1970s and 1980s American western movies that have been cut or banned in Australia.
Five Savage Men
aka The Animals
aka Apache Vengeance
Directed by Ron Joy / 1970 / USA / IMDb
In November 1971, a 7899-feet (87:46) print of FIVE SAVAGE MEN was banned because of ‘indecency and excessive violence’.
MGM/BEF Distributors were the applicant.
The Film Censorship Board began awarding the R-rating in October 1971. However, they were not officially issued until the new system became operative on 15 November 1971. This would make FIVE SAVAGE MEN one of the first films to be refused.
Rated & retitled
A 2272-meter (82:49) print was passed with an M-rating in October 1982.
It was submitted by 14th Mandolin and released on their King of Video label as THE ANIMALS. The running time and rating indicate this may have been precut.
In June 1991, RCA/Columbia Pictures/Hoyts Video had an 84-minute VHS passed with an R (Medium level violence) rating by the OFLC.
It was released on their Video Box Office label as FIVE SAVAGE MEN.
This was followed in February 1994 by a second R (Medium level violence) rating.
The 84-minute VHS was released by Reel Entertainment as part of their ‘Gun Smokin Western Classics’ label. It was retitled APACHE VENGEANCE.
In 2005, APACHE VENGEANCE was once more issued by Reel, this time on DVD. Again, it was labelled as being one of the ‘Gun Smokin Western Classics’.
The R