Today’s movies wouldn’t meet old ratings

Published 9:46 am Monday, April 8, 2013

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

I love movies. I love to go to movies. It is the drama queen in me that makes me yearn for a story that makes me laugh, makes me cry or touches my heart. Going to the movies is one of my favorite pastimes.

Julie Seedorf

Julie Seedorf

I enjoy watching movies at home, but relaxing in a movie theater with popcorn (popcorn at home never tastes as good as movie popcorn) and sharing the experience with other people makes an evening or a day enjoyable.

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Recently I was visiting my children and asking about taking my grandchildren to a movie. I mentioned a movie that I thought they might like to see, but I was informed by my 7-year-old grandson that the movie I wanted them to see was inappropriate for their age. It was PG-13. I had already seen the movie, and I didn’t see anything in there that was any more questionable than what they see and hear every day on the television.

I asked him if he knew what inappropriate meant, and he proceeded to give me the right definition. Apparently PG-13 movies had appealed to him in the past, and in the discussion he was made aware of what the word meant.

I wisely chose to not argue the point with his parents. It brought back memories of the movie ratings when I was a child. A C-rated movie then would probably be rated PG or PG-13 today.

The Legion of Decency rated the movies back in my day. These were the ratings taken from Wikipedia but I remember them well:

A: Morally unobjectionable

B: Morally objectionable in part

C: Condemned by the Legion of Decency

The A rating was subsequently divided:

A-I: Suitable for all audiences

A-II: Suitable for adults; this later became suitable for adults and adolescents when the next rating came out:

A-III: Suitable for adults only

A-IV: For adults with reservations

As a child I could go to A-rated movies. They were mostly cartoons or Disney movies. I don’t remember what the “Ten Commandments” was rated, but it must have been fine because the entire Catholic school attended the movies. In fact, if it was a religious movie, we would have special time during school to view the movie.

In my research, “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” was condemned by the Legion of Decency. That would be a C-rating. Maybe that is why the movie theater in my hometown burned to the ground while it was playing in my community. It was condemned for its steamy love scenes. Apparently, it was too hot for the Legion of Decency to handle.

In my research I found an article listing movies condemned by the Legion of Decency. Among them is one of my favorites, “Miracle on 34th Street.” It was condemned because of its sympathy toward a divorced mother. Some of the other films condemned are: “Some Like It Hot,” “Psycho” and James Bond movie “From Russia With Love.”

I wonder what my favorite movie, “Gidget,” was rated. If I remember right “Gidget” and the beach party movies were all rated A-III.

As my grandson explained why the movie was inappropriate, my mind revisited the banned movies from my youth and compared them to what we see on TV and at the movies today. If the Legion of Decency still existed, I don’t think there would be enough letters to rate the movies that are now part of our life in 2013.

Did I mention that we all tried to sneak into those movies we weren’t supposed to see? I don’t think it was because we really wanted to see them.

Instead of wanting to see what we weren’t supposed to see, there was also the word banned, and there is something about that word that makes “you can’t,” into “I want to.”


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at