X-Rated Newark: A Place Called Today (1972)

I guess it made sense in 1972: let’s make a movie about America’s racial problems, we’ll juice it up with some softcore sex, and ride that enticing X rating all the way to the bank!

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Like so many seemingly brilliant ideas, it didn’t quite work out as planned, even if it did play alongside Cassavetes and The Godfather. But A Place Called Today holds a special significance in Newark film history, as the only feature film that I know of to be shot here in the early 1970s. It’s a clunky dud of a flick, but its location shooting vividly captures a city in transition, and it’s almost certainly the only mainstream-aimed X-rated film shot in Newark, at the exact moment that the very idea of a mainstream X film was evaporating rapidly (there would be Emmanuelle two years later, but that’s about it, unless you count, say, Inserts). While Newark is never named in the film—it’s always set in simply “the city”—it’s a surprisingly specific (if woefully distorted) retelling of Newark’s own recent political history, an aspect that’s gone completely unrecognized until now. Continue reading