Banned and Censored Films
Media Resources Center, UC Berkeley












United States
United Kingdom
Films Rated X and NC-17 by the MPAA

Documentaries about Movie Censorship
Pre-Code Movies
The Hollywood 10 (blacklisted directors and writers)

Movie Censorship

United States

Year:

1900 - 1929 | 1930 - 1940 | 1940 - 1950 | 1950 - 1960
| 1960 - 1970 | 1971 - present

Landmark Film Censorship Cases

1900 - 1929

Jack Johnson-Jeffries Fight (1910)
"On 4 July, 1910, in 100 degree heat at an outdoor boxing ring near Reno, Nevada, film cameras recorded what was supposed to be the fight of the century. Former heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries was reluctantly brought out of retirement to fight Jack Johnson, a black man. The film begins with the master of ceremonies inviting a few former champs into the ring for perfunctory applause and accolades from the thousands of fight fans in attendance. Then, the referee motions for the opening bell. The fight lasts for 14 grueling rounds, and when it is over, the fallen Great White Hope is on the mat receiving the ten-count. The referee raises Johnson's fists high into the air and, for the first time in history, there was a black heavyweight champion of the world. At least 10 people lost their lives because of Johnson's victory and hundreds more were injured due to white retaliation and wild celebrations in the streets. Public screenings received instantaneous protests and hundreds of cities barred the film from being shown. The United States Congress passed a law making it a federal offense to transport moving pictures of prizefights across a state line, and the most powerful portrayal of a black man ever recorded on film was made virtually invisible."

View it online (Internet Moving Image Archive)

Grieveson, Lee. "Fighting Films: Race, Morality, and the Governing of Cinema, 1912-1915." Cinema Journal Vol. 38, No. 1 (Autumn, 1998), pp. 40-72 UC users only
McKernan, Luke "Lives in Film: Jack Johnson."
Orbach, Barak Y. "The Johnson-Jeffries Fight and Censorship of Black Supremacy." New York University Journal of Law & Liberty Vol. 5:270 2010 UC users only
Streible, Dan. "Jack Johnson's Decline: The Prizefight Film Ban, 1911-1915." In: Fight pictures : a history of boxing and early cinema / Dan Streible. Berkeley : University of California Press, c2008. (Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.9.B69 S77 2008)
Vogan, Travis. "Irrational Power: Jack Johnson, Prizefighting Films, and Documentary Affect." Journal of Sport History, Fall/Winter2010, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p397-413, 17p

Birth of a Nation (1915)
Directed by D.W. Griffith. Cast: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry Walthall, Miriam Cooper, Mary Alden, Ralph Lewis, George Seigmann, Walter Long. Adapted from Thomas Dixon's novel, The Clansman. A Civil War spectacular, Portraying "life in the South" during and after the Civil War as revealed in a story depicting the war itself, the conflict between the defeated Southerners and emancipated renegade Negroes, the despoiling of the South during the carpetbagger period, and the revival of the Southern white man's honor through the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan. 124 min. DVD 3012; DVD 29; VHS 999:1685 (187 min.), 999:1686 213 min.)
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

"Griffith's controversial and extremely influential silent film classic caused riots in Boston, Philadelphia and other major cities. The NAACP organized protests at the various premieres of the film around the country. In addition, The Birth of a Nation was outright banned in several cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh and Kansas City due to its racist themes. [Alternative Reel] "Birth of a nation was banned more moften than any other film in motion picture history. Its right to be screened is known to have been challenged in well over 100 incidents in and out of court, as recently as 1980; in 60 instances the picture was completely banned or partially censored." [De Grazia, p. 5]

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© notice

Butters, Gerald R., Jr. Banned in Kansas : motion picture censorship, 1915-1966 Columbia : University of Missouri Press, c2007. (Full text available online [UCB users only]: Print: Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.63.K36 B87 2007)
Butters, Gerald R., Jr. "'The Birth of a Nation' and the Kansas Board of Review Of Motion Pictures: A Censorship Struggle." Kansas History 1991 14(1): 2-14 13p.
Couvares, Francis G. "The good censor: race, sex, and censorship in the early cinema. Yale Journal of Criticism, 1994, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p233-251, 19p UC users only
McEwan, Paul. "Lawyers, Bibliographies, and the Klan: Griffith's resources in the censorship battle over The Birth of a Nation in Ohio." Film History; 2008, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p357-366, 10p UC users only
Patton, Cindy. "White racism/black signs: censorship and images of race relations." Journal of Communication; 1995, Vol. 45 Issue 2, p65-77, 13p UC users only
Patton, Cindy. "Censorship and the Problem Films." In: Cinematic identity : anatomy of a problem film Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, c2007. (Full text available online [UCB users only]; print: MAIN: PN1995.9.S62 P38 2007)

Within our Gates (Library of Congress/Smithsonian Video Collection) (1919)
Directed by Oscar Micheaux. Cast: Evelyn Preer, Flo Clements, James D. Ruffin, Jack Chenault, William Smith, Charles D. Lucas. The earliest surviving feature directed by an African-American, Within our Gates tells the story of a young African-American woman who seeks a Northern white patron for a Southern school for Black children. The scenes of lynching and attempted white-on-Black rape may be a response to D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation". 79 min. DVD 643; VHS 999:1019
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

View it online (Internet Moving Image Archive)

Awards & Honors
National Film Registry Selection

Banned in Chicago, New Orleans, and Omaha, for its depiction of interracial rape, lynching, and racial discrimination.

The Red Kimono (1925)
Directed by Walter Lang. Story by Adela Rogers St. Johns; adaptation by Dorothy Arzner. Cast: Priscilla Bonner, Nellie Bly Baker, Carl Miller, Mary Carr, Virginia Pearson, Tyrone Power, Sr. "Gabrielle Darley is lured into prostitution by a village sport, who uses her earnings to support both himself and her. Gabrielle later discovers that her lover is planning to marry another woman, and she shoots him dead as he is buying a wedding ring in a jewelry store. Gabrielle is tried and acquitted. With no visible means of support, Gabrielle is at first taken up by a publicity-hungry socialite, but this woman soon tires of Gabrielle and turns her out into the street. Gabrielle is prepared to return to her old whorehouse in New Orleans when she is redeemed by the love of the chauffeur of her sometime benefactress. The chauffeur is inducted and goes overseas, leaving a penitent Gabrielle to await his return from France." [AFI] 80 min. DVD 9795; vhs 999:2657
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in Chicago. The film was also the target of an unsuccessful lawsuit for defamation in California seeking an injunction to prohibit its public viewing, which California courts refused to grant. [Wikipedia]

King of Kings (1927)
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Cast: H.B. Warner, Jacqueline Logan, Rudolph Schildkraut, Dorothy Cummings, Ernest Torrence, Montagu Love, Sam De Grasse. An ostentatious retelling of the life of Christ that sealed DeMille's reputation as a master of the biblical epic. The film recounts the teachings of the humble carpenter but also the blasphemies of the Roman Empire in all its sinful splendor. 115 min. DVD 4966, DVD 3628; vhs 999:1701
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in Memphis, Tennessee. A theater owner challenged this ban, and local circuit court supported the challenger, but a state appellate court reversed the decision, ruling that Board of Censor decisions were final. [Strub, Whitney. "Black and White and Banned All Over: Race, Censorship and Obscenity in Postwar Memphis." Journal of Social History March 22, 2007 UC users only]

1930 - 1940

Frankenstein (1931)
Directed by James Whale. An adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel about the scientist who creates a terrifying monster. Dr. Frankenstein dares to tamper with life and death by creating a human monster in his laboratory, but his dreams of perfection are thwarted when the monster becomes an uncontrollable beast. Special features: Disc 1: "Karloff: the gentle monster": a tribute to the film career of Boris Karloff; "Monster tracks": interesting interactive pop-up facts about the making of 'Frankenstein'; Feature commentary with Rudy Behlmer; Feature commentary with historian Sir Christopher Frayling; Disc 2: "The 'Frankenstein' files": how Hollywood made a monster; "Frankenstein archives": original posters and photo galleries; "Universal horror": documentary, narrated by Kenneth Branagh; "Boo!": a short film. 71 min. DVD 6523; Also copies: DVD 77
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned initially in Kansas for "cruelty," the film was originally released with cuts: a closeup shot of a hypodermic needle injection, and the scene in which Maria is carried in her father's arms. [AFI Catalog]

Butters, Gerald R., Jr. Banned in Kansas : motion picture censorship, 1915-1966 Columbia : University of Missouri Press, c2007. (Full text available online [UCB users only]: Print: Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.63.K36 B87 2007)
Prince, Stephen. "Cruelty, Sadism, and the Horror Film." In: Classical film violence : designing and regulating brutality in Hollywood cinema, 1930-1968 / Stephen Prince. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c2003. (Full text available online [UCB users only]; Print: Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.9.V5 P75 2003)

Scarface (1932)
Directed by Howard Hawks. Cast: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, George Raft, Boris Karloff. Drama of the life and death of a Chicago gangster during prohibition in the 1920's. 93 min. DVD 5674; vhs 999:68
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in five states, including New York and five cities, including Seattle and Chicago, owing to its violence and/or supposed glorification of crime.

Damaged Lives (1933)
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Cast: Diane Sinclair, Lyman Williams, George Irving, Almeda Fowler, Jason Robards. A rich young man catches syphilis as the result of a wanton night on the town with a rich floozy and passes it on to his wife.

"Known for such distinctive films as The Black Cat, Detour and The Man from Planet X, Edgar Ulmer began his directorial career with the educational oddity Damaged Lives. This updated "hygiene" reeler was produced by the Canadian Social Health Council with Columbia Pictures as the designated studio. In 1937, a New York Times reviewer noted that Damaged Lives was "the decisive stroke in the struggle to free discussion of venereal disease," typically a hushed subject. The medical melodrama follows the momentary folly of a shipping tycoon who contracts syphilis and unwittingly infects his wife. Their lives are a shambles as they quake under the weight of ignorance and resort to quack remedies. Originally, Ulmer's film had an epilogue that consisted of a fact-filled lecture by Dr. Leonard, actor/medical specialist. The film's candid concern for sex education, complete with charts and diagrams, was too much for the New York State Board of Censors, who banned the film from public exhibition." [Pacific Film Archives - Banned in the USA]

Special features: Short subject on venereal disease "The Innocent Party" (1959 - 17 min.) from the Kansas State Board of Health. 53 min. DVD 7595

Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

View it online (Internet Moving Image Archive)

Banned from public exhibition in New York

Ekstase (Ecstasy)(Czechoslovakia / Austria, 1933)
Directed by Gustav Machatý. Cast: Hedy Lamarr, Aribert Moog, Leopold Kramer, Jaromir Rogoz. Eva has just gotten married to an older gentleman, but discovers that he is obsessed with order in his life and doesn't have much room for passion. She becomes despondent and leaves him, returning to her father's house. One day while bathing in the lake she meets a young man and they fall in love. The husband has become grief stricken at the loss of his young bride, and fate brings him together with the young lover that has taken Eva from him. The film was highly controversial in its time largely because of a nude swimming scene. It is also perhaps the first non-pornographic movie to portray sexual intercourse, although never showing more than the actors' faces. It has also been called the first on-screen depiction of a female orgasm. Based on a story by Samuel Cummins.

"This landmark of erotic cinema explores the inner world of a young woman who is married to a sexually repressed man and takes a lover in the countryside. Few censors of the day could see beyond Hedy (Kiesler) Lamarr's famous nude bathing scene. But the film's visual and thematic interest lies elsewhere. Jan Stallich's rich cinematography, which defined the school of Czech lyricism, enhances Machaty's passionate study with long, pensive shots-of movement, as in the famous tracking shot through the forest; of images disposed to psychoanalytic interpretation; of feelings, from longing to bliss, in sustained close-up. Ecstasy is a visual celebration of sexuality, linking the young woman and her desires with the nature that surrounds her: the sublime clouds, the battered trees, the glimmering ponds. Ecstasy was condemned by the Vatican; on these shores it was blocked as "obscene and immoral," the start of a seven-year censorship battle that resulted in an adulterated print-adultery magically turned into marriage." [Pacific Film Archives - Banned in the USA]

79 min. DVD X781; vhs 999:287

Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

View it online (Internet Moving Image Archive)

Banned from entry into the United States by the U.S. Customs Bureau and referred to a federal district court and jury which found it immoral and obscene. Banned in New York, 1937.

