Films with erotic content are as old as the medium itself, not long after the Lumière Brothers’ first public screening of moving images in December 1895, French filmmaker Eugene Pirou produced Le Coucher de la mariee (1896) in which Louise Willy performed the first strip tease on screen. Even the well-respected Georges Méliès was in on the act, being one of the first filmmakers to present nudity on screen in Après le bal (1897) which he advertised in his film catalogue as being ideal for bachelor parties (Robinson, 1993). The silent era of film was a time of great experimentation and discovery for viewer and creator alike and the success of these early risqué films encouraged the creation, in parallel with the mainstream movie business, of a lesser known, but almost as prolific industry producing erotic one-reel films for private consumption.
The furore that occurred when the film received its first outing at the 1958 Brussels World Film Festival resulted in headlines denouncing the film as immoral and a slur against the Irish. The Irish Department of External Affairs called for it to be banned and due to this media and government outrage the film was never submitted to the Irish censor. The unconventional Monaghan family circumstances aside, the film itself is an enjoyable piece of whimsy and one wonders if the strength of feeling that prevented it being made or released in Ireland would have been so strong if it had not been based on such a controversial true case.
Several of the more controversial films in the Archive collections are adaptations of works by the Dublin author Lee Dunne, who has been described as ‘the most banned author in Ireland’ and deposited in the Archive by American/Irish film collector, Paul Balbirnie.