Dirty Pictures

Dirty Pictures is a 2000 documentary about the 1990 trial regarding the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Museum and obscenity charges. Directed by Frank Pierson and written by Ilene Chaiken, the film covers the trial of center director Dennis Barrie (James Woods), who allows graphic exhibits of nude children and homosexuality. The film also includes archival interviews with people on both sides of the issue including Susan Sarandon, William Buckley, Jesse Helms, and Barney Frank.

The notorious "Mapplethorpe Exhibit" was a controversial showing that Barrie allowed with the permission of the center's board of directors. Although other arts centers opted not to show the exhibit, Cleveland opted to go on with the show. Negative press and controversy surrounding the exhibit was growing even before it was presented. Once local legal officials got wind of what was perceived as pornographic and offensive, Barrie was arrested by County Sheriff Simon Leis (Craig T. Nelson) and charged on several obscenity charges.

Barrie's arrest led to a wide range of legal and personal troubles. He, his wife Dianne (Diana Scarwid) and associates were subjected to harassment and ostracized by friends. Everyone gets in on the action as a phony right-wing organization attempts to bribe Barrie. He is also bullied by a an ultra-conservative organization led by Monty Lobb (Matt North). Through it all, Barrie is determined to defend what he feels is the violation of his First Amendment rights. With all of the bad publicity, a number of citizens both locally and from around the world support Barrie and his family.

The pressure of the trial begins to take its toll on Barrie's marriage. Though his relationship with his family is crumbling, Barrie is determined to defend his rights. The emotionally draining trial ends in Barrie's acquittal; however, he and his wife ultimately divorce. The film ends by noting that although Barrie won, the publicity surrounding the trial was enough to keep other curators from showing controversial exhibits.

R
| 2007 | 1 hr 44 min | 6.7/10
Cast
James Woods, Craig T. Nelson, Diana Scarwid, Leon Pownall
Language
English
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Dirty Pictures
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