Film Censorship Jan'60-Apr'70: A to F


 

 

 

 

The Babysitter

Directed by Don Henderson / 1969 / USA / IMDb

Banned by the Censorship Board.

Information provided by Shane Harrison
Back in 1970 Donald Chipp was focused on opening up the secrecy behind Australian film censorship with the long term aim of securing a restricted rating for film exhibition. One part of this was to call the media together and screen a collection of clips censored from recent film submissions to give a mirror as to what was being cut behind closed doors.

Censorship in 1970 was a huge topic in Australia and the media honed in on this screening night. The first half was the screening of the collection of censored clips in what became known as "Chipp's Reel". After a break, the soft core black and white film, THE BABY SITTER (1969) was then screened to give the reporters a sample of what films were being banned in total. Truth newspaper made a lot of noise about this event and spent a large amount of print describing the delights contained in the reel of censored highlights.

In the early 1990s, the weekly TV program SEX, hosted by Sophie Lee, did a segment on the history of Australian film censorship and took the viewer down to the bowels of a Canberra building where all the "best bits" were stored. Brief clips were shown, including a part of Michael Powell's PEEPING TOM (1960), which included footage not in included in any print on DVD, or the uncut Blu-ray release overseen by Martin Scorsese! Amazing to think that Canberra holds this lost footage!

Sophie referred to the reel of censored footage screened to the media in 1969/70, and explained that it was now referred to as "Chipp's reel". The next day I rang the OFLC and explained that I would like to see the reel. At that point I was attempting to write an article covering our film censorship history....which never eventuated. The OFLC was quite friendly, and sent a VHS copy down to their Melbourne office so I could view it "in-house".

Chipp's reel had the following clips, in this order.

 See the individual entries in this database for Shane's notes on the footage that was censored from each of these titles.

 

Here are Mike Richards's memories of the "Chipp's reel" screening, which he refers to as 'Night of the blue movies'. We have also heard it called 'Parliamentary blue movie night'.

Dirty Pix
Mike Richards
Cinema Papers issue 2, April 1974

…this was to be a special “Film Censorship Evening” in Canberra under the patronage of our beloved Department of Customs and Excise. More exactly it was, I think, an attempt by the then Minister for Customs, Don Chipp, to persuade his Parliamentary colleagues (especially the troglodytes in his own party), and to convince the media (the journos needed no convincing) that the film censorship situation in this country had become so to speak, a giant cock-up. The method Mr. Chipp apparently intended to employ was simply to screen the actual cuts (not the complete films, just the censored cuts) from a series of recent films, thereby demonstrating how innocuous the censored scenes were.

So this night in April, 1970 had promised great things. It had also apparently promised great things in a quite different sense to journalists round the country. When Monday the 13th rolled around, it seemed that every journalist within 500 miles had suddenly either become a film critic or a Canberra correspondent.

…later that night I fronted at our august venue, the National Library Theatre. Security was tight and I was required to show my invitation twice — once to proceed to the Library basement and once to gain entry to the theatre lobby, which by this stage was jammed with MP’s, VIP’s, (I even spotted Rev. Father Michael King), and sundry journo’s.

…by now we were a sizeable assembly: 300 (odd) MP’s, Senators, journalists, eight women, the Chief Commonwealth Censor, Mr Prowse ,and the Minister, Don Chipp.

For the next three hours we were to be exposed to scenes from 28 films, plus a full-length feature and a hastily included short.

Next up was a 65 minute US film called THE BABYSITTER, made in 1970. It was so outrageously Z-grade quality, that 20 minutes into the first reel the audience were screaming to have it banned; anything to get it off the bloody screen. Some idea of the standard may be suggested by the clichéd plot. As the program notes drafted by the Department indicate:

“In bald synopsis, Babysitter is the story of a middle-aged American deputy District- Attorney with a nagging frigid wife and lesbian daughter. The D-DA becomes involved in an adulterous relationship with the family’s precocious teenage babysitter (whose name would you believe was Candy?), then faces blackmail on the daughter and adultery counts to bring a murderer to justice.” The film may have played to packed houses in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but God, it was a bore.

