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Summary

A forbidden love story played out in a decade that would soon spawn the sexual revolution, SUITCASE OF LOVE AND SHAME reconstructs a mesmerizing and erotic narrative from sixty hours of reel-to-reel audiotape discovered in a suitcase purchased on eBay. In 1964, the couple, Tom and Jeannie, lived in different cities. Long distance phone calls were risky (Tom was married) and cost prohibitive, so instead they recorded audio letters to one another and sent them discreetly in the mail. The recordings were raw, intimate, and candid; innermost thoughts and desires, sexual indiscretions, juxtaposed with observations on the banality of their work and daily lives. They recorded everything. When they would meet in hotel rooms on business trips, they recorded themselves making love. The tapes memorialized their affair. They also captured all that was happening around them, the rich textural sounds of life in the Midwest in the 1960s: thunderstorms, telephones ringing, barking dogs, intercoms, even Bert Parks announcing the winner of the Miss America Pageant of 1965. Using vivid archival and present-day imagery to supplement the recordings, this fascinating documentary addresses the morals laws of 1960's America, the devastation of divorce, the effects of institutionalized sexism and the clandestine lives many adult Americans were forced to lead. In today's social media environment, where recording and sharing one’s most personal and private moments is commonplace, it is striking to confront such a salacious and candid media example from a half a century ago. In the early 1960’s, most people were not thinking about the impact and dissemination of recorded media, yet Tom and Jeannie documented their lives for the same reasons we do today. Quite unlike any other documentary, SUITCASE OF LOVE AND SHAME opens a remarkably rich dialogue about confession, exhibitionism, privacy and voyeurism.

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