List of films condemned by the Legion of Decency

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This is a list of films condemned by the National Legion of Decency, a United States Catholic organization. The National Legion of Decency was established in 1933 and reorganized in 1965 as the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures (NCOMP). Under each of these names, it rated films according to their suitability for viewing, assigning a code of A, B, or C, with that of C identified as "Condemned" for viewing by Catholics. The C rating was issued from 1933 until 1978. The Legion's ratings were applied to movies made in the United States as well as those imported from other countries. Since it reviewed films when released for distribution, the Legion usually rated non-U.S. films a few years after their first release in their country of origin, occasionally years after. For example, it rated Marcel Pagnol's 1936 César in 1948 and Marlene Dietrich's 1930 The Blue Angel in 1950.

The rating system was revised in 1978 and the designation "condemned" has not been assigned to films since then. Instead, films that would earlier have been rated C or B were all rated O, which meant "morally offensive". NCOMP reassigned ratings to old films based on its new system, making it impossible to determine from their own database whether a film it now classifies O was originally B or C.[1] In 1980, NCOMP ceased operations, along with the biweekly Review, which by then had published ratings for 16,251 feature films.

Legion-organized boycotts made a C rating harmful to a film's distribution and profitability. In some periods the Legion's aim was to threaten producers with a C rating, demand revisions, and then award a revised B rating. At other times the Legion, preferring to avoid the notoriety and publicity that films gained from having a C rating revised to B, refused to remove their original rating, which resulted in industry self-censorship that achieved the Legion's aims with less public conflict. For example, Elia Kazan's A Streetcar Named Desire was cut by 4 minutes to avoid a C rating,[2] and Billy Wilder cut scenes from the original play to avoid a C for The Seven Year Itch. Spartacus underwent similar editing to avoid a C rating.[3]

Most condemned films were made outside of the United States for audiences that were principally non-American and non-English speaking.[a] Of the 53 movies the Legion had placed on its condemned list by 1943, only Howard Hughes' The Outlaw was the product of a major U.S. studio and it was not widely distributed.[citation needed] After The Moon is Blue (1953) and Baby Doll (1956) received C ratings, it was a decade before two more major Hollywood movies received the C rating: The Pawnbroker (1964) and Kiss Me, Stupid (1964).[5]

Films are often reported to have been condemned in general terms, that is, they were criticized or even denounced, when they did not receive the Legion's C rating. Some rely on a list of films that were condemned early in the 1930s by the Archdiocese of Chicago in advance of the Legion of Decency's rating system,[6][b] Turner Classic Movies, for example, has programmed a festival of "Movies Condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency" that included several that were not rated C by the Legion.[8][c]

1936[edit]

1937[edit]

1938[edit]

1939[edit]

1940[edit]

1941[edit]

1942[edit]

1943[edit]

1945[edit]

  • Mom and Dad,[24] a sexploitation film that purported to teach sexual hygiene.

1947[edit]

  • Black Narcissus, a British import about Anglican nuns challenged by life in an exotic environment, initially condemned.[24] The Legion reclassified it A-II (morally objectionable for adults) after revisions to "all prints of this film".[10]
  • Forever Amber, when 20th Century Fox encountered distribution problems because of the C rating, its president Spyros Skouras got the Legion to call off its pickets and boycott campaign by making cuts to the film, adding "an innocuous prologue", and making "a humiliating public apology" to the Legion.[24][25]
  • Nais, a French import.[26]

1948[edit]

1949[edit]

1950[edit]

1951[edit]

1952[edit]

1953[edit]

1954[edit]

1955[edit]

1956[edit]

1957[edit]

1958[edit]

1959[edit]

  • The Third Sex, a German import directed by Veit Harlan; also known as Bewildered Youth or Different from You and Me, originally Das dritte Geschlecht.[73][10]

1960[edit]

1961[edit]

1962[edit]

  • Boccaccio '70[77] The Legion noted its "grossly suggestive concentration upon indecent costuming, situations and dialogue". By this time the Legion had adopted a policy of not reconsidering a film's rating once it was widely distributed, even if revised, but in this case the Legion allowed that the film's C rating would not be valid once the film was edited for television broadcast.[78]

1963[edit]

1964[edit]

1965[edit]

1966[edit]

1967[edit]

1968[edit]

1969[edit]

1971[edit]

1972[edit]

1973[edit]

1975[edit]

1976[edit]

