The Seven Minutes


1h 56m 1971

Brief Synopsis

The Seven Minutes is a steamy book written in the 20s. To help with an upcoming election, a bookstore clerk is indited for selling obscene material and most of the film centers about the trial. The defense atorneys need to find the mystery of the original publication of the book.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Release Date
Jul 1971
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 Jul 1971
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Seven Minutes by Irving Wallace (New York, 1969).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Sound
Mono, Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Synopsis

In Oakwood, California, police raid the Argus Bookstore, which has been selling The Seven Minutes , a new, second edition of a book banned during the 1930s . Under orders from District Attorney Elmo Duncan, the bookstore's day manager, Ben Fremont, is arrested on an obscenity charge. Phil Sanford, who has recently taken over from his father the company that publishes the book, hires lawyer Mike Barrett to handle Ben's case. During negotiations with Elmo, Mike points out that the book, which is not hardcore pornography, has received artistic commendations. Although he has no personal objection to the book, Elmo is feeling political pressure from wealthy Olivia St. Clair and her Strength Through Decency League. He and Mike compromise by allowing Ben to plead guilty in exchange for a token fine and suspended sentence, which will result in the book being banned in Oakwood, but available in the rest of the county. Afterward, Elmo explains to Luther Yerkes, the millionaire supporting his plans to run for senator, that he needs a bigger issue than convicting a bookseller to win votes. Meanwhile, George Perkins violently injures and rapes Sheri Moore in the presence of the emotionally unstable teenager Jerry Griffith. When Jerry is arrested for the crime after his wallet is found at the crime scene, the police chief calls Elmo, whose political party is heavily supported by Jerry's wealthy father Frank, and mentions that The Seven Minutes was found in Jerry's car. Luther immediately recognizes that The Seven Minutes is the "key issue" Elmo needs to further his political career. Despite Jerry's insistence that he did not hurt Sheri, the older men, with Frank's approval, scheme for him to plead guilty, essentially putting the book on trial for inciting a young man to commit a sex crime. Only one person believes in Jerry's innocence, his cousin Maggie Russell, who lives at the Griffith house. After Elmo reneges on their agreement, Mike and his partner, Clay Rutherford, meet with Phil to discuss a new defense built on proving that the author, the late J. J. Jadway, intended to write serious artistic fiction and ask Christian Leroux, the publisher of the first edition, to testify to its artistic integrity. When Oakwood librarian Rachel Hoit, who opposes the League's censorship attempts, tells Mike that Perkins is a friend of Jerry, Perkins denies it and feigns disapproval of rape. Meanwhile, Cardinal McManus offers Elmo the assistance of Father Sarsatti, the priest in charge of the Vatican's classified information about the book. At a Strength Through Decency League rally, Elmo gives a fiery speech about decadence and refers to Constance Cumberland, a famous retired actress who is seated on the dais with him, as a person who represents a time of higher morals. Mike is attending the rally with his fiancée, Faye Osborn, the daughter of a prominent television executive who is a major donor to Elmo's political party. When he spots Maggie leaving the premises, Mike tries to talk to her, but she rebuffs him. After psychiatrist Dr. Trimble, who was hired by Luther, reports that Jerry's behavior indicates conflicting emotions about the rape, Luther has television newscaster Merle Reid film an interview with Jerry. After goading Jerry into losing his composure, Reid pointedly warns his viewers about "killer books." Trimble, who had opposed the interview, then resigns over Reid's tactics. Reid's national broadcast inflames the public and incites Sheri's father to accost Mike. While trailing Jerry, Mike sees him argue with Perkins at a nightclub and then follows him to a parking garage, where he prevents Jerry from committing suicide. Later, at the hospital, the grateful Maggie agrees to talk to Mike, and after telling him about a housekeeper who worked for the family, confides that she considers The Seven Minutes a "beautiful book." Despite her growing attraction to Mike, she cuts off further communication to avoid a conflict of interests. The next morning, Mike meets with