Film Censorship Jan'60-Apr'70: B


 

 

 

 

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)


 

 

 

 

Barbarella

Directed by Roger Vadim / 1968 / France-Italy / IMDb

Original theatrical release was censored for a 'Suitable only for Adults' rating

Information provided by Shane Harrison.
I know that the following four scenes were definitely cut in the Australian theatrical release. However, there may be other minor cuts that I am not aware of.

17:30 - In this sequence Barbarella is tied up and set upon by mechanical flesh eating dolls. I cannot give the exact cuts, but the scene was toned down, especially with the removal of close-ups of the snapping serrated metal teeth biting into her upper legs near her crotch.

59:28 – 00:51 cut: Complete removal of scene where Pygar The Angel is stretched out on the floor and Anita Pallenberg bestrides him trying to have sex.

74:25 - 00:05 cut: Camera pans down the body of a topless women swinging in a fetish leather harness hanging from the ceiling. The long shot of her remained.

76:43 - In this sequence Duran Duran tortures Barbarella by trapping her in the Excessive Machine. She is meant to die of pleasure. Instead, her massive orgasm blows the machine up and destroys it. While the scene remained, it was toned down. Various shots of her arousal and thunderous orgasm were removed. It played fairly seamlessly though, and the point was still made. It was not until it came out on VHS that I realised just how the scene had been modified back in 1968, though I cannot say what exact shots were removed.

In looking at BARBARELLA, the other issue to deal with, outside of actual censorship, is the iconic credit sequence. Jane Fonda does a weightless strip out of her space suit, floating around nude as the credits give her modesty. There are at least three different versions of this sequence.

Version 1
Here the credit for "David Hemmings as Dildano" is in the same font as the others. This is followed by a fair bit of modesty as the floating credits cover most of Jane Fonda. Her breasts are exposed briefly here and there with the letters hitting her nipples before exploding. This version played theatrically back in 1968 and was released to TV in the 1970s and made available on 8mm, 16mm and VHS. It sometimes appears on YouTube. If it is pan and scan, then you know it contains the original credit sequence.

Version 2
Following the success of STAR WARS (1977) the film was re-released in America and re-titled BARBARELLA: QUEEN OF THE GALAXY. This was heavily cut for a PG rating. I saw this version at a midnight screening while on holidays in California in 1979. While the print was newly struck and in perfect condition, everything possible had been cut, including the opening credits. The credit scene jumped around as soon as the space suit drifted off Barbarella before finally cutting straight to the end of the scene. Elsewhere the music jumped and characters finished off half sentences, as visuals were repeatedly truncated. The cartoon sexuality was completely removed which was no mean feat. The peek-a-boo nudity was non-existent. Every form of suggestive clothing, nudity and risqué plot was muted.

Version 3
Around the late 80s/early 90s, BARBARELLA was released on VHS in widescreen. This version of the credit sequence is the one that now features on all DVD and Blu-ray releases. When the credit for David Hemmings appears, it glows which it did not do originally. The credits that follow cover different areas of the screen than in the original 1968 cinema release. Much more of Barbarella is on display in quick flashes with even a couple of brief full nude views. The credits still play cat and mouse with her but more is shown and for longer. This is especially the case at the end as she gets up off the floor. Here she is shown bare breasted and in close up. This was masked by credits in the original theatrical version.

BARBARELLA was reclassified with an M-rating in February 1984.

Image courtesy of moviemem.com

 

Barbarella (1968) Daybill


 

 

 

 

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 01:09

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

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

Information provided by Shane Harrison
This film was censored in 1967 reducing an X-certificate British and unrated American release to an almost family friendly Australian 'Not Suitable for Children' rating. Even with the cuts, I'm surprised the film wasn't given an AO given its intensity and the adult issues inherent in the plot.

36:10 – 00:02 cut: dialogue "Tell him to get stuffed".

37:05 – 00:02 cut: View of photo of old men in a dosshouse with one in the nude, semi-frontal.

71:48 – 00:04 cut: Side view of Jane Birkin's breast as she removes her dress.

71:53 – 00:01 cut: Side view where breast peaks out for 1-second in long shot!

72:43 – 00:21 cut: Toying with topless Birkin's hair before pulling her down on the floor.

73:10 to 73:34 cut: The two-wannabe models wrestle on the floor of the change room stripping each other to the waist. As they do this, they are mostly seen from behind. Flashes of side breast appear throughout and each flash was individually removed by our censors. The sequence jumped continually as they wrestled, eventually chasing each other into the photographer's studio.

73:43 to 74:07 cut: The two models rush into the studio, tear down paper, and wrestle around topless. David Hemmings joins in. Again, the censor removed frames of film where their breasts flashed on screen. There were numerous quick cuts as the scene jumped all over the place

74:17 – 01:05 cut: The remainder of wrestling scene was removed. The two models are stripped of their tights as all three continue to wrestle. The models are naked and a couple of frames reveal a flash of pubic hair. This put the film on the map overseas as the first general release film to show frontal. You have to know where to look on the screen to catch the iconic second. Australians were saved the search and had their innocence protected.

84:38 - 00:35 cut: Sarah Miles and her boyfriend making love as David Hemming watches. Sarah Miles character climaxes while staring into Hemmings' face as her unaware boyfriend finishes. The cut ends as the camera leaves the bed and moves across the room and Hemmings leaves. This scene was cut in America but not so drastically. There were concerns the film could be prosecuted and so two deletions were made without Antonio knowing. It was uncut in England. The American print was the version released worldwide on VHS, but the uncut British print is the version now on DVD.

98:18 – 01:02 cut: Group at a party rolling joints in close up, smoking and stoned.

When the film premiered in the West End, there was a lot of talk about Vanessa Regdrave baring her breasts. It was late 1966, and an actress with her pedigree didn't strip. When the film was screened in the provinces, the scene appeared to be cut out. In fact it was never censored it just depended on what matte the film was screened in as to whether she was shown or not. Redgrave's breasts were visible at the bottom of the screen for 3-seconds at 54:08. When I saw it at the drive-in she was bared, but at the initial cinema screenings, the bottom of the screen gave her modesty. I saw it in the 1990s twice at Melbourne's Valhalla and the projectionist was obviously fully aware of the issue. A few seconds before Redgrave turned around to face the camera the screen raked up and the top of everyone's heads were cut off, only to return back as soon as her boobs made their exit.

 

When BLOW-UP was reclassified with an M-rating in October 1976, the entry in the Commonwealth Government Gazette claimed it had originally been submitted rated 'Not Suitable for Children' in May 1968. According to Shane, it was playing theatrically before this, which appears to make this date incorrect.

Information provided by Shane Harrison
My understanding was that back then once a film title received a censorship classification it could not be resubmitted for 5 years. That was for all three ratings. So I'm thinking that given BLOW-UP was screening in October 67 then it couldn't have been resubmitted for a rating in May 1968.


 

 

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