1978[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sova nevertheless describes Ecstasy as "one of the few foreign films to earn a 'C' (condemned) rating from the Catholic Legion of Decency."[4]
  2. ^ Other Catholics proposed announcing only lists of films approved for viewing so as not to publicize the names of films judged unsuitable for viewing. Those backing this strategy, such as the Diocese of Brooklyn, used a list drawn up by the Federation of Catholic Alumnae.[7]
  3. ^ Three 1933 films included by TCM were not rated by the Legion: Design for Living, Baby Face, and Wild Boys of the Road. Others misrepresent the Chicago list of the product of the Legion of Decency as well.[9]
  4. ^ The Legion used the title Smashing the Vice Racket.[10]
  5. ^ The New York Times described the resulting film as "slightly laundered". It said "this ancient fable of the wife who parades as her own gaudy twin sister to get her husband back" was altered at the Legion's insistence by "the insertion of a telephone call wherein the husband learns in advance of his wife's intended deception."[23]
  6. ^ Likely the 1943 French film.
  7. ^ The Legion's 1959 listing misidentifieds this film as Italian.[10][69]
  8. ^ The Legion says a revised version of this film was rated B but does not mention an earlier rating, presumably C.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived Movie Reviews". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ Sova, Dawn B. (2001). Forbidden Films: Censorship Histories of 125 Motion Pictures. Checkmark Books. pp. 286–7. 
  3. ^ Greenberg, James (December 21, 1990). "Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  4. ^ Sova, Dawn B. (2001). Forbidden Films: Censorship Histories of 125 Motion Pictures. Checkmark Books. p. 118. 
  5. ^ Romanowski, William D. (2012). Reforming Hollywood: How American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies. Oxford University Press. p. 164. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Films Classified in Catholic List". New York Times. July 8, 1934. Retrieved April 9, 2017. ...a check list issued today to Chicago Catholics by a board of censors created to 'furnish necessary information to those signing the movie pledge' of the Legion of Decency. The check list, issued for the Chicago Archdiocese... 
  7. ^ "Catholics Differ Over Film Listing". New York Times. December 12, 1934. Retrieved April 9, 2017. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Nichols, Chris (March 3, 2016). "TCM is Showing 27 Movies Condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  9. ^ Sova, Dawn B. (2001). Forbidden Films: Censorship Histories of 125 Motion Pictures. Checkmark Books. p. 32, 231. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de Motion Pictures Classified by the National Legion of Decency, February 1936 – October 1959. New York. 1959. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Of Local Origin". September 21, 1936. Retrieved April 4, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c Slide, Anthony (1998). Banned in the U.S.A.: British Films in the United States and their Censorship. I.B. Tauris. p. 4. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  13. ^ Nugent, Frank S. (October 13, 1937). "The Gallic Film-Makers Turn Inquisitive Eyes Upon 'Lucrezia Borgia' and Her Family at the Belmont". New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2017. The biography is more charitable than the Legion of Decency will give it credit for. 
  14. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. December 24, 1937. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. March 18, 1941. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Gable Film Censured". New York Times. March 28, 1940. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Ban on Film Modified". New York Times. October 7, 1940. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  18. ^ Dick, Bernard F. (2006). Forever Mame: The Life of Rosalind Russell. University Press of Mississippi. p. 79. Retrieved April 3, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. October 21, 1940. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  20. ^ Doherty, Thomas (2007). Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration. Columbia University Press. p. 144. Retrieved 3 April 2017. It was the first studio release to be condemned by the Legion.... 
  21. ^ "Condemns Garbo Movie". New York Times. November 24, 1941. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Lifts Ban on Garbo Film". New York Times. December 18, 1941. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  23. ^ "At the Capitol". New York Times. January 1, 1942. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  24. ^ a b c Weiler, A.H. (December 21, 1947). "By Way Of Report". New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  25. ^ Leff, Leonard J.; Simmons, Jerold L. (2001). The Dame in the Kimono: Hollywood, Censorship, and the Production Code (Second ed.). University Press of Kentucky. pp. 204–5. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  26. ^ "French Film Condemned". New York Times. July 5, 1948. Retrieved April 5, 2017. 
  27. ^ a b "Of Local Origin". New York Times. June 13, 1949. Retrieved April 5, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Legion 'Condemns' Film". New York Times. May 30, 1949. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  29. ^ "Legion Bans 'Fric-Frac'". New York Times. June 28, 1948. Retrieved April 4, 2017. 
  30. ^ a b "Two Films Condemned". New York Times. June 14, 1948. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  31. ^ a b "Hit by Legion of Decency". New York Times. June 27, 1949. Retrieved April 4, 2017. 
  32. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. October 31, 1949. Retrieved April 5, 2017. 
