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Barely Legal: 15 TV And Movie Scenes That Wouldn’t Pass Today

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Barely Legal: 15 TV And Movie Scenes That Wouldn’t Pass Today

When it comes to showing risqué scenes featuring underage actors, the changes in the film industry over time may seem small, but they’re easy to spot. In the past, films with this type of controversial material might have been criticized or even protested against, but most of them still got made. Maybe you’re thinking, but there are still recent films with questionably young women showing a lot of skin. Well, you’re right. Look no further than 16-year-old Thora Birch in the 1999 film American Beauty. It seems that right about the turn of the century is when the studios and censors stopped allowing women that are underage to appear in the buff. Most of the films on this list sidestepped the lawmakers by showing what was considered innocent nudity. Still, innocent or not, these films would never get made today.

The difference over time is small, but one thing we’ve noticed in looking at these films is a slight uptick in the minimum age of the actresses involved. There are plenty of films made in the last 20 years with women around the age of 17, but the films on this list feature younger women than that or in much more compromising scenes than we would see today. These are the films that modern audiences likely won’t even search on Google, let alone watch in their entirety. While we could fill this list with French and foreign films which seem to have underage women in the buff all the time, we chose only North American films to make it more interesting. Whether you treat this as a film-shaming project or a list of films to completely avoid, the films on this list have moments that would never be shot by any director in this age.

Here is a list we call Barely Legal: 15 Movie Scenes that Would Not Pass Today.

15. The Beguiled (1971) – Old Enough For Kisses

via YouTube

The Beguiled is a perfect example for a list like this because this film has just been remade by Sofia Coppola. While we haven’t yet seen the film, we can say with confidence that one scene from the original will not have made it into the new film. The original film had Clint Eastwood playing a wounded Union soldier. It told the story of his forays with the women in a Young Ladies school in Mississippi. Eastwood’s character has intimate moments with nearly every woman in the school at one point or another, but the most disturbing encounter comes with actress Pamelyn Ferdin, who played Amy. Both Ferdin and her character were only 12 years old, but that didn’t stop Eastwood from kissing her. It’s especially weird how the kiss goes down. Eastwood asks her how old she is. She responds with 12, but then tries to explain that she’s 13 in September. That’s when Eastwood shushes her and says, “Old enough for kisses.” That’s when the kissing starts. Sickening.

14. Animal House – The Mayor’s Daughter

via pxyurz

Even without the scene we’re going to discuss in more detail, 1978’s Animal House would never get made today. In fact, most of the college movies from the late ’70s and ’80s would not get made today. They almost all featured the objectification of young women and some real questionable s*xual content. In Animal House, the most awkward scene of all wasn’t illegal in any way and didn’t even feature an underage actress. The actress in the scene, Sarah Holcomb, was 18 at the time of filming, so it was above board. The issue is that she was playing a 13-year-old character, the daughter of the mayor. It gets worse. When she’s about to sleep with one of the guys, the young girl passes out drunk and topless. The guy, Pinto (Tom Hulce), then has a debate with his conscience over whether or not to sleep with the passed out drunk 13-year-old. In the end, he doesn’t do it, but the entire time, there was a topless girl, who we were led to believe had just become a teenager, lying fully in view.

13. Blame It On Rio – Michelle Johnson

via Alchetron

Even though Michelle Johnson was 17 years old when shooting Blame It On Rio, making her the oldest on this list, this role was notable because Johnson had to get a judge’s permission to shoot the film. The reason for this was because it wasn’t just nudity in the movie. There was plenty of implied and explicit scenes throughout that added to the intensity of the nudity. Amazingly, the other half, the man in the s*xualized scenes, was the legendary Michael Caine. Sure, plenty of movies have more bare scenes than this one from 17-year-olds, but few, if any, contemporary films would s*xualize an underage girl like they did here with Johnson in 1984.

