UC Berkeley Library

UC Berkeley’s library buildings are open! Learn more.

Using the Library during COVID-19

UC Berkeley’s library buildings are now open. To stay up to date on the Library’s policies and services during the pandemic, visit the Library’s COVID-19 webpage.

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. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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]
See also:
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)
Harris, Albert W. Jr. "Movie Censorship and the Supreme Court: What Next?" California Law Review Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring, 1954), pp. 122-138
Full-text of this article / review is available:Berkeley 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)