As the years go by, the movie seems to put more and more pressure on writers and directors to create films that are for the whole family, and a lot seem to focus on the effects instead of the story. Granted, there are a lot of movies out there that are well-written, but Hollywood is so worried about offending someone, a lot of the messages are left out. Back in the “olden days,” there were a great deal of movies with hidden meanings that many people did not seem to realize until years later, when they are much older and they watch the movie again.
There was not a PG-13 rating until 1984, when Red Dawn became the first movie to be released with that rating. Until 1984, there were a lot of movies that could have stood to be under that rating, but were approved for the majority of viewers, since there was a tremendous gap between PG and R ratings. The movies in this list were all rated PG at the time (with the exception of Risky Business, which was R, but was shown on HBO for many months, so a lot of kids had access to the movie), and some should have been restricted to more mature audiences. Since there was nothing in-between PG and R at that time, just about anyone could see these films at the theater. Most of them were shown on television as well, so children that grew up the 1970s got to hear conversations that only adults (or teenagers) should witness.
5) The Toy – 1982
The Toy, with Richard Pryor, was created back in 1982. Watching this movie as a small child back then, one would never really pay attention to the phrases and hidden meanings in the movie. The film starts out with a boy who is spoiled rotten and his father, (played by the legendary Jackie Gleason) finds an African-American man, the part played by Richard Pryor; who is extremely funny and the child wants to “own” him as a toy. Eventually, the father caves and decides to spend five thousand dollars to “buy” the man as a toy for the would-be juvenile delinquent. A black man being purchased nowadays would be considered slavery, and the movie would most likely never make it past the edit room.
There are so many phrases in this movie that are so off-beam, that a lot of people just let it slide back in the 80s; since back then, it was not considered a “big deal” for most. For instance, the father’s name in the movie is “U.S.” and his wife is constantly calling him “You Ass.” She seems to portray the typical “dumb blonde” and gets treated as such, during the entire 102 minutes of the feature. The child’s last name is Bates, and his servants (yes, they are even called his servants) continually call him “Master Bates.” A bit of a hidden innuendo there, although it would not be so ‘child-friendly’ in recent movies. During the entire movie, Jack (the child) claims that the man is his friend, even though his father paid for him to entertain the child. In today’s society, it would be too “politically incorrect” to even start to write a movie with all these premises, especially one that is rated PG.
4) Labyrinth – 1986
In 1986, Jim Henson directed the movie, Labyrinth. At this time, Henson was also the creator of the ever-popular Muppets, and may not have realized at the making of the film, how much mind-control was undertaken in the movie. David Bowie, known mostly for being a world-famous pop-star in the 1970s and 80s, took on the role as Gareth: the Goblin King, who kidnaps the fifteen year old, Sarah’s, little brother. He makes Sarah go through an entire maze filled with traps and illusions to rescue her brother, only to have her realize in the end that he has “no control over her.” During the movie, Gareth dresses up Sarah in a beautiful princess-type gown and dances with her, something that would be frowned upon in today’s world, since she is so young and impressionable. The Goblin King is constantly trying to control Sarah and the creatures that she meets along her journey, as well. This is one movie where the teenager repetitively complains about having to look after her little brother, and does not realize how much he means to her until he is taken away. It may have been the meaning for most people, but the hidden messages in the movie (including the use of crystal balls and brainwashing), go far beyond a little girl learning a lesson about taking people for granted.
3) Grease – 1978
The biggest selling musical in the world, Grease, was made back in 1978. It is one of the few movies from that time period, that many teens today know about, and have actually seen. The movie was filmed in the 70s, but was based on teenage life in the 1950s. During the entire film, Danny is considered a “hoodlum,” by wearing all black and hanging out with his gang of boys, while Sandy is the “good girl,” who is from a foreign country and dresses in long poodle skirts and sweaters. Throughout the movie, Sandy is constantly picked on because of her “goody-goody” behavior and how she refuses to have sex before marriage, while her friends in the “Pink Ladies” have all lost their virginity, long before even meeting Sandy.
Although many movies today feature girls in tight shorts and barely any clothing at all, this movie was made over thirty years ago. At the end (spoiler alert for anyone who has never seen Grease), Danny dresses up like a preppy kid and Sandy decides that she’s going to get her man by “painting on her pants” (figuratively speaking), and smoking a cigarette. Apparently this type of behavior works in Hollywood, but not so much in real life. Or does it?
2) Risky Business – 1983
Tom Cruise plays Joel, a teenager whose parents go out of town and gets himself into a lot of trouble in the process, in Risky Business. That is all this movie is about, essentially. Today, parents go out of town and many kids are probable to throw a party, but how many teenagers actually hire a prostitute to start working for them? Joel pretty much turned himself into a pimp, and makes money off of the girls who come in and out of his house. Did anyone else see this as a bad thing in 1980s? Or was it just overlooked since Tom is such a good looking guy? Or is it just the point that his co-star, Rebecca De Mornay, is drop-dead gorgeous? Perhaps we just overlooked the fact that she was a hooker and decided that this movie was fine for the generation, since “everyone else was doing it.” No, they really weren’t. Not in the real world, at least.
1) Silver Streak – 1976
One of the funniest comedy duos of the late 1970s and early 1980s, had to be Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. When those two men got together to make a movie, the laughter was never ending. The movie, Silver Streak did not sway from that fact one bit. The movie is rated PG, but with several curse words and sexual phrases, it would undoubtedly be rated PG-13, or even R, in today’s rating system. That is, if they even would allow the movie to be released at all. There are so many quotes in the movie that have people laughing hysterically and quoting them for hours, even after the film ends. It starts out as George Caldwell (played by Gene Wilder) is on the train, Silver Streak, to go to Chicago for his sister’s wedding. Instead he sees a murder on the train, and since he was drinking, he merely assumes that he was just imagining it. He meets a man on the train that claims to be a vitamin salesman, and even says to George, “it’s good for the pecker.” The man seems to be quite obsessed with sex, but ends up being a federal agent who helps George out after he gets accused of murdering someone later.
George then meets a woman on the train named Hilly, who also seems sexually fixated. She and George begin an intimate conversation after first meeting, saying things like, “I give great phone,” meaning that she is good at answering the phone at her secretary position. The conversation goes on with George saying, “Do you go all the way?” This was misconstrued by Hilly, but she doesn’t seem to mind when he continues, “to Chicago?” These may not be so bad in today’s movies, but the underlying tones become even more hilarious when Richard Pryor steps into the picture. Trying to hide from the cops, he ends up covering George’s face in black shoe polish to disguise him as a black man, to get past security at the train station.
Silver Streak (nor any of these movies on this list) was never re-rated, so a lot of parents were misled, thinking that they were okay for children to watch. In today’s culture, they would definitely deserve a rating of PG-13 or higher, by Hollywood’s standards; so renting one of these videos to watch with your five year old probably isn’t such a good idea.