12. Bastard Out Of Carolina – Jena Malone

via moviefone

Bastard out of Carolina almost didn’t make this list for a number of reasons. First of all, the film is only 20 years old, so it’s right on the cusp of being considered a contemporary film. More importantly, this film was banned in Canada, so it’s not like it had complete freedom. Still, it was given the green light, and it is a film that would be heavily criticized in our current social landscape. There are two very controversial scenes in the film. Both feature an 11-year-old Jena Malone. Her character in the film, Bone, is s*xually abused twice by an older man. While neither of the scenes feature graphic nudity, they are wildly discomforting things to witness. Apparently, there was some movie magic to ensure the filming process was not traumatic for the young actress, but even the cast and crew were unsure of how it might affect Malone moving forward.

11. Smile And Night Moves – Melanie Griffith

via YouTube

When Melanie Griffith first broke out in the industry in the mid-70s, she did so as a major s*x symbol. Several of her early roles, including both Smile and Night Moves, had explicit content and nudity. For both of these roles, Griffith was under the age of 18, which was shocking because of the combination of nudity and intimacy, particularly with older men. In Night Moves, Griffith played the 16-year-old Delly and, though she was 17, she looked every bit the child. This is maybe why the film garnered some controversy at the time of its release and is definitely why it would never get the green light these days.

10. Romeo And Juliet – The Wedding

via Pinterest

Not only was the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet allowed to be made in those days, but it was celebrated. Hell, the actress playing Juliet, Olivia Hussey (It, Black Christmas, and Death on the Nile), won a Golden Globe for her performance. The most shocking thing about this is that Hussey was only 15 at the time of filming, and she was shown in the buff. In one scene, Juliet and Romeo are shown lying naked in bed the morning after their wedding. There is kissing between the two while they are in the buff. Now, this film was well-received for a number of reasons—one being that the actors were the proper age to the characters in Shakespeare’s original writing. Despite its accuracy, we have a hard time believing that this type of thing would never fly nowadays.

9. Return To The Blue Lagoon – Milla Jovovich

via YouTube

Much like the original Blue Lagoon, Return to the Blue Lagoon faced controversy because of the age and nudity of the star, 15-year-old Milla Jovovich. Jovovich, who was a model before stepping into acting, caught the eye of many in the 1991 film even though it was not received all that well. Incredibly, this film was rated PG-13. One way that Return to the Blue Lagoon managed to get away from underage scandals was to keep all the nude scenes distant from the intimate scenes. All those shots were more hidden and discreet. Still, our laws against underage nudity are so much stricter today that these type of shots would shock almost everyone.

8. The Hole – Keira Knightley Flashing

via IMDb

It’s incredibly strange that some actresses are shown nude on film at the age of 15, but it seems to hit home a little more when that actress is a huge star. That’s what it’s like discovering that Keira Knightley had a flashing scene in the 2001 film The Hole. Since this film is only 16 years old, you might question what it’s doing on this list, but we would argue that this is a thing that wouldn’t happen anymore. There’s even talk that the release of this film was delayed until after Knightley turned 16 to make it easier for audiences to swallow. Still, there’s long been an unwritten rule in Hollywood that if a filmmaker is ever going to s*xualize a young woman, they should at least get a woman who is more mature-looking. Well, anyone who knows Knightley knows that she has never been the most mature-looking woman. Even though it’s less than 20 years old, this film feels like it’s from a different world, if only for this one scene.

7. Reform School Girls – The Shower

via YouTube

Okay, so Reform School Girls was barely seen by anyone, but that doesn’t make it any less offensive. The entire film is just pure voyeurism and features scantily clad women in nearly every shot. That’s fine. That was a common thing to see in B-movies in the ’80s. Even modern B-movies still use this type of thing to attract audiences, but Reform School Girls stands out from the films of today in that the star, Linda Carol, was only 15 during filming. While there are several ‘bare’ shower scenes, there is at least one that features  Carol in the buff. It’s not super graphic or explicit, but that doesn’t make it any better.

