12 of the Most Famous Banned Movies in Film History

As you may have noticed, we’re pretty excited about Banned Books Week here at Flavorwire — so much so, in fact, that we’ve been obsessing over prohibitions of other media. Since there’s no such thing as “Banned Movies Week” (yet!), we’ve assembled a dozen of the most famously banished movies of all time — here and abroad. Check ’em out after the jump, and throw in your own in the comments.


The original 1932 gangster classic, directed by Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson, was released in the “Pre-Code” era — a bit of a misnomer, since the Motion Picture Code was adopted in 1930, but wasn’t strictly enforced until around 1934. In that period, onscreen portrayals of sex, violence, and bad behavior were far looser than in subsequent years. But even under those lax standards, Scarface (loosely based on the life and crimes of Al Capone) ran into trouble with the state censorship boards, which objected to the film’s glamorization of crime and insisted that the titular character did not meet an appropriately grisly end. Producer Howard Hughes went so far as to shoot an alternate ending in an attempt to satisfy censors, but when that one didn’t pass either, he released the film in its original version. It was banned in five states, including New York — where Hughes filed the first of a series of lawsuits for the right to show his film. He ultimately won the case, and the state of New York lifted their ban, with the other states following suit.