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Jim and Artie Mitchell

Founded San Francisco's world-famous O'Farrell Theater in July, 1969. Author and journalist Hunter S. Thompson was its most devoted regular. He praised it as "the Carnegie Hall of public sex in America."

In 1971, the brothers produced the porn classic Behind the Green Door, launching the career of adult film actress Marilyn Chambers. It cost $60,000 and grossed almost $30 million. The film was the beginning of a long series of successful feature-length productions for the Mitchells. They never claimed to be making masterpieces. "The only Art in this business is my brother," Jim claimed.

At some point, they hired Terry Zwigoff and Robert Crumb to assemble a documentary of Hunter S. Thompson. The brothers had already shot a bunch of footage of Thompson lecturing at a university. Unfortunately, the Mitchells had neglected to record any audio of the speech, having been accustomed to adding all the sound for their movies in postproduction. Then the brothers hired Zwigoff and Crumb to write a porn screenplay, which was abandoned just as quickly.

The brothers produced a sequel to Behind the Green Door in 1986, entitled Behind the Green Door: the Sequel. Its primary gimmick revolved around the promotion of safe sex practices: condoms and dentals dams figured as prominently in the film as its star, newcomer Missy Manners. In her previous life, Manners was known as Elisa Florez, aide to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.

In February 1991, Jim drove to his little brother's house in Corte Madera and shot him dead. Artie's body was discovered laying in bed. Jim had fired eight rounds from a .22 rifle, three of which were found in Artie's arm, abdomen, and brain.

At trial, the prosecution presented a computer-generated video recreation of the crime. After the defense team objected that the human figure representing Artie was not gesturing in a menacing manner (as Jim claimed), the judge ordered that Artie's avatar be replaced with a featureless polygon.

After seeing a computer-generated Jim shoot and kill a nightmarish monster from geometry class, the jury convicted him of voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges. He spent a total of three years in San Quentin for his act of premeditated fratricide.


4 Jul 1969 The Mitchell Brothers open the "Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre" on O'Farrell Street in San Francisco, using a building that once housed a Buick dealership. Three weeks later, the theatre is raided by the police, the first of many times.
1971 Behind the Green Door released.
1973 Father of the Mitchell Brothers, Artie Mitchell, dies.
1975 Mitchell Brothers own 11 theatres, most of them defunct United Artists movie houses.
1975 The Mitchell Brothers Santa Ana theatre (previously the United Artists Santa Ana) opens.
1976 The city council of Santa Ana launches a lawsuit against the Mitchell Brothers to shut down the Santa Ana Theatre; over 40 lawsuits are ultimately filed by the city council. (The local Lincoln Savings and Loan also filed suit.) Among the costs of attorneys and filing, the city also hires an undercover agent to sit through every movie shown at the theatre for 11 years, noting its potential to be judged obscene.
Feb 1985 Police raid the O'Farrell theatre and arrest Marilyn Chambers for prostitution.
1987 The city of Santa Ana settles with the Mitchell Brothers for its 11 year lawsuit streak, paying the brothers $120,000 to remove its marquee, and paying for attorneys' fees.
27 Feb 1991 Mitchell brother Jim shoots and kills Mitchell brother Artie for reasons that aren't exactly clear. The brothers had built up a San Francisco porn empire centered around the O'Farrell Theater, and were responsible for one of the best-selling porno films of all time: Behind the Green Door, starring Marilyn Chambers and John Holmes.

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