Fischer, Lucy. "Ecstasy: Female Sexual, Social, and Cinematic Scandal." In: Headline Hollywood : a century of film scandal / edited by Adrienne L. McLean and David A. Cook. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c2001. (Main (Gardner) Stacks; PFA; Bancroft PN1993.5.U65 H39 2001)
Negra, Diane. "Ethnicity and the interventionist imagination: Domesticity, exoticism, and scandal in the persona of Heddy Lamarr." In: Off-white Hollywood : American culture and ethnic female stardom / Diane Negra. London ; New York : Routledge, 2001. (Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.9.M56 N44 2001)
Wittern-Keller, Laura. "A Prolonged Case of Ecstasy." In: Freedom of the screen : legal challenges to state film censorship, 1915-1981 / Laura Wittern-Keller. Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c2008. pp: 68-73. (Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.62 .W58 2008)

The Road to Ruin(1933)
Directors, Dorothy Davenport and Melville Shyer. Cast: Helen Foster, Neil O'Day, Glen Boles, Paul Page. An innocent young girl gets involved with a crowd that smokes marijuana, drinks and has sex. She winds up an alcoholic, pregnant drug addict and is forced to get an abortion. 62 min. DVD X531
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in Birmingham, Alabama, 1929.

G-Men (1935)
Directed by William Keighley. Cast: James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak, Robert Armstrong. A two-fisted lawyer (Cagney) joins the FBI when his friend is killed by a gangster group. 86 min. DVD 5832
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in Chicago because of its violence.

1940 - 1950

Strange Cargo (1940)
Directed by Frank Borzage. Cast: Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Ian Hunter, Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas. When eight prisoners escape from a New Guinea penal colony, they are picked up by a sloop commandeered by another escapee named Verne and his trollop girl friend Julie. Among the fugitives is Cambreau, a soft-spoken, messianic character who has a profound effect on his comrades. One by one, the escapees abandon their evil purposes and find God --and a peaceful death --through the auspices of the Christlike Cambreau. Based on the book: "Not Too Narrow ... Not Too Deep" by Richard Sale. Special features: Gable & Crawford; vintage short "More About Nostradamus"; classic cartoon, "Lonesome Stranger"; theatrical trailer. 113 min. DVD X1006
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in Detroit, Boston and Providence, RI. on its release. A March 1940 NYT news item notes that the Catholic Legion of Decency placed the film in the "condemned" category and protested the film's "anaturalistic concept of religion contrary to the teachings of Christ and the Catholic church." [AFI catalog]

Cabin in the Sky (1943)
Directed by Vincente Minnelli. Cast: Ethel Waters, Eddie Anderson, Lena Horne. Petunia Jackson, a poor but devout woman, is burdened with a shiftless husband called Little Joe. When Little Joe is seriously wounded in a fight and seems about to die, the forces of heaven and hell begin a battle for his soul. Special DVD features: Commentary by Evangela Anderson and Eva Anderson (wife and daughter of Eddie "Rochester" Anderson), Fayard Nicholas, Black cultural scholars Todd Boyd and Drew Casper, with interview excerpts of Lena Horne; vintage Pete Smith specialty shor studio visit; audio-only bonus: Louis Armstrong "Ain't it the truth" outtake; theatrical trailer. 99 min. DVD 5684; vhs 999:357
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in Memphis, Tennessee as part of a general injunction against showing films with all-black casts or with "negro actors performing in roles not depicting the ordinary roles played by negro citizens" from being screened for white or mixed audiences." [Strub, Whitney. "Black and White and Banned All Over: Race, Censorship and Obscenity in Postwar Memphis." Journal of Social History March 22, 2007 UC users only)

The Outlaw (1943)
Directed by Howard Hughes. Cast: Jack Beutel, Jane Russell, Walter Huston, Thomas Mitchell. Presents a provocative retelling of the sagebrush saga of Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday - and their heated rivalry for the love of the sultry Rio - explodes in a gripping and unforgettable climax as their fateful destinies collide with the legendary Sheriff Pat Garrett.

"The most exciting shoot-outs surrounding The Outlaw were those with the heavily armed censors. Not surprising: Howard Hughes had set out to break with the traditional western and compose a story of down-to-earth sex and hair-trigger action. Your basic buddy film, beautifully shot by Gregg Toland, the plot finds Doc Holliday and Billy the Kid becoming partners in a lawless land. Their tenuous friendship is challenged by constant quarrels, first over Doc's horse, Red, then over Doc's girl, Rio. And it was over Rio, played by the as-yet-unknown Jane Russell-or rather Rio's cleavage-that much of the off-screen quarreling raged. A "breast shot deletion" list was compiled, and minor cuts were made. The film opened at San Francisco's Geary Theater in February 1943, was pulled from exhibition in April, and re-released four years later, with Hughes still as confrontational as ever. A Maryland judge declared that Russell's breasts "hung over the picture like a thunderstorm spread over a landscape. They were everywhere." But now, so was the (Sealless) film." [Pacific Film Archives - Banned in the USA]

117 min. DVD 1296

Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in New York, New York, 1946. Howard Hughes shocked the film world with this high-voltage western adventure that featured the steamy screen debut of voluptuous Jane Russell. The film's slogan was "What are the two biggest reasons for Jane Russell's success?" During filming, Hughes once commented, "We're not getting enough production from Jane's breasts." The first release of the film in 1941 caused so much indignation that the picture was withdrawn for over five years before its general release.

Doherty, Thomas. "Shootout over The Outlaw." In: Hollywood's Censor : Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration New York : Columbia University Press, c2007. pp. 251-263 (Full text available online [UCB users only]: Print: Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.62 .D64 2007)
Leff, Leonard J. "The Outlaw and The Postman Always Rings Twice." In: The dame in the kimono : hollywood, censorship, and the production code Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, c2001. (Main (Gardner) Stacks; PFA PN1995.62 .L4 2001)
Skinner, James M. "The Tussle with Russell: 'The Outlaw' as a Landmark in American Film." North Dakota Quarterly; 1981 49(1): 4-12, 9p.
Wittern-Keller, Laura. "The First Amendment Resurfaces, 1946-1950." In: Freedom of the screen : legal challenges to state film censorship, 1915-1981 / Laura Wittern-Keller. Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c2008. (Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.62 .W58 2008)

Brewster's Millions (1945)
Directed by Allan Dwan. Cast: Dennis O'Keefe, Helen Walker, June Havoc, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson. A soldier returns from war to marry his girl and is informed that he has inherited 8 million dollars, but there are stipulations. He must spend $1 million of that money in less than two months before his 30th birthday in order to inherit the rest. But since he cannot tell anyone about him spending the money as part of the agreement, everyone thinks that Brewster has flipped when he practically knocks himself out on a spending spree. 79 min. vhs 999:3840
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

"... the Memphis Board of Motion Picture Censors, headed by Lloyd T. Binford, had banned showings of the film on grounds that it was "inimical to the public welfare" because the servant character played by African-American actor Eddie "Rochester" Anderson had "too familiar a way about him." The Board complained that the picture presented "too much social equality and racial mixture" for Southern audiences, and expressed fear that the film would "encourage" racial problems." [AFI Catalog] In 1945 Binford, Chair of the Memphis Board of Censors, "condemned the film as 'inimical to the friendly relations between the races now existing here.' The film, he claimed, 'presents too much familiarity between the races...too much social equality and racial mixture'." [Strub, Whitney. "Black and White and Banned All Over: Race, Censorship and Obscenity in Postwar Memphis." Journal of Social History March 22, 2007 UC users only]

Scarlet Street (1945)
Directed by Fritz Lang. Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Margaret Lindsay. The story of a middle-aged bookkeeper who gets involved with a femme fatale, her boy friend and murder. DVD 4911, DVD 2746; vhs 999:331
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

"...the film was banned by the state of New York for excessive violence and immorality, specifically the icepick murder of "Kitty." Wanger met with the New York censor, Dr. Irwin Conroe, and in late Jan 1946, with only minor editorial cuts (one of which reduced the number of ice pick stabs from seven to one), the film was approved. Similar eliminations were made in other states. In Feb 1946, Atlanta and Milwaukee banned the film. Universal Pictures and Diana Productions sued the city of Atlanta, claiming that the state censor did not have the authority to ban the film, and that only the entire state Board of Censors, who tied on their vote, could make such a decision. Georgia's lower court demurred judgment in Apr 1946, while the film was still in its first run. The city of Atlanta appealed to the state Supreme Court, who reversed the demurrer on a legal technicality in Sep 1946." [AFI Catalog]

Bernstein, Matthew. "A Tale of Three Cities: The Banning of Scarlet Street." Cinema Journal, vol. 35 no. 1. 1995 Fall. pp: 27-52. UC users only

Let There Be Light (1946)
Documentary. Directed by John Huston. Made for the United States Army by John Huston that shows the treatment of combat neuropsychiatric patients in an Army hospital. The film follows 75 U.S. soldiers who have sustained debilitating emotional trauma and depression. A series of scenes chronicle their entry into a psychiatric hospital, their treatment and eventual recovery. Considered to be too controversial and disturbing, the film was suppressed by the military (confiscated by the Army Signal Corps), until it premiered in New York and at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981. 1946. 58 min. DVD X2866 (restored version); also DVD 5802; Video/C MM465; also on Video/C MM334

View it online (Internet Moving Image Archive)

The Army confiscated the film and refused to release it, citing violations of the doughboys' privacy, although Huston was convinced for PR reasons. It was finally screened in 1981.

Lost Boundaries (1949)
Director, Alfred L. Werker. Cast: Beatrice Pearson, Mel Ferrer, Susan Douglas, Canada Lee, Richard Hylton. Based on true events surrounding a light-skinned black family who pass for white in a New Hampshire town. Dr. Scott Carter is unable to secure a job as a physician because of his race so he decides "For one year of his life" to pass as a white man, but the one year becomes twenty. Eventually he and his family must confront the racism of the idyllic New Hampshire town he's served for decades. Based on the book by William Lindsay White. 99 min. DVD X1843; vhs 999:1769
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in Memphis, Tennessee and Atlanta Georgia (the latter on the grounds that "adversely affect the peace, morals, and good order" of the city). [De Grazia, pp. 70-71]

McGehee, Margaret T. "Disturbing the Peace: Lost Boundaries, Pinky, and Censorship in Atlanta, Georgia, 1949-1952." Cinema Journal. Fall 2006. Vol. 46, Iss. 1; p. 23 (29 pages) UC users only
Weales, Gerald. "Pro-Negro Films in Atlanta." Phylon (1940-1956), Vol. 13, No. 4 (4th Qtr., 1952), pp. 298-304 UC users only

Pinky (1949)
Directed by Elia Kazan. Cast: Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore, Ethel Waters, William Lundigan. Pinky, a black woman who works as a nurse in Boston, finds that she is able to pass for white. Afraid her true heritage will be discovered, she leaves her white fiancee and returns home to Mississippi where she helps her grandmother care for her employer, an imperious plantation owner. When she names Pinky heiress to her estate, the community rises in resentment triggering a-sensational court trial. Subject of a landmark Supreme Court case in film censorship, this moving story became itself a battle for human rights. Originally produced as a motion picture in 1949. Based on the novel Quality by Cid Ricketts Sumner.

"The late forties saw a spate of films dealing with the "Negro problem." Elia Kazan's Pinky was one of the more notable entries, especially for its vanguard interracial romance. The story describes the return to the South of a light-skinned black nurse (Jeanne Crain) who had lived in Boston for twelve years, passing for white. Back with her endearing grandmother (Ethel Waters), Pinky is confronted by the squalid conditions of her home and, more significantly, by her black identity. Her stay exposes her to the double standards of a racist society, in harrowing scenes that never blanch in their indictment of racial inequality. But Kazan's film also has its compromises, most obviously in its choice of a white actress for the lead role. Pinky opened in the South to censorship skirmishes; Marshall, Texas found an exhibitor guilty of presenting a film that was "of such a character as to be prejudicial to the best interests of the people of said City." The case eventually led to a U.S. Supreme Court victory for the film." [Pacific Film Archives - Banned in the USA]

102 min. DVD 5064

Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

"Three members of the [Marshall, Texas] Board of Censors testified that they objected to the picture because it depicts (1) a white man retaining his love for a woman after learning that she is a Negro, (2) a white man kissing and embracing a Negro woman, (3) two white ruffians assaulting Pinky after she has told them she is colored. W. L. Gelling [manager of a local theater] was convicted and fined $200. He appealed the conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. After Gelling filed his appeal, the Court decided the landmark free speech case of Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson that extended First Amendment protection to films. The Court then overturned Gelling's conviction." [Wikipedia]

McGehee, Margaret T. "Disturbing the Peace: Lost Boundaries, Pinky, and Censorship in Atlanta, Georgia, 1949-1952." Cinema Journal. Fall 2006. Vol. 46, Iss. 1; p. 23 (29 pages) UC users only
Patton, Cindy. "Censoring Pinky." In: Cinematic identity : anatomy of a problem film Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, c2007. (Full text available online [UCB users only]; Print: MAIN: PN1995.9.S62 P38 2007)
Patton, Cindy. "White Racism/Black Signs: Censorship and Images of Race Relations." Journal of Communication 1995 45(2): 65-77 13p. UC users only
Weales, Gerald. "Pro-Negro Films in Atlanta." Phylon (1940-1956), Vol. 13, No. 4 (4th Qtr., 1952), pp. 298-304 UC users only

