Judge Elijah Adlow '16 pronounced The Killing of Sister George obscene yesterday in Boston Municipal Court and sentenced the theatre manager to six months in jail and a fine of $1000.
Joseph L. Sasso, managing director of the Cheri Theatres, where the film is being shown, immediately appealed the decision to the Massachusetts Superior Court. Under an injunction issued by the Supreme Court the movie will continue to be shown pending decision on the appeal.
Adlow said that only the last five minutes of the film were obscene, and that charges would be dropped if that explicit lesbian scene were omitted. Sasso rejected the offer.
In an interview after the trial, Adlow said that "filth is not an indispensable item in the narrative of life." When asked whether obscenity could be defined, the judge said that anything which "revolted the body" was obscene.
"Barring the use of half-a-dozen vulgarisms and the last scene, the film was not objectionable, and one might even find it instructive as well as entertaining," he said. He added that the actresses were excellent and had been exploited in the sex scene for box office interests.
"If respectability is still a value in our culture we have no right to claim a share of it if we consider such spectacles as proper and within the law," the judge stated.
Adlow says he does not like to label himself a censor, but rather a believer in the value of privacy. "No Supreme Court has ever said censorship is forbidden in the United States," he said. "They have always attempted to set forth certain standards of decency, while investigating the book or picture in terms of its redeeming social value," he added.
Adlow said that the ambiguity of "redeeming social value" saved Naked Lunch, a book he termed to be "the nearest thing to a literary cesspool ever produced."
"This would be a great world if people would only observe certain amenities," the judge said. "Those hippies, or hoppies, or whatever, miss the whole point of culture--to give everyone peace, quiet, and the right to enjoy life," he added.
Adlow sees his policy as insuring that the law promote good taste and public decency in the community.