The Last Laugh: Banned in Ontario

The Last Laugh: Banned in Ontario

Released in 1924, Murnau’s film was not screened in Ontario until 1928. During the winter of 1925, F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece, The Last Laugh, was shown to a very exclusive group of Ontario movie-goers. The audience was the Ontario Board of Censors, and while they were no doubt impressed by the film’s dazzling cinematography and lack of subtitles, the film was banned simply because it was made in Germany. Murnau’s film was screened in other provinces…

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Restricted: Ontario film censorship in the 1950s

Restricted: Ontario film censorship in the 1950s

  While rummaging through the Revue Cinema’s projection booth in preparation for a recent Silent Sundays screening, I found this old “Adult entertainment” sign buried under some obsolete  electronics. As we recently examined, Ontario was the first Canadian province to enact “Adult entertainment” film designations, reflecting the public’s reaction to the changing mores in Hollywood and European film-making. With their playful italics and authoritative bold type, these signs dangled underneath a theatre’s marquee or canopy —…

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One hundred years of film censorship in Ontario

One hundred years of film censorship in Ontario

Since 2011 marks the centenary of the creation of the Ontario Board of Censors, we present the first in a series of articles examining film censorship in Ontario. There was a time in Ontario when film versions of Shakespeare’s greatest plays were too violent or too racy for the public good. In February 1910, one Staff Insp. Kennedy seized a print of Hamlet. The Daily Star quoted this arbiter of public morals about how how…

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Ontario Film Censorship: Then & Now

Ontario Film Censorship: Then & Now

In case you missed it, I wrote about the history of film censorship in Ontario for the Toronto Star last weekend. I was surprised to learn from a few friends who didn’t know we still had censors (nowadays known as the Ontario Film Review Board), but the truth is that Ontario has had constant film censorship, certification, review — whatever you want to call it — for nearly a century. I originally set out to…

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