X is for X-Rated in America
Until recently, so-called "blue movies"—the stuff of private collections, late night theaters, and adult video stores—were shunned by archives and dismissed by academia. Yet because erotic cinema has a rich and long history that dates back to the earliest days of film, scholars of "the gaze" have begun to embark on serious study of how such films affect audiences, and film archives, once wary of collecting such material, have finally begun to catalogue the work and grant research access to it. In the mid-1980s, the HFA acquired a small commercial collection from the film distribution arm of Grove Press that included everything from animated shorts and silent-era stag films to provocative works made in the "swinging sixties." Rarely screened, these "blue" shorts offer a fascinating view of a part of film history that is often overlooked.