the housekeeper, who agrees to testify about the troubled atmosphere in the Griffith household. However, Faye, who resents Mike's involvement in the case, sabotages his progress by reporting it to her father and then breaks up with Mike. Soon after, Clay reports that the housekeeper refuses to testify and that Leroux has been paid to testify against the book. In addition, potential evidence, in the form of letters outlining Jadway's literary vision, mysteriously disappears when it is bought by an imposter posing as Mike. After an intruder breaks into the law office and knocks out Mike, the lawyer discovers that his phones have been monitored. For the trial of California vs. Fremont, Luther hires several witnesses to denounce The Seven Minutes , among them, an eccentric publisher, Paul Van Fleet, who reveals an incriminating, secondhand anecdote about Jadway told by literary scholar Dr. Hiram Eberhart. Farther Sarsatti reports that the Catholic Church considers the book immoral, and Leroux claims that other countries have banned the book. After a statistician provides testimony about the "average woman," smug Mrs. White, supposedly representing the average housewife, claims the book is "sickeningly obscene." That evening after the court recesses, Clay realizes that details in the Eberhart anecdote occurred after Jadway's reported death. Suspecting that Jadway is alive, Mike flies to New York to interview Eberhart, who refers him to Jadway's friend, poet O'Flanagan. Although evasive with Mike, O'Flanagan mentions Cassie McGraw, Jadway's alleged girl friend. Believing that she can find Cassie, Maggie makes a deal to look for her if Mike will agree not to cross-examine Jerry. In court, under Elmo's questioning, Jerry admits that The Seven Minutes sexually aroused him, but when Mike declines a cross-examination, the surprised judge declares a recess. After discovering Maggie's involvement with Mike, Frank throws her out of his house, but she sneaks back in to retrieve a postcard from a friend reporting Cassie's whereabouts. Mike flies to the Chicago sanitarium mentioned in the postcard, but finds that Cassie is too senile to help him. However, he obtains a lead from a nurse, who tells him that Cassie receives flowers from an Oakwood florist every year on her birthday. Maggie, who knows the florist, learns that the flowers are from Constance. Maggie then visits Constance, who tells her that Cassie was her former secretary and complains about the way Frank, a longtime acquaintance, has treated Jerry over the years. In court, Mike calls Constance to the stand, where she eventually reveals that she wrote The Seven Minutes under a pseudonym to protect her film career. Explaining how the book's seven chapters reflect the seven minutes it takes for a woman to have an orgasm, Constance says she wrote the book to describe the woman's point of view during sexual intercourse in order to help the love of her life, an impotent man. With the book, she had hoped to liberate people like Jerry from fear, guilt and shame. Constance states that she has recently talked to Jerry, who confided to her that Sheri wanted to make love with him, but, being impotent, he was unable to complete the act. After eliciting Constance's testimony, Mike wins the case. Following the trial, Constance tells reporters that O'Flanagan wrote a fake obituary for "Jadway" and Cassie arranged a memorial service for her. In the parking garage, Elmo congratulates Mike, but then haughtily claims that the book is a dangerous influence and that he intends to prosecute Jerry as an accomplice to the rape. Equally inflamed, Mike calls Elmo a hypocritical opportunist, who connives for the benefit of himself. Later, in the car, Maggie says that she and Constance talked to Jerry, whose revelation that Perkins was the rapist convinced her to testify. At Maggie's suggestion, Mike proceeds swiftly to his apartment, where they intend to have an intimate victory celebration.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Release Date
Jul 1971
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 Jul 1971
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Seven Minutes by Irving Wallace (New York, 1969).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Sound
Mono, Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Articles

Russ Meyer, 1922-2004


Russ Meyer, the filmmaker whom many historians credit for creating the soft-porn industry with such self-descriptive titles as The Immoral Mr. Teas, Vixen, and of course, the cult classic of the genre, Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill, died on September 18 in his Hollywood Hills of complications from pneumonia. He was 82.

