Usually when someone makes a list called ‘50 Most Something Or Other,’ it’s 48 films from the last fifteen years and two perfunctory (and obvious) older films. Not so with Time Out Boston’s excellent list of the 50 Most Controversial Movies Ever. The list is scholarly, excellent and feels fairly comprehensive. It includes everything from Dr. Mabuse to The Last Temptation of Christ, from I Spit On Your Grave to United 93.
It’s sort of fitting that I found this on Time Out Boston (although for all I know it’s on every Time Out site) - the phrase ‘Banned in Boston’ used to really mean something. Until the 1960s the city of Boston would literally ban books, works of art and movies, helped in part by the Boston Watch and Ward Society. The battle over Naked Lunch in 1965 essentially saw the end of Boston bannings, and I suppose the phrase has ceased to mean anything to people under a certain age.
By the way, I don’t know if the date on the site is correct - this could be an old list. But Last Tango in Paris is on it, and star Maria Schneider just died, so it feels timely enough.
But enough of that! Read the list at Time Out, and then see every one of those movies that you haven’t seen (and that you can see - good luck getting Song of the South).