She Shoulda Said "No!" (aka Wild Weed)(1949)
Director, Sherman Scott. Cast: Alan Baxter, Lyle Talbot, Lila Leeds, Doug Blackley. A "good" girl works day and night as a dancer in Los Angeles to finance her brother's college education. Then a dope peddler enters the picture and casts a cloud of smoke and money around her. When her brother comes home from college and finds out what his sister has been up to to finance his education, he commits suicide. Beset by guilt and T.H.C. as a result, she slips farther down into the pit of marijuana addiction and despair. 70 min. DVD X531; also DVD X971
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in Pennsylvania, 1956, by the Pennsylvania censorship board on the grounds that the film was "indecent and immoral and...tended to debase and corrupt morals." Reversed by the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas; reversal supported by the US Supreme Court. [De Grazia, pp. 250-251]

1950 - 1960

Un Chant d'Amour. (France, 1950)
Jean Genet's story of male prisoners and a prison guard expressing self love and love for each other. Male homosexual expression is shown together with masturbation, sadism, and fantasy. 28 min. DVD 5413; also on DVD 5797; vhs 999:1070
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in Berkeley, CA, 1962. Upon request to exhibit the film, the exhibitor was warned by the Berkeley chief of police that the next time it was shown "it would be confiscated and all persons responsible arrested." On appeal, the Alameda District Court of Appeal ruled that "measured in terms of the sexual interests of its intended and probable recipient group or the average person, applying contemporary standards...the predominant appeal of the film taken as a whole is to the purient interest." This ruling later upheald by the U.S. Supreme Court. [Topiano, p. 200]

La Ronde (Roundabout) (France, 1950)
Directed by Max Ophuls. Cast: Simone Signoret, Danielle Darrieux, Jean-Louis Barrault, Anton Walbrook, Odette Joyeux, Gérard Philipe. Comedy set in 1900 Vienna; a chain of love started between a young prostitute and a soldier goes full circle when the soldier ends up with her after meeting various characters. 92 min. DVD X170; vhs 999:271
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Banned in New York, 1951, on the grounds that the film "would tend to corrupt morals." Upheld by the New York State Supreme Court; reversed by the US Supreme Court in 1954. [De Grazia, p. 287] pp. 233-34]

Wittern-Keller, Laura. "La Ronde. 1951-1954." In: Freedom of the screen : legal challenges to state film censorship, 1915-1981 / Laura Wittern-Keller. Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c2008. (Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.62 .W58 2008)

Il Miracolo (The Miracle)(Italy, 1947)
Director: Roberto Rossellini. Cast: Anna Magnani. A homeless woman believes that a man she encounters on a hillside is Saint Joseph; he takes advantage of her. When she discovers she is pregnant, she knows it's a miracle. Other villagers mock her, and she has the baby alone, near a locked church, in the straw of a goat shed. Story by Federico Fellini, based on Valle-Inclán's novel "La flor de santidad". Segment of the anthology film L'amore.

"The Miracle was originally exhibited as part of a trilogy, The Ways of Love, with companion pieces by Renoir and Pagnol. In this neorealist masterpiece, Anna Magnani plays a simple-minded peasant who allows a bearded vagabond (played by Federico Fellini, who also wrote the story) to seduce her, thinking he is St. Joseph. She announces the "miracle" of her pregnancy, but is met by scorn from her fellow villagers who clamp a basin on her head for a halo. Rossellini's film was similarly ridiculed and eventually blasted as blasphemous, not in Rome but in Cardinal Spellman's New York, where it was met with pickets and boycotts. Ephraim London, one of the great First Amendment lawyers, argued the case for The Miracle in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and got the miracle the film industry had waited for for thirty-five years: film now had Constitutional protection." [Pacific Film Archives - Banned in the USA]

DVD X5871

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Although initially approved by state censors for screening in New York, the film was attacked as sacrilegious by the Catholic establishment, which convinced state officials to revoke distributor Joseph Burstyn's license. In response, Burstyn fought back through the courts and won in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1952

Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson 343 U.S. 495 (1952)

Native Son (USA / Argentina, 1951)
Director, Pierre Chenal. Cast: Richard Wright, Jean Wallace, Gloria Madison, Nicholas Joy, Willa Pearl Curtiss, Charles Cane. Adaptation of the classic novel by Richard Wright. Set in Chicago, Native son tells the story of Bigger Thomas, a young black man who accidentally murders his employer's daughter while performing his duties as chauffeur. The combined forces of institutional racism and condescending white liberalism pursue Thomas to an unhappy end. The author plays the leading role in this film version. 90 min. vhs 999:3808
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Banned in Ohio, 1953. The Ohio State censorship board contended that "The film contributes to racial misunderstanding...and [promotes] racial friction at a time when all groups should be united against everything that is subversive." [De Grazia, pp. 241-42]

The Moon Is Blue (1953)
Director, Otto Preminger. Cast: William Holden, David Niven, Maggie McNamara, Tom Tully, Dawn Addams. Two aging playboys are both after the same attractive young woman, but she fends them off by claiming that she plans to remain a virgin until her wedding night. Both men determine to find a way around her objections.

"An innocuous sex comedy that talks about bedding down but never turns a sheet aptly describes Otto Preminger's independent production. However, the furor surrounding the film leaves the impression that a full-scale orgy had occurred. The Moon Is Blue concerns itself with the attempted seduction of the militantly virtuous Patty O'Neill (played by Audrey Hepburn double Maggie McNamara) by two bachelors, the self-confident Donald (William Holden) and the aging tippler David (David Niven). Deceptively ingenuous, Miss O'Neill manages to outwit her two suitors, disarming them with her aggressively candid queries ("Would you try to seduce me?"). Blue language, daring verbiage like "virgin" and "seduce," is modestly sprinkled throughout the film, but barely a prim kiss is exchanged. The real kiss was a kiss-off: when the Production Code Administration told Preminger The Moon Is Blue wouldn't receive a Seal because of its "moral indifference," he told them he would distribute it anyway. The PCA went into full defensive posture, but like an inept father, the Production Code office was losing control over its "children."" [Pacific Film Archives - Banned in the USA]

99 min. DVD X2464

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Banned in Kansas, Ohio, and Maryland. Preminger and United Artists decided to bring suit in a Maryland court. On December 7, 1953, Judge Herman Moser reversed the State Censor Board. In his ruling, he called the film "a light comedy telling a tale of wide-eyed, brash, puppy-like innocence." Preminger and UA then appealed in Kansas, but the state's Supreme Court upheld the state board of review's decision to ban the film. Determined to win, the director and studio took their case to the Supreme Court of the United States, which overturned the finding of the Kansas Supreme Court on October 24, 1955. The success of the film was instrumental in weakening the influence of the Production Code. (It was the first major Hollywood production to be released without the Production Code's seal of approval). On June 27, 1961, the PCA granted both The Moon is Blue and The Man with the Golden Arm, Preminger's similarly controversial 1955 release, the seals of approval they initially withheld. [Wikipedia]

Butters, Gerald R., Jr. "Moon is Blue Over Kansas." In: Banned in Kansas : motion picture censorship, 1915-1966 Columbia : University of Missouri Press, c2007. (Full text available online [UCB users only]: Print: Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.63.K36 B87 2007)
xHarris,
Harris, Albert W. Jr. "Movie Censorship and the Supreme Court: What Next?" California Law Review Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring, 1954), pp. 122-138
UC users only
Leff, Leonard J. "The Moon Is Blue and The French Line." In: The dame in the kimono : hollywood, censorship, and the production code Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, c2001. (Main (Gardner) Stacks; PFA PN1995.62 .L4 2001)
Lev, Peter. "Censorship and self regulation." In: Transforming the screen, 1950-1959 / Peter Lev. Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press, [2006] (Media Resources Center; Doe Reference: PN1993.5.U6 H55 1990 v.7)

Salt of the Earth (1954)
Directed by Herbert J. Biberman. A semidocumentary of the year-long struggle by Mexican-American zinc miners in New Mexico. When an injunction is issued against the workers, the wives take up the battle with a fury, leaving the husbands to care for home and children. 1987. 94 min. DVD 682; vhs 999:266
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The only movie banned by the House Un-American Activities Committee. The Hollywood Reporter charged at the time that it was made "under direct orders of the Kremlin." [Wikipedia] A number of participants in the making of the film (Herbert Biberman, Paul Jarrico, Will Geer, Rosaura Revueltas, and Michael Wilson) are blacklisted by the major Hollywood studios.

The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)
Directed by Otto Preminger. Cast: Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak. An ex-convict recovering from heroin addiction returns to the Chicago slums and struggles to become a musician, but his former "business associates" have other ideas. Based on the novel by Nelson Algren.

"Just out of prison, card-shark Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra) is back at his old Chicago haunts. He's left behind his heroin addiction and brought home a new-found talent, jazz drumming. Though determined to begin life anew, he soon succumbs to pressure from his neurotic wife (Eleanor Parker) and a nettle of local hustlers, and is back on the needle, in a wallow of hypo'd despair. The Production Code Administration refused Man with the Golden Arm its Seal because their twenty-five-year-old guidelines forbade even the mention of addictive drugs. And regardless of the film's grim realism, the PCA insinuated that it advocated addiction by demonstrating its use. Frankie's tragic decline and the harrowing "cold turkey" sequence in which he tears at the walls of his friend Molly (Kim Novak)'s apartment should have been enough to leave anyone cold about drugs. Oddly, the Legion of Decency was cooler under the collar than the PCA. To appease their minor complaints, Preminger merely cut thirty seconds-getting rid of the drug paraphernalia-from the film's sole fix scene." [Pacific Film Archives - Banned in the USA]

119 min. DVD 4148

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Banned in Maryland, 1956. The Maryland Board of Censors contended that the film "advocates or teaches the use of, or the method of use of, narcotics or habit-forming drugs." The Baltimore City Court upheld this decision on appeal, but it was later reversed by the Maryland Court of Appeals. [De Grazia, pp. 248-49]

Simmons, Jerold. " Retrospectives: Challenging the Production Code: "The Man with the Golden Arm"." Journal of Popular Film & Television. 33:1 (Spring 2005) p. 39-48 UC users only

Blackboard Jungle (1955)
Directed by Richard Brooks. Cast: Glenn Ford, Anne Francis, Louis Calhern, Margaret Hayes, Sidney Poitier, Vic Morrow. Film about life in an inner city high school in the 50's that was the first to utilize a rock 'n' roll soundtrack. A dedicated young teacher soon loses his idealism when he has to deal with the tensions that threaten to destroy his classroom. DVD 3821
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"...the film was banned in Memphis, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia. A June 1955 news item in Variety reported that the film was banned in Atlanta because it was deemed "immoral, obscene, licentious and will adversely affect the peace, health, morals and good order of the city." [AFI Catalog]

Biltereyst, Daniel. "American Juvenile Delinquency Movies and the European Censors: The Cross-Cultural Reception and Censorship of The Wild One, Blackboard Jungle, and Rebel Without a Cause." In: Youth culture in global cinema / Edited by Timothy Shary and Alexandra Seibel. 1st ed. Austin : University of Texas Press, 2007. (Full text available online (UCB users only); Print: Main Stack PN1995.9.Y6.Y68) 2007
Simmons, Jerold. "Violent youth: The censoring and public reception of The Wild One and The Blackboard Jungle." Film History: An International Journal Volume 20, Number 3, 2008 UCB users only

The Night of the Hunter(1955)
Directed by Charles Laughton. Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason, Evelyn Varden, Peter Graves, Don Beddoe, Billy Chapin, Gloria Castilo, Sally Jane Bruce. A tale of a psychopathic self-styled preacher, who marries and murders a young widow for her money, pursues her children to get his hand on it, only to meet his match in the form of a saintly farm woman, who becomes the children's protector. 94 min. DVD 283
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"Lloyd T. Binford, the controversial head of the Memphis, TN censor board, had banned the film. Binford called it "the rawest I've ever seen," according to the article, even though he had not actually viewed the picture. Modern sources state that the picture received an "X," or adults only, certificate in Great Britain." [AFI Catalog]

Vanishing Prarie (1955)
Directed by James Algar. Walt Disney Pictures. Winner of Academy Award for Best Documentary, 1954. 71 min. DVD 6709

Banned by the New York Board of Censors because it showed a buffalo giving birth. The ban was lifted after a complaint by the ACLU. (Bousé, Derek. Wildlife films Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2000. p. 174. [Main (Gardner) Stacks TR893.5 .B68 2000])

Baby Doll (1956)
Director, Elia Kazan. Cast: Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, Eli Wallach, Mildred Dunnock, Lonny Chapman. Archie has only one real joy in life: his child-bride Baby Doll. In a few hours he will really have her, because the one-year marriage agreement that has kept them under the same leaky roof--but never in the same bed--is about to run out. 115 min. DVD X3534; vhs 999:2354
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Banned in Aurora, Illinois, 1956. The Circuit Court of Kansas County supports the city's request for an injunction against the film based on claims that it was "scandalous, indecent, immoral, lewd, and obscene." On appeal to the Appellate Court of Illinois, the decision of the lower court is upheld. [De Grazia, pp. 243-44] Also informally banned from theaters in Indianapolis, Indiana and from theaters owned by Joseph P. Kennedy [Topiano, p 208-209]

