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Decider After Dark

10 Movies with Sex Scenes That (Almost) Broke the Censors

Where to Stream

American Psycho

It’s amazing the difference one rating change can make. Whereas an R rating can put a movie on the path for a wide theatrical release, critical claim, and lot of box office cash, if one too many lines are crossed, your movie could land in the dreaded NC-17 territory. A rating that high means you pissed off the censors, which is fun, but it can also be a profitability death toll for movies.

Many of your favorite movies, whether you know it or not, started on the NC-17 side of the ratings road before making enough cuts to make them R-friendly. Going through every movie that has been dealt a NC-17 rating would be exhaustive, so today we’re just limiting to the sexy parts of this long list. Below are some of the most notable movies that initially earned an NC-17 rating because they were just too steamy.

1

‘Eyes Wide Shut’ (1999)

eyes-wide-shut-netflix

Oh Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, you cause all the trouble. Stanley Kubrick’s film about one couple’s adventurous night is already known for being orgy central, but it caused some controversy when it was first released. Warner Bros. first released a cut version of the movie to theaters, citing contractual obligations to deliver R ratings. This greatly upset critics who argued that cutting even a minute of Kubrick’s work was unfair for a filmmaker who has never been shy about ratings. An unrated version of the movie was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2007, but theaters still ran with the R version in theaters.

So what was changed to make the movie theater friendly? The orgy scene was digitally altered by inserting more extras to block out the graphic view.

Where to stream Eyes Wide Shut

2

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013)

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, from left: Margot Robbie, Leonardo DiCaprio, 2013. ph: Mary Cybulski/©Param
Photo: Everett Collection

It’s not entirely surprising that a Martin Scorsese film that has to do with the gritty side of the finance world had trouble with the ratings. In order to secure a profitable R rating for the movie, Scorsese had to remove some sexual content and nudity. However, part of the reason the director had a problem with the censors is likely because of all the swearing. The movie uses the f-word over 500 times.

Unfortunately, we won’t be getting a look at those deleted scenes anytime soon. Scorsese has been clear that he doesn’t “do” director’s cuts, and he’s not releasing anything that wasn’t included in the movie’s final version. Bummer.

Where to stream The Wolf of Wall Street

3

‘Grindhouse’ (2007)

GRINDHOUSE, (DEATH PROOF segment), Kurt Russell, Rose McGowan, 2007. ©Weinstein Company LLC/Courtesy

It wasn’t the final film that almost got this horror movie in trouble but its trailer. Though the movie was co-written, produced, and directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth was the one responsible for its trailer, which he released on Thanksgiving. The trailer Roth produced was a gory mess, featuring graphic scenes like a cheerleader getting stabbed in the vulva while she was simultaneously stripping and jumping on a trampoline and at least four decapitations. However, when it was explained that the trailer was fake and when the ratings advisory board saw that the movie’s actual violence was spread over the entire movie, they relaxed. Grindhouse was released with an R-rating, and Roth happily lived with the knowledge that he could ruffle the censors’ feathers.

Where to stream Grindhouse

4

‘Brüno’ (2009)

BRUNO, Sacha Baron Cohen, 2009. ©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
©Universal/Courtesy Everett Col

Though you may want to forget Sacha Baron Cohen’s second take on the mockumentary format, the ratings board probably doesn’t. The first cut of the movie that was submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America was given a NC-17 rating. However, a second cut of the film downgraded it to an R-rating.

So what was so bad about that first cut? According to The Wrap, the first version featured the gay, Austrian fashion reporter having anal sex with another man. Also, in another scene, Cohen sneaks into a non-actor’s tent, naked.

Where to stream Brüno

5

‘American Pie’ (1999)’

american-pie-2

There are many moments in this iconic teen sex comedy that may seem questionable to some. However, the part that offended the MPAA wasn’t the movie’s foul language or many sexual innuendos. It was the scene that made the movie so iconic. Jason Biggs’ ill-advised love affair with his mother’s apple pie was initially deemed too much by censors with the MPAA requesting the scene contain less thrusting. Try to go to sleep after thinking about that.

Where to stream American Pie

6

‘American Psycho’ (2000)

american-psycho
Photo: Everett Collection

Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel will forever go down in film history for its depiction of violence, fantasy fulfillment, and for showing us the dark side of those finance bros. Keeping that in mind, it’s not surprising that American Psycho originally was given a NC-17 rating. The offending scene in question featured a threesome between Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) and two prostitutes. Eighteen seconds of that scene were removed, and the rest is bloody box office history.

Where to stream American Psycho

7

‘Blue Valentine’ (2010)

blue-valentine

If you want to know why every woman adores Ryan Gosling, this is it. Starring Gosling and Michelle Williams, this deeply romantic and emotional drama about one married couple’s relationship initially seems anything but NC-17 material. However, it was given that deadly rating for depicting a scene where Gosling’s character goes down on Williams. Outraged, the movie appealed the MPAA’s ruling and Gosling publicly spoke out about the ruling, pointing out the sexist double standard the industry applied to oral sex scenes. In a rare move, the board relented, and Blue Valentine was released with an R rating as it was.

Where to stream Blue Valentine

8

‘The Doors’ (1991)

the-doors-oliver-stone
Photo: Everett Collection

If your rock star biopic receives a rating that’s reserved for pornographic material, you’re probably doing something right. Directed by Oliver Stone and starring Val Kilmer, The Doors followed the iconic rock star Jim Morrison and was packed with nudity, sex scenes, foul language, and drug use. Two versions of the film were eventually released — an R-rated version for typical theaters and the original NC-17 cut of the film.

Where to stream The Doors

9

‘Inside Deep Throat’ (2005)

INSIDE DEEP THROAT, movie theater playing DEEP THROAT, 2005, (c) Universal/courtesy Everett Collecti
©Universal/Courtesy Everett Col

It’s rare that a documentary gets the NC-17 treatment, but here we are. Though it covered the Golden Age of Porn and how the industry affected American society, this documentary primarily focused on one porno that received a wide release — 1972’s Deep Throat. As such, the documentary featured several sexually explicit scenes from the original film, which the MPAA was not a fan of. Inside Deep Throat was the first film since Henry & June to be released by Universal with an NC-17 rating. There was also another, tamer version of the film that was cut for theatrical audiences.

Where to stream Inside Deep Throat

10

‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1971)

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, Warren Clarke, Malcolm McDowell, James Marcus, 1971

I started this list with Kubrick, and I’m going to end it with him too. It goes without saying, Stanley Kubrick had some problems with censors. The scene that earned the film an X rating (the predecessor to NC-17) wasn’t the film’s disturbing take on “Singing in the Rain.” It was the sped up sex scene. Kubrick intentionally used fast-motion blur during the scene when Malcolm McDowell sleeps with two women in an attempt to bypass the censors. However, the MPAA awarded the movie an X rating anyway, fearing that actual pornographers would adopt that technique to slip more risque content by them. The movie is now typically played and released in its complete form with a revised R rating.

Where to stream A Clockwork Orange