The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Cafe Society

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-21-2004, 01:43 AM
Saint Sparky Saint Sparky is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
The first Hollywood movie to use a swear word

I did a search of the past threads, but couldn't find anything.

But I am curious if anybody knows what was the first Hollywood movie where a character uttered a swear word?

I have heard to conflicting stories that it was either "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woof" (1966) or "M*A*S*H" (1970), but I don't know either way since I have yet to see either one.

Does anybody know?
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 03-21-2004, 01:46 AM
owlofcreamcheese owlofcreamcheese is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2002
I can say for sure that it was not in 1970, thats unreasonably late.
  #3  
Old 03-21-2004, 02:39 AM
Kat Kat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Gone with the Wind, made in 1939, beats them both by ages, but I'm not certain if it's the earliest or not.
  #4  
Old 03-21-2004, 08:53 AM
Governor Quinn Governor Quinn is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Before the Production Code went into effect in 1934, several early sound films had swearing, such as "Hell's Angels".
  #5  
Old 03-21-2004, 11:34 AM
Ilsa_Lund Ilsa_Lund is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2003
"Damn" and "Hell" date well back into the silent era.
  #6  
Old 03-21-2004, 11:42 AM
Tallayan Tallayan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint Sparky
I did a search of the past threads, but couldn't find anything.

But I am curious if anybody knows what was the first Hollywood movie where a character uttered a swear word?

I have heard to conflicting stories that it was either "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woof" (1966) or "M*A*S*H" (1970), but I don't know either way since I have yet to see either one.

Does anybody know?
I think this is refearing to the first movie to say "fuck" in it. I believe that the backround on the movie in the M*A*S*H DVD claimed that it was, and the IMDB site kind of backs it up IMDB (about half way down) but take it with a grain of salt.
  #7  
Old 03-21-2004, 12:11 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: America's Dairyland
Posts: 12,780
John Gilbert, via intertitle, shouted "goddamn it" and "b------s!" (sic) during the heat of the battle in the hugely successful The Big Parade (1925).

In the closing line of the exotic The Green Goddess (1930), George Arliss, as a Asian tyrant, dismisses a woman who escaped his clutches with the comment, "She probably would have been a damned nuisance, anyway."

Another World War I epic, Hell's Angels (1930), really let it rip: you could hear "It's me, goddamit", "What the hell", "For Chrissake", "Jesus!", and "That son-of-a-bitch!" amid the aerial dogfights.

Even after the Motion Picture Production Code began to be enforced in 1934, there were pre-Gone With the Wind uses of "damn", including Katharine Hepburn quoting Lady Macbeth's "Out, damned spot" in Holiday (1938). The earliest Code-era "goddamn it" I know of was from Don Murray in Bus Stop (1956).

Scott Wilson was the first to say "shit" in an American feature, as one of the murderers in In Cold Blood (1967).
  #8  
Old 03-21-2004, 12:26 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: America's Dairyland
Posts: 12,780
Glorifying the American Girl (1929) has a comedy sketch with Eddie Cantor and Louis Sorin as a pair of kvetching Jewish tailors: "Vat's der idea uff calling me a damn fool in front uff der customers?" "So, it's a secret?"
  #9  
Old 03-21-2004, 01:04 PM
LSD-25 LSD-25 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
The first mainstream movies to use the word "fuck" were Ulysses and I'll Never Forget What's'isname, both from 1967, Ulysses was released first though.

The first major Hollywood film to use "bullshit" was Bullitt in 1968.

Coincidentally, I've been trying to find the first mainstream American movie to feature the most taboo word of all - "cunt". I know it was in Boys In The Band from 1970, but I think there may be an earlier instance.
  #10  
Old 03-21-2004, 03:56 PM
ltfire ltfire is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: E 161 St. and River Ave.
Posts: 1,761
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilsa_Lund
"Damn" and "Hell" date well back into the silent era.
..heh..and you what, lip read those words?
  #11  
Old 03-21-2004, 05:38 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: America's Dairyland
Posts: 12,780
Rip Torn in The Cincinnati Kid (1965): "Yes, for my kind of money, gut money. I wanta to see that smug old bastard gutted. Gutted!"
  #12  
Old 03-21-2004, 05:53 PM
bonzer bonzer is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by ltfire
..heh..and you what, lip read those words?
Actually, there are supposedly several cases from the silent era where lip-readers did complain about swearing in the dialogue.
In this vein, there's a scene between Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen in What Price Glory (1926) that reputedly caused problems, as did some of Gloria Swanson's language in Sadie Thompson (1928). Similarly, there's the case of Douglas Fairbanks and the dirty joke in The Habit of Happiness (1916).

