Classic Hollywood #23

Censorship and Brigitte Bardot 1965 

Brigitte Bardot Viva Maria 1965

Brigitte Bardot co- starred in Viva Maria! (1965) with Jeanne Moreau. The Louis Malle film was partially responsible for the development of the MPAA ratings system for films.

Viva Maria! is set in an unnamed Central American country in 1907. Bardot plays an Irish revolutionary named Maria, who is a fugitive after blowing up a bridge in a British colony. Bardot meets up with a Parisian actress, also named Maria played by Jeanne Moreau, performing with a traveling circus touring the area. They cross the border into a neighboring country where they invent striptease, and get caught up in a popular uprising against the country’s dictator.

The stripping was what caught the attention of censors.

The movie board of Dallas, Texas banned the film from exhibition in the city for being “too racy.” The U.S. distributor, Interstate Circuit, Inc. sued and in 1968 the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. This case and another case heard the same day where a copy of Playboy was sold to a 16-year-old in New York, were more or less combined to make a decision that censorship for minors was okay, but not for adults. The age of 17 was set as the dividing line between minor and adult for the motion picture industry.

The objectionable content in the film of Bardot and Moreau stripping would be considered tame by today’s standards.

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