Born Russell Albion Meyer on March 21, 2004 in Oakland, California, his father was a policeman and mother a nurse. It was the latter that lent young Rusty the money to purchase an 8-millimeter Univex picture-taking machine when he was 12. Quickly he was making films around the neighborhood and won his first prize by the time he was 15. When World War II came around, he was sent to Europe as a newsreel cameraman. After the war, he became a professional photographer, working on studio sets, producing stills on such films as Guys and Dolls and Giant. He eventually found himself doing glamour shots of beautiful models, and would then find fame as one of Hugh Hefner's chief photographers for Playboy magazine.

Sensing that the same audience who was receptive to Playboy would also be receptive to a "nudie" flick, Meyer made his film debut with The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959). Shot as a silent on a miniscule budget of only $24,000, the financial windfall of this soft-core sex film astounded the movie industry, garnering over $1 million. The key to Meyer's success was to walk the fine line between sexual baiting and obscenity. The plot - a man subjected to a powerful anesthetic discovers that he can see through the clothes of every woman who walks by him - was titillating without being too graphic (there is never any physical contact between the players), and Meyer cleverly worked himself around the local film censors while still appealing to his mostly male audience.

Meyer kept the streak coming with such films as Erotica (1961), Wild Gals of the Naked West (1962), and Europe in the Raw (1963), but these were still soft core teasers that concentrated more on voyeurism, than anything more intimate. That changed with the release of the notorious Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill (1965), where there was a healthy dose of foreplay, leather, blood, carnage, and big-breasted gals for the filmgoers. He kept the fever pitch up with the equally raunchy Motor Psycho (1965), and Mondo Topless (1966). Although his films were relegated to drive-ins, arthouses and adult theaters, many of these viewers came back for more screenings, and Meyer was seeing a healthy profit being turned on his productions.

The film that would eventually break him out of the underground was Vixen (1968). The title character was essentially a nymphomaniac who would sleep with anybody - including her own brother! The film had purists in a lather, which is just what Meyer - ever the self-promotor - wanted. The film was an astounding hit. The entire production cost merely $76,000 dollars, yet earned over $6 million. 20th Century Fox, in deep financial trouble, wanted to cash in on the sudden rash of X-rated films and signed Meyer to direct his first big-studio picture. The film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), an in-name only sequel to Valley of the Dolls (1967), was a smash. The screenplay, written by film critic Roger Ebert, dealt with the lives of three young ladies who were determined to make it as a rock band at any cost! It was well-received as a fairly sharp parody of its predecessor and holding more than its share of campy laughs. His next film, the "serious", The Seven Minutes (1971), based on the best-selling novel by Irving Wallace about a pornography trial, was a critical and commercial flop, and it quickly ended his career in big-budget pictures.

By the mid-'70s, Meyer returned to the skin game with such titles as Supervixens (1975), Up! (1976), and his final film Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979). With the advent of hard-core pornography (Meyer's films were teasing but never explicit) and the demise of drive-ins, Meyer found himself out of fashion in the adult film industry. By the '80s, he was something of a recluse, although he continued to make money with the success of his films on VHS, and eventually DVD.

Toward the end of his life, Meyer saw much appreciation for his work on numerous levels: he was offered a cameo role as a video camera salesman in John Landis' (a longtime fan of Meyer) Amazon Women on the Moon (1987); respect from mainstream film critics, various film festivals honoring his work; teachings on his films offered in modern culture courses at such respectable modern institutions as Yale and Harvard; and the open sincerity of noted directors like Landis and John Waters, who claim that Meyer is a great influence on their own work. In 1992, Meyer published his three-volume autobiography, A Clean Breast: The Life and Loves of Russ Meyer. Meyer was single at the time of his death and he left no survivors.

