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Banned in the U.S.A.

Friday, December 4, 1992
The Moon Is Blue
Otto Preminger USA, 1953

An innocuous sex comedy that talks about bedding down but never turns a sheet aptly describes Otto Preminger's independent production. However, the furor surrounding the film leaves the impression that a full-scale orgy had occurred. The Moon Is Blue concerns itself with the attempted seduction of the militantly virtuous Patty O'Neill (played by Audrey Hepburn double Maggie McNamara) by two bachelors, the self-confident Donald (William Holden) and the aging tippler David (David Niven). Deceptively ingenuous, Miss O'Neill manages to outwit her two suitors, disarming them with her aggressively candid queries ("Would you try to seduce me?"). Blue language, daring verbiage like "virgin" and "seduce," is modestly sprinkled throughout the film, but barely a prim kiss is exchanged. The real kiss was a kiss-off: when the Production Code Administration told Preminger The Moon Is Blue wouldn't receive a Seal because of its "moral indifference," he told them he would distribute it anyway. The PCA went into full defensive posture, but like an inept father, the Production Code office was losing control over its "children."

• Written by F. Hugh Herbert, based on his play. Photographed by Ernest Laszlo. With William Holden, David Niven, Maggie McNamara, Dawn Addams. (99 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Films Inc.)