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Prior to this, thousands of U.S. state and municipal anti-obscenity laws and ordinances held that participating in the creation, distribution, or consumption of pornography constituted criminal action. Multi-jurisdictional interpretations of obscenity made such films highly susceptible to prosecution and criminal liability for obscenity, thereby greatly restricting their distribution and profit potential. However, the US Supreme Court 's 1973 decision in Miller v. California , narrowing and simplifying the definition of obscenity, resulted in dramatically fewer prosecutions nationwide. Freedom in creative license, higher movie budgets and payouts, and a "Hollywood mindset" all contributed to this period.
However, with the increasing availability of videocassette recorders for private viewing in the 1980s, video supplanted film as the preferred distribution medium for pornography, which quickly reverted to being low budget and openly gratuitous, ending this "Golden Age". 
Pornographic films were produced in the early 20th century as "stag" movies , intended to be viewed at male gatherings or in brothels. In the United States, social disapproval was so great that men in them sometimes attempted to conceal their face by subterfuge, such as a false mustache (used in A Free Ride ) or even being masked.   Very few people were ever identified as appearing in such films; and performers were often presumed to have been prostitutes or criminals. Vincent Drucci is said to have performed in a pornographic film made in 1924.  Candy Barr , who appeared in the 1950s Smart Alec , was virtually unique among those appearing in stag films, having attained a degree of celebrity through her participation. 
The film Mona differed from Blue Movie by presenting more of a story plot : Mona (played by Fifi Watson) had promised her mother that she would remain a virgin until her impending marriage.  Later, in December 1971, the film Boys in the Sand , one of the first adult erotic films, after Blue Movie in 1969,   to be reviewed by Variety magazine,  was released and opened in theaters across the United States and around the world. 
An influential five-page article in The New York Times Magazine in 1973 described the phenomenon of porn being publicly discussed by celebrities, and taken seriously by critics, a development referred to, by Ralph Blumenthal of The New York Times , as "porno chic".    Some expressed the opinion that pornographic films would continue to extend their access to US theaters, and the mainstream film industry would gravitate toward the influence of porn.