I don’t know why this is running at Time Out Boston’s website, but this list of the 50 most controversial movies does a nice job of covering some of the films most famous for causing outrage. There are a number of horror movies included, which caused problems based on their violence and shock value, but also listed are such well-known examples as
- The Moon Is Blue — the first major movie released without MPAA approval, for using the word “virgin”, this film led to the modern rating system replacing the Hays Code; I tried to watch it a couple of months ago, and it was very boring and talky, but representative of the concerns of its time (early 50s)
- I Am Curious (Yellow) — setting a court standard that allowed explicit foreign films to be exhibited
- The Man With the Golden Arm — for its portrayal of a junkie musician (played by Frank Sinatra) shooting up
- Titicut Follies — banned for revealing horrendous conditions in a mental asylum
- Song of the South — racism
- Henry & June — the first NC-17 movie, showing that a new approach to rating wasn’t going to be successful
I admit, the sex-based examples are more interesting to me because I’ve always been fascinated by how mixed-up the U.S. is when it comes to that area of popular culture. I learned a lot about movie history from this list; I wish it was a book, so it could go into more detail about the films, their production, and the backlash.