Censored Films Available at the Olean Public Library

All Quiet on the Western Front (DVD All)

United States, 1930

Universal Pictures

Censor boards were upset by the scene of naked men bathing in the river and demanded it be cut.  Also, there was a scene where the silhouetted image is projected on a bedroom wall of Paul and a French girl speaking.  There was no sexual activity shown or spoken of, but the censors stated that this scene must be cut also.

Amistad (DVD Amistad)

United States, 1997


The Jamaican government demanded the opening scene of the film be censored because more than 90% of the people living in Jamaica are descended from West African slaves and the violent actions portrayed in the opening scene insulted their heritage.  In the United States, Brigham Young University banned the movie from campus for its violence and nudity.

The Birth of a Nation (DVD Birth)

United States, 1915

David W. Griffith Corp.

Criticized by the NAACP for its racist portrayal of blacks.  The governor of Ohio banned the film outright and it was also banned in the cities of Denver, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Minneapolis.  It was banned in Kansas because arguing the film was “inciting racial hatred and sectional bias.”  Censorship of the film continued throughout the decades and when the film was added to the National Film Registry in 1993 as a classic American film, black leaders tried to stop the honor as they protested its racial content.

Dracula (VIDEO Dra)

United States, 1931

Universal Pictures

PTA chair Marjorie Ross Davis wrote that she “saw the first fifteen minutes of it and felt I could stand it no more…It should be withdrawn from public showing, as children, [the] weak minded, and all classes attend motion pictures indiscriminately.”  Censors demanded that the vampire women at Dracula’s castle be removed from the film.  Massachusetts demand that two brief shots be cut from the movie “to enable viewing on Sunday.”  One scene showed part of a skeleton in a casket and another scene where an insect emerges from a tiny coffin.

The Exorcist (DVD Exorcist)

United States, 1973

Warner Brothers

The United States Catholic Conference claimed that the film deserved a rating of X for scenes such as Father Karras praying in a chapel while the statue of the Virgin Mary takes on the appearance of a harlot.  In Washington, D.C. the police were instructed to warn managers of the Cinema Theater that they would be arrested if minors were admitted to showings of The Exorcist. In Hattiesburg, Mississippi police seized the film and arrested the theater manager and projectionist.  The court dismissed charged against them, but then charged and convicted the corporate owner of the theater for “publicly exhibiting an obscene, indecent, and immoral motion picture.”

Frankenstein (VIDEO Fra)

United States, 1931

Universal Pictures

Movie was protested as too violent and viewing it would be traumatizing to children.  Film censors in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania excised the scene in which the monster drowns the little girl.  They also cut the following words spoken by Henry Frankenstein “In the name of God!  Now I know what it feels like to be God!”

The Great Dictator (DVD Great)

United States, 1940

United Artists

The film was banned in several countries for its anti-Nazi statements.  In the US, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations received letters to protest what some saw as Chaplin’s private grievance against Germany and suggested that the government investigate his motives “before the film had a chance to ‘antagonize certain…governments.’”  The most serious controversy result from Chaplin’s final speech in the film.

I’m No Angel (Contained in the Mae West: The Glamour Collection DVD Mae)

United States, 1933


Critics were shocked by her suggestive body language, especially in “Sister Honky Tonk.”  The Legion of Decency described the film as “a vehicle for the notorious characterization of a scarlet woman whose amatory instincts are confined exclusively to the physical.  There is no more pretense here of romance than on a stud-farm…”  Ministers in Massachusetts called the film “demoralizing, disgusting, suggestive, and indecent” and called for it to be removed from theaters.

The Last Temptation of Christ (DVD Last)

United States, 1988

Cineplex Odeon

Religious leaders protested the film even before it was released calling it “pure blasphemy and morally reprehensible.”  They also charged that the film “distorted Christian values.”  Protesters appeared at every theater in the nine cities in which the film premiered.  Most protesters protested scenes that they “heard” were included in the film and had never seen for themselves.  In New Orleans and Santa Ana the film was banned and enforced by police.  Vandalism to the theaters showing the movie occurred throughout the country.

The Man With the Golden Arm (DVD Man)

United States, 1955

United Artists

The film did not receive approval by the Production Code Administration (PCA) because it dealt with the subject of drug addiction.  Without this approval, the film was not able to be shown at as many theaters around the country.  The Maryland State Board of Censors demanded that approximately two minutes of the film be excised in which Machine prepares to inject himself with heroin.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (DVD Monty)

United Kingdom, 1979

Warner Bros.

Religious leaders of various faiths picketed and protested, particularly in the Southern US.  The members of Monty Python were called heathens, heretics, godless atheists, and worse.  The movie was considered blasphemous and sacrilegious.

Schindler’s List (DVD Schindler’s)

United States, 1993

Universal Pictures

Banned in some countries for ethnic and political reasons, as well as for what some have labeled its sexual content.  In Malaysia it was banned as “Jewish propaganda.”  It was also banned in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Indonesia for excessive violence and nudity.  At Brigham Young University in Utah, the censor edited “Schindler’s List,” removing the brief nudity and sex scenes so that they could have a “suitable” version for campus viewing.

Spartacus (VIDEO Spa)

United States, 1960

Universal Pictures

Spartacus was censored before it was first released.  The PCA objected to the suggestions of homosexuality in the character of Crassus.  While reading the script they stated that the “page clearly suggests Crassus is sexually attracted to women and men.  This flavor should be completely removed.”  They also warned that “the loincloth costumes must prove adequate.”  The Legion of Decency found the violence too gruesome.  The movie was also protested for having the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo involved in the film since he had been identified as having a connection to the Communist Party.

A Streetcar Named Desire (VIDEO Str, DVD Streetcar)

United States, 1951

Warner Bros.

Before filming ever began, the PCA informed the producer that the film would not be brought to the screen without removing the “inference of sex perversion” in Blanche’s reference to her young husband and an “inference of a type of nymphomania with regards to the character of Blanche herself.”  The Legion of Decency demanded that Warner Bros make cuts to the final version of the film.  Close-ups were deleted to tone down the passionate relationship between Stella and Stanley.  References to Blanche’s promiscuity and portions of the rape scene were also cut.  The movie was called immoral, decadent, vulgar, and sinful even after the cuts were made.


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