Sinful Cinema in Detroit, 1971, Part One
2-26-71 – To think that through Nov. 1968-Early 69, the Summit was known for showing 2001! The header of this ad bluntly states a fact which makes many Adult films that came after look like romps in the park, except for the rough ones of course. Sadly, by the end of the year, it was closed.
Tonight, I’m going to Detroit, 1971 and dive into the Adult Scene of the time. The year was a time of serious change, with once-strong Downtown theaters feeling the post-riot pinch of not being in the Grand Circus area and turning to Adult movies to varying degrees of success and some of the classic Adult screens trying to keep alive with some of the new theaters stealing the thunder with only a few winners like the Trans-Lux Krim which twinned by Late 1972. Some of the new breed were once-time B-level theaters of suburban screens that felt like it needed more of a profit than they were getting, like the Mel in Melvindale and Ramona in Detroit, some of them joining up a chain that included the Six Mile that would last a little longer into the Mid 80’s than either the Las Vegas Theaters or the remaining Studio screens that would close up in the Early 80’s (1982, mainly).
1-6-71 – I’m still to this day trying to dig up some information about Ultima 70. I have a feeling, judging by the copy on Delicato that this is a Nick Millard happening, but this is something to be proven by those who are seriously in the know. For now, I’m digging the ad!
1-15-71, The Fox hosted this Chevron-released X-Rated happening, which played for I think two weeks. Although Mac Ahlberg’s film was not seriously the success of the first two I, a Woman films, with the first one Distributed by the legendary Audubon and playing for months on end through 1966-7, this still has it’s place in X-Rated film history and was placed along with I, a Woman 2 on Drive In and B-House shows. Now to find some ads for Black Voltage, the re-titled version!
1-15-71 – With two Detroit-based theaters, one screen in Highland Park and another in the Eastpoint area, this was another chain of theaters that played the New York stuff – the advertised film being from Chancellor. Sadly, the Follies (Ex-Family Theater!) would burn down during a showing of Deep Throat in 1973.
2-5-71 – The Art was showing a “White Coater” flick with Steve Vincent trying to play a Doctor for some “Socail Commentary” while the Variety and Guild had HG Lewis Linda and Abilene. Like most of the classic school Adult theaters that were not hooked up by some Art Theater Guild or some company that brought them into their Porno chain (The Atlas, already showing Adult by this time hooked up with Las Vegas Entertainment by 1974), they faded away quietly by 1973, although I think the Guild lasted until 1974. The Art turned into Le Art trying to stay on, but it was a fail.
2-12-71 – The Roxy, Mel, and Six Mile theaters were joining up by this time, and next in their history was…
2-17-71 – Swedish sleaze playing at a couple of once-B-level theaters, the Mel and Atlas, the Six Mile, and an actual 24-7 Grindhouse (The Roxy!). This Chevron release was released in the Metro Detroit area showed that the company’s more edgy fare was more suited to the “Arthouse”/Grindhouse theaters of the area. The Scene’s look into LA showed it playing at the Vine in Mid-1970…Chevron must have been worried a bit when it hit The D like this.
Weird-centric Post-Script: The Atlas would join with the Krim in paying HG Lewis’ Gore Gore Girls in 1972!
2-17-71 – We met Eugenie in Detroit before, but this seriously deserves another posting as two films featuring Marie Liljedhal were in the area. More on the Indoor screens when we meet the Sidewalk Cowboy!
2-26-71 – The legendary Censorship in Denmark: A New Approach with The Ramrodder! Something for everyone!
3-3-71 – True to form, the Variety and Guild showed one of the New York flicks, Doris Wishman’s Amazing Transplant, while the West coast is represented by Nick Millard’s Delicato.
3-12-71 – Sex Rituals of the Occult was one of those films that played everywhere with good reason. Not only was it a part of the small trend in The Occult of the time, it was freaky enough to provide something different than the usual White Coat Rain Coat flick. This showing, however, was at the Cinderella and Kramer, two theaters that used to be big, Art Weisberg was possibly running the Palmer Park by this time as he was also running the United Artists and Summit as Exploitation/Adult screens.
3-19-71 – The DIs were kind of getting into the act, too. Although One Swedish Summer was one of the many Imported X-Rated films of 1970 (released by UMC, who also released Bird With the Crystal Plumage), it had several Drive In playdates through the years, too. The Ecorse Road DI was in the Taylor area, South of The D.
5-14-71 – the White Coat/Age of Aquarius flick.
5-7-71 – The Gem re-opened with this wild ad!
5-28-71 – No joke, this MGM release was mainly placed in the Adult houses despite it being a very serious and arty look at The Body that seriously fell into the cracks – Too Art for the Raincoats, but with the X that nailed it to “those theaters” in many areas. This was the movie with music by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and musician Ron Geesin, fresh from their work on Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother! It played LA/Hollywood at the Vine which seemed to be the place to watch Rock-oriented flicks fitting for it’s Hollywood and Vine location. The Michigan Theater would play host to a number of great concerts by the time it closed.
5-7-71 – Doris Wishman’s attempts to turn a film from Greece in to US product turned into Franken-Films as the translations were left behind resulting in new dialogue being created and new footage was made. At the Ramona and 6 Mile, The Hot Month of August was shown.
5-21-71 – Before StrangeHer was unleashed, but not as remembered. Sounds interesting, but lost.
6-11-71 – Another Mel-6 Mile including the Atlas. the White Coat films were all the rage for the obvious reason from Late 1969 to whenever Deep Throat showed up in the area.
8-27-and 9-3-71 – The Stone was still classic Burlesque. Shortly after 1971, the focus would turn to Black Erotica
9-17-71, Forbidden Loves hits the Variety and Guild. this looks like an interesting case – is this Freaks under another title (and it was released as Forbidden Love), some very low budget flick (more of a possibility), or some Import film released through some C-Level company? The world may never know.
9-22-71 – the Colonial was no stranger to Adults Only, but it was more of a Grindhouse than a regular Adult place. Look what it was playing with!!!
10-15-71 – The secret to the Krim’s success was seriously easy. With good connections and a long standing history of being among the best theaters, it’s transition to Porn was easy. This film, presented by Al Shakleton, was a hit in Adult theaters, but sadly is still reported lost.
Music Break Time! There was some very notable music used in Ultra Violet’s look into vintage porn including two songs sung by The Left Banke’s singer Steve Martin Caro, written by the one and only Micheal Brown (RIP, 2015) that’s only the start of an intriguing part of 60’s Music history. Although I’m sure that it was a tough time for the musicians, and there was not too much of a stigma of contributing to a film like this then (which resulted in a record released by Kama Sutra), it’s also understandable if there’s some hesitation to talk about that time today (With two great Top 20 hits in 66-67 and a 1971 of this, you might know how this feels). To those who are into these films this provides at least an interesting story which also includes Brown-written songs by Bert Sommer (RIP, 1990) and Brown-Produced tracks by Montage – pretty much a fascinating post-script to the Left Banke’s history.
11-12-71 – The Trans-Lux Krim would twin by the end of the next year. The Amero Brothers film did respectfully in some markets including Detroit.
12-1-71 – the Atlas and Mel team up for The Deviants.
12-29-71 – The UA Downtown re-opens after being closed for a few months with Isabel Sarli!
12-15-71 – Eugenie and Nana hit the Drive Ins!