by Michael T. Toole
Russ Meyer, 1922-2004

Russ Meyer, 1922-2004

Russ Meyer, the filmmaker whom many historians credit for creating the soft-porn industry with such self-descriptive titles as The Immoral Mr. Teas, Vixen, and of course, the cult classic of the genre, Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill, died on September 18 in his Hollywood Hills of complications from pneumonia. He was 82. Born Russell Albion Meyer on March 21, 2004 in Oakland, California, his father was a policeman and mother a nurse. It was the latter that lent young Rusty the money to purchase an 8-millimeter Univex picture-taking machine when he was 12. Quickly he was making films around the neighborhood and won his first prize by the time he was 15. When World War II came around, he was sent to Europe as a newsreel cameraman. After the war, he became a professional photographer, working on studio sets, producing stills on such films as Guys and Dolls and Giant. He eventually found himself doing glamour shots of beautiful models, and would then find fame as one of Hugh Hefner's chief photographers for Playboy magazine. Sensing that the same audience who was receptive to Playboy would also be receptive to a "nudie" flick, Meyer made his film debut with The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959). Shot as a silent on a miniscule budget of only $24,000, the financial windfall of this soft-core sex film astounded the movie industry, garnering over $1 million. The key to Meyer's success was to walk the fine line between sexual baiting and obscenity. The plot - a man subjected to a powerful anesthetic discovers that he can see through the clothes of every woman who walks by him - was titillating without being too graphic (there is never any physical contact between the players), and Meyer cleverly worked himself around the local film censors while still appealing to his mostly male audience. Meyer kept the streak coming with such films as Erotica (1961), Wild Gals of the Naked West (1962), and Europe in the Raw (1963), but these were still soft core teasers that concentrated more on voyeurism, than anything more intimate. That changed with the release of the notorious Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill (1965), where there was a healthy dose of foreplay, leather, blood, carnage, and big-breasted gals for the filmgoers. He kept the fever pitch up with the equally raunchy Motor Psycho (1965), and Mondo Topless (1966). Although his films were relegated to drive-ins, arthouses and adult theaters, many of these viewers came back for more screenings, and Meyer was seeing a healthy profit being turned on his productions. The film that would eventually break him out of the underground was Vixen (1968). The title character was essentially a nymphomaniac who would sleep with anybody - including her own brother! The film had purists in a lather, which is just what Meyer - ever the self-promotor - wanted. The film was an astounding hit. The entire production cost merely $76,000 dollars, yet earned over $6 million. 20th Century Fox, in deep financial trouble, wanted to cash in on the sudden rash of X-rated films and signed Meyer to direct his first big-studio picture. The film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), an in-name only sequel to Valley of the Dolls (1967), was a smash. The screenplay, written by film critic Roger Ebert, dealt with the lives of three young ladies who were determined to make it as a rock band at any cost! It was well-received as a fairly sharp parody of its predecessor and holding more than its share of campy laughs. His next film, the "serious", The Seven Minutes (1971), based on the best-selling novel by Irving Wallace about a pornography trial, was a critical and commercial flop, and it quickly ended his career in big-budget pictures. By the mid-'70s, Meyer returned to the skin game with such titles as Supervixens (1975), Up! (1976), and his final film Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979). With the advent of hard-core pornography (Meyer's films were teasing but never explicit) and the demise of drive-ins, Meyer found himself out of fashion in the adult film industry. By the '80s, he was something of a recluse, although he continued to make money with the success of his films on VHS, and eventually DVD. Toward the end of his life, Meyer saw much appreciation for his work on numerous levels: he was offered a cameo role as a video camera salesman in John Landis' (a longtime fan of Meyer) Amazon Women on the Moon (1987); respect from mainstream film critics, various film festivals honoring his work; teachings on his films offered in modern culture courses at such respectable modern institutions as Yale and Harvard; and the open sincerity of noted directors like Landis and John Waters, who claim that Meyer is a great influence on their own work. In 1992, Meyer published his three-volume autobiography, A Clean Breast: The Life and Loves of Russ Meyer. Meyer was single at the time of his death and he left no survivors. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The duration of the viewed print, which was missing some footage, was 103 minutes. The soundtrack under the opening credits is the sound of a clock ticking. The credits change in size or advance with each tick of the clock. Both opening and closing cast credit sequences end with "Yvonne De Carlo as `Constance Cumberland.'"
