Dirty Words and Filthy Pictures: Film and the First Amendment

Dirty Words and Filthy Pictures: Film and the First Amendment

by Jermey Geltzer


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From the earliest days of cinema, scandalous films such as The Kiss (1896) attracted audiences eager to see provocative images on screen. With controversial content, motion pictures challenged social norms and prevailing laws at the intersection of art and entertainment. Today, the First Amendment protects a wide range of free speech, but this wasn't always the case. For the first fifty years, movies could be censored and banned by city and state officials charged with protecting the moral fabric of their communities. Once film was embraced under the First Amendment by the Supreme Court's Miracle decision in 1952, new problems pushed notions of acceptable content even further.
Dirty Words & Filthy Pictures explores movies that changed the law and resulted in greater creative freedom for all. Relying on primary sources that include court decisions, contemporary periodicals, state censorship ordinances, and studio production codes, Jeremy Geltzer offers a comprehensive and fascinating history of cinema and free speech, from the earliest films of Thomas Edison to the impact of pornography and the Internet. With incisive case studies of risqué pictures, subversive foreign films, and banned B-movies, he reveals how the legal battles over film content changed long-held interpretations of the Constitution, expanded personal freedoms, and opened a new era of free speech. An important contribution to film studies and media law, Geltzer's work presents the history of film and the First Amendment with an unprecedented level of detail.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781477307434
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 01/04/2016
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 809,252
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jeremy Geltzer is an author and entertainment and intellectual property attorney who has worked for major movie studios, including Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, and Lionsgate. Prior to his legal career, Geltzer was a writer and producer at Turner Classic Movies. He has also taught film history and theory at Georgia State University and lectured on issues of copyright and fair use.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword by The Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Introduction
  • Part I: Censoring the Cinema
    • 1. Boxing, Porn, and the Beginnings of Movie Censorship
    • 2. The Rise of Salacious Cinema
    • 3. State Regulations Emerge
    • 4. Mutual and the Capacity for Evil
    • 5. War, Nudity, and Birth Control
    • 6. Self-Regulation Reemerges
    • 7. Midnight Movies and Sanctioned Cinema
    • 8. Sound Enters the Debate
    • 9. Tension Increases between Free Speech and State Censorship
    • 10. Threats from Abroad and Domestic Disturbances
  • Part II: Freedom of the Screen
    • 11. Outlaws and Miracles
    • 12. State Censorship Statutes on the Defense
    • 13. Devil in the Details: Film and the Fourth and Fifth Amendments
  • Part III: Dirty Words, Filthy Pictures, and Where to Find Them
    • 14. Dirty Words: Profanity and the Patently Offensive
    • 15. Filthy Pictures: Obscenity from Nudie Cuties to Fetish Films
    • 16. The Porno Chic: From Danish Loops to Deep Throat
    • 17. Just Not Here: Content Regulation through Zoning
  • Part IV: Censorship Today
    • 18. Is Censorship Necessary?
    • 19. The Politics of Profanity
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

E. Leonard Rubin

"Dirty Words & Filthy Pictures’s scope is impressively broad, and to the best of my personal knowledge virtually complete; it appears to leave no pertinent censorship situation unmentioned and makes fascinating reading. This book should be the ultimate resource for information regarding film censorship for some time to come."

Garry Marshall

"Dirty Words tells the inside story of Hollywood’s fight for freedom of speech. It’s filled with great characters—from moviemakers who pushed the edge to the censors who pushed back."

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