Europe vs. The Censors: How the Movies Got Sexier

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Taught by Max Alvarez

Max is a film historian and writer on world cinema culture who has presented hundreds of lectures, seminars, study tours, and film screening events. A former Smithsonian Institution visiting scholar and Washington, D.C. film curator, Max has two university press books due out in 2013: The Crime Films of Anthony Mann (University Press of Mississippi) and Thornton Wilder: New Perspectives (Northwestern University Press).

Photo credit: Ruth Berdah-Canet



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Hollywood film censorship was at its height during the 1940s and 1950s, so it was up to European filmmakers to give audiences what their Los Angeles counterparts could not provide: beautiful women in various stages of undress and bolder examinations of male-female relationships.

As Marilyn Monroe led by suggestion, Brigitte Bardot led by example. As Hollywood director Elia Kazan attempted to verbalize sex, European directors such as Ingmar Bergman and Roger Vadim were actually visualizing sex.

With such European imports as …and God Created Woman (1956) and La Dolce Vita (1960) taking U.S. art cinemas by storm, Hollywood’s ancient censorship code began to crumble. By the 1960s, American filmmakers began to rebel. Join film historian Max Alvarez on this entertaining R-rated tour through the scandalous and sexy art cinema revolution that changed the movies forever.


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