1959 November 13

“The Lovers” Opens in Cleveland, Heads for Supreme Court


The French film The Lovers (Les Amants), directed by Louis Malle, opened at the Heights Art Theater in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, on this day. Nico Jacobellis, manager of the theater, was arrested, and he was later convicted of obscenity for showing the film. The appeal of his conviction resulted in the important Supreme Court decision, Jacobellis v. Ohio, on June 22, 1964, which overturned his conviction and expanded First Amendment protection of sexually oriented materials.

Louis Malle went on to a career as one of the most admired film directors of the 1960s and 1970s, directing such acclaimed films as Pretty Baby, Atlantic City, and May Fools.

The Jacobellis decision is perhaps most remembered for Justice Potter Stewart’s comment that he could not define “hard core pornography;” He said, “But I know it when I see it.”

Watch The Lovers and see for yourself (Spoiler Alert: It’s pretty tame):

Or watch it on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVGoYJ0vP4I

Learn more about the end of film censorship in the 1960s:  http://moviehistory.us/the-end-of-movie-censorship.html

Learn more about the sexual revolution in the movies in the 1960s and 1970s: Robert Hofler, Sexplosion: From Andy Warhold to A Clockwork Orange — How a Generation of Pop Rebels  Brake All the Taboos (2014)

On Louis Malle, read: Louis Malle, Malle on Malle (1992)

Learn more at the official Louis Malle website: http://www.louismalle.com/

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