Banned Movies That Upset Sensitive Audiences

By Sophia Maddox | October 20, 2023

Marlon Brando In 'The Wild One'

Today, hardly a day goes by where there is no controversy or public debate about whether various films or other programs have crossed a line of what is acceptable to depict on film. Such debates consume an enormous amount of the public’s collective consciousness, and it sometimes seems that it’s all we ever do. It is easy to forget, however, that such debates are as old as film itself.

Many films over the decades have been controversial for their depictions of various things. Excessive violence, sexual themes, and use of questionable language in films have been magnets for public debate around their suitability to be shown and whether they degrade society through their being shown. This list is a journey back in time and an examination of some films from yesterday that fit that description.

Warning, this article features a collection of 60 photographs from films that have been banned in some countries. Viewer discretion is advised as some of these films may still be banned in certain locations.

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(Columbia Pictures)

The Wild One, a 1953 American film directed by László Benedek, was banned in the United Kingdom for 14 years after its release in the United States due to its controversial themes and depiction of motorcycle gangs. The film, which starred Marlon Brando as the leader of a gang of rebellious bikers, was seen as promoting a lawless and antisocial lifestyle, and was thought to be potentially damaging to young people who might be influenced by its message.

The film was finally released in the UK in 1967, after the British film censorship board decided that the passage of time had made the film less potentially harmful to audiences. It was released in a modified version, with some scenes cut and others added in order to make the film more acceptable to British audiences.

'Vixen!' Banned In Cincinnati!

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(Eve Productions)

Vixen! is a film directed by the voyeuristic exploitation director Russ Meyer that played across America except for Cincinnati, Ohio where it was banned for its explicit sexual content. The film was considered too scandalous for audiences in Cincinnati at the time.

Many members of the audience may have found the film titillating, and but others likely found it offensive or inappropriate despite its critically acclaimed. Supposedly the film is still banned in Cincinnati in spite of the fact that it's readily available on home video.