Brook, Vincent. "Courting controversy: The making and selling of Baby Doll and the demise of the production code." Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Volume 18 Issue 4 2001 UC users only
Butters, Gerald R., Jr. Banned in Kansas : motion picture censorship, 1915-1966 Columbia : University of Missouri Press, c2007. (Full text available online [UCB users only]: Print: Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.63.K36 B87 2007)

Et Dieu... créa la femme (And God Created Woman) (France / Italy, 1956)
Directed by Roger Vadim. Juliette Hardy (Brigitte Bardot) is sexual dynamite, and has the men of a French town panting. Antoine, the only man who moves her wouldn't dream of settling down with a woman considered the town tramp. While Antoine's away, his younger brother Michel proposes to Juliette and she accepts out of liking rather than love. But what will happen when Antoine returns? 92 min. En francais: DVD 3582; vhs 999:2429; Dubbed into English: DVD 3582
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A Philadelphia city district attorney warned the distributor of the film that showing it would violate a state law making it criminal to show any film of "lascivious, sacrilegious, obscene, indecent, or immoral nature". The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas upheld this action on appeal. Eventually reversed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. [De Grazia, p. 257]

Les Amants (The Lovers) (1958)
Directed by Louis Malle. Cast: Jeanne Moreau, Alain Cuny, Jean-Marc Bory, Judith Magre. Landmark film of both modern French cinema and screen eroticism that portrays a fashion-dominated provincial wife whose shallow life changes overnight when she encounters an unpretentious young man. 89 min. DVD 9353 (PAL); vhs 999:3455
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Banned in Cleveland, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois, Boston, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Portland, Oregon, Memphis, Tennessee, New York, Virginia, and Maryland. [De Grazia, p. 263]

Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964)

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Director, Otto Preminger. Cast: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, George C. Scott. A riverting courtroom drama of rape and premiditated murder. The film pits a humble small-town lawyer against a hardheaded big-city prosecutor. Emotions flare as a jealous army lieutenant pleads innocent to murdering the rapist of his seductive, beautiful wife. 61 min. DVD X915
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Banned in Chicago, 1959, largely because of a rape scene and the use of the words "rape" and "contraceptive". [De Grazia, p.258]

Desire Under the Elms (1959)
Director, Delbert Mann. Cast: Sophia Loren, Anthony Perkins, Burl Ives, Frank Overton, Pernell Roberts, Rebecca Wells. This story is set in 19th century New England. Eben waits for the day he will inherit the land from his tyrannical, widowed father. Eben's father takes a new wife and says he'll leave the farm to her. A heated story of passion unleashed and temptation unbridled, and of a heavy price paid for the pleasures of sin. 114 min. DVD X3309; vhs 999:2754
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Banned for persons under 21 in Chicago, 1959.

Imitation of Life (1959)
Based on Fannie Hurst's novel. Directed by Douglas Sirk. Cast: Lana Turner (Lora Meredith), John Gavin (Steve Archer). Draws the audience into an underworld of backstairs and neon gutters with the story of an exploited black maid (played by a white actress) and her daughter trying to pass for white. 124 min. DVD 5246; DVD 1737 (copy 2)
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Banned by the Memphis, Tennessee Board of Censors. The Chair of the Board, Lloyd Binford, expressed the opinion that the film was 'the worst case of racial equality' he had ever seen. [Strub, Whitney. "Black and White and Banned All Over: Race, Censorship and Obscenity in Postwar Memphis." Journal of Social History March 22, 2007 UC users only ]

1960 - 1970

Never on a Sunday (Pote tin Kyriaki) (Greece, 1960)
Directed by Jules Dassin. Cast: Melina Mercouri, Jules Dassin, George Foundas, Titos Vandis, Mitsos Lygizos, Dimitri Papamichael, Alexis Solomos. The Pygmalion-like story of a Greek prostitute and the American who decides to educate her in the hope that she will abandon her streetwalking. 93 min. DVD 5356
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Banned in Atlanta, Georgia, 1961. The Atlanta board of censors (the Atlanta Public Library Board of Trustees) ruled that the film "would be harmful to the average child who watched it." [De Grazia, p. 266]

The Connection. (1961)
Filmed version of a play with the same title by Jack Gelber. Based on the Living Theatre production created in 1961, as directed by Judith Malina and designed by Julian Beck. Credits: Writer, Jack Gelber; producers, Lewis Allen, Shirley Clarke; director/editor, Shirley Clarke; production designer, Richard Sylbert; art director, Albert Brenner; director of photography, Arthur J. Ornitz; introduction, J.J. Burden. Performers: Warren Finnerty, Carl Lee, the Freddie Redd Quartet. 105 min. vhs 999:893

Banned in New York, 1962, because of "obscene" language; reversed by the New York Supreme Court. [Topiano, pp. 134-38]

The Virgin Spring (Jungfrukällan) (Sweden, 1959)
Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Cast: Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom, Birgitta Pettersson, Axel Duberg, Tor Isedal, Allan Edwall, Ove Porath, Axel Slangus, Guburn Brost, Oscar Ljung, Tor Borong, Leif Forstenberg. A devout girl is raped and murdered by herders on her way to church. When her attackers seek shelter at her home, their crime is discovered and a bloody vengeance exacted. 88 min. DVD 4987; vhs 999:1209
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Banned in Fort Worth, TX, 1962. The Fort Worth board of censors found a rape scene objectionable.

Victim (UK, 1961)
Directed by Basil Dearden. Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Sylvia Syms, Dennis Price, Anthony Nicholls, Peter Copley, Norman Bird. A highly respected, but closeted barrister, Melville Farr, risks his marriage and reputation to take on an elusive blackmail ring terrorizing gay men with the threat of public exposure and police action. Widely regarded as the film that provoked the British parliament to begin amending its laws against homosexual acts. 100 min. DVD 1613
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Denied an MPAA Production Code seal in the United States because director Dearden refused to re-dub the soundtrack to remove the word "homosexual". Banned in various US cities.

Carmen, Baby (1966)
Director, Radley Metzger. In this updated version of the novel, Carmen is a seductive waitress who destroys the lives of a police officer and a rock & roll singer in a complicated intrigue of passion and jealousy. 90 min. DVD 6365
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Banned in Richland, Washington, 1968. The film's exhibitor is convicted of violating state obscenity laws, a conviction later reversed by the US Supreme Court.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Directed by Mike Nichols. Screenplay by Ernest Lehman Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis. Martha and George are a bitter aging couple who, with the help of alcohol, use a young couple to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other. Based on the play by Edward Albee. Special features: Commentary by directors Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh; commentary by cinematographer Haskell Wexler; vintage biographical profile "Elizabeth Taylor: an intimate portrait"; 2 new featurettes: "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?: a daring work of raw excellence," "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?: too shocking for its time"; 1966 Mike Nichols interview; Sandy Dennis screen test; Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton movie trailer gallery. 131 min. DVD 8565; DVD 5574
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Awards

Academy Awards: Best Actress (Taylor); Best Supporting Actress (Dennis); Best Cinematography; Best Art Direction; Best Costume Design
British Academy of Film and Television Arts: Best Film from any Source; Best British Actor (Burton); Best British Actress (Taylor);
National Board of Review, USA: Best Actress (Taylor)
New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Best Actress (Taylor)

"Once the onscreen battles were complete, the off-screen battle with the censors began. Most of Albee's salty language had been retained for the film version, and Warner and Lehman had agreed not to shoot alternative takes for provocative scenes that might raise the eyebrows of the industry's self-censorship group, the Motion Picture Association of America's Production Code Review Board. The Catholic Church's censorship group had passed the film with a rating of "Morally unobjectionable for adults, with reservations." Yet at first, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was denied a Production Code Seal of Approval. Warner stood behind the film, saying "The play was undoubtedly a play for adults and we have gone ahead to make Virginia Woolf a film for adults. I don't believe a controversial, mature subject should be watered down so that it is palatable for children. When that is done, you get a picture which is not palatable for children or for anyone else." He then announced that all contracts with theaters would include a clause prohibiting anyone under 18 from seeing the film unless accompanied by an adult. It was the first time Warners had ever released a film for adults only. The film got the Seal. Four months after Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opened, the MPAA announced a less rigid Production Code." [Turner Classic Movies]

I Am Curious (Yellow) (Jag ar nyfiken - en film i gult) (1967)
Directed by Vilgot Sjoman. Cast: Lena Nyman, Vilgot Sjoman, Borge Ahlstedt, Peter Lindgren, Chris Wahlstrom. Using an innovative stylistic approach, director Vilgot Sjoman deliberately blurs the lines between the characters' lives and those of the actors portraying them. Lena, the film's protagonist/star is a true woman of the 60's. In a search for her own selfhood, she becomes a political activist, challenging traditional values on the issues of militarism, social equality and sexual liberation. 95 min. DVD 204; vhs 999:1045
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"Banned in Boston, Baltimore, and Kansas City. ` Originally banned from exhibition in New York, the decision was reversed on appeal. The court ruled that while the "sexual content of the film is presented with greater explicitness than has been seen in any other film...[it is not obscene] under the standards established by the Supreme Court." (Byrne v. Karalexis, 401 U.S. 216 [1971]) [Topiano, p. 211]

Titicut Follies.(Documentary, 1967)
Directed and produced by Frederick Wiseman. Filmed at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution Bridgewater, this documentary shows harsh scenes of the life and treatment of the criminally insane inmates. 84 min. DVD 8740; vhs Video/C 1276

"Titicut Follies was banned in the United States after a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court determined that the film violated the patients' right to privacy. However, many critics believed that the film was removed from circulation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to protect its own reputation." [Alternative Reel]

Wiseman v Massacusetts 398 U.S. 960 (1970)
"The "Titicut Follies" Case: Limiting the Public Interest Privilege." Columbia Law Review Vol. 70, No. 2 (Feb., 1970), pp. 359-371 UC users only

1971 - present

Carnal Knowledge (1972)
Director: Mike Nichols. Cast: Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergen, Arthur Garfunkel, Ann-Margret, Rita Moreno, Cynthia O'Neal, Carol Kane. Traces the sexual triumphs and disasters of two American men from their Amherst College days in the fifties through the Kennedy sixties, up to the Vietnam era. Jonathan, a successful tax attorney and Sandy, a physician, personify two extremes of self-delusion and self-aggrandizement. 98 min. DVD X1890
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On January 13, 1972, the police in Albany, Georgia served a search warrant on a theatre showing the film Carnal Knowledge. The film was seized, and in March 1972, the theatre manager, Mr. Jenkins, was convicted of the crime of "distributing obscene material". His conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Georgia. On June 24, 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court would find that the State of Georgia had gone too far in classifying material as obscene in view of its prior decision in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973) (the Miller standard), and would overturn the conviction. Jenkins v. Georgia, 418 U.S. 153 (1974). The court also said that, "Our own viewing of the film satisfies us that Carnal Knowledge could not be found ... to depict sexual conduct in a patently offensive way. Nothing in the movie falls within … material which may constitutionally be found ... "patently offensive" - While the subject matter of the picture is, in a broader sense, sex, and there are scenes in which sexual conduct including "ultimate sexual acts" is to be understood to be taking place, the camera does not focus on the bodies of the actors at such times. There is no exhibition whatever of the actors' genitals, lewd or otherwise, during these scenes. There are occasional scenes of nudity, but nudity alone is not enough to make material legally obscene… Appellant's showing of the film Carnal Knowledge is simply not the "public portrayal of hard core sexual conduct for its own sake, and for the ensuing commercial gain" which we said was punishable."

Jenkins v. Georgia - Oral Argument (via Oyez)
Jenkins v. Georgia - Justice Rehnquist Opinion

M*A*S*H (1970)
Director: Robert Altman. Cast: Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt, Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall. Highlights the outrageous antics of three skilled young surgeons drafted from civilian life and assigned to a unit of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War. 117 min. DVD 999; DVD 7590
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"...the United States Army and Air Force banned the film from being screened on service installations because it "reflected unfavorably" on the military. On 1 Apr 1970, HR reported that the Defense Department reversed its decision. Modern sources have speculated that the reversal was caused by the fact that many soldiers watched the film off base." [AFI Catalog]

Woodstock: Tree Days of Music and Peace(1970)
A film by Michael Wadleigh. Partial contents: Freedom / Richie Havens -- Joe Hill / Joan Baez -- We're not gonna take it / The Who -- With a little help from my friends / Joe Cocker -- I-feel-like-I'm-fixin'-to-die-rag / Country Joe and the Fish -- Coming into Los Angeles / Arlo Guthrie -- Suite: Judy Blue Eyes / Crosby, Stills & Nash -- I'm going home / Ten Years After -- Rainbows all over your blues / John Sebastian -- At the hop / Sha-Na-Na -- Soul sacrifice / Santana -- I want to take you higher / Sly and the Family Stone -- The Star-Spangled banner / Jimi Hendrix.