The links are to the relevant entries in the IMDb, but I suspect they've just lifted the information from older film books that have repeated these stories. For instance, I just culled these examples from the old Guinness Book of Film Facts & Feats (Guinness, 1980) by Patrick Robertson. Whether the stories are actually true or not, I don't know.
  #13  
Old 03-21-2004, 10:33 PM
rdky1997 rdky1997 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
I think it was clark gable,for saying "d----"
fined $500.00 I believe

rich in seattle
  #14  
Old 03-21-2004, 11:05 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
I don't know the name of the film, and I haven't the time at the moment to dig through the necessary imdb entries, but supposedly (I say this because I read it in an issue of Entertainment Weekly) there was a movie starring Jack Nicholson made in the 1960s or so, where he played an MP escorting a rather naive sailor to prison. In the course of the film, Nicholson and the other MP takes a liking to the sailor and proceed to show him the wilder side of life before they take him to prison. According to the EW, the movie was rife with profanity and was what led to the whole movie rating system.
__________________
***Don't ask me, I don't post here any more, and I'm probably not even reading this now.***
  #15  
Old 03-21-2004, 11:16 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 59,066
The film you're talking about is The Last Detail.
  #16  
Old 03-21-2004, 11:32 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: America's Dairyland
Posts: 12,780
rdky1997, did you read any of the posts before yours?

Tuckerfan, the Motion Picture Association of America instituted the movie ratings system in November 1968 (G, M, R, and X). The Last Detail was released in 1973.
  #17  
Old 03-21-2004, 11:38 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon
rdky1997, did you read any of the posts before yours?

Tuckerfan, the Motion Picture Association of America instituted the movie ratings system in November 1968 (G, M, R, and X). The Last Detail was released in 1973.
Yeah, I figured that EW was wrong.
  #18  
Old 03-23-2004, 05:43 PM
sinjin sinjin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
I think Barbra Striesand was the first "big" movie star to say the F word in a mainstream movie "The Owl and the Pussycat" 1970.

And for what it's worth I don't think that the infamous dam in "Gone with the Wind" was actually swearing. I have always understood the phrase "I don't give a dam" was a reference to a tinker's dam which is a small relatively worthless blob of metal. But I could be wrong, dopers correct me at will.
  #19  
Old 03-23-2004, 05:49 PM
Ilsa_Lund Ilsa_Lund is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by ltfire
..heh..and you what, lip read those words?
Yes. As well as read the intertitles.


I'm thinking that there was a "hell" in Intolerance (1916).
  #20  
Old 03-23-2004, 06:15 PM
tracer tracer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Silicon Valley, Cal., USA
Posts: 15,563
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdky1997
I think it was clark gable,for saying "d----"
How do you pronounce the hyphens?
  #21  
Old 03-23-2004, 07:37 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: America's Dairyland
Posts: 12,780
Quote:
Originally Posted by PictsiePat
And for what it's worth I don't think that the infamous dam in "Gone with the Wind" was actually swearing. I have always understood the phrase "I don't give a dam" was a reference to a tinker's dam which is a small relatively worthless blob of metal.
The word in Margaret Mitchell's novel is "damn", not "dam". And "damn" was one of the words specifically proscribed by the Motion Picture Production Code. Producer David Selznick, with dictionary in hand, was able to convince the Production Code Office that "damn" was only a vulgarism, not an obscenity, and he was allowed to keep it after paying an obligatory fine.
  #22  
Old 03-23-2004, 07:53 PM
samclem samclem is online now
graphite is a great moderator
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Akron, Ohio
Posts: 21,796
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon
Producer David Selznick, with dictionary in hand, was able to convince the Production Code Office that "damn" was only a vulgarism, not an obscenity, and he was allowed to keep it after paying an obligatory fine.
He's lucky he wasn't dealing with my MOM in the early 1940's!
__________________
Go to a county fair some time, and you'll see some of these guys losing at tic-tac-toe to a trained chicken.--Colibri
  #23  
Old 03-23-2004, 08:27 PM
LSD-25 LSD-25 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by PictsiePat
I think Barbra Striesand was the first "big" movie star to say the F word in a mainstream movie "The Owl and the Pussycat" 1970.
I could be wrong because I haven't seen the film in years, but didn't Dustin Hoffman say "fuck" or a derivative of it in Midnight Cowboy, in 1969?
  #24  
Old 03-23-2004, 09:24 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracer
How do you pronounce the hyphens?
It's Morse code. He's saying "DO!"

