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The 'A' film classification in 1960

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  • The 'A' film classification in 1960

    The 'A' film classification in 1960 - what did this actually mean? I've heard that different council territories had different rules for the admission of children, or not, to 'A' films.

  • #2
    What it meant was that a child under 16 could only be admitted if accompanied by an adult over 21.So what happened was,that I being under the age of 16would go up to adults outside the cinema and ask if they would take me in with them.Not a very good idea.I am sure people today would be horrified by the thought.

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    • #3
      I've been told by a child star of an 'A' movie shown in London in 1960 that despite he and his father being welcomed by the cinema manager he was not allowed to see the film.

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      • #4
        Tony

        A grey area, between 1951 and 1970 the A classification was open to interpretation, as some councils ruled that children must be accompanied by an adult, while others did not. Overall a local council could overrule the recommendation of what was the British Board of Film Classification, but the majority followed their lead.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mikey View Post
          Tony

          A grey area, between 1951 and 1970 the A classification was open to interpretation, as some councils ruled that children must be accompanied by an adult, while others did not. Overall a local council could overrule the recommendation of what was the British Board of Film Classification, but the majority followed their lead.
          ‘‘Twas always thus, wasn’t it?

          the BBFC certification was just a guide that most local authorities followed but it was never a law. Local authorities could always give a film a tighter or a looser certification.

          Steve

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          • #6
            Remember that the X certificate until 1970 meant 16 or over, so any council which tried to enforce a 16 or over rule for an A film would be, in effect, upgrading it to an X. I doubt that the distributors would be very happy with that. I have always understood that A meant children had to accompanied by an adult.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Odeonman View Post
              Remember that the X certificate until 1970 meant 16 or over, so any council which tried to enforce a 16 or over rule for an A film would be, in effect, upgrading it to an X. I doubt that the distributors would be very happy with that. I have always understood that A meant children had to accompanied by an adult.
              I seem to remember reading somewhere that Hammer were quite upset that The Hound of The Baskervilles only received an A Certificate when they actually wanted it to get an X Certificate just to keep up their gothic horror image.

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              • #8
                Programmes were sold on the basis of being X certificates which couldn't happen now.My best friend used to get in passing for 16 when he was only 13

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by orpheum View Post
                  Programmes were sold on the basis of being X certificates which couldn't happen now.My best friend used to get in passing for 16 when he was only 13
                  Me too. My first was The New Bohemia wearing my father's jacket and coat at 13 years old to see X The Unknown..Next came The Curse of Frankenstein and I was only denied Quatermass 2 because my next door neighbour couldn't remember his wrong date of birth !!.

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                  • #10
                    Terror of the Tongs at the ABC Golders Green was mine.I think it was on a double X bill with Gorgo.Nowadays they would be PG or 12

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cassidy View Post

                      Me too. My first was The New Bohemia wearing my father's jacket and coat at 13 years old to see X The Unknown..Next came The Curse of Frankenstein and I was only denied Quatermass 2 because my next door neighbour couldn't remember his wrong date of birth !!.
                      Their trick was to suddenly demand your date of birth and if you hesitated and had to think, they knew you were fibbing!

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                      • #12
                        "Live Now, Pay Later", in a double bill with "The Tell-Tale Heart"(Danziger Productions), was my underage introduction to the naughty world of X-Rated Cinema.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by orpheum View Post
                          What it meant was that a child under 16 could only be admitted if accompanied by an adult over 21.So what happened was,that I being under the age of 16would go up to adults outside the cinema and ask if they would take me in with them..
                          Indeed - some of my friends used to do that LOL

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                          • #14
                            I put folded up paper in the heels of my shoes to make "lifts" (like Tom Cruise does), but it was mainly to help me keep in character. I went to see Tod Browning's "Freaks" at the Scala Cinema, when it was still based near Goodge Street tube station (the same venue where Spandau Ballet played one of their first gigs). To be fair, I don't think anyone would have turned me away from that one, it was already around 50 years old (IIRC, this was sometime around 1980 - making me 16).

                            Worst case was when you'd go with a bunch of mates and some would get in, while others were turned away. Real conflict of loyalties and some hilarious stories of panicked teenagers trying to bluff their way past jaded cinema staff. One of my mates fell back on the classic "but he's my brother!", pointing at one of the successful ones, as if that made any difference. The fact that one was white and the other black didn't help either.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Odeonman View Post
                              Remember that the X certificate until 1970 meant 16 or over, so any council which tried to enforce a 16 or over rule for an A film would be, in effect, upgrading it to an X. I doubt that the distributors would be very happy with that. I have always understood that A meant children had to accompanied by an adult.
                              It's worth bearing in mind that when certificates were introduced, there were only two - U and for "Universal" and "Adult" respectively. With the A some councils erred on the side of caution and insisted on an accompanying adult, but the certificate was only advisory, so not all did. I suspect that such local restrictions on As may have been relaxed when the H and then the X was introduced, as all councils agreed on a mandatory minimum age of 16, but some may still have held out for an accompanying adult for an A. I've never seen any reference to any council that - even before the H or X was introduced - would not allow under-16s into As at all, with or without an adult.

                              Obviously, though, some councils did occasionally over-rule BBFC's recommendations, and this may have happened in the example Tony has mentioned - it may have got A from the BBFC, but whichever council the premiere took place in may have given it an X. I suspect that another explanation may be that the premiere of the film in question could have been un-cut, but that the subsequent A release cut. If a film was cut to get an A, then by definition the un-cut version would be an X, and thus under-16s would be precluded from seeing it in public under any circumstances.
                              Last edited by Nick Cooper; 2nd February 2018, 01:21 PM.

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