DVD 1881: The entire performance of every artist was filmed at Woodstock. This footage has been archived since that history-making weekend and has only recently been re-discovered. Never before has the complete performance been shown, before now. Special features [DVD X1881]: New retrospective: The Museum at Bethel Woods: the story of the sixites & Woodstock; Woodstock: untold stories [2 hours of musical performances as never seen before]; Woodstock: from festival to feature [comprehensive featurette gallery chroniciling the Festival and the filming from start to finish, interwoven with interviews.] 184 min. DVD X1881 [3-disc version]; DVD 452; Video/C 2945

Banned for persons under 18 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 1970. Reversed by a federal district court.

Le Dernier tango à Paris (Last Tango in Paris; Ultimo tango a Parigi) (Italy / France, 1972)
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Cast: Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, Maria Michi, Giovanna Galletti, Jean-Pierre Leaud. An American widower in Paris, desolate at the unexplained suicide of his wife, plunges into an erotic affair with a young French girl half his age with tragic consequences. 131 min. DVD 303; VHS 999:983
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Banned in Montgomery, Alabama and Shreveport, Louisiana, 1973. Found obscene by a district court, the ruling was later reversed by the State Supreme Court.

Therèse and Isabelle(1972)
Director, Radley Metzger. Cast: Essy Persson, Anna Gael. Told in a flashback form, this is the story of Therese who is sent to an all-girl school when her mother marries a man who dislikes children. Here she meets Isabelle and the two become fast friends. After they experience unfulfilling and often brutal sexual encounters with men, the two turn to each other and become lesbian lovers. 118 min. DVD X4828; vhs 999:3122
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Banned in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1968. Reversed by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court.

Exorcist (1973)
Directed by William Friedkin. Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller, Linda Blair. A young girl becomes possessed by the devil and causes several violent deaths before she can be cured. 122 min. DVD 4024
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Banned in Hattieburg, Mississippi, 1973. Reversed by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. Reversed by the Mississipi Supreme Court.

The Last Picture Show(1973)
Director, Peter Bagdanovich. Cast: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Cybill Shepherd. A bittersweet drama of the social and sexual mores in small-town 1950s Texas. In 1951, high school seniors Sonny and Duane play football, go to the movies at the Royal Theater, hang out at the pool hall and lust after rich tease Jacy Farrow. Following two tragic deaths and with Duane gone to Korea and Jacy to college in Dallas, Sonny is left behind but he is determined to carry on, despite a telling sign of incipient communal disintegration: the closing of the Royal Theater. 118 min. DVD 9115
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Banned in Phoenix, Arizona, 1973, because of a scene featuring Cybill Shepherd skinnydipping. A federal court later ruled that the film was not obscene.

Snuff(1976)
Directed by Michael and Roberta Findlay. Cast: Margarita Amuchastegui, Ana Carro, Clao Villaneuva. A young man with similiarities to Charles Manson leads a gang of bikers in a series of supposedly real killings on film. The crucial scene where there is a simulated murder of a cast member was done as a marketing ploy for the film to claim it was genuine. To give it credibility, the producers hired fake protesters to picket theatres showing the film. "The film that could only be made in South America--- where life is cheap!" -- container. 80 min. DVD 6669

Banned in Maryland; ruling upheld by Baltimore Circuit Court. "In response to the film's release, a coalition of feminists calling themselves "Women Against Violence Against Women" was formed to protest the films opening in major cities around the country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Washington.' [Topiano, p. 174]

Johnson, Eithne; Schaefer, Eric. "Soft core/hard gore: Snuff as a crisis in meaning." Journal of Film and Video 45:2-3 (Summer-Fall 1993) p. 40 UC users only

Caligula (Italy / USA, 1979)
Directed by Tinto Brass. Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud, Adriana Asti. Portrays the decadence and debauchery that marked the reign of the Roman emperor Caligula from 37-41 A.D. The details of his cruel, bizarre reign are revealed: his unholy sexual passion for his sister, his marriage to Rome's most infamous prostitute, and his fiendishly inventive means of disposing of those who would oppose him. 156 min. DVD 1055
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Banned in Atlanta, Georgia, 1981. Originally seized by U.S. Customs, charges were not filed against the film by the U.S. Attorney General. Prints of the film were also initially seized in Boston, although the film was eventually found not obscene by the Boston Municipal Court. [Topiano p. 220]

The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel) (West Germany / France / Poland / Yugoslavia, 1979)
Directed by Volker Schlondorff. Cast: Mario Adorf, Angela Winkler, David Bennent, Katharina Thalbach, Daniel Olbrychski. A story set in Danzig in the 1920s and 1930s about the life and times of Oskar Matzerath the son of a local dealer, a most unusual boy. Equipped with full intellect right from his birth he decides at his third birthday not to grow up as he sees the crazy world around him at the eve of World War II. So he refuses the society and his tin drum symbolizes his protest against the middle-class mentality of his family and neighborhood, which stand for all passive people in Nazi Germany at that time. Special features: Video essay featuring original set designs, costume sketches, storyboards and behind-the-scenes photographs; audio commentary by director Volker Schlondorff; Maurice Jarre's score isolated on alternate audio channel; gatefold essay by Annette Insdorf. 141 min. DVD 554; vhs 999:624
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Banned as obscene and child pornography in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma by the Oklahoma State District Court.

VerStandig, Maurice. " Actual Exploitation, Simulated Exploitation, and a Tin Drum: A Comparative Analysis of Child Pornography Law in the United States and Canada." University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review 213 (2008-2009)
Weisberg, Richard. "Why They're Censoring "The Tin Drum: Kristallnacht" Reflections on the End of the Epic." Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Winter, 1998), pp. 161-181

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Directed by Martin Scorsese. Cast: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Harry Dean Stanton, David Bowie. In this controversial movie, Jesus, as both fully human and fully divine, is viewed as free of sin but subject to all temptations, including sexual ones. Based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis. 163 min. DVD 375
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"Again, pickets and boycotts: the furor from the religious right over Godard's 1985 Hail Mary was nothing compared to that provoked by Scorsese's mini-epic about the King of Kings. Based on the Kazantzakis novel, The Last Temptation of Christ is not so much a reappraisal of Christ's martyrdom as it is a fleshing-out of the possibilities of his spiritual journey. In Scorsese's film, Christ is a troubled and unlikely savior. Willem Dafoe's earthy portrayal of Christ has him wrestling-body and soul-with the fearsome burden of divinity. In the most disputed sequence of the film, an agonized, gruesomely crucified Christ succumbs to a tormented hallucination in which he weds Mary Magdalene and sires her children. This arresting vignette crystallizes the profundity of the last temptation: Christ's sacrifice is made meaningful in his renunciation of human desire. The Last Temptation of Christ was met by vehement attacks focused on the film's alleged blasphemy-condemnations voiced by religious leaders, many of whom had never seen the film." [Pacific Film Archives - Banned in the USA]

"Numerous religious leaders throughout the United States organized protests against The Last Temptation of Christ (many of whom didn't bother to make an effort to watch the film!) and several Southern cities, such as Savannah, Georgia, banned the film. In addition, Blockbuster Video initially refused to carry the title in its stores." [Alternative Reel]

Lindlof, Thomas R. Hollywood under siege : Martin Scorsese, the religious right, and the culture wars Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c2008. (MOFF: PN1997.L3443 L56 2008)

Natural Born Killers (1994)
Directed by Oliver Stone. Cast: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey, Jr., Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield. Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media. 118 min. DVD 1271; DVD 773
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This film's graphic portrayal of seemingly random acts of violence caused Blockbuster, K-Mart and Wal-Mart to refuse to stock the Director's Cut of the film.

Banned Films: United Kingdom

British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) web site
British Film and Video Censorship and Classification

Passion of Joan of Arc (1928 - 1930) DVD 123; vhs 999:2266

Freaks (1932 - 1963) DVD 2830; vhs 999:80

The Wild One (1954 - 1967) DVD 4107

Black Sunday (dir. Mario Bava) (1960 - 1968) DVD 1833

Hells Angels on Wheels (1967 - 1977) DVD 2494

Straw Dogs (1971 - 2002) DVD 1067

Oh! Calcutta (1972 - 1978) DVD 5655

The Last House on the Left (1972 - 2002) DVD 2096

A Clockwork Orange (1973 - 1999) DVD 574; vhs 999:715

Sweet Movie (1975 - ) DVD 9882; vhs 999:867

Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1976 - 2000) DVD 2372

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974 - 1999) DVD 6543; vhs 999:1173

Monty Python's Life of Brian (Ireland: 1979-1987) DVD 2541

The Evil Dead (1983-1990) DVD 7529

The Exorcist (video banned, 1998--) DVD 4024; vhs 999:1005

The Irving Klaw Classics (Featuring Bettie Page) (video banned, 1999--) DVD 7524

Baise-Moi (Rape Me) (2000-present) DVD 1834

Notable Films Rated X and NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)

The MPAA X-rating designated mature themes for audiences over the age of 17 or 18. The content of the film was deemed to have graphic sex, violence and language (in any combination). Arguably this rating was over-used by the industry and often rang the death-knell for a film. The content of some films may have had minimal sequences of such concerns but which, for artistic reasons, were integral to the film. The problem was that all skin flicks, nudies and pornographic films were also rated X. X ratings turned audiences away from some qualitative films. When a number of filmmakers chose to release their movies without an MPAA rating rather than let them be labelled X, the MPAA introduced the NC-17 (not for children 17 or under) rating on September 27, 1990 to differentiate MPAA-approved adult-oriented films from unapproved X-rated movies.

Blue Valentine (2010)
Directed by Derek Cianfrance. Cast: Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling, Faith Wladyka, John Doman, Mike Vogel. An honest, moving and uninhibited love story. The uncompromising portrait of Dean and Cindy, a young married couple who have grown apart, taking one night away from their daughter to try to save their relationship. 114 min. DVD X4123
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NC-17Rated NC-17 for a scene of explicit sexual content.

Lust, Caution (Se, jie) (USA / China / Taiwan / Hong Kong, 2007)
Directed by Ang Lee. Cast: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Wei Tang, Joan Chen, Lee-Hom Wang, Chung Hua Tou. Set Japanese-occupied Shanghai, a young woman finds herself swept up in a radical plot to assassinate a ruthless and secretive intelligence agent. As she immerses herself in her role as a cosmopolitan seductress, she becomes entangled in a dangerous game of emotional intrigue, love and betrayal. Bonus feature: "Tiles of deception, lurid affections" featurette. 159 min. DVD 9937
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Awards
Venice Film Festival - Golden Lion

NC-17Rated NC-17 for some explicit sexuality

Saw (2004)
Directed by James Wan. Cast: Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Michael Emerson, Ken Leung, Tobin Bell. Obessed with teaching his victims the value of life, a deranged, sadistic serial killer abducts the morally wayward. Once captured, they must face impossible choices in a horrific game of survival. The victims must fight to win their lives back, or die trying. Special features: Disc 1: 2 feature-length audio commentaries ; Disc 2: 'Saw' director's original short film; On-set previews of 'Saw II'; Hacking away at 'Saw': behind-the-scenes; Exclusive episode of "Full disclosure report": go inside the real Jigsaw investigation!; Alternate storyboard sequence;'Saw' director's art gallery; Trailers. 103 min. DVD 7497
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NC-17For strong grisly violence and language. Subsequently re-edited for R-rating

Crash (1996)
Directed by David Cronenberg. Cast: James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas, Deborah Kara Unger, Rosanna Arquette. Film producer and sexual adventurer James Ballard's life is transformed by a car crash. It introduces him to Dr. Helen Remington, as her husband is propelled through the windshield and into James' car, dead. No sooner are Helen and James both out of the hospital than they show up together at a late-night show staged by Vaughan, whose near-fatal accident left him obsessed with the erotic possibilities of crashes. Vaughan savors crash data and presides over a cult of like-minded fetishists, soon joined by James--comatose with lust and fascination--as he single-mindedly pursuing this new erotic linking of cars, sex, and injury. Based on the book by J.G. Ballard. 100 min. DVD X879
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NC-17For numerous explicit sex scenes.

Henry & June(1990)
Directed by Philip Kaufman. Cast: Fred Ward, Uma Thurman, Maria de Medeiros, Richard E. Grant, Kevin Spacey. Upon meeting unconventional American author Henry Miller in Paris in 1931, a young writer named Anais Nin boldly embarks on a passionate voyage of self-discovery, and faithfully records every experience in her diary.

