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CLICK HERE FOR POOR PRETTY EDDIE SCREENSHOTS, ARTICLES, AND ADDITIONAL POSTERS
When it comes to warped and sleazy redneck exploitation movies of the 1970s, Poor Pretty Eddie resides pretty close to the top of the heap.
The local history angle of this movie comes from the fact that it was filmed in nearby Athens. And since this remarkable information appeared to be insufficiently documented on the internet, I thought it would be a worthy subject to explore here on the Atlanta Time Machine. Yeah, I admit it's a bit of a stretch to include Athens events on this site, but in the case of weird stuff like Poor Pretty Eddie, exceptions can be made.
The movie's plot revolves around the disastrous consequences that ensue when famed black singer Liz Weatherly (played by Leslie Uggams) finds herself a bit burnt out and decides to capitalize on a two week gap in her schedule by taking a solitary road trip to Atlanta. Along the way, her Rolls Royce breaks down and she finds herself seeking help at a ramshackle restaurant / motel called Bertha's Oasis, a place populated exclusively by demented white people. Seriously, this movie gives Deliverance a run for its money when it comes to depicting southerners as cretinous morons. If you have a thin skin about that kind of thing, you should definitely avoid Poor Pretty Eddie.
Despite the movie's limited budget, the filmmakers wound up with a pretty sensational cast. In addition to Leslie Uggams, Poor Pretty Eddie also stars Slim Pickens, Shelley Winters, Dub Taylor, and former UGA basketball head coach Red Lawson!
As noted at the bottom of the poster on the right, Poor Pretty Eddie was a Michael Thevis Enterprise, meaning that his company financed the movie. Thevis came to Atlanta in the late 1940s to study engineering at Georgia Tech, but ended up dropping out due to a lack of funds. To support his family, he began running a news stand and soon noticed that there was good money to be made in sleazy publications.
By 1974, according to this article in Time, Thevis operated one of the nation's largest networks of adult book stores, X-rated movie theatres and peep show machines. Time reports that his empire, spanning cities all over the nation, was reportedly bringing in $100 billion a year and that Thevis described himself as "the GM of pornography." Other sources report the figure at $100 million per year, but we're clearly talking about a lot of money either way.
Eventually, authorities were able to convict him of 9 counts of sending obscene materials through the mail and he was shipped off to federal prison. In 1978, Thevis made national headlines when he escaped from a New Albany, Indiana prison and quickly landed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. While a fugitive, his crime spree continued and he was eventually convicted of tax evasion, bombing, extortion, attempted murder, and the murder of a witness who testified against him in an earlier trial.
He is currently serving a life sentence at the Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility in Stillwater, Minnesota.
The photo on the right was published in a 1974 Billboard article profiling Thevis' music business concerns. In addition to pornography and film production, his business concerns included numerous record labels and the now gone Sound Pit recording studio that was located at 125 Simpson Street.
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