Thursday, January 08, 2009

If You Go Too Far You're Going to Wear the Scar

According to a whole bunch of sources no doubt quoting each other, Friday is the 58th anniversary of the premiere of the first film to get the X rating. Thing is, the MPAA rating system wasn't established until 1968, so how a film got rated X in 1951 is hard to say, even for someone like me mediocre at math, although I can figure out this--the film would have been 17 by the time the rating system got established, so would then have been old enough to see itself. The supposed title of the film, Life after Tomorrow, doesn't exist, even on IMDB (if a film screens but isn't listed on IMDB, is it real?). Well, there is a 2006 film with that title, but it's a doc about 40 women who played Annie, and therefore knew--VERY LOUDLY--when the sun would come out. The X version of that film must be a thrill for redhead fetishists and a horror film for the rest of us. But we know they don't award the X for terror, just for sex. (As for Daddy Warbucks jokes, I'm just not going to go there.) Perhaps it's fitting that Life after Tomorrow hasn't had a life after tomorrow; an X in 1951 more than likely meant a married couple sleeping in the same bed anyway. Of course before there was X there was W, and we all know W stands for FUBAR.



Blogger jqb said...

According to Wikipedia,

The 1968 film Greetings, directed by Brian De Palma, and starring Robert De Niro in his first film role, was the first film to receive an "X" rating in the United States. It has since been re-rated "R".

And according to,

Controversial subjects on film were accommodated in the UK under the new 'X' category, introduced in 1951 and incorporating the former advisory 'H' category given to horror films....The new 'X' category, which excluded children under 16, was sufficient to contain the cynical La Ronde, Max Ophuls' 1951 film about a chain of sexual encounters.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Gracie said...

I remember going to see ulysses in 1967. It must have been X rated. The movie theatre was so strick abt who could attend that they checked our drivers licenses to see our ages.

4:28 PM  
Blogger George said...

Hiya, jqb. Thanks for finding the UK explanation. "La Ronde" got an X? Jeez. It's a wonderful film, but then I'm a huge Ophuls fan.

Still no sign of "Life after Tomorrow," though.

And Gracie, yes, since "Ulysses" dared to use the F-word, it got an X. Since all those teenagers were clamoring to see an adaptation of James Joyce's masterwork.

4:33 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

Hiya George. I found it. googling london first x-rated led immediately to

where a comment says According to the BBFC's website the earliest films to be rated 'X' were all classified on 15th January 1951. The films were "Traffic In Souls", "Occupe-Toi D'Amelia", "Passionnelle", "La Vie Commence Demain", "Manon", "The Miracle" and "Clochemerle"


Documentary filmmaker Nicole Vedre's first semi-fictional feature was released in France in 1949 as La Vie Commence Demain. The film made it to the U.S. in 1952 as Life Begins Tomorrow. Made in cooperation with UNESCO, the film speculates on the future of mankind after the advent of Atomic Energy. Many prominent French artists and intellects contribute to the narration: Jean-Pierre Aumont plays The Man of Today, Andre Labarthe is the Man of Tomorrow, and Jean-Paul Sartre, Daniel Agache, Jean Rostand, Le Corbusier, Pablo Picasso and Andre Gide are respectively seen as "The Existentialist," "The Psychiatrist,' "The Biologist," "The Architect," "The Artist" and "The Author" (talk about typecasting!) Film clips of hospitals, schoolrooms, scientific laboratories, and even nightclubs are woven into Vedre's fascinating tapestry. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Other things that happened on January 15:

2:46 PM  
Blogger George said...

Thanks for the research, jqb.

That movie sounds fascinating (and more than likely ponderous, but still).

3:02 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

A bit more on this: a number of sites claim that La Vie Commence Demain opened in London on January 28, but according to it opened on January 12 (hey, that's today!), at the Cameo-Poly (see for info about the theatre).

8:33 PM  
Anonymous dr tushar said...

It seems that the film 'Life Begins Tomorrow' was rated X partly because of a scene showing artificial insemination!

7:09 PM  
Blogger Wireless.Phil said...

I noticed the film was rated when I looked up "Today In History" 1951.
I just wondered what the film was about?

Jan 9th Life After Tomorrow, 1st film to receive an "X" rating, premieres

9:40 PM  

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