The history of Oz Magazine is of increasing cultural interest. Published sporadically from 1967 to 1973, it was characterised by Martin Sharp's psychedelic masterpieces and contributions form the leading radical free thinkers of the time. Though the magazine ran for only 48 issues, the infamous court action brought against it was one of the longest trials of its type in history. Two Australians - Richard Neville and Jim Anderson - along with Felix Dennis, were charged with 'conspiracy to corrupt public morals'. It became a cause celebre of its day, pitting the chaotic and disparate elements of the 'counter-culture' - Oz, International Times, Ink - with the unamused might of the 'establishment'.
In the judge's summing up, Felix was given a lighter sentence than the other two - citing that he was clearly less intelligent than either Neville or Anderson and therefore less culpable. As legend has it, this barb repeatedly provoked Felix over the subsequent years to prove "the old fart" wrong - and history has shown just how marvellously off the mark Argyle's assessment of the young publisher proved to be!
For more in-depth analysis of the history of the magazine and the trial, there are some hugely entertaining reads: first and foremost Richard Neville's memoir 'Hippy Hippy Shake' and Tony Palmer's 'The Trials of Oz'. There's also a BBC dramatisation of the trial from 1991 - if you can find it - with Hugh Grant as Richard, Leslie Phillips as Judge Argyle, Simon Callow as John Mortimer, the Oz trio's defence lawyer, and Nigel Planer as witness John Peel! Sadly Working Title's feature version of the Neville memoir - casting Sienna Miller as Louise Ferrier, Neville's then girlfriend - seems destined never to see the light of day.