20 Most Famous Banned Films In America
While the government doesn’t outright ban films (except in a few court cases), cities and states have banned them on many occasions. Below are 20 of the most famous films that have been banned in parts of America.
How many of them have you seen?
1. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Is there really any other film that should start off this list? Cannibal Holocaust is known as the film “banned in over 50 countries.” It’s still banned in several countries today. That’s its badge of honor. The Italian film shows a documentary crew going into a rainforest where they meet an indigenous tribe. The graphic feature showcases genuine animal slayings, sexual violence, and other disturbing gore. And with that I say, enjoy this trailer!
2. The Tin Drum (1979)
Why was The Tin Drum banned in Oklahoma City, parts of Canada, and many other countries? Some saw the black comedy as child pornography as a young boy appears to engage in oral sex and have sex with a female character in the movie. It’s worth noting that The Tin Drum did win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film that year.
3. The Profit (2001)
Known as “The movie Scientology won’t let you see”, The Profit was banned after The Church of Scientology obtained an injunction against showing the independent film. The movie was about a cult leader’s rise to power and his eventual descent into, well, being a nut job
4. The Outlaw (1943)
This Howard Hughes film was banned for 3 years due to the movie’s constant focus on Jane Russell’s large breasts. Hughes had to cut a minute or so from the film to get the seal of approval from the Hollywood Production Code Administration, and when it was finally released in 1946, it was a huge hit.
5. Dorlita in the Passion Dance (1894)
Considered by many to be the first film ever banned in the US, Dorlita in the Passion Dance was banned in New Jersey after its use in peep shows.
6. The Birth of a Nation (1915)
This controversial silent film literally caused riots in Philadelphia, Boston, and other big cities across the country. It was flat out banned in many cities because of its racist themes, with many saying it glorified the KKK and led to its rebirth.
7. Birth Control (1917)
Bat birth control
This film on family planning was banned in New York “in the interest of morality, decency, public safety, and welfare.” Unfortunately, no trailer or footage can be found online for this movie. Instead, we’ll offer in exchange a clip of Dwight Schrute talking about bat birth control.
8. Scarface (1932)
Hey Fuck You Mang
No, not that one, the other Scarface that was released back in 1932. It was banned in 5 states and 5 other cities across the country because of its glorification of crime. If only the people who banned the original could have seen Al Pacino in action.
9. Pinky (1949)
Good God! It’s an interracial couple! Ban that movie now! That’s pretty much what happened in Marshall, Texas in 1949 when Pinky came out.
10. Pink Flamingos (1972)
This John Waters’ comedy was banned in some small towns due to shocking scenes and perverse acts. Female impersonators are just too much for some to handle. Check out our sound quote collection HERE.
11. Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987)
One of the few movies that’s completely banned from sale, distribution, and public showings by a court order over a copyright infringement, Superstar is about Karen Carpenter’s battle with anorexia nervosa and the influence of her group The Carpenters. You can find bootleg versions of it around the internet.
12. I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967)
This Swedish film got banned in Massachusetts as pornography. It took 3 court cases for the movie to finally get unbanned and declared not obscene by the US Court of Appeals.
13. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
This Martin Scorsese film was banned in Savannah, Georgia after city and religious leaders sent out a petition to get it banned. Blockbuster Video also refused to carry the movie in its stores for a brief period of time.
14. Salt of the Earth (1954)
Salt of the Earth was made by a group of blacklisted (Communist) individuals. This is a good snapshot of the anti-Communist efforts that were going on in the country in the early 1950s. The makers of the film were met with all types of intimidation to destroy the movie, but it was eventually released in theaters more than a decade later.
15. Ernest and Bertram (2001)
Ernie Counting Sheep
Rumors have long dogged the Sesame Street legends Bert and Ernie about their sexual preferences. Are these two really just roommates? In Ernest and Bertram, director Peter Spears creates a spoof documentary of the two male puppets who become lovers. The movie ends with Ernie killing himself. It was a success at Sundance, but when legal action against the director was brought up, its release was blocked.
16. Titicut Follies (1967)
This black and white documentary covered the mistreatment of criminally insane patients at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution. The film was banned by the courts because it supposedly violated the patients’ right to privacy, but many believe it was a way for the state to keep the public from seeing the way they abused inmates.
17. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
Life of Brian was banned in several cities across the country because many felt it was blasphemous. The comedy’s anti-Christian themes brought out the protestors in full force.
18. Within Our Gates (1919)
Chicago, New Orleans, and Omaha are just a few of the cities to ban this film for its graphic racial themes that include interracial rape, lynching, and discrimination. This was the counter to The Birth of a Nation.
19. Deep Throat (1972)
Seen by many as one of the first pornos to have a plot and actual character development, Deep Throat was trendsetting, despite being banned in many parts of the country for obscenity. It was the subject of many court trials, and it was found obscene in multiple US cities. You can see the first 4 (clean and decent!) minutes of the movie below.
20. Victim (1961)
Victim was banned in cities across America for its controversial language. It’s credited as being the first English language film to use the word “homosexual”.
How many of these movies have your seen? Share your favorites by leaving a comment.