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Hitchcock and the Censors$
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John Billheimer

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813177427

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813177427.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 06 March 2021

The Rise of the Rating System

The Rise of the Rating System

(p.295) 39 The Rise of the Rating System
Hitchcock and the Censors

John Billheimer

University Press of Kentucky

The comprehensive movie rating system arrived in November 1968, when Jack Valenti scuttled the Production Code and replaced it with a four-letter system (G, M, R, and X) designed to provide parental guidance and (in theory, but not in practice) free filmmakers from the interfering scissors of censors. But the men in charge of the newly formed Code and Rating Administration were the same censors who had previously enforced the Production Code. These men were used to dealing with producers and directors. And with an X rating estimated to cause a 50 percent decline in attendance, and an R rating a 20 percent decline, it was only natural for producers and directors to confer with board members to determine what sort of cuts would be needed to convert an X rating to an R, or turn an R rating into an M. To the untrained eye, this dealing between producers and board members looked very much like censorship. At least, that was the way it appeared to Stephen Farber, a board intern in 1967 who found that almost one-third of the movies produced in 1969 had been reedited to achieve the rating desired by the distribution company.

Keywords:   Stephen Farber, movie rating system, Jack Valenti, rating negotiations, Production Code, G, M, R, and X ratings, Code and Rating Administration

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