The film includes dialogue about the Vietnam War, various mundane tasks and, as well, unsimulated sex, during a blissful afternoon in a New York City apartment (owned by art critic David Bourdon). The film was presented in the press as, "a film about the Vietnam War and what we can do about it." Warhol added, "the movie is about ... love, not destruction."
Warhol explained that the lack of a plot in Blue Movie was intentional:
According to Viva: “The Warhol films were about sexual disappointment and frustration: the way Andy saw the world, the way the world is, and the way nine-tenths of the population sees it, yet pretends they don’t.”Louis Waldon as Himself
Viva as Herself
Andy Warhol described making Blue Movie as follows: "I'd always wanted to do a movie that was pure fucking, nothing else, the way [my film] Eat had been just eating and [my film] Sleep had been just sleeping. So in October '68 I shot a movie of Viva having sex with Louis Waldon. I called it just Fuck."
The film itself acquired a blue/green tint because Warhol used the wrong kind of film during production. He used film meant for filming night-scenes, and the sun coming through the apartment window turned the film blue.
According to Wheeler Winston Dixon, American filmmaker and scholar, who attended the first showing of the film at the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theater on July 21, 1969:
Variety magazine, on June 18, 1969, reported that the film was the "first theatrical feature to actually depict intercourse." While initially shown at The Factory, Blue Movie was not presented to a wider audience until it was shown at the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theater on July 21, 1969.
Viva, in Paris, finding that Blue Movie was getting a lot of attention, said, "Timothy Leary loved it. Gene Youngblood (an LA film critic) did too. He said I was better than Vanessa Redgrave and it was the first time a real movie star had made love on the screen. It was a real breakthrough."
On July 31, 1969, the staff of the theater were arrested, and the film confiscated. The manager was eventually fined $250. Afterwards, the theater manager said, "I don't think anyone was harmed by this movie ... I saw other pictures around town and this was a kiddie matinee compared to them." Warhol said, "What's pornography anyway? ... The muscle magazines are called pornography, but they're really not. They teach you how to have good bodies ... I think movies should appeal to prurient interests. I mean the way things are going now – people are alienated from one another. Blue Movie was real. But it wasn't done as pornography—it was done as an exercise, an experiment. But I really do think movies should arouse you, should get you excited about people, should be prurient. Prurience is part of the machine. It keeps you happy. It keeps you running."
Afterwards, in 1970, Warhol published Blue Movie in book form, with film dialogue and explicit stills, through Grove Press.
When Last Tango in Paris, an internationally controversial erotic drama film, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and starring Marlon Brando, was released in 1972, Warhol considered Blue Movie to be the inspiration, according to Bob Colacello, the editor of Interview, a magazine dedicated to Pop Culture that was founded by Warhol in 1969.
Nonetheless, and also in 1970, Mona, the second adult erotic film, after Blue Movie, depicting explicit sex that received a wide theatrical release in the United States, was shown. Shortly thereafter, other adult films, such as Boys in the Sand, Deep Throat, Behind the Green Door and The Devil in Miss Jones were released, continuing the Golden Age of Porn begun with Blue Movie. In 1973, the phenomenon of porn being publicly discussed by celebrities (like Johnny Carson and Bob Hope) and taken seriously by film critics (like Roger Ebert), a development referred to, by Ralph Blumenthal of The New York Times, as "porno chic", began, for the first time, in modern American culture, and later, in many other countries throughout the world. In 1976, The Opening of Misty Beethoven, based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (and its derivative, My Fair Lady), and directed by Radley Metzger, was released theatrically and is considered, by award-winning author Toni Bentley, the "crown jewel" of the Golden Age of Porn.
Blue Movie was publicly screened in New York City in 2005, for the first time in more than 30 years. Also in New York City, but more recently, in 2016, the film was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan.