The Seven Minutes (1971)

R | 115-116 mins | Drama | July 1971

Director:

Russ Meyer

Producer:

Russ Meyer

Cinematographer:

Fred Mandl

Editor:

Dick Wormell

Production Designer:

Rodger Maus

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

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 20 Dec 1967 and Oct 1968 HR 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 Feb 1969 Publishers Weekly article explained that the studio, which had the right of first refusal, bought the book. A Jul 1969 HR 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 23 Jul 1969 Var news item reported that Marvin H. Albert would supply the script, his contribution to the final film, if any, has not been determined. A 21 May 1970 HR 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 14 Sep 1970 HR news item, the screenplay was adapted from Wallace's novel by Lewis, who is credited onscreen and Meyer’s assistant, Manny Diez.
       As ... More Less

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 20 Dec 1967 and Oct 1968 HR 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 Feb 1969 Publishers Weekly article explained that the studio, which had the right of first refusal, bought the book. A Jul 1969 HR 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 23 Jul 1969 Var news item reported that Marvin H. Albert would supply the script, his contribution to the final film, if any, has not been determined. A 21 May 1970 HR 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 14 Sep 1970 HR 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 HR 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 Nov 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 NYT 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 LAT 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.”
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1970.
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 296-98.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 1967.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 1968.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1969.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 May 1969.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 1969.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1970
p. 1, 9.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 1970
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 1971
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1971
p. 3, 7.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
15 Nov 1970.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Sep 1971
Section IV, p. 10.
New York Times
24 Jul 1971
p. 14.
Newsweek
9 Aug 1971.
---
Publishers Weekly
24 Feb 1969.
---
Time
30 Aug 1971.
---
Variety
2 May 1969.
---
Variety
23 Jul 1969.
---
Variety
7 Jul 1971
p. 14, 18.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Philip Carey
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Russ Meyer Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam asst
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Dial coach
Legal tech adv
Unit pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Seven Minutes by Irving Wallace (New York, 1969).
MUSIC
Excerpts from "U.S. Field Artillery March (The Caissons Go Rolling Along)" by 1st Lt. Edmund L. Gruber
"Far Above Cayuga's Waters" by H. S. Thompson
"Rain Drops Keep Fallin' on My Head" by Burt Bacharach
+
MUSIC
Excerpts from "U.S. Field Artillery March (The Caissons Go Rolling Along)" by 1st Lt. Edmund L. Gruber
"Far Above Cayuga's Waters" by H. S. Thompson
"Rain Drops Keep Fallin' on My Head" by Burt Bacharach
"Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster.
+
SONGS
"Seven Minutes," music and lyrics by Stu Phillips and Bob Stone, sung by B. B. King
"Love Train," music and lyrics by Stu Phillips and Bob Stone, sung by Don Reed
"Midnight Tricks," music and lyrics by Stu Phillips and Bob Stone, sung by Merryweather & Carey.
DETAILS
Release Date:
July 1971
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 23 July 1971
Production Date:
14 October 1970--mid January 1971
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
30 June 1971
Copyright Number:
LP40202
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
DeLuxe
Duration(in mins):
115-116
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
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 ... +


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.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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