Many international film-TV executives would be startled to learn that what contributed to the media fortunes of two Greek families--the Kouroglou clan and the Triantafyllis tribe--was Nudist Paradise, a 1959 English pseudo-exploitation sex film that the British Film Institute (BFI) now classifies as a "drama."
This "Hall of Fame" story also checks in with each of the two families' sons, both of whom followed in their fathers' footsteps. Theo Kouroglou spent his formative years in Germany, while John Triantafyllis grew up in the U.S.
The 72-minute Nudist Paradise--which was released in the U.S. as Nature's Paradise, and which was directed by Charles Saunders--was about an American man who fell in love with a British nudist.
Here's how international TV executive Theodoros (Theo) Kouroglou recalled it: "In 1963, my father, John, rented a 193-seat movie theater in downtown Athens, the Cine Averov, then a four-year-old establishment, from the Baron Michael Tositsas Establishment. In 1967, John Michael Triantafyllis, the founder of the JT TV Film company, asked my father if he was interested in showing Nudist Paradise, a movie he had just bought and subtitled in Greek." At that time the movie rights-holder paid the theater owner 25 to 45 percent of the gross ticket sales.
Triantafyllis (1910-1982) was a Greek actor/producer who in 1929 produced, directed, and starred in Four Greeks From America, a locally-produced Western movie. He founded JT Film in 1939 to acquire movies for the Greek market, as well as to produce and direct several domestic movies that he also distributed overseas. The company was renamed JT TV Film when Triantafyllis entered the TV business by distributing ITC titles. His son, John Michael Triantafyllis the seventh, took over JT TV Film--which he still runs today --in 1976 (at age 26), when he returned to Greece after a nine-year residence in the U.S.
"However," Theo continued, "the 10 major theaters in Athens also demanded a minimum ticket sales guarantee from the movie rights-holder, and after the minimum was reached, the theaters would keep up to 45 percent of ticket sales." If the agreed minimum wasn't reached, the movie owner ended up paying the theater the difference between the sales total and the guarantee. In addition, cinema tickets in Greece were heavily taxed (with five different taxes).
"My father gave Triantafyllis a better trial deal, and Nudist Paradise filled the theater's seats for 17 straight weeks with 14 sold-out showings per day, from 9 a.m. to n p.m., until it was eventually shot down by [the military...