'Dirtiest FBI Reports Ever': When G-Men investigated Memphis porn theater

Thank the stars for the Freedom of Information Act: The Smoking Gun digs deep into the annals of law enforcement to present the salacious headline "Behold the Two Dirtiest FBI Reports Ever," reports which, of course, were taken in 1975 in Memphis.

Agents -- whose names were the only things redacted from the documents -- were dispatched to the Lamar Theatre on two separate occasions to view X-rated movies to apparently determine whether the films were obscene.

A pair of G-Men paid $3 apiece to watch a double feature of "Two into Two" and "The Magic Mirror." With seven other cinema fans in attendance, the agents took careful notes about what was unspooling. Their subsequent report includes a scene-by-scene recitation of the films, which seemed to be short on plot, but action-packed.


In the early 1970s, Memphis was ground zero of the FBI's vigorous and, from today's standpoint, seemingly inconceivable investigation of the adult film industry, particularly the 1972 X-rated classic "Deep Throat," namesake of FBI deputy W. Mark Felt in his role as the shadowy Watergate informant. Details of the investigation came out in 2009 in response to a FOIA request by AP after the death of "Deep Throat" director Gerard Damiano. As The Commercial Appeal reported at the time:

(In 1969), Memphis was becoming a distribution hub for films considered obscene at the time. Part of that was because of the city's central location in the country, and part was based on a city administration seen as friendly to First Amendment issues, (then-Asst. U.S. Atty. Larry) Parrish says.

A long federal investigation into the industry, including input from the vice squad of the Los Angeles Police Department, first looked at the film "School Girl." When a federal marshal went to a Memphis theater to seize the film, he saw a preview for the more explicit film "Deep Throat."

"Deep Throat" became the focal point of federal prosecution in Memphis with Parrish as lead prosecutor. After nine weeks of testimony in 1976, a jury convicted 16 defendants, including actor Harry Reems, for conspiring to nationally distribute the film. Shot for $20,000, the film had earned more than $25 million in the United States.

Reems' conviction later was overturned because of a change in pornography laws .

The case was retried in 1978. Three of the 16 defendants were acquitted in the retrial. Charges were dropped against one other defendant, but most were convicted again.

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