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TitleCensoring Hollywood: Sex and Violence in Film and on the Cutting Room Floor
ISBN 139780786464654
CategoryArts - Film
File Size2.1 MB
Total Pages225
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1. Sinema
2. West and the Rest
3. Decades of Revolt
4. The Liberal Ethos
5. Nothing Succeeds Like Excess
6. After the Deluge
Chapter Notes
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Censoring Hollywood

Page 112

sexuality. Her style ... tapped the fantasy tradition of the succulent child-

Of 27 films condemned by the Legion of Decency, seven starred Bardot.
In a famous scene from Love Is My Profession (1959) she lifts her skirt up above
her waist to repay lawyer Jean Gabin after he’s defended her successfully on
a robbery charge. What she’s wearing underneath doesn’t leave much to the
imagination, but as Baxter Philips revealed, “The scissors saved the Anglo-
Saxon world from seeing the scene.”112

By this time, independent distributors were opening doors previously
locked firmly against the cinema chains. Lurid B-movies and cheap “nudie
flicks” crept in under the net for those who got their kicks in back streets
after dark.113 Sexploitation followed liberalism, as the censors feared. By 1964
over 700 cinemas were openly exhibiting such films.114

The profits were enormous. One of the first of such delights was Russ
Meyer’s skinflick The Immoral
Mr. Teas. It was shot in just four
days in 1959 for $24,000 but
went on to gross over $1 million
in the next four years.115 The
story of a messenger boy who has
hallucinations of nudity every
time his job brings him into con-
tact with a beautiful woman, it
was based on the rather far-
fetched premise that the epony-
mous gentleman was able to see
inside women’s clothing as a
result of an anesthetic he received
for a tooth extraction. It was
banned in Britain but played for
years in Hollywood, escaping
the many prosecutions brought
against it on the premise that
nudity per se wasn’t obscene.116

Meyer went on to direct
such delights as Eve and the
Handyman (1961) and Wild Gals
of the Naked West (1962) before

3. Decades of Revolt 105

When Brigitte Bardot’s films made their way
from France to Hollywood the censors’ scissors
went into overdrive to prevent the sex siren
from corrupting the morals of the youth.

Page 113

extending his range with Lorna (1963), which added rape and murder to the sex-
ual content for good measure. “I realized the nudies had had it,” he pined—
prematurely, it must be said.117 Thereafter his films grew more brutal, as may be
gleaned from their titles: Motor Psycho (1965), Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill (1966)
and Vixen (1969). The last of these was prosecuted 23 times for obscenity in the
U.S. and finally trimmed down by the British censor from 71 minutes to 47.

In 1970 Meyer made Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, an unashamedly trite
confection about an all-female rock group sleeping their way to the top—or
at least the middle. It was so bad it was good and became something of a
camp classic, mixing violence and bed-hopping in a manner that blurred the
distinction between mainstream sex and underground porn. Twentieth Cen-
tury–Fox, a studio that had been in dire financial straits before its release,
laughed its way to the bank. So did Meyer, who continued his odyssey into
risible depravity with The Seven Minutes (the alleged time it’s imagined it
takes a woman to reach orgasm) in 1971.

But this is to run ahead of our theme. Back in 1959 Father Thomas
Little, an assistant to Cardinal Spellman, actually went so far as to castigate
Some Like It Hot. Today this is regarded as one of the most innocuous films
of its era. It often turns up in lists of people’s all-time-favorite films but Little,
pointing to the transvestism at its core, lambasted it for having “clear impli-
cations of homosexuality and lesbianism.”118

If this weren’t so serious it would be funny. What Wilder was after here
was farce, not innuendo. He actually employed a coach to help Jack Lemmon
walk like a woman but Lemmon, after a few preliminary lessons, sent her home.
He didn’t want to walk like a woman, he told him, he wanted to walk like a
man trying to walk like a woman. This was an insightful interpretation of the
essence of the role—not surprising from such an astute performer as this man.

Pillow Talk went on release that year as well. This mindless fluff acquired
something of a reputation for ushering in a spate of “sophisticated” sex come-
dies. Star Doris Day was a girl-next-door type who personified blandness.
(Oscar Levant famously said he knew her before she was a virgin.) Her co-
star Rock Hudson looked cotton candy too, at least to a generation unaware
of his homosexuality.

