Classic Movie Scenes That Pushed The Boundaries

By | January 19, 2023

Elizabeth Montgomery as the lead character in 'The Legend of Lizzie Borden' (1975)

Today, hardly a day goes by where there is no controversy or public debate about whether or not various films or other programs have crossed a line of what is acceptable to depict on film. Such debates consume an enormous amount of the public’s collective consciousness, and it seems sometimes that it’s all we ever do. It is easy to forget, however, that such debates are as old as film itself.

Many films over the decades have been controversial for their depictions of various things. Excessive violence, sexual themes, and use of questionable language in films have been magnets for public debate around their suitability to be shown and whether or not they degrade society through their being shown. This list is a journey back in time and an examination of some films from yesterday that fit that description. 

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(CBS Television Distribution)

Murder mysteries are a genre whose popularity has remained consistent throughout the generations. Tales of murder often lend themselves to questions about ethics, revenge, justifiable violence, psychology, and so on, and can often be controversial in how they ask these questions as well as being quite explicit. The 1975 film The Legend of Lizzie Borden was an example of this. The film follows a still unsolved murder from the 1890’s in New England. The prime suspect was played by Elizabeth Montgomery, who was depicted committing the murders in the film while in the nude, which was censored for American viewers. 

'Onibaba' Remains One Of The Most Horrifying Films Of The 1960s

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Japanese cinema has always pushed the boundaries of conventional films, and has often been collectively a more avant-garde industry than the film industries of other countries. Onibaba, released in 1964, is a good example of this. The film is a period drama about the Samurai wars of medieval Japan, or a Jidaigeki as it is called in Japanese. The film was controversial when released, as it revolves around two women who capture and murder passing Samurai to steal their possessions to sell and survive, but one of the women ends up in a graphic sexual relationship with one of the Samurai they capture.