The 50 most controversial movies of all time

Not for the easily offended

Citizen Kane (1941)

The Movie: Newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst didn't take kindly to Orson Welles' fictionalised account of his life. He attempted to suppress the film, effectively killing off its box-office potential, but in an early version of The Streisand Effect, the more he shouted about it, the more people associated Kane with Hearst.

Most Controversial Moment: Kane falls in love with singer Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore), a thinly veiled version of Heart's mistress, actress Marion Davies.

Zoolander (2001)

The Movie: Ben Stiller's fashion comedy remains banned in Malaysia thanks to its plot about male model Derek Zoolander (Stiller) being brainwashed to assassinate the country's president.

Most Controversial Moment: The portrayal of Malaysia as a corrupt country whose trade with Western fashion houses relies on sweatshop-style child labour.

L'Age D'Or (1930)

The Movie: After rioters threw ink at the screen at the screen during the premiere of Luis Bunuel's anti-Catholic satire, the producers kept the film out of distribution for nearly 50 years. Its official US premiere took place in 1979.

Most Controversial Moment: The Duc de Blangis - who looks exactly like Jesus Christ - emerges from an orgy, seduces a passing woman, and lures her back into his castle.

The Terminator (1984)

The Movie: James Cameron's breakthrough movie shouldn't have been controversial at all… until sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison saw it and recognised the plot from his Outer Limits ' episode, Soldier . He won damages and an acknowledgement in the credits.

Most Controversial Moment: The arrival of soldiers from the future in the present day, the shared premise of Ellison's story and the film.

Basic Instinct (1992)

The Movie: Never mind the sex and violence. It was the implication that all lesbians are crazed killers that drew angry protests from gay rights activists.

Most Controversial Moment: Lesbian Roxy (Leilani Sarelle) tries to run down Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) because he slept with her lover, Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone).

Battleship Potemkin (1925)

The Movie: Sergei Eisenstein's classic was commissioned as Soviet propaganda - which of course made it dangerous stuff in Western nations, notably the UK, where it was banned until 1954.

Most Controversial Moment: The mistreated sailors of the Potemkin mutiny against their officers. You can kinda see why the authorities didn't like it.

The Wild One (1954)

The Movie: A new kind of youth - clad in leather, driving a motorbike, and taking shit from nowhere - arrives on screen in the form of Marlon Brando. The BBFC were scared enough to ban the film until 1968.

Most Controversial Moment: Johnny (Brando) is asked, "What are ya rebelling against?" He replies cockily: "Whaddaya got?"

Ichi The Killer (2001)

The Movie: The BBFC had been showing relative leniency to films, including Takashi Miike's Audition , when his ultra-violent follow-up arrived. Over three minutes of cuts were required to tone down sexual violence.

Most Controversial Moment: A tortured prostitute's nipples are sliced off.

Nosferatu (1922)

The Movie: The fact that he didn't own the rights didn't stop F.W. Murnau from adapting Dracula with only the character names changed. When Bram Stoker's widow sued, the courts ordered all prints destroyed… but one survived.

Most Controversial Moment: Thomas Hutter travels to Transylvania to meet the mysterious Count Orlok (Max Schreck). Any similarity to Stoker's story about Jonathan Harker meeting the mysterious Dracula is coincidental, honest guv.

Cocksucker Blues (1972)

The Movie: Robert Frank's documentary about The Rolling Stones remains unreleased - largely because the Stones don't want anybody to see its footage of they and their entourage trollied on drugs. By court order, it can only be screened if Frank is physically present.

Most Controversial Moment: From the Stones' point of view, probably the incriminating footage of Mick Jagger snorting cocaine backstage.

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