The film had a naughty subtext, Hudson playing a serial seducer who
says of his prospects with Day, “I think five or six dates ought to do it.” He
didn’t get a chance to do “it” though, the film content to be primarily verbal.
The most popular scene used a split-screen device which featured both of
them in their baths (in two separate dwellings, of course) speaking on the

106 Censoring Hollywood

Page 224

Spartacus 118–9, 127
Spellman, Cardinal 67, 77–80, 84–6, 94–7,

106, 137
Spiegel, Sam 108
Spielberg, Steven 121, 170
Splendor in the Grass 124
Springer, John 102
Stanwyck, Barbara 51, 68, 183
The Star 87
Star Wars 184
Steiger, Rod 136–7, 148–9
Stein, Michael Eric 152
Stevens, George 21, 144
Stewart, James 67, 107–8, 141
Stone, Oliver 176–8, 191
Stone, Sharon 175–6
Stopes, Maria 11–12
The Story of Temple Drake 129
La strada 108–9, 187
A Stranger Knocks 187
Stravinsky, Igor 160
Straw Dogs 145, 153
A Streetcar Named Desire 81–4, 104, 130–1,

Strick, Joseph 142–3
Stromboli 78
Struthers, Sally 183–4
Studio Relations Committee (SRC) 24, 25,

29, 54
Suddenly Last Summer 108
Sullivan, Fr. Patrick 145–6, 168
Summer of ’42 153–4
Sumner, John 46
Sunday, Bloody Sunday 154
Sunset Boulevard 181
Sutherland, Halliday 12
Swain, Dominique 125, 179
Swanson, Gloria 181

Taradash, Daniel 89
Tarantino, Quentin 144, 184
A Taste of Honey 128
Taxi Driver 165, 190
Taylor, Elizabeth 108, 119–20, 138, 147, 190
Taylor, Robert 67
Taylor, William Desmond 14, 150
Temple, Shirley 140
The Ten Commandments 95, 187
Terminator 11 189
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 168
These Three 22
They Live by Night 145
This Picture Is Censored 140
Thomas, Donald 173
Thompson, Jim 191
Thompson, Robert 190
Thomson, David 13, 15
Thorson, Jens Jorgen 151
Tidings 68, 70, 71
Tiernan, Fr. 185–6
Time 95–6, 126

The Times 126
The Times-Herald 73
Tiomkin, Dimitri 72
Toeplitz, Jerzy 145
Tom Jones 130
Tornatore, Giuseppe 4
Total Recall 189
Town Without Pity 124
Townsend, Colleen 76
Tracy, Spencer 186
Trevelyan, John 108, 131, 149, 154–6
Trevor, Claire 44
The Trials of Oscar Wilde 128
Tringinant, Jean-Louis 158, 159
Tropiano, Stephen 31, 147–8, 161, 172
True Grit 148
Trumbo, Dalton 118, 124
Turner, Lana 73
Tushingham, Rita 128
Two-Faced Woman 67
Two Thousand Maniacs 188

Ulysses 142
Union of Theological Seminaries 90

Vadim, Roger 150
Valenti, Jack 140–1, 174
Valentino, Rudolph 182
Van Doren, Mamie 183
Van Dusen, Henry Pitney 90
Variety 38, 126
Venables, Jon 190
Verhoeven, Paul 175–6
Victim 126
Vidal, Gore 60, 127, 135, 169
Village Voice 143–4
Visconti, Luchino 129
The Vixen 9
Vizzard, Jack 23, 91, 136, 137, 139–41
Voight, Jon 148
Von Sydow, Max 21

A Walk on the Wild Side 128
Walker, Alexander 40–1, 48, 56, 57, 119, 138,

142, 155
Walker, Robert 68
Wall Street Journal 148
Wallach, Eli 94, 96
Walsh, Frank 44, 182
Walston, Ray 132–5
Wanger, Walter 78
Warner, Henry 18–19, 39
Warner, Jack 18–19, 42, 127, 141
Washington Post 191
Wayne, John 76, 148
Weber, Lois 7–8
Welch, Raquel 60, 183
Weld, Tuesday 125
Welles, Orson 129
West, Mae 1–2, 26, 28, 46–61, 64, 66, 102,


Index 217

Page 225

Westminster City Council 179
Whale, James 24
When Willie Comes Marching Home 76
Where Are My Children? 8
Whistle Down the Wind 124
White Heat 74, 114
Whitehouse, Mary 130, 155
Whitney, Dwight 48
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 138–9, 141
The Wild Bunch 145, 191
Wild Gals of the Naked West 105
The Wild One 104
Wilde, Oscar 128, 182
Wilder, Billy 61, 68–70, 85, 104, 106, 110, 112,

119, 129, 132–5
Williams, Esther 28
Williams, Tennessee 46, 82–4, 93–5, 108
Wilmington, Michael 191
Wilson, Pres. Woodrow 71
Wingate, James 25, 27, 36, 50, 53, 54

Winner, Michael 142
Winters, Shelley 189
A Woman Rebels 62
Wood, Natalie 124
Wood, Sam 68
Wuthering Heights 70
Wray, Fay 55
Wyler, William 22, 127, 128

Yeaman, Elizabeth 50
Yeats, W.B. 65
Yevtushenko, Vevgeny 147
York, Susannah 147

Zanuck, Darryl F. 33, 73, 85
Zarachi, Meir 5
Zaring, E. Robb 57
Zetterling, Mai 140
Zinnemann, Fred 89

218 Index

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