It did have one piece of light entertainment, however, although this was extrinsic to the film itself. The film was presented exactly as imported except that at five points during the film, what the Customs Department described as “areas of censorship concern” were marked with red-crayoned crosses on the print. In other words, at the beginning of a questionable scene — three of the five sequences were categorised as questionable on the grounds of overt sexual indecency and two on grounds of violence — we saw a large red cross on the screen. At the close of the scene the cross appeared again. Loud guffaws greeted the last scene designated as questionable. It followed a scene in which the D-DA finally admits his affair with the babysitter and offers his resignation to his boss only to have the DA tear it up. As the grateful D-DA was leaving the DA’s office, a slightly leering DA asks him:

“Tell me George, what was it like?”
(Bloody great red crosses).
D-DA: “Man, it was wild!”
(More red crosses).

It seemed then that the Film Censor was saying that it was possibly sexually indecent for a middle aged lawyer to say that it was terrific to get off with his babysitter!

The substantive part of the evening’s viewing was, however, yet to come. Twenty-eight cuts, run back-to-back, utterly without context were shown. The second cut, after intermission, was intended to point up how censorship standards had changed. It was a dubbed Italian torture scene of the late fifties or early sixties — the records were vague; it was not known even from which film the scene had been cut — and involved a dungeon in which a Count Yorga-like character is inspecting his prisoners. Victims were shown being stretched horizontally on the rack, while others were undergoing various other gruesome punishments. As the Count approached an anguished prisoner being stretched vertically he said to the prisoner:
"Do you tell us what we want or do we tear your arms off?" [please e-mail us if you can identify this film]

The Department eased our concern by assuring us that this cut would not have been made in the 1970’s.

After the violence was out of the way, we settled down to the so-called pornography. Needless to say, it was for the most part totally unobjectionable, even seen totally out of context. Among my recollections of these films were the following fragments:

 

Mike then goes on to list the cuts made to the following titles. We have included his details in the individual entries for each film.

Film Censorship Database: Jan 1960 to Apr 1970
BILLABONG (196?/7?) - 8-minute short screened in full
MEDIUM COOL (1969)
PERSONA (1966)
SINDERELLA AND THE GOLDEN BRA (1964)
THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE (1968)
THERESE AND ISABELLE (1968)

Film Censorship Database: May 1970 to Nov 1971
FELLINI - SATYRICON (1969)
ZABRISKIE POINT (1970)

Film Censorship Database: Nov 1971 to Present
AN EYE FOR AN EYE, A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH (1967)


 

 

 

 

The Big Cube

Directed by Tito Davison / 1969 / Mexico-USA / IMDb

Information provided by Shane Harrison from viewing of "Chipp's reel".
See database entry for THE BABYSITTER (1969) for background.
Censored footage 01:08

The scene that was cut was from the party scene in the middle of the film. One of the guests (played by a backing dancer and sometime comedian from ROWAN AND MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN) did a striptease and ended topless. The cut started when her dress came off and she started dancing all over the furniture in her bra and panties.

The uncut version played on TV 5 years later.


 

 

 

 

Billabong

Directed by Willi Haikl / 196?/7? / Unknown

BILLABONG is an eight-minute short film that was screened as part of "Chipp's reel".
See database entry for THE BABYSITTER (1969) for background.

Dirty Pix
Mike Richards
Cinema Papers issue 2, April 1974
Our moral decline began shortly after Mr [Don] Chipp had concluded his opening remarks when the short film was shown. Titled BILLABONG and directed by
Willi Haikl it was an arty-crafty no dialogue stream of consciousness film of a youth masturbating. (This only dawned on me about two-thirds through the eight minute film when I pieced together the thematic cues.)

In the last minute, with the soundtrack building in volume and intensity, (accelerating locomotive, whistleblowing; music reaching a crescendo, and cymbals crashing), it was apparent that the youth was reaching orgasmic climax. Despite there being only two offending feet in the film — showing the youth’s penis ejaculating — the Department was proposing to ban it outright. Because the scene was so quick, our hosts conveniently projected two adjacent stills on the screen at the end. Both showed what we had barely seen and what was still difficult to discern — namely, on the left the youth’s penis in his hands, and on the right the penis ejaculating.


 

 

 

 

A Black Veil For Lisa

Directed by Massimo Dallamano / 1968 / Italy / IMDb

Information provided by Shane Harrison from viewing of "Chipp's reel".
See database entry for THE BABYSITTER (1969) for background.
Censored footage 00:69

A fist fight.

