and Charles Flynn, ed. Kings of the Bs: working within the Hollywood system : an anthology of film history and criticism (illustrated ed.). Russ Meyer: King of the Nudies: E. P. Dutton. pp. 110 through 132. ISBN 0-525-14090-5. 
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (2009). Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2010. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 555. ISBN 0-7407-8536-2. 
  11. ^ McDonough, Jimmy (2006). Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film (reprint, illustrated ed.). Random House, Inc. pp. 278, 279, 280, 426. ISBN 0-307-33844-4. 
  12. ^ Lisanti, Tom (2003). Drive-in dream girls: a galaxy of B-movie starlets of the sixties (illustrated ed.). McFarland. p. 52. ISBN 0-7864-1575-4. 
  13. ^ Landy, Marcia (1991). Imitations of life: a reader on film & television melodrama. Contemporary film and television series (illustrated ed.). Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2065-1. 
  14. ^ a b Haber, Joyce (May 11, 1970). "Crenna Assumes His Executive Role". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles). p. E17. 
  15. ^ Haber, Joyce (October 7, 1970). "'Portnoy' Moves Off the Fox Lot". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles). p. E17. 
  16. ^ a b Kleiner, Dick (January 24, 1971). "Show Beat". The Victoria Advocate NEA (Victoria, Texas). p. 11. 
  17. ^ a b Scott, Vernon (January 29, 1971). "Nudity has its place in films, says actress". Sarasota Herald-Tribune UPI (Google News Archive). Retrieved 6 July 2010. 
  18. ^ Ebert, Roger (1973). "Russ Meyer: King of the Nudies". Film Comment. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  19. ^ Greenspun, Roger (July 24, 1971). "'The 7 Minutes':Court Is Focus of Russ Meyer's Latest". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  20. ^ Variety staff (January 1, 1971). "review: The Seven Minutes". Variety. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 

External links[edit]