6. Baby Love And Taste The Blood Of Dracula

via Pinterest

Linda Hayden would go on to make a career in s*xploitation films of the ’70s, but at least in that decade, she was mostly of age. In the ’60s, when Hayden starred in the film Baby Love, she was only 15. This movie followed Hayden’s character as she tried to seduce her adoptive family. That alone is difficult to watch because of the actress’ and character’s age. Add in the nudity, and it becomes unwatchable today. A year after this film, Hayden filmed Taste the Blood of Dracula with Christopher Lee as Dracula. This one, incredibly, was given a General Audience rating in 1970. When it was released again on DVD, the rating system revised it and gave it an R-rating.

5. The Godfather – Wedding Night

via screen-queens.com

The Godfather is one of the greatest films ever made, but there is one scene that would never even pass the pitch stage in our time. The scene in question is when Simonetta Stefanelli, the actress who played Apollonia, Michael Corleone’s new wife, is shown topless on the night of their wedding. Now, this scene is not gratuitous, but Stefanelli was only 16 years old while shooting this scene. That’s much too young for 1972 and far, far too young for today’s audiences. Perhaps because of how beloved this film is, this is a scene that not a lot of people ever think about. Maybe we should.

4. Adrian Lyne’s Lolita (1997)

via YouTube

It’s crazy to think that Vladimir Nabokov’s book, Lolita, was ever turned into one film, let alone two. First came Kubrick‘s adaptation in 1962. His film was heavily censored and was forced to resort to innuendo and implications to get the message across. It is very tame compared to the more modern version. Kubrick said afterward that, if he knew how badly he would be handcuffed by the Hays Code, he would have never made the film. The modern version is much more raunchy and explicit. Adrian Lyne has pretty much only filmed borderline er*tica, so when he took on the famous story of pedophilia, people knew they were in for some questionable stuff. The title character in the remake was played by Dominique Swain, who was only 15 at the time. Due to the er*tic relationship depicted in the film, it struggled to get a distributor and premiered on Showtime before getting a theatrical release in the States. Still, the film got released in the end, and we highly doubt it would have been so in this day and age.

3. Bolero – Olivia d’Abo’s Bath Scene

via YouTube

Olivia d’Abo is probably best-known for playing Karen Arnold in The Wonder Years, but she will always be remembered by some for her role in the film Bolero. In that terrible film, there is a scene that has the protagonist, played by Bo Derek, bathing a nude d’Abo. Shockingly, d’Abo was only 14 years old during filming, and she was playing a 13-year-old. The scene is even more disturbing in that it features full-frontal nudity and is heavily s*xualized, as is everything in this soft-core film. While the movie is only just over 30 years old, it’s impossible to imagine a film in our day would ever attempt to film a scene like this.

2. Child Bride – Skinny-Dipping

via YouTube

If there was ever an age that was more sensitive to underage nudity than our own, it would be when studio films were censored under the Hays Code. But there is one film that escaped the censorship of the time by posing as an educational film. This film is 1938’s Child Bride. Although many rallied against the film, slamming it for being exploitational, it still got made. The entire film is controversial in many ways, but there is one scene in particular that involves a 12-year-old Shirley Mills skinny-dipping with another boy. Perhaps the most disturbing part of the scene is that the two children are discussing the fact that they’re growing up and changing, drawing far more attention to the nudity and erasing any childlike innocence that might have been there. Couple that with the fact the whole film is about marrying underage girls, and the film could make even the biggest creep uneasy.

1. Pretty Baby – Brooke Shields

via Pinterest

There’s always been a lot of talk about Brooke Shields‘ role in Blue Lagoon because she was underage and often shot nude in the film, but those shots were famously done with a body double. Obviously, the implication is still enough to make viewers uncomfortable, but it’s nothing compared to her role in Pretty Baby. This was a film that caused major controversy when it was released in 1978. Today, it would never even be green-lit. There are scenes that show Shields completely in the buff. She was only 12 years old at the time. It’s not as if this movie was given free rein, though. Even in 1978, it caused an uproar. It was rated X in the UK and banned in certain provinces in Canada. The uncut DVD showing Shields completely undressed wasn’t released in the UK until 2006, but the US had no issues showing it.

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