Charleston’s McCutchen Theater

McCutchen Theater - Charleston MO - 10-31-2014

There was a flurry of excitement in Charleston in 2007 when a couple of guys from California blew into town with big plans to open a restaurant, revitalize the old Russell Hotel, put in an ice cream shop and bring back the original night club in the basement of the hotel. They were also going to restore the McCutchen Theater to it original glory and show movies from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Just like the plans for the Esquire Theater in Cape, before long the talk and the action died down. The movie house was listed on the delinquent tax rolls in 2007 through 2011 in the Mississippi County Times. I don’t know what, if anything, is happening with the property now.

Theater busted for porn

The Missourian had a special report in the February 22, 1972, Charleston news column: Mississippi County authorities have confiscated an X-rated movie from the McCutchen Theater here after the prosecuting attorney had viewed it twice and received phone calls from residents concerning the film’s content. County Prosecutor W. Clifton Banta, Jr., and Deputy Sheriff Jack Ivy seized the film “Dandy.”

Mr. Banta had viewed a portion of the film Sunday night and returned to the theater Monday night with two ministers and two laymen to get their opinions of the show. [That’s certainly an unbiased cross-section to judge community standards.]

Theater manager Bill Howard said he had not been asked to cancel the showings and that he had a policeman on duty to check identifications so that no one under 18 could be admitted to the show. “He added that he expected no objections to the film since it had played the previous week in Sikeston without any trouble.”

The story said the film is in the custody of the prosecuting attorney’s office. No charges have been filed against the manager or the theater owner, Malco Theaters of Memphis, Tenn.

Film ruled “obscene”

A March 6, 1972, follow-up story reported “An X-rated film shown here recently, Dandy, is obscene and Mississippi County Prosecuting Attorney W. Clifton Banta, Jr., was justified in confiscating it from McCutchen Theater here, Circuit Judge Marshall Craig has ruled.

Judge Craig further ordered that the film be held by the Mississippi County sheriff’s office for possible use as evidence if criminal action is initiated at a later date. Malco Theater officials said they had decided not to take court action even though they felt they could prove the film was not obscene.

The margin of profit at the local theater was such that unless X-rated films, which drew more customers, could be shown occasionally the owners could not afford to keep the theater open, Bill Howard, local manager, said.” [Which also says something about community standards.]

What was “Dandy?”

It took some serious Googling to find out anything about “Dandy.” It was far from a mainstream flick. Here’s one synopsis of the plot, such as it was:

Dandy… eighteen years old, unloved, lonely, and no place to go. Unhappy with her parents, bored with her life, Dandy decides to leave for the big town and make it in the world of modeling. She is abused, used and desired by the fast living men she meets in a wild orgy that moves from the luxuries of their bedrooms to the nude cavorting in their Olympic-sized pools.

“Innocent girl runs to Hollywood and is entangled by a ruthless “Talent Agent” but escapes to the arms of a photographer who falls in love with her.