Standard Article

Adults Only

Low-Budget Exploitation

3. 1946 to 1975

3. 1956–1965

  1. Eric Schaefer

Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470671153.wbhaf057

The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film

The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film

How to Cite

Schaefer, E. 2011. Adults Only. The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film. 3:3:54.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 NOV 2011


The years following World War II dealt the Hollywood film industry multiple blows. The Supreme Court's Paramount decision (1948) and the subsequent divorce of the vertically integrated studios' production/distribution arms from their theaters left them staggering, without a guaranteed venue for their productions. Weakly performing theaters were shuttered as American families moved from cities to the expanding suburbs and as television began to dominate time once reserved for movies and radio. In the 15 years from 1946 to 1961, the percentage of television households in the United States went from virtually zero, to almost 90 percent. The studios had to pull themselves off the ropes to find new ways to attract audiences and to differentiate their product from television. This meant a renewed emphasis on technology (3-D, widescreen, color, stereo sound), as well as an emphasis on cinematic spectacle (e.g., Around the World in Eighty Days, 1956; The Ten Commandments, 1956; etc.). Still, box office receipts plunged from a record high of almost $1.7 billion in 1946, to an anemic $900 million in 1962.


  • adults-only films;
  • art houses;
  • drive-ins;
  • exploitation film;
  • grindhouses;
  • pornography;
  • sexploitation film;
  • teenpics