"For some, experience is a confirmation of corporeal existence; for others, it's the raw material of the spirit. Henry & June celebrates the latter, following the exploits of writers Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin in the Paris of the 1930s. Adapted from Nin's book, this intellectualized account envisions the famed authors as adventurers in the skin trade. Here, art is the act of converting a caress into a phrase. Between Henry (Fred Ward) and Anaïs (Maria de Medeiros) stands the menacing and voluptuous June (Uma Thurman), Henry's wife. For a time, the bedding is emboldened by June and Anaïs. But heterosexual love has no primacy-beyond the embrace of man or woman lies the possibility of art. And it is this possibility that electrifies Henry & June, giving it an odd innocence in its embrace of eros. In 1990, the heated debate over the MPAA's rating system came to full boil. Henry & June was among several distinguished films given the distribution-stifling X-and the one to make MPAA president Jack Valenti announce a new NC-17 rating." [Pacific Film Archives - Banned in the USA]

137 min. DVD 346

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NC-17The first movie to be released with an NC-17 rating.

Total Recall (1990)
Director, Paul Verhoeven. Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox. A worker leaves Earth for the mind-bending nightmarish reality of a Martian mining colony filled with rebellious mutants, an alluring and mysterious woman and ruled over by a dictator who can alter reality to suit his whims. 113 min. DVD 870; VHS 999:3066
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XGiven an "X" rating for excessive violence. Some violence was trimmed and different camera angles were used in some of the more over-the-top scenes for an "R" rating.

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (¡Átame!) (Spain, 1990)
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Cast: Victoria Abril, Antonio Banderas, Loles Leon, Francisco Rabal. Comedy in which an orphaned mental patient kidnaps a porn star in an irrationally inspired bid for love. 105 min. DVD 501; vhs 999:1504
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XOriginally rated "X"; re-rated NC-17 (rating surrendered).

The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover (France / Netherlands / UK, 1989)
Directed by Peter Greenaway Cast: Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Alan Howard, Tim Roth, Liz Smith. A modern fable and political satire on the Thatcher years in Britain set at Le Hollandais, a gourmet restaurant. The wife of a barbaric crime boss engages in a secretive romance with a gentle bookseller between meals at her husband's restaurant, all observed by the cook. This nightly display of opulence, decadence and gluttony leads to murder, torture and revenge. DVD 609; vhs 999:2859
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XOriginally rated "X" for its sexual content. The film has since been re-rated NC-17.

Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard. Cast: Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, Michael Pataki. It is a decade after the original Halloween massacre in Haddonfield, and Michael Myers lays comatose in a maximum security prison hospital. But when he learns of the existence of his young niece, Jamie, he escapes to return home and fulfill his destiny of destruction. Special features: Theatrical trailer ; introduction by Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell ; documentary featuring behind the scenes footage, a cut scene and interviews with cast and crew, directed by Mark Cerulli. 92 min. DVD X2202
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XOriginally rated "X" for horror violence and gore. Edited twice for an "R" rating.

Robocop (1987)
Directed by Paul Verhoeven. Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Robocop, Daniel O'Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer. Robocop is designed to stop a crimewave which is spreading all across America. The cyborg, created from the body of a slain police officer, is programed to serve the public trust, uphold the law and protect the innocent. All goes well at first and Robocop stops every sleaze ball he encounters, but there are forces which will stop at nothing to see him eliminated. 103 min. DVD 678; VHS 999:1498
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XOriginally given an "X" rating by the MPAA for scenes of "excessive violence." To satisfy the requirements of the ratings board, director Paul Verhoeven trimmed blood and gore from the most violent scenes for an "R" rating. The unrated version is now available on DVD.

Angel Heart (1987)
Directed by Alan Parker. Cast: Mickey Rourke, Robert DeNiro, Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling. A journey of violence and murder that canvasses the streets of Harlem, the jazz clubs of New Orleans, and voodoo rituals in the swamps of Louisiana. From the novel "Falling angel" by William Hjortsberg. 98 min. DVD 3819
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XDirector Alan Parker was given an X-­rating and was forced to recut the film in order to see it released with an R

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Directed by John McNaughton. Cast: Michael Rooker, Tracy Arnold, Tom Towles, Denise Sullivan, Elizabeth Kaden. Based on the true life story of serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas. The film follows Henry's senseless killing sprees. Ex-convict Otis invites Henry to share his Chicago apartment and he becomes involved in Henry's killing sprees. Otis' sister comes to visit her brother, and becomes fascinated with Henry whose broken childhood mirrors her own. Special features: Disc 1. feature-length commentary by director John McNaughton ; theatrical trailers ; still gallery -- Disc 2. documentary: Portrait: the making of Henry ; The serial killers: Henry Lee Lucas documentary ; deleted scenes and outtakes with commentary by John McNaughton ; original storyboards. 83 min. DVD X2699
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XOriginally rated "X" because of extreme violence. The film's distributors chose to release the film without a rating instead.

Scarface (1983)
Directed by Brian De Palma. Cast: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, Miriam Colon, F. Murray Abraham, Paul Shenar, Harris Yulin. Tells the story of the violent career of a smalltime Cuban refugee hoodlum who guns his way to the top of Miami's cocaine empire. 170 min. DVD 5676; vhs 999:2600
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XGiven an "X" rating 3 times (original, 2nd, and 3rd cuts) for extreme violence and graphic language. Director Brian De Palma pulled in a panel of experts, including real narcotics officers, stating that the film was an accurate portrayal of the real-life drugworld and should be widely seen. This convinced the 20 members of the ratings board to give the 3rd cut an "R" rating by a vote of 18 to 2.

The Evil Dead (1981)
Directed by Sam Raimi. Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich, Betsy Baker, Sarah York. The evil dead lie in wait for the one ancient incantation that will give them license to attack the living. Five vacationing college students unwittingly resurrect these demons. One by one, the students are transformed into monsters whose own thirst for revenge becomes insatiable. 85 min. DVD 7529
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XOriginally rated X, for substantial graphic horror violence and gore. Later edited and re-rated NC-17.

Cannibal Holocaust(1980)
Directed by Ruggero Deodato. Banned and heavily censored the world over, here is a film that is so intense, graphic and unflinching in its realistic portrayal of cannibalism that the director and producer were arrested upon its original release. Tells the story of a professor who searches for four documentary filmmakers who disappeared into "the green inferno," a.k.a. Amazon River country. Eventually he meets the tribe responsible for the crew's demise and returns to the U.S. with several rolls of "found footage." Disc 1. Cannibal holocaust -- Disc 2. In the jungle, the making of Cannibal holocaust (documentary, 60 min.) ; interviews with Deodato, Kerman and co-str Gabriel Yorke ; still gallery and poster art ; original theatrical trailers ; Necrophagia, Cannibal holocaust music video ; biographies. 96 min. DVD 5250
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XOriginally rated "X" for extreme violence.

Dressed to Kill (1980)
Directed by Brian De Palma. Cast: Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon, Dennis Franz. In this edge-of-the-seat chiller a psychiatrist is faced with the murderous puzzle of the sudden, hideous slaying of one of his patients who is killed with a razor stolen from his office. DVD 8949; VHS 999:126
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XOriginally rated "X"; later edited and assigned an NC-17 Rating

Friday the 13th (1980)
Directed by Sean S. Cunningham. Cast: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Jeannine Taylor, Kevin Bacon. Camp Crystal Lake has been closed for over twenty years due to several vicious and unsolved murders. New owners reopen the camp, only to have each counselor stalked by a violent killer. This 24-hour nightmare of blood unfolds into a film which is widely acclaimed for its horrifying and creative murder sequences. 96 min. DVD 7274
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XFriday the 13th and its sequels were all cut for violence to get an "R" rating. Uncut editions of the first film can be found only in certain countries and on DVD.

Caligula (Italy / USA, 1979)
Directed by Tinto Brass. Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud, Adriana Asti. Portrays the decadence and debauchery that marked the reign of the Roman emperor Caligula from 37-41 A.D. The details of his cruel, bizarre reign are revealed: his unholy sexual passion for his sister, his marriage to Rome's most infamous prostitute, and his fiendishly inventive means of disposing of those who would oppose him. 156 min. DVD 1055
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XInitially released in both X-rated and edited R-rated version

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Directed by George A. Romero. Cast: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross. The corpses of the recently-dead are returning to life and attacking the living, devouring their victims. Two members of the Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team and their friends land in a shopping mall occupied by the living dead. They secure the mall through brutal battles with the creatures, but can they escape both the bandits and the zombies? 127 min. DVD 2399
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XOriginally assigned an "X" rating, Director George Romero agreed to a compromise whereby the audience restriction would be enforced by participating theaters, but the letter "X" itself would not appear in the film's advertisements or displays, a message instead being substituted: "There is no explicit sex in this picture; however, there are scenes of violence which may be considered shocking. No one 17 and under will be admitted."

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Director, Wes Craven. Cast: Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, Martin Speer, Dee Wallace, Russ Grieve, John Steadman, Michael Berryman, Virginia Vincent, James Whitworth. The Carter family's going on vacation, crossing the desert headed for California. But when they take an ill-advised short cut, crash, and are stranded deep inside an "isolated" air force testing range, they are attacked by a mysterious, terrifying group of modern cannibalistic savages. Special features: Audio commentary with Wes Craven and Peter Locke; "Looking back on The hills have eyes," an all-new documentary; "The directors: the films of Wes Craven," a career retrospective of Wes Craven; alternate ending; theatrical trailers; TV spots; behind-the-scenes photos; posters & advertising art; original storyboard art. 89 min. DVD 2094
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XInitially given an "X" rating. Several of the most violent/graphic moments were edited out to get an "NC-17" rating. Uncut version is now available on all US DVD releases.

In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida) (1976)
Directed by Nagisa Oshima. Set in 1936 and based on one of Japan's most notorious scandals, this erotic masterpiece is the story of Sada Abe, an ex-prostitute who becomes involved in an obsessive love affair with the master of the household where she is employed as a servant. 104 min. DVD 910
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XOriginally rated X; subsequently recut to allow broader distribution with an NC-17 rating

1900 (Novecento) (France / Italy, 1976)
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Cast: Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Dominique Sanda, Donald Sutherland, Burt Lancaster. An epic film that is both a history of 20th century Italy and a portrait of two families. It is also the story of the conflicts between two boys, one a peasant and the other a landowner, as they pass through the upheavals of the modern world. 255 min. DVD 6809; vhs 999:510
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XOriginally rated "X" and had over an hour of footage cut for an R-rating before its US release in 1977. The uncut version was released on VHS in 1993 with an "NC-17" rating. In 2006, Paramount Pictures surrendered the NC-17 rating for the uncut version and released it on DVD.

Arabian Nights (Il Fiore delle mille e una notte) (Italy / France, 1974)
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Cast: Ninetto Davoli, Franco Citti, Margaret Clementi, Tessa Bouche, Ines Pellegrini, Franco Merli. The tale follows the adventures of a slave girl as she rises to power over a great city. Around her revolve the stories of magic and lust, mystery and fantasy that derive from three cultures (Persia, Egypt and India) and range from the ninth century to the Renaissance. 133 min. DVD 9161; vhs 999:2239
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Awards
Cannes Film Festival - Special Jury Prize

XRated "X" in 1979; rating symbol changed to NC-17 in 1990

Frankenstein (Andy Warhol's Frankenstein; Flesh for Frankenstein) (1974)
Directed by Paul Morrissey. Cast: Joe Dallesandro, Monique Van Vooren, Udo Kier, Arno Juerging, Dalila di Lazzaro, Srdjan Zelenovic. Andy Warhol's gore/sex/horror version of Frankenstein blending high camp and serious filmmaking, has transformed the tale into a stunning cult classic. The mad Baron Frankenstein is married to his sister, Katrin. With their two children they live a demented sitcom family's life; hubby rushes off to his lab and wife complains of neglect. With his trusty servant, Otto, the baron has constructed a heroic female and now plans to make her a male mate. For him he needs the brains of a lustful primitive 'who wants to make love to anything'. Things go awry when the baron transplants the head of a would-be monk instead of the lusty peasant, who becomes the baroness' lover. 96 min. DVD 4380
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XThe first 3-D movie to be officially rated "X" for its extreme violence and sexuality.

Dracula (Andy Warhol's Dracula; aka Blood for Dracula; Dracula cerca sangue di vergine... e morì di sete!!!)(1974)
Written and directed by Paul Morrissey. Cast :Joe Dallesandro, Udo Kier, Vittorio De Sica, Maxime McKendry, Roman Polanski. Camp/cult star Udo Kier portrays a young demented Count Dracula with an obsession for virgin blood that could mean the difference between life and death. He leaves Transylvania for Italy, presuming his lecherous quest can be satisfied there. Upon arrival, he is befriended by an allegedly wealthy family comprised of four delightfully delicious and promiscuous daughters as well as their deceitful gambler of a father. A bizarre and wickedly comic plot unfolds as we find the count and the father consumed by a passion for what they mistakenly perceive as each other's riches. 91 min. DVD 6405
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XRated "X" for its extreme violence and sexuality.

