On this day in 1968 – October 7th -they lay down the law in Hollywood. By this I mean that the MPAA (the Motion Picture Association of America) launched its first public movie ratings system, which at the time consisted of G (which still means General Admission), M (for Mature audiences), R (Restricted) and X (we know what one’s for). Of course they would tweak these classifications, and over time we’d come to have the PG and the PG-13 ratings that we see today. The ones which can make literally millions of dollars’ worth of difference to a movie studio because it means that many more of your desired moviegoers can buy tickets. Case in point, the fourth and fifth Twilight movies – based on the Breaking Dawn book – feature two of the big no-no’s for a PG-13 rating (a) sex, and b) its sometime consequence: one extremely unsettling and graphic childbirth). Not surprisingly, the filmmakers have already met with the wrath (on both sides) of Twifans worldwide concerning how – and what – will be included , as that’ll then determine the rating. Obviously they want to keep giving us something that’s PG-13 so the whole family can enjoy repeat viewings, while true Twyed-in-the-wool fans want it all out there so to speak, thus forcing the dreaded R rating. And of course, it all comes down to cash. Now I’m not exactly sure how the financials used to work, but when I was young I was certain that I’d seen some pretty risqué movies, which by today’s standards seem beyond tame. In fact, I even went through some of my early faves, recalling several that met with extremely raised eyebrows as I raced out the door and into someone else’s mother’s waiting car. Some even included a showing that – unbeknownst to my family – didn’t even include that someone else’s mother. Still, when I looked them up? Apparently nobody who either spawned or was charged with minding me had anything to worry about. The hidden secrets, torrid encounters and tragic turns of Ode to Billy Joe? PG. Or that scandalous, Ryan O’Neal bodice-ripping Barry Lyndon? He was PG and nothing more. Even when eleven –year-old Jennifer Terrazini and I snuck over to the neighbors’ to watch The Graduate under cover of night, the MPAA didn’t reward that stealth maneuver with anything more than a Parental Guidance rating. Now Cabaret was -and is- one of my all time favorite movies. With content that I’m certain would be viewed as pretty heavy-going by anyone’s standards. In 1972 however, notsomuch. Liza and the Kit Kat Girls merited a simple PG. For my 14th birthday, several classmates and I were taken to see Foul Play. Even the title suggested something saucy. This was gonna be good. Again, strictly PG. (We still thought we’d gotten away with something, nor would any one of us ever view a Murphy Bed the same way again). So you get my point – and I don’t ever want to become one of those people who says things like “Nowadays is there anything they won’t show us? Is anything sacred? Or is it all gratuitous sex and severed limbs?” But you know what I mean. So for today’s poll I’m going to name four very popular comedies, each of which came out within six years of one another, and each of which was given that dicey R rating. Voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these four R-rated comedies is your favorite:
1) Animal House
2) Blazing Saddles
3) Blues Brothers
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