1939 September 15

Censor Ruling Reversed: OK to Show Film of Unmarried French Peasants


The New York State Board of Regents reversed a ban on the French film Harvest, which had been banned by the Board of Censors because it featured peasants who were not married, which the Board had ruled would tend to “corrupt morals.” (The Board of Regents was the state agency overseeing the Board of Censors.) The ban had provoked protests from film critics and newspaper editorials.

It was reported that this was believed to be the first time the Regents had ever overruled a ban without also requiring a movie to be edited.

Movies won First Amendment protection as a form of expression in the famous Supreme Court “Miracle” decision on May 26, 1952.

Learn About the film and the case: Laura Wittern-Keller and Raymond Haberski, The Miracle Case: Film Censorship and the Supreme Court (2009)

Learn more: Frank Walsh, Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry (1996)

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