  33. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. September 5, 1949. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  34. ^ Black, Gregory D. (1998). The Catholic Crusade Against the Movies, 1940-1975. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 90–91. 
  35. ^ a b "Of Local Origin". New York Times. October 28, 1950. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  36. ^ a b "Twi Films 'Condemned'". New York Times. February 17, 1951. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  37. ^ "Legion Condemns Film". New York Times. September 25, 1950. Retrieved April 6, 2017. 
  38. ^ a b "Legion Bans Two Films". New York Times. April 24, 1950. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  39. ^ "Catholic Group Condemns Film". New York Times. December 4, 1950. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  40. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. April 12, 1942. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  41. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. June 21, 1952. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  42. ^ a b c "Of Local Origin". New York Times. February 11, 1952. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  43. ^ "Legion Against French Film". New York Times. October 1, 1951. Retrieved April 5, 2017. 
  44. ^ "Catholic Unit Bans French Film". New York Times. September 29, 1952. Retrieved April 6, 2017. 
  45. ^ "Legion Bans 'La Ronde'". New York Times. November 5, 1951. Retrieved April 5, 2017. 
  46. ^ "Catholic Group Bans 'Scarred'". New York Times. December 3, 1951. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  47. ^ "Legion of Decency Bars Film". New York Times. April 30, 1951. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  48. ^ "'Miracle' Banned Throughout City". New York Times. December 25, 1950. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  49. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. April 16, 1951. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  50. ^ "French Film is Scored". New York Times. October 8, 1952. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  51. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. August 1, 1952. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  52. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. March 25, 1952. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  53. ^ "Catholic Unit Lauds Film Self-Censorship". New York Times. November 26, 1953. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  54. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. August 26, 1953. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  55. ^ "Catholic Unit Condemns Film". New York Times. December 21, 1953. 
  56. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. November 7, 1953. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  57. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2017. 
  58. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. June 28, 1954. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  59. ^ "Catholic Unit Condemns Film". New York Times. March 29, 1954. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  60. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. November 20, 1954. Retrieved April 5, 2017. 
  61. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. January 2, 1954. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  62. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. July 28, 1954. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  63. ^ Slide, Anthony (1998). Banned in the U.S.A.: British Films in the United States and their Censorship, 1933–1960. I.B. Tauris. pp. 80–1. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  64. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. January 29, 1955. Retrieved April 4, 2017. 
  65. ^ "Decency Legion Scores 'Sinbad'". New York Times. May 6, 1955. 
  66. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. August 7, 1956. Retrieved April 4, 2017. 
  67. ^ "Catholics Divide on French Movie". New York Times. January 14, 1956. Retrieved April 5, 2017. 
  68. ^ a b "Of Local Origin". New York Times. August 21, 1957. Retrieved April 6, 2017. 
  69. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. April 20, 1956. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  70. ^ "MarchmOf Local Origin". New York Times. April 29, 1956. 
  71. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. March 3, 1956. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  72. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. December 15, 1956. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  73. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. March 23, 1959. 
  74. ^ a b "7 Foreign Films Set for Release". New York Times. July 2, 1960. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  75. ^ "Legion of Decency Hits Film". New York Times. January 12, 1962. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  76. ^ Archer, Eugene (September 22, 1961). "Movie by Bunuel to be Seen Here". New York Times. 
  77. ^ "Legion of Decency and Chain in Rift". New York Times. October 18, 1962. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  78. ^ "Catholic Film Office Is Easing Policy". New York Times. April 9, 1966. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  79. ^ Crowther, Bosley (December 13, 1964). "Moral Brinkmanship". New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  80. ^ "City is Promoted as Movie Locale". New York Times. May 12, 1965. Retrieved April 9, 2017. 
  81. ^ a b c d Canby, Vincent (October 13, 1967). "Filmmakers Show Less Fear of Catholic Office". New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  82. ^ a b c d Hoberman, J. (October 5, 2011). "Weekend: When Godard Burned the Movie House Down". Village Voice. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  83. ^ Balio, Tino (1987). United Artists: The Company that Changed the Film Industry. 2. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 289. Retrieved April 4, 2017.