The Catholic Legion of Decency, later known as the National Legion of Decency, was founded in 1933 with a purpose guided by Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani’s statement to “purify cinema.” As could be predicted, this board — which was made up of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews — put forth condemnation right and left, oftentimes on films that would later became classics. Those films are now being showcased over at Turner Classic Movies, which, for the month of March, is playing a handful of these condemned films every Thursday night of the month, hosted by media scholar Sister Rose Pacatte.
Condemned, as TMC is calling it, seeks to explore the Catholic church’s impact on film’s history. When it was at its most effective, the Legion of Decency handed out grades that sometimes resulted in the film’s being reworked. The grading system was pretty simple, and familiar to anyone who attended school in the U.S.: an “A” was given to films found to be morally unobjectionable, a “B” given to films found to be morally objectionable in part, and a “C” was given to films that were, terrifyingly, condemned. Obviously, TCM will not be playing any films that were found to be morally unobjectionable.
The full schedule is below.
Thursday, March 3 8 p.m. The Story of Temple Drake (1933) 10 p.m. Black Narcissus (1947) 1 1:30 p.m. Design For Living (1933) 1:15 a.m. The Outlaw (1943) 3:30 a.m. Baby Face (1933) 5: a.m. Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
Thursday, March 10 8 p.m. M (1951) 9:45 p.m. The French Line (1954) 11:45 p.m. And God Created Woman (1956) 1:30 a.m. Untamed Youth (1957) 3:00 a.m. Breathless (1960)
Thursday, March 17 8 p.m. Viridiana (1961) 9:45 p.m. Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) 12 a.m. Blow-Up (1966) 2 a.m. Never on Sunday (1960) 3:45 a.m. Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)
Thursday, March 24 8 p.m. The Carey Treatment (1972) 10 p.m. The Competition (1980) 12:15 a.m. Those Lips, Those Eyes (1980) 2:15 a.m. Lemora, A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973) 4 a.m. Ice Castles (1978)
Thursday, March 31 TCM Spotlight: Condemned – Special Circumstances 8 p.m. The Moon Is Blue (1953) (Condemned by the Legion and bypassed the Production Code entirely) 10 p.m. Baby Doll (1956) (Condemned by the Legion but approved by the Production Code) 12:15 a.m. L’Amore (1948) (Condemned by the Legion, led to Supreme Court lawsuit in 1952 known as the “Miracle Decision” which declared the film was a form of artistic expression protected by the freedom of speech guarantee of First Amendment to the United States Constitution) 1:45 a.m. Strange Cargo (1940) (Condemned by the Legion, studio released a cut version) 3:45 a.m. Rififi (1954) (Condemned by the Legion, re-released with changes to a B rating) 5:45 a.m. Love in the Afternoon (1957) (Condemned by the Legion, studio changed ending)