Homer Simpson, of course, would later popularize his own interpretation.
__________________
Spoofe - Damn youse, Ekers! Damn youse to hell!
Gazelle from Hell - Bwahahahahaha! Oh, my sides! Bryan, you are my hero.
Arnold Winkelreid - Believe me, I would gladly trade all that money in for a romantic walk on the beach with you, Bryan.
Muad'Dib - DAMN YOU BRYAN EKERS !!!!!!!!!! DAMN YOU TO HELL!!!!!!
  #25  
Old 03-27-2004, 06:46 PM
Tenebras Tenebras is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by PictsiePat
And for what it's worth I don't think that the infamous dam in "Gone with the Wind" was actually swearing. I have always understood the phrase "I don't give a dam" was a reference to a tinker's dam which is a small relatively worthless blob of metal. But I could be wrong, dopers correct me at will.
Gotta love the OED... ("The utterance of the word ‘damn’ as a profane imprecation." Ah.. the profane imprecation...)

The etymology section says that there were rumors that it came from the Hindi dam, meaning a small copper coin (I assume like a penny or as), which are "ingenious, but [have] no basis in fact." No mention of tinkers, but the idea of it coming from something worthless is there, but apparently is just a folk etymology. (It's interesting that the worthless bit of metal has changed between the ninteenth and twentieth centuries, no?)

This usage is apparently pretty old, witness "[n]ot that I care three damns what figure I may cut" in 1760 (From Goldsmith's Cit. W., the bibliography isn't online) and "[a] wrong system..not worth a damn" in Byron's Diary (1817).

My personal favorite is from what is apparently a journal called Eugenics Review from 1929: See the happy moron, He doesn't give a damn. I wish I were a moron. My God! Perhaps I am!

It reminds me a bit of Anthony deMello's "you're an ass" bit, but I may just being perverse.

Tenebras
  #26  
Old 03-28-2004, 09:53 AM
sinjin sinjin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Damn, wrong about the F___ and wrong about dam/damn. Time to hot tub.
  #27  
Old 03-28-2004, 11:21 AM
Eve Eve is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
It's not a "Hollywood" film (directed probably in NY or NJ), but my vote goes for the short and snappy The Whole Damm Family and the Damm Dog (1905).
  #28  
Old 03-28-2004, 12:59 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: America's Dairyland
Posts: 12,780
In The Graduate (1967), when Benjamin is pounding on the window in the church to disrupt the wedding, Mrs. Robinson glares up at him and shouts, "What the fuck are you doing?!" which we can only lip-read through the glass as the camera zooms in on her.
  #29  
Old 03-29-2004, 11:30 PM
Saint Sparky Saint Sparky is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Wow. What an interesting discussion that has originated with my little old question.

I remember that scene from "The Graduate" Walloon, though I always use to thought it was just me and my dirty mind and not what she actually said. Heh.
  #30  
Old 10-14-2013, 05:39 PM
Dan Bell Dan Bell is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Dan Bell

The first move to have a swear word in it was Gone With The Wind. Rhett Butler "Frankly Scarlet I don't give a damn. There ya go
  #31  
Old 10-14-2013, 05:53 PM
cochrane cochrane is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Did you read any of the other posts in the nine-year-old thread you revived?
  #32  
Old 10-14-2013, 05:55 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: the Keystone State
Posts: 11,303
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon View Post
The word in Margaret Mitchell's novel is "damn", not "dam". And "damn" was one of the words specifically proscribed by the Motion Picture Production Code. Producer David Selznick, with dictionary in hand, was able to convince the Production Code Office that "damn" was only a vulgarism, not an obscenity, and he was allowed to keep it after paying an obligatory fine.
Thirty years later when Planet of the Apes came out Fox thwarted MPAA censorship by arguing that Taylor's infamous final line, "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell! ", was him asking God to damn the apes to Hell and not using the Lord's name in vain. Even today TV shows will bleep out the God part of "God damn".
__________________
No Gods, No Masters
  #33  
Old 10-14-2013, 07:24 PM
samclem samclem is online now
graphite is a great moderator
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Akron, Ohio
Posts: 21,796
Since this old thread was answered quite well years ago, I'm closing it.

samclem moderator
Closed Thread



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:09 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.