 

Released on tape by K&C Video in the early 1980s. It needs to be confirmed if this was the same censored print.


 

 

 

 

Blow-Up

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni / 1966 / UK-Italy-USA / IMDb

In May 1968, the original theatrical release was censored for a 'Not Suitable for Children' rating.

It was reclassified with an M-rating in October 1976.


 

 

 

 

Color Me Dead

Directed by Eddie Davis / 1969 / Australia / IMDb

Original theatrical release was censored for a 'Not Suitable for Children' rating.

Information provided by Shane Harrison
Filmed in Australia in September 1968 and released in USA in late 1969. K&C Video put a print of the Australian 1970 cinema cut out on VHS tape. Fortunately, it contained the Censorship Board cuts of the day. I have a DVD of the uncut USA release put out on the grey market so, comparing the two, answers what was cut here.

The film is a definite guilty pleasure of mine. Apart from the sixties iconography it also records great images of 1968 Sydney and Surfers Paradise, especially the iconic Pink Panther striptease club in Kings Cross.

The cuts take place when Tom Tyron visits The Pink Panther striptease club circa 1968.

27:47 - 00:09 cut:  Close up of a stripper moving around in pasties

28:20 - 00:48 cut: Two striptease dancers in "G String and pasties" dancing in the background as Tyron drinks at the bar.

44:36 - 00:14 cut:  Part of a flash back where the two strippers from before are dancing topless, in close up.

Image courtesy of moviemem.com

 

Color Me Dead (1969) - Daybill


 

 

 

 

The Damned

Directed by Luchino Visconti / 1969 / Italy-West Germany / IMDb

Original theatrical release was censored for a 'Not Suitable for Children' rating.

Information provided by Shane Harrison
Colin Bennett was a film critic with The Age in Melbourne. He wrote a lot about the sad state of censorship and included such in numerous film critiques. He had seen THE DAMNED overseas, so knew the complete version. In his review, he detailed the three areas of cuts. I saw the film back then. Only Australian censorship could reduce a controversial cutting-edge X-rated European art film to an Aussie "Not Suitable For Children".

Three complete sequences were removed.

1. A long scene of post coital chat between Ingrid Thulin and Dirk Bogarde, where Ingrid is naked for protracted screen time. The scene establishes that she is a Lady Macbeth as she coaxes a weak Bogarde into the benefit of co-operating with the Nazis and worse. The whole scene was removed, so the audience had no idea at this point that she was the "power behind the throne."

2. The scene depicting the treacherous "Night of the Long-knives" was removed. The prolonged sequence detailed a homosexual orgy, drunken assaults on the serving women and ends with the notorious massacre. It's removal left the audience completely in the dark as to the demise of one of the major characters who simply disappeared from the plot and was referred to as dead near the end of the movie... the first the audience knew that he was dead.

3. Helmut Berger (a perverted and powerful Nazi character) destroys his mother's (Ingrid Thulin) control by raping her near the end of the film. The rape plot was totally removed. It was unfathomable how such a strong character ended the film a fragile wreck.

Interestingly when a cut version played TV in Melbourne in the late 70s it included as scene where a 6-year-old girl, who was assaulted by Helmet Berger's character, is shown hanging from the ceiling, murdered. This view was not in the Australian theatrical release print, or the worldwide VHS or DVD releases. An overseas DVD release about a decade or so ago had the scene reinstated and was the first time the film could be seen fully uncut. In the late 70s, THE DAMNED played Melbourne at retro cinemas and the print was nearly complete. Some of the violence during the "Night of the Long-knives" was reduced and the actual rape of Ingrid Thulin was deleted, while the "before and after" was included. I am thinking that given THE DAMNED wasn't resubmitted to our censor in the 70s then this was a print from a less censorious country and was exhibited with a self-imposed M-rating.

 

Resubmitted and passed with an M-rating in June 1987.

Image courtesy of moviemem.com

 

The Damned (1969) - Daybill


 

 

 

 

Fanny Hill

Directed by Russ Meyer / 1964 / USA / IMDb

Information provided by Shane Harrison from viewing of "Chipp's reel".
See database entry for THE BABYSITTER (1969) for background.
Censored footage 01:30

I did not record the nature of the footage which suggests it was dialogue scenes.


 

 

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