Films began to be banned immediately after movies were invented. The first recorded case of banning occurred in 1915 when DW Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” depicted the history of the Ku Klux Klan. The movie remains the most banned movie of all time, with over 100 incidents throughout history.
Banning changed in 1952 when films were granted constitutional protection (under the First Amendment). But, by that time GLBT films were coming into existence. “A Song of Love” made in 1950 in France, is considered a classic and is still banned today.
Here is a list of gay-themed films which have also been banned:
- Caligola: 1979: Directed by: Tinto Brass, Bob Guccione, Giancarlo Lui. Writen by: Gore Vidal, Bob Guccione, Giancarlo Lui, Franco Rossellini. Starring: Malcolm McDowell and Teresa Ann Savoy. Country: US & Italy. Plot: Details the graphic and tragic story of Rome’s most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula. Highlights which induced ban: Incest with his sister, orders family members murdered and rapes both a bride and groom before their wedding.
- A Song of Love (short): 1950: Director: Jean Genet. Writer: Jean Genet. Country: France. Plot: Two prisoners in complete isolation, separated by the thick brick walls, and desperately in need of human contact, devise a most unusual kind of communication. Highlights to induce ban: A prisoner guard watches prisoners, creating a homoerotic desire in him.
- Cindy and Donna: 1970: Director: Robert Anderson. Writer: Barry Clark. Starring Sue Allen and Nancy Ison. Country: US. Plot: The sexual awakening of two sisters in suburbia. Highlights inducing a ban: After smoking marijuana Cindy, and her friend Karen, share an intimate moment.
- Cruising: 1980: Director: William Friedkin. Writers: William Friedkin & Gerald Walker. Starring: Al Pacino. Country: US. Plot: A police detective goes undercover in the sleazy and underground gay subculture of New York City to catch a serial killer who is murdering numerous gay men with S&M tactics. Highlights which induced the ban: the club and murder scenes. Note: the final version of the film was not the vision of the director and was not faithful to the novel from which it was adapted.
- The Devil in Miss Jones: 1973: Director: Gerard Damiano. Writer: Gerard Damiano. Starring: Georgina Spelvin. Country: US. Plot: Miss Jones is tired of her life and commits suicide. She comes to a place where its decided if she will end up in Heaven or Hell. Realizing she never really “lived”, she asks to be returned. Highlights which induced the ban: She experiments with a woman, and with a man and woman together.
- Emmanuelle: 1974: Director: Just Jaeckin. Writers: Emmanuelle Arsan & Jean Louis Richard. Starring: Sylvia Kristel, Daniel Sarky, Marika Green. Country: France. Plot: Jean and Emmanuelle have entered an open marriage. Even though Emmanuelle is sexually active with Marie Ange, she runs off to the jungle with Bee. Highlights which induced the ban: After being given as the prize to a boxing match, Emmanuelle has a menage a troi with a woman and a man.
- 491: 1964: Director: Vilgot Sjoman. Writers: Lars Gorling, Vilgot Sjoman. Starring: Sven Algotsson, Bo Andersson, Mona Andersson. Country: Sweden. Plot: Six troubled young boys enter a social experiment under the guidance of a counselor, whom they abuse. And they run a prostitution ring out of his house, selling a young girl which they have brought home. Highlights inducing the ban: Hints of sodomy between two of the boys.
- Flaming Creatures (short): 1963: Director: Jack Smith. Writer: Jack Smith. Starring: Francis Francine. Country: US. Plot: In various sequences a transvestite takes us through a homage to Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, lipstick commercials of the 1960s, a vampire set up and a musical number of the 1950s. Highlights to induce a ban: Two orgies, the first during the lipstick commercial and the second during the vampire scene.
- The Fox: 1967: Director: Mark Rydell. Writers: Lewis John Carlino, Howard, Koch, DH Lawrence. Starring: Sandy Dennis, Keir Dullea, Anne Heywood, Glyn Morris. Country: US. Plot: Based on a DH Lawrence novella about two women running a chicken farm in Canada (unsuccessfully). A proposal to one awakens their feelings towards each other. Highlights inducing a ban: the two women are seen in bed caressing and kissing.
- The Killing Of Sister George: 1968: Director: Robert Aldrich. Writers: Lukas Heller, Frank Marcus. Starring: Beryl Reid, Susannah York, Coral Browne. Country: US. Plot: An aging lesbian actress works on a BBC soap opera as Sister George. As ratings sag, her character is going to be killed off. The same producer that suggests killing her off also steals Sister George’s real-life girlfriend. Based on a play of the same name. Highlights inducing a ban: the first lesbian love scene portrayed on film.
- Naked Came The Stranger: 1975: Director: Radley Metzger. Writers: Penelope Ashe, Jake Barnes. Starring: Kevin Andre, Gerald Grant, Helen Madigan, Darby Lloyd Rains, Levi Richards, Mary Stuart. Country: US. Plot: Twelve staff members of Newsday collaborated, under the name Penelope Ashe, to create a novel about a husband and wife radio hosts with an open marriage. However, when the husband is found with the shows secretary, the wife has deemed that he has gone too far and has a tryst with the secretary also. Highlights which induced a ban: Marathon sex scenes which earned the movie an X rating.
- Therese and Isabelle: 1968: Director: Radley Metzger. Writers: Violette Leduc, Jesse Vogel. Starring: Essy Persson, Anna Gael. Country: US, France. Plot: Two young girls experience sexual awakening in a Swiss girls boarding school. Highlights inducing a ban: One sexual situation between two girls.
- Toto Who Lived Twice: 1998: Directors: Daniele Cipri, Franco Maresco. Writers: Daniele Cipri, Lillo Iacolino, Franco Maresco. Starring: Salvatore Gattuso. Country: Italy. Plot: Three stories in one. 1) Not being able to pay for the services of a whore, the village idiot steals a locket from a shrine. 2) The betrayal of a lover, revealed after his death. 3) A mob boss kills a thug, who is then raised from the dead. Highlights to induce a ban: The second story reveals the relationship of two male lovers during a flashback.
- The Vixen: 1968: Director: Russ Meyer. Writers: Russ Meyer, Anthony James Ryan, Robert Rudelson. Starring: Erica Gavin, Garth Pillsbury. Country: US. Plot: Set in remote Canada, the Vixen is married to a pilot, who is often away from home. While gone she manages to seduce nearly everyone in the town. Highlights inducing a ban: She seduces a visiting fisherman’s wife.
- Windows: 1980: Director: Gordon Willis. Writer: Barry Siegel. Starring: Talia Shire, Elizabeth Ashley. Country: US. Plot: The obsession of a neighbor. She begins watching her neighbor through a telescope as the neighbor begins a relationship with a detective after the neighbor is raped. Highlights inducing a ban: Lesbian obsession.
For more GLBT Films, visit www.outfilms.com.