Top 10 Scenes That Got Movies Banned

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Top 10 Scenes That Got Movies Banned

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
These films drew the ire of the censors for a multitude of interesting reasons. For this list, we'll be looking at specific movie scenes that led to the film in question getting banned. Our countdown includes “Babe Comes Home”, “Catch-22”, “Bicycle Thieves”, and more!
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Top 10 Movie Scenes That Got Films Banned


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Scenes that Got Films Banned.

For this list, we’ll be looking at specific movie scenes that led to the film in question getting banned.

What do you think of these sequences? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Babe Ruth Chews Tobacco

“Babe Comes Home” (1927)
Released at the height of Babe Ruth’s career, “Babe Comes Home” is a lost sports comedy starring Ruth himself and popular silent movie actress Anna Q. Nilsson. Baseball has long been associated with chewing tobacco, and wouldn’t you know it, the Babe chews lots of tobacco throughout this movie. According to film censor Albert Stevenson, “Babe Comes Home” gave a false impression that chewing tobacco equates to fame and success - especially in baseball. To prevent children from copying the Babe and developing a very unhealthy habit, the movie was briefly banned throughout the greater Chicago area.


#9: Betty Boop In Hell

“Red Hot Mamma” (1934)
Running just six minutes in length, “Red Hot Mamma” is a Betty Boop animated short released in 1934. Betty Boop was a major character for Paramount Pictures throughout the ‘30s, and she starred in nearly 100 theatrical cartoons. In this one, Betty falls asleep and imagines that her fireplace is a gateway to Hell. She then travels through the underworld and eventually freezes Satan by giving him the literal cold shoulder. Sounds playful enough, right? Well, not according to the British Board of Film Classification. They believed that the short skit was blasphemous because it depicted Hell in a light and comedic manner. The movie failed to receive a rating and was subsequently banned as a result.

#8: A Real Burial

“Di Cavalcanti” (1977)
A prized Brazilian documentary, “Di Cavalcanti” is all about the titular painter’s funeral. Emiliano Di Cavalcanti was a prominent Brazilian artist, and his funeral was held in Rio de Janeiro’s Museum of Modern Art. Filmmaker Glauber Rocha filmed the funeral for a short documentary, which won the Short Film Special Jury Prize at that year’s Cannes Film Festival. However, Di Cavalcanti’s adopted daughter wasn’t as impressed as the festival’s jury. According to her, the documentary violated her father’s image by showing scenes of his actual burial. The court agreed and banned the movie in Brazil. It remained lost until 2004, when it was uploaded to the internet by the family of director Glauber Rocha.


#7: Birthday Suit

“Catch-22” (1970)
Joseph Heller penned one of the all-time greatest war novels in “Catch-22,” which is often considered a masterpiece of satire. The black comedy was adapted for the screen by director Mike Nichols, who was fresh off a little movie called “The Graduate.” Unlike that classic, “Catch-22” came and went without much fanfare, although it was reportedly banned in Portugal for containing nudity. To be more specific, a scene in which John Yossarian dons his birthday suit to sit in a tree. Of course, it’s possible that the movie’s anti-military stance also played a significant role in its banning.


#6: A Buffalo Giving Birth

“The Vanishing Prairie” (1954)
Released by Disney, “The Vanishing Prairie” is a beloved documentary about, well, the vanishing prairie. It depicts the serene and beautiful American ecosystem while also lamenting its destruction at the hands of humanity. A huge success upon release, “The Vanishing Prairie” won that year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. However, it wasn’t without controversy. One problematic scene depicts a buffalo giving birth in quite an extensive and graphic fashion. This was too much for New York’s film censors, and they had the documentary banned. However, this move drew considerable controversy and attracted the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union, who successfully reversed the ban.

#5: Double Homicide

“Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2” (1987)
A cheap slasher from the mid-'80s, “Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2” follows Ricky Caldwell’s Christmas killing spree. It contains all the typical slasher trappings, like lots of violence and females with no clothes. The British Board of Film Classification took umbrage with both. Aside from the general lack of tops, they also asked that a double homicide be edited for video release. In this scene, Ricky kills a man with jumper cables before taking care of his girlfriend with the car’s antenna. The distributor refused to make the necessary edits and the movie was banned in the United Kingdom. This ban wasn’t lifted until 2020, when it was finally passed with an 18 rating.

#4: Invasion of Poland

“The Ramparts We Watch” (1940)
In 1940, a famous newsreel series called “The March of Time” released “The Ramparts We Watch,” a war movie focused not on the frontlines, but on everyday life back home. It was filmed in the city of New London, Connecticut and used its citizens as actors and extras. The film contains a scene in which Nazi Germany invades Poland, and this attracted the attention of many film censors. “The Ramparts We Watch” was banned in Pennsylvania because the invasion sequence reportedly spread fear propaganda. The state didn’t want its citizens scared of Nazi Germany, so the movie had to go. Luckily, this ban did not last long.

#3: Urination

“Bicycle Thieves” (1948)
Often regarded as one of the finest films ever made, Vittorio De Sica’s “Bicycle Thieves” is the finest example of Italian neorealism. Antonio Ricci desperately searches for his stolen bicycle, as he needs it for the job that is supporting his family in ravaged post-war Italy. And despite winning an Academy Honorary Award, “Bicycle Thieves” was banned in America by the MPAA. They took significant issue with a scene in which a young child urinates on screen. Despite the ban, “Bicycle Thieves” found a wide audience and is credited with influencing numerous prominent filmmakers, including Ken Loach and Martin Scorsese.


#2: Graphic Violence

“Straw Dogs” (1971)
The early 1970s saw an increased level of violence and depravity in film, and “Straw Dogs” was at the center of the shift. A controversial film starring Dustin Hoffman, “Straw Dogs” is essentially “Home Alone” for grownups, as a couple defends their house from some rather unfriendly locals. The film contains many graphic instances of sexual violence, and this caused a stir among film censorship boards. The MPAA demanded edits for an American release, while the movie was outright banned in its native United Kingdom. The complete and unedited version wasn’t released on home video until 2002.

#1: Dog Feces (& Many Others)

“Pink Flamingos” (1972)
This John Waters film was made with the sole intention of offending and provoking reactions. And that’s exactly what the filmmaker got. “Pink Flamingos” was marketed with the tagline “An exercise in poor taste,” and it followed this up with a slew of inappropriate images and themes. Famous drag queen Divine plays the self-proclaimed “filthiest person alive,” and to prove it, she eats a pile of dog feces. This sequence, among many others, led numerous countries to ban the film outright. When the movie was released on VHS in 1997, the MPAA slapped it with an NC-17 rating for “a wide range of perversions [shown] in explicit detail.” That pretty much sums it up.
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