Flesh Gordon (1974)
Directors, Michael Benveniste and Howard Ziehm. Cast: Jason Williams, Suzanne Fields, Joseph Hudgins, William Hunt, Candy Samples, Mycle Brandy, John Hoyt as Professor Gordon. In this popular outrageous spoof of sci-fi films, Earth is thrown onto carnal chaos by a mysterious sex ray emanating from outer space. Flesh Gordon, Dale Ardor and their new found friend Dr. Flexi Jerkoff, must travel to the planet Porno to save Earth from certain devastation by the mad Emperor Wang. 90 min. 999:999:3839
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XInitially released in both X-rated and edited R-rated version

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Directed by Tobe Hooper. In this riveting study of homicidal madness and terror, five teenagers in rural Texas encounter a family of maniacal cannibalistic killers. 83 min. DVD 6543; vhs 999:1173
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XGiven an "X" for graphic violence, prompting the filmmakers to release it as "Unrated."

Female Trouble (1974)
Directed by John Waters. Cast: Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Edith Massey. The story of Dawn Davenport-- a headline-seeking criminal who grows from suburban brat into one of the most gruesome murderers of all time. Along the way this 325 pound transvestite checks out other jobs and ways of life. She becomes a mugger, prostitute and unwed mother before turning to murder. "Female trouble" is a campy, bizarre, sadistic romp through society's outer fringe. 98 min. DVD 2222
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XOriginally rated "X"; 1991 re-rating NC-17 for explicit sexuality and nudity

Le Grande Bouffe (France / Italy, 1973)
Directed by Marco Ferreri. Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noiret, Ugo Tognazzi, Andrea Ferreol, Solange Florence, Blondeau Giorgetti, Michele Alexandre, Monique Chaumette. Four world-weary middle-aged men decide to gorge themselves to death in one final orgiastic weekend full of gourmet food, call girls, and a hefty, lusty schoolteacher. Special DVD feature: Excerpt from the documentary "Marco Ferreri: the director who came from the future." 130 min. DVD X1672
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XInitially rated "X" on its U.S. release.

Fritz the Cat (1972)
Directed by Ralph Bakshi. Animated film about Fritz, a college-aged feline wandering the hippie-era streets of New York in search of political, sexual and chemical experiences. 90 min. DVD X4603; vhs 999:2850
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XThe first animated film to receive an "X" rating in the US, promoted with the tagline "He's X Rated and Animated!" Although it was given an "X" rating due to its strong sexual content and hard drug references and usage, the material in the film itself wasn't pornographic and the film was later released unrated on VHS and DVD.

Le Dernier tango à Paris (Last Tango in Paris; Ultimo tango a Parigi) (Italy / France, 1972)
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Cast: Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, Maria Michi, Giovanna Galletti, Jean-Pierre Leaud. An American widower in Paris, desolate at the unexplained suicide of his wife, plunges into an erotic affair with a young French girl half his age with tragic consequences. 131 min. DVD 303; VHS 999:983
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XGiven an "X" rating by the MPAA upon initial release in 1972. After revisions were made to the MPAA ratings code, it was classified as an NC-17, in 1997. MGM released an R-rated cut in 1981.

The Last House on the Left (1972)
Directed by Wes Craven. Cast: David A. Hess, Lucy Grantham, Sandra Cassell, Marc Sheffler, Ada Washington. Two young girls on their way to a Bloodlust concert end up as captives of three escaped convicts in this chilling drama of kidnap, torture and revenge. Special features: Commentary by director Wes Craven and producer Sean Cunningham; outtakes and dailies with never-before-seen footage, including the lost murder sequence (never been seen in any form) and the disembowelment scene; "Forbidden Footage" featurette exploring the film's most shocking scenes; making-of documentary (30 min.). 84 min. DVD 2096
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XGiven an "X" rating several times by the MPAA. This cut of the movie is the only version available on DVD & is classified as unrated.

Pink Flamingos (1972)
Directed by John Waters. Cast: Cast: Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pierce, Mink Stole, Edith Massey. This underground epic, which breaks every rule of good filmmaking and good taste, set a benchmark for thebizarre that has never been equaled. Babs Johnson, a trailer park bon vivant proudly claims the title of the filthiest person alive. The envy of every neighborhood degenerate, it isn't long before another couple set their sites on Divine's legacy, and in the proud American tradition, competition forces each contender to outdo the other. "Like a septic tank explosion," this film is a "paragon of bad taste ... shocking, nauseating, hilarious." 108 min. DVD 2222
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XOriginally received an "X" rating.

The Canterbury Tales (I Racconti di Canterbury) (Italy / France, 1971; dubbed into English)
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Cast: Hugh Griffith, Laura Betti, Ninetto Davoli, Franco Citti, Josephine Chaplin, Alan Webb. Originally released as motion picture in 1971. Based on the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer. Pasolini's startling candor and ribald humor illuminate these classic tales of romance, deception, murder and lust. 121 min. vhs 999:1502
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XOriginally received an "X" rating for its nudity, sex scenes, and all-around ribaldry.

Clockwork Orange (1971)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Adrienne Corri, Warren Clarke. Depicts a harrowing journey through a near-future world of decaying cities, murderous adolescents and nightmarish technologies of punishment and crime. 137 min. DVD 574; VHS 999:715
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

XOriginally received an "X" rating for its nudity and graphic, violent sex scenes. Today, many critics recognize it as one of Stanley Kubrick's most important films. The uncut version of the film has been released on DVD with an "R" rating.

I Drink your Blood (1971)
Directed by David Durston. Cast: Bhaskar, Jadine Wong, Ronda Fultz. In this gore-drenched drive-in classic a band of satanist hippies rolls into a town and begins terrorizing the local folk. They rape a local girl and her grandpa goes after them. He fails and is given LSD. His grandson gets back at the hippies by feeding them meat pies infected with blood from a rabid dog. They turn into crazed lunatics and begin killing and/or infecting everything in their path. The feature can be seen in both the original X-rated version or the unrated director's cut. When the director's version is selected, the disc plays the X-rated version and then "jumps" to the deleted scenes at specific time cues. The original version runs 83 min. Special features: optional commentary by David Durston and Bhaskar; deleted scenes (6 min.); I drink your blood show (interviews by Durston with cast members (29 min.)); theatrical trailer (3 min.); still gallery (8 min.); radio spot (1 min.); filmographies of Durston, Bhaskar (including a video clip of the evil king cobra dance (7 min.) and Lynn Lowry; coming attractions of 9 films (25 min.); a clip from the beginning of I Eat Your Skin (6 min.); end credits include a video of Durston singing a song paying tribute to the exploitation film industry (3 min.). 89 min. DVD X6057
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

XOriginally received an "X" rating, not for its sexual content, but for its graphic violence alone--a first in movie history.

Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song (1971)
Directed by Melvyn Van Peebles. Cast: Melvin van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales, Niva Rochelle, Rhetta Hughes, Brer Soul, John Dullaghan. Presents the story of a professional sex-show stud who kills two white policeman who are beating up a black youth. Presents the story of a professional sex-show stud who kills two white policemen who are beating up a black youth. Directed by Melvin Van Peebles. 97 min. DVD 4081; vhs 999:523

Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

XOriginally received an "X" rating, but later reclassified as an "R".

The Devils (UK, 1971)
Directed by Ken Russell. Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Reed, Dudley Sutton, Max Adrian, Gemma Jones, Murray Melvin. This film centers on the staggering true-life dementia of events in France in 1643. Cardinal Richelieu and his power-hungry entourage seek to take control of seventeenth-century France, but need to destroy Father Grandier - the priest who runs the fortified town that prevents them from exerting total control. So they seek to destroy him by setting him up as a warlock in control of a devil-possessed nunnery, the mother superior of which is sexually obsessed by him. A mad witch-hunter is brought in to gather evidence against the priest, ready for the big trial. Based on the play: The devils by John Whiting, and the book: The devils of London by Aldous Huxley. Special features (70 min.): "Hell on earth" documentary, "Year of censorship", UK censors, James Ferman, trailers. 111 min. DVD 9759
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

XOriginally received an "X" rating because of the torture, violence, and nudity featured in the film; later re-edited and given an "R" rating.

Performance (UK, 1970)
Directed by Donald Cammell and Nicholas Roeg. Cast: James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg. In this underground film presenting a study of the 1960's, a violent and psychotic East London gangster needs a place to hide after carrying out a hit. He finds the perfect cover in the form of a guest house run by the mysterious Mr. Turner, an ex-rocker looking for the right spark to rekindle his faded talent. 104 min. DVD 7354; vhs 999:3010
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

XOriginally received an "X" rating; re-rated R in 1979

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. (1970)
Directed by Russ Meyer. Cast: Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom, John La Zar, Michael Blodgett, David Gurian, Edy Williams. Story of an uninhibited all-girl rock group who travel to Hollywood to claim an inheritance and meet a kinky music promoter who turns them on to a whole new scene. Based on a story by Roger Ebert and Russ Meyer. Special features: Audio commentaries by Roger Ebert; Audio commentary by cast members Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Harrison Page, John La Zar and Erica Gavin; "Above, beneath and beyond the valley: the making of a musical-horror-sex comedy"; "Look on up at the bottom: the music of dolls"; "The best of Beyond" featurette; "Sex, drugs, music & murder: signs of the time, baby!" featurette; "Casey & Roxanne: the love scene" featurette; Screen tests of the stars; 6 photo galleries with more than 300 photos. 109 min. DVD X2477
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

X"Received an "X" rating for its implied sex and brutally violent climax (depicting a decapitation), but was later reclassified as NC-17 in 1990.

Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Directed by John Schlesinger. Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Brenda Vaccaro, John McGiver, Ruth White, Sylvia Miles, Barnard Hughes. A Texas "cowboy" takes a bus to New York in search of lonely, rich women who will pay for his sexual services, but instead spends a hard winter looking after a dying derelict. Vito Russo has commented: When buddy films returned in the late Sixties, the presence onscreen of homosexual characters was a perfect way of saying, 'Oh, no, /this isn't what we mean at all.' Homosexuals drew suspicion away from the buddies--it was yardstick time again." (The Celluloid Closet, p. 80-83) DVD 5254
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

XThe only X-rated film ever to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. At the time the X-rating did not have the stigma it later took on. Midnight Cowboy has also been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Due to a degree of relaxation in attitudes regarding sex in film, the (unchanged) film has since been re-rated "R" in the 1970s.

Medium Cool (1969)
Directed by Haskell Wexler. Cast: Robert Forster, Verna Bloom, Peter Bonerz, Marianna Hill, Harold Blankenship. Filmed against the backdrop of the 1968 Democratic National Convention and ensuing riots, this story is about a television cameraman who chooses not to get personally concerned about the ugliness he must film each day for his station. But the hate and hypocrisy command his attentions at last, and he becomes increasingly involved in the realities he finds with his camera. 111 min. DVD X5609; vhs 999:1122
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

XRated X upon release due to sexual scenes, but subsequently "edited down" to R-rated version.

The Killing of Sister George. (1969)
Director, Robert Aldrich. Cast: Beryl Reid, Susannah York, Coral Browne, Ronald Fraser, Patricia Medina. George lives with her lover, Childie and plays a cheerful nurse in a BBC soap opera. When she finds out that her character is about to be killed off, George realizes that the only other job she can get is the voice of a cow in a children's television program. Her life begins to fall apart when Childie has an affair with a predatory television producer. Based on the play by Frank Marcus. 160 min. DVD X790; vhs 999:2427
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

XOriginally X-rated; later re-rated to "R"

La caduta degli dei (The Damned)(Italy / West Germany, 1963)
Directed by Luchino Visconti . Cast: Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Ingrid Thulin, Helmut Griem, Helmut Berger, Renaud Verley, Umberto Orsini, Charlotte Rampling. Plot centers around the degradation of a great family, set against the historical background of the "Night of the long knives" and the rise of Nazism. 157 min. DVD 2502
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

XOriginally released in the U.S. with an X-rating.

