The Lovers (1958 film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
See also The Lovers (story)

Les Amants (The Lovers) is a 1958 French drama film directed by Louis Malle and starring Jeanne Moreau. It was Malle's second feature film, made when he was 25 years old. A showing of the film in Ohio resulted in a series of court battles that led to a Supreme Court decision on obscenity issues and Justice Potter Stewart's famous "I know it when I see it" opinion about what the definition of obscenity is.

Plot

Jeanne Tournier (Moreau) lives with her husband Henri (Alain Cuny) and child in a mansion near Dijon. Her emotionally remote husband is a busy newspaper owner who has little time for his wife, except when he chooses to place demands upon her; often they sleep in separate rooms. Jeanne escapes to Paris regularly when she can spend time with her chic friend Maggy (Judith Magre) and the polo-playing Raoul (José Villalonga), Maggy's friend and Jeanne's lover.

Jeanne's constant talk of Maggy and Raoul leads to Henri demanding that Jeanne invite them to dinner and to stay as overnight guests. Jeanne's car breaks down on the day of the dinner party, and she accepts a lift from a younger man, Bernard (Jean-Marc Bory), and then asks him to drive her home. By the time they get back, Maggy and Raoul have already arrived at the mansion. It transpires that Bernard, an archaeologist, is the son of a friend of Jeanne's husband, and he too is added to the guest list. Jeanne spurns Raoul's advances, claiming it is too dangerous, but she spends time in a small boat on the river with the attentive Bernard. Clandestinely, they spend the night together. In the morning, to the surprise of everyone, Jeanne leaves with Bernard for a new life.

American obscenity case

The film is important in American legal history as it resulted in a court case that questioned the definition of obscenity. A showing of the film in Cleveland Heights, Ohio's Coventry Village resulted in a criminal conviction of the theatre manager for public depiction of obscene material. He appealed his conviction to the United States Supreme Court, which reversed the conviction and ruled that the film was not obscene in its written opinion (Jacobellis v. Ohio). The case resulted in Justice Potter Stewart's famously subjective definition of hard-core pornography: "I know it when I see it." (Stewart did not consider the film to be such.)



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Lovers (1958 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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