       According to December 20, 1967 and October 1968 Hollywood Reporter news items, author Irving Wallace sold the film rights to his book, The Seven Minutes, prior to its completion as the second of a three-book agreement with Twentieth Century-Fox. The book was published in 1969, and a February 1969 Publishers Weekly article explained that the studio, which had the right of first refusal, bought the book. A July 1969 Hollywood Reporter column reported that Richard Fleischer, who at that time was set to direct the film, planned to hire a "stag film" producer to ensure that The Seven Minutes was authentic.
       Although a July 23, 1969 Variety news item reported that Marvin H. Albert would supply the script, his contribution to the final film, if any, has not been determined. A May 21, 1970 Hollywood Reporter article reported that independent producer/director Russ Meyer had been "commissioned" to make the film, and that Richard Warren Lewis had submitted a treatment and would complete the first draft of the script by early Jun. According to a September 14, 1970 Hollywood Reporter news item, the screenplay was adapted from Wallace's novel by Lewis, who is credited onscreen and Meyer's assistant, Manny Diez.
       As noted in the Hollywood Reporter review, in the original novel, the character of a congressman was revealed to be the true author of the fictitious, controversial book. In the film, De Carlo's character, an actress, is the author. According to studio publicity, the film was more serious than Meyer's other films, which were less restrained in the depiction of sex, violence and nudity. In studio publicity notes, Meyer, whose previous low-budget exploitation films had frequently been subjected to litigation, claimed that the novel "exposes the greed and hypocrisy in censorship." In a November 1970 LAHExam article, Meyer stated his belief that censorship from outside the industry was mostly politically motivated by people wanting to win elections and who play on the fears of parents. According to Meyer, The Seven Minutes was his first film that did not make sex the focal point and, according to the article, it was the first of Meyer's films to use well-known actors.
       As noted in the New York Times review, the film contained Meyer's "semisubliminal" signature practice of featuring an extra character, a woman, wandering through the film unrelated to the main story. The Los Angeles Times review compared the frames of Meyer's film to the cartoon-like paintings of the pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein. It is possible that the character, "Cardinal McManus," was meant to suggest then Los Angeles Cardinal James McIntyre (1886-1979).
       Edy Williams (Faye Osborn) was the wife of Meye from 1970 to 1975. Sally Marr (Juror) was the mother of the late Lenny Bruce. The rape scene is intercut with footage of disc jockey Wolfman Jack reacting to a song that he is playing on the air. Modern sources add Uschi Digard (Actress with gorilla), George DeNormand and Jeffrey Sayre (Jurors) to the cast. The Seven Minutes marked the feature film debuts of Wayne Maunder (Mike Barrett) and John Sarno (Jerry Griffith), who subsequently appeared mostly in television shows. Jay C. Flippen (Luther Yerkes) died a couple weeks after shooting The Seven Minutes, which marked his final film.
       Although only three songs were listed in the onscreen credits, excerpts from other well-known songs were used in the soundtrack as commentary on the action of the film, among them: "The Caissons Go Rolling Along" was played during a sequence in "Elmo's" office as he stood in front of a portrait of General Douglas MacArthur; "Far Above Cayuga's Waters" was heard in a scene set in a university professor's office; the tune "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" was used during a hotel poolside meeting of characters Mike Barrett, "Clay Rutherford" and "Phil Sanford;" the sleazy character "Merle Reid" plays "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" on the piano; and hymns and organ music are heard during sequences in which Elmo meets with "Cardinal McManus."

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1971

Released in United States 1971