Films Initially Rated NC-17 (in the Media Resources Center)

MPAA Film Rating (Wikipedia)
List of NC-17 Films (IMDB)
Sandler, Kevin S. "From X to NC-17." In: The naked truth : why Hollywood doesn't make X-rated movies / Kevin S. Sandler. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c2007. (Full text available online [UCB users only]; print: Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1993.5.U6 S23 2007)

American Psycho, 2000; edited version rated R for strong violence, sexuality, drug use and language DVD 3528

Arabian Nights (Il fiore delle mille e una notte), 1974; rated X in 1979; rating symbol changed to NC-17 in 1991 DVD 9161; vhs 999:2239

Artemisia, 1998; re-rated R on appeal for strong, graphic sexuality and nudity DVD 6109

Bad Education (La Mala educacion), 2004, for explicit sexual content; edited version ("Special Edition") rated R for strong sexual content throughout, language and some drug use DVD 3714

Bad Lieutenant, 1992, for sexual violence, strong sexual situations and dialogue, graphic drug use; edited version rated R for drug use, language, violence and nudity DVD 8382

Bent, 1997 DVD 1719

Boys Don't Cry, 1999; edited version rated R for violence including an intense brutal rape scene, sexuality, language and drug use DVD 4132; vhs 999:2731

Broken English, 1996, for explicit sexuality; edited version rated R for language, violence and some drug content vhs 999:1914

The Canterbury Tales (I Racconti di Canterbury), 1972, originally rated X in 1979; rating symbol changed to NC-17 in 1991 vhs 999:1502

Clerks, 1994; re-rated R on appeal for extensive use of extremely explicit sex-related dialogue DVD X1148; vhs 999:1401

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, 1989 (rated 1990); edited version rated R DVD 609; vhs 999:2859

Crash, 1996, for numerous explicit sex scenes; edited version rated R for accident gore, some graphic language and aberrant sexual content DVD X879; vhs 999:3130

Dead Presidents, 1995; edited version rated R for strong graphic violence, language, a sex scene and some drug use DVD 1069

The Dreamlife of Angels, 1999; edited version rated R for some strong sexuality DVD 180

Erotique, 1994; rated R in 1998 for strong sexuality, sex-related dialogue and some language DVD 2517

The Evil Dead, 1981 (rated 1994), for substantial graphic horror violence and gore DVD 7529

Female Trouble, 1974 (rated 1999), for explicit sexuality and nudity DVD 2222

The Hills Have Eyes, 2006, for strong gruesome violence including rape, terror, and strong language; edited version rated R for strong gruesome violence and terror throughout, and for language. DVD 2094

Kalifornia, 1993; edited version rated R for strong violence, and for sexuality and language vhs DVD X4303; vhs 999:2292

Kids, 1995 (rating surrendered) DVD 9157

Kika, 1993 (rated 1994, rating surrendered) DVD DVD X5511; vhs 999:1710

La ley del deseo, (Law of Desire), 1987 (rated 2005), for a scene of explicit sexual content DVD X4865; vhs 999:1466

The Lover, 1992, re-rated R on appeal for graphic and explicit sexuality DVD 3697; vhs 999:2285

Man Bites Dog (C'est arrivé près de chez vous), 1992 (rated 1993) for strong graphic violence DVD 2814

Matador, 1986 (rated 2005) for aberrant sexuality including violence DVD 2971

Pink Flamingos, 1972, 1997 re-release rated NC-17 for a wide range of perversions in explicit detail DVD 2222

Poison, 1991, originally rated NC-17 for explicit sexuality; edited version rated R for sensuality, strong language, and sexual violence. DVD X4198; vhs 999:1603

Requiem for a Dream, 2000 (rating surrendered); edited version rated R in 2001 for intense depiction of drug addiction, graphic sexuality, strong language and some graphic violence DVD 2924

Saw, 2004, for strong graphic violence; edited version rated R for strong grisly violence and language Following the Sundance Film Festival it was edited for an R rating for wide theatrical release DVD 7497

Showgirls, 1995, for nudity and erotic sexuality throughout, and for some graphic language and sexual violence; edited version rated R for strong sexuality and nudity, language, a rape scene and drug use DVD X2349

Sandler, Kevin S. "Showgirls: The Feasibility and Fate of the NC-17 Rating." In: The naked truth : why Hollywood doesn't make X-rated movies / Kevin S. Sandler. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c2007. (Full text available online [UCB users only]; print: Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1993.5.U6 S23 2007)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, 2006; edited version rated R for strong horror violence/gore, language, and some sexual content. DVD 6543; vhs 999:1173

This Film Is Not Yet Rated, 2005 (rating surrendered), for some graphic sexual content DVD 6868

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (Átame!), 1990, originally rated X; re-rated NC-17 (rating surrendered) DVD 501; vhs 999:1504

Wide Sargasso Sea, 1993 (rated 1992); edited version rated R in 1993 for strong sexuality DVD X4849; vhs 999:1642

Landmark US Film Censorship Cases

A Brief History of Film Censorship in the USA (via National Coalition Against Censorship)
Movie Censorship, A Brief History

Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, 236 U.S. 230 (1915) United States Supreme Court case in which, in a 9-0 vote, the Court ruled that the free speech protection of the Ohio Constitution — which was substantially similar to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution — did not extend to motion pictures.

The state government of Ohio had passed a statute in 1913 forming a board of censors which had the duty of reviewing and approving all films intended to be exhibited in the state. The board charged a fee for the approval service. The board could order the arrest of anyone showing an unapproved film in the state.

The Court stated: "…the exhibition of moving pictures is a business, pure and simple, originated and conducted for profit … not to be regarded, nor intended to be regarded by the Ohio Constitution, we think, as part of the press of the country, or as organs of public opinion."

The Court described movies in some technical detail and noted their popularity, but wrote "they may be used for evil," and for this reason, "We cannot regard [the censorship of movies] as beyond the power of government." The Court added it would be equally unreasonable to grant free speech protection to the theater or the circus, and noted that in many prior cases regarding government licensure of theatrical performances, the issue of freedom of opinion had not been raised. [Wikipedia]

Mutual Film Corp. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio (1915)
Gunning, Tom. "Flickers: On Cinema's Power for Evil." In: Bad : infamy, darkness, evil, and slime on screen / edited by Murray Pomerance. Albany : State University of New York Press, c2004. (Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.9.E93 B33 2004)
Jowett, Garth S. ""A Capacity for Evil": The 1915 Supreme Court Mutual Decision." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 1989 9(1): 59-78.
Wertheimer, John. "Mutual Film Reviewed: The Movies, Censorship, and Free Speech in Progressive America." The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 37, No. 2 (Apr., 1993), pp. 158-189 UC users only

Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson, 343 U.S. 495(1952) US Supreme Court case that determined that certain provisions of the New York Education Law allowing a censor to forbid the commercial showing of any non-licensed motion picture film, or revoke or deny the license of a film deemed to be "sacrilegious," was a "restraint on freedom of speech" and thereby a violation of the First Amendment. By way of this, the decision defined film as an artistic medium protected by the Constitution's guarantee of free speech. In so doing, the Court overturned its previous decision in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio (1915), which found that movies were not an art form worthy of First Amendment protection, but merely a business. [Wikipedia]

Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson, 343 U.S. 495(1952) (via FindLaw)

Paulson, Kenneth A. "Landmark decision brought freedom to films" (via Freedom Forum) UC users only

Hill, Rodney. "A Landmark Decision." Film & History 39:1 (Spring 2009) p. 101-103 UC users only

The Miracle Case and Film Censorship [podcast]

Black, Gregory D. "A Foreign Challenge." In: The Catholic crusade against the movies, 1940-1975 / Gregory D. Black. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998, c1997. (Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.5 .B48 1998)

Draper. Ellen. "Controversy has probably destroyed forever the context": The Miracle and movie censorship in America in the fifties. Velvet Light Trap. (Spring 1990) p69

Johnson, William Bruce. Miracles & sacrilege : Roberto Rossellini, the church and film censorship in Hollywood / William Bruce Johnson. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 2007. (Main (Gardner) Stacks BX1407.M68 J64 2008)

Paulson, Kenneth A. "Landmark decision brought freedom to films." Freedom Forum[web site]

Wittern-Keller, Laura. The Miracle case : film censorship and the Supreme Court / Laura Wittern-Keller and Raymond J. Haberski Jr. Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, c2008. [Main (Gardner) Stacks KF4300 .W58 2008]

Wittern-Keller, Laura. "The Strange Case of The Miracle, 1950-1952." In: Freedom of the screen : legal challenges to state film censorship, 1915-1981 / Laura Wittern-Keller. Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c2008. (Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.62 .W58 2008)

Times Film Corp. v. Chicago, 365 U.S. 43 (1961) Case brought to the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether a Chicago ordinance requiring submission of films for examination by city officials as prerequisite to granting of permit for public exhibition of such films violates the First Amendment. The Court denied the claims of free speech infringement, ruling that there is no complete and absolute freedom to exhibit, even once, any and every kind of motion picture.

Times Film Corp. v. Chicago, 365 U.S. 43 (1961) (via FindLaw)

Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957) A landmark case before the United States Supreme Court which redefined the Constitutional test for determining what constitutes obscene material unprotected by the First Amendment. The Court repudiated [prior legal tests] and defined obscenity more strictly, as material whose "dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest" to the "average person, applying contemporary community standards." Only material meeting this test could be banned as "obscene." However, Justice Brennan reaffirmed that obscenity was not protected by the First Amendment and thus upheld the convictions of Roth and Alberts for sending obscene material over the mail. Congress could ban material, "utterly without redeeming social importance," or in other words, "whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest." With the Court unable to agree as to what constituted obscenity, the Justices were put in the position of having to personally review almost every obscenity prosecution in the United States, with the Justices gathering for weekly screenings of "obscene" motion pictures Meanwhile, pornography and sexually oriented publications proliferated as a result of the Warren Court's holdings, the "Sexual Revolution" of the 1960s flowered, and pressure increasingly came to the Court to allow leeway for state and local governments to crack down on obscenity. During his ill-fated bid to become Chief Justice, Justice Abe Fortas was attacked vigorously in Congress by conservatives such as Strom Thurmond for siding with the Warren Court majority in liberalizing protection for pornography. In his 1968 presidential campaign, Richard Nixon campaigned against the Warren Court, pledging to appoint "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court. [Wikipedia]

"Roth v. United States" Supreme Court Cases: The Dynamic Court (1930-1999); 1999 UC users only

Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964) A United States Supreme Court decision handed down in 1964 involving whether the state of Ohio could, consistent with the First Amendment, ban the showing of a French film called The Lovers (Les Amants) which the state had deemed obscene. Nico Jacobellis, manager of the Heights Art Theatre in the Coventry Village neighborhood of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was convicted and fined $2500 by a judge of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for exhibiting the film, and his conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Ohio. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction, 6 to 3, ruling that the film was not obscene and hence constitutionally protected. The most famous opinion from ...was Justice Potter Stewart's concurrence, holding that the Constitution protected all obscenity except "hard-core pornography." Stewart wrote, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that." [Wikipedia]

Jacobellis v Ohio, Further Reading
"Jacobellis v Ohio" Supreme Court Cases: The Dynamic Court (1930-1999); 1999

Interstate Circuit, Inc. v. Dallas 390 U.S. 676 (1968) Interstate Circuit, a distributor of motion pictures, was prohibited by the city of Dallas from distributing a film entitled "Viva Maria". Pursuant to a 1965 city ordinance, the Motion Picture Classification Board of the City of Dallas classified the film as "not suitable for young persons" because it contained objectionable instances of "sexual promiscuity". On appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, Interstate challenged the determination of both the county court and the appeals court of Texas that the classification of the Motion Picture Classification Board should stand. The court's ruling was a backhanded decision that favored the theater circuit but added that if the city were to improve its system, such cases might be decided in its favor in the future. In short, the court said to Dallas: Come back with a case in which you limit your censorship to films that children can legally watch, and you will find a more favorable atmosphere here. Within five months the Motion Picture Association of America had created a classification system to meet the Supreme Court guidelines. The industry, said Jack Valenti, head of the MPAA, would police itself by voluntarily designating certain films as inappropriate for children and younger teen-agers and then instructing theater managers to enforce the classification. By November 1 of that year the system was in place.

Wall, James M. "Movies and Censorship: Who Will Protect Freedom?

Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973) U.S. Supreme Court cases that determined whether the sale and distribution of obscene materials by mail is protected under the First Amendment's freedom of speech guaranteed. The Court ruled that it was not. It indicated that "obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment", thereby reaffirming part of Roth. The government can outlaw material based on the following standard: "whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." However, the Court acknowledged "the inherent dangers of undertaking to regulate any form of expression," and said that "State statutes designed to regulate obscene materials must be carefully limited." The Court, in an attempt to set such limits devised a set of three criteria which must be met in order for a work to be legitimately subject to state regulation:

* The average person, applying contemporary community standards (not national standards, as some prior tests required), must find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
* The work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions[1] specifically defined by applicable state law; and
* The work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

This obscenity test overturns the definition of obscenity set out in the Memoirs decision, which held that "all ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance . . . have the full protection of the guaranties [of the First Amendment]" and that obscenity was that which was "utterly without redeeming social importance." [Wikipedia]

Tuman, Joseph. "Miller v California." In: Free speech on trial : communication perspectives on landmark Supreme Court decisions / edited by Richard A. Parker. Tuscaloosa, Ala. : University of Alabama Press, c2003. (Full text available online [UCB users only]; print: Main (Gardner) Stacks KF4772.A7 F74 2003)
Miller v California Court Opinion

Bibliography

De Grazia, Edward. Banned films : movies, censors, and the First Amendment / Edward de Grazia and Roger K. Newman. New York : Bowker, 1982.
Main (Gardner) Stacks
Moffitt: KF4300 .D43 1982

Tropiano, Stephen. Obscene, indecent, immoral, and offensive : 100+ years of censored, banned, and controversial films New York : Limelight Editions, 2009.
Main PN1995.62 .T76 2009)

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