Behind the Green Door (1972)

Behind the Green Door (1972)

“You warm up my coffee, and I’ll tell you the story.”

While stopping for coffee, two truck drivers are told a story about a socialite (Marilyn Chambers) who is kidnapped and forced to perform in a sex show-turned-orgy.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Adult Films
  • Kidnapping
  • Nightclubs

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, this “p**** chic about a beautiful young woman (Marilyn Chambers) who is kidnapped, then forced to perform a series of sexual acts before members of an exclusive club — and eventually ends up enjoying the ‘sexually liberating’ experience” — is a “landmark adult film [that] appealed to those who preferred screen sex to be erotic rather than raunchy, as it is in Deep Throat and The Devil in Miss Jones, the other two triple-X-rated blockbusters of the early seventies.” He adds that while “it has a male-fantasy storyline — borrowed from a male-written pamphlet that soldiers passed around during WWII — it has proven popular with women, especially as a video,” which is likely “due to directors Jim and Art Mitchell’s choice to photograph it in a hypnotic, dreamlike fashion so that women might be drawn in and recognize their own… fantasies.”

The Mitchells may also have “hoped women would want to identify with Chambers, who, unlike earlier sex-film actresses, was good-looking, shapely, [and] healthy — a blonde All-American girl who once adorned boxes of Ivory Snow with a baby on her knee.” Indeed, Peary writes that “much of the film’s initial success was a result of people wanting to see the 99-44/100-percent pure ‘Ivory Snow girl,’ a minor celebrity whose face they knew well, participate in sex acts.”

He asserts that while the “picture is well made and [the] Mitchell Bros. strive for art,” he doesn’t “find it much livelier than an elaborate stag film,” with “even the most unusual sex acts shift[ing] from being erotic to embarrassing and boring.” In his first Cult Movies book, Peary contextualizes this film within the broader history of adult films, noting that “all across the country [in the late sixties], raincoated men were sneaking in and out of theaters showing skin flicks” — but “this would change in a hurry due to public acceptance of a number of soft-core sex films as ‘legitimate’ motion pictures.” For instance, “Russ Meyer’s Vixen (1968), Radley Metzger’s Therese and Isabelle (1968) and his subsequent Camille 2000 (1969) and The Lickerish Quartet (1970), the earlier Swedish-made, Metzger-imported I, a Woman (1966)” and others “were major breakthrough films.” He notes that “these made filmmakers aware that for a sex film to be commercially successful it must attract women as well as men, and that the best way to arouse female interest was to make films about women striving for sexual fulfillment.”

To that end, he adds that “the commercial success in America of the Swedish I Am Curious (Yellow) (released in the United States in 1969), a political film that contains a couple of moments of explicit sex, proved that women would come to hard-core sex films provided they played in first-run theaters.” He notes that “the first hard-core films to get bookings in suburban and neighborhood theaters were quasi-documentaries and ‘educational’ marriage-manual films” like “Bill Osco’s Mona (1970), about a girl who can’t get enough of [a certain type of sex],” and then “Paul Gerber’s School Girl (1970), a fairly good sex comedy about a girl who enters the sexual underground so she can gather information for a college term paper” — both of which “made inroads in attracting a mixed audience.” Finally, Peary notes his appreciation for the fact that Chambers (unlike Linda Lovelace in Deep Throat) “was given a salary plus residuals for participating in Green Door,” and thus “when the picture took off at the box office she justifiably made a great deal of money.”

Final note: The presence of ~38 adult films in Peary’s GFTFF (not including many more soft-core titles) is a contentious one among his fans, and I’ve gone back and forth myself in terms of whether or not to include them. With that said, I do think all cinema buffs will be curious to at least fast-forward through the three most formative titles, and this is one of them.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Reasonable production values and artistic sensibility

Must See?
Yes, once, simply for its pivotal role in adult film history.


  • Historically Relevant


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