Movies banned in the USA

Al hype aside, are there any movies that, legally, absolutely CANNOT be shown in the US?

Child pornography, as a class. I can’t think of anything that’s been theatrically released anywhere that can’t be shown here. Mind you, there are many communities with stiffer standards than the U.S. as a whole.

I think “Howard the Duck” SHOULD be banned…

Isn’t Greenaway’s Baby of Macon banned in the U.S.? Or is that just something that all American theaters and video stores decided not to market?

As has been stated above, child pornography is banned, outright. Likewise, genuine depictions of cruelty shown for “prurient” or other “entertainment” interest have been banned. There was an “art” film made a few years ago that was nothing but a dog being killed. This was repeatedly looped. It ended up being banned at least in New York.

Unlike in fascist countries, the USA has no central censorship board for movies. Instead, this matter is left to individual communities.

There is no ban on Baby of Macon. I can purchase copies from Amazon or even order it through some stores. It just wasn’t marketed here.

I challenge anybody to find ten films that are not child pornography or depictions of cruelty or violence that are officially and by law banned in the USA as of today.


I don’t think you’ll find any such films, as when it comes to banning things, it is classes of things that are banned and not individual items. So you’ll find plenty of laws related to child pornography and bestiality and stuff like that, but no law or regulation specifically stating that Underage Nymph-Whores From Outer Space is illegal.

friedo: You forgot to post a link to that movie.

I know that a couple of communities banned The Tin Drum, but that was local action, not an outright national ban.

Definitely not a national ban. Saw it in the theater when it came out. I don’t know what my dad was thinking taking a fourteen year old to see that one…

It appears that the Tin Drum was banned. Quite a bit after its 1979 release.

The Supreme Court ruled the government cannot ban movies in the United States (Burstyn v. Wilson, 1952). However, they can find that certain films are obscene and ban them if they meet the Miller v. Callifornia test, and they have also upheld laws that keep minors from accessing pornography under the idea that what is not obscene for adults may be obscene for minors.

And yet I can buy it from Amazon.

Interesting, that IMDB triva note says it was also banned in parts of Canada, yet it is available here for rental…

Must be banned in the more uptight provinces.

There was a movie called The Missouri Breaks a while back. I’m fuzzy on all the details, but I think its saga went something like this…

The ASPCA or somesuch organization generally has an observer/advisor on hand whenever filming a scene in a movie involves animals. If a studio refuses to allow the ASPCA representative access to the day’s shoot, then that film makes some sort-of “black list” of movies where animals were potentially mistreated during filming. The Missouri Breaks was one such movie, and legend has it that a bunch of horses were deliberately tripped on a wire or rope or something to stage a scene where they all take a big spill.

So, because of that, TMB is not necessarily banned, per se, but it’s on a list of movies where malfeasance took place in its making and thus should be out of public favor. Or something like that.

DISCLAIMER: All of the above is based on fuzzy recollections of an article I read long ago. I have never seen TMB.

missouri Breaks - Brando and Nicholson, an interesting film about a “Regulator.” Brando is hired to murder cattle thieves.

Not banned, but deemed “unacceptable”

link to other ‘unacceptable’ films of the AHA. interesting reading, it included The Abyss and Apocalypse Now.

Kinda a hijack, but I was searching imdb for the word “banned”, and found some strange international bannings:

The Big Sleep (Bogart/Bacall), banned in Finland
Saving Private Ryan, banned in Malyasia
Anna and the King (Jodie Foster) banned in Thailand (well, that makes sense)
Last Tango in Paris (Brando), banned in Portugal
Schindler’s List, banned in Malaysia
Dirty Harry, banned in Finland
List goes on and on

Looks like most are in Finland. Don’t know much about the Finnish; are they an uptight bunch?

I don’t recognize any of these, but here is imdb’s list of movies that have a rating of “banned” in the USA. There are only six of them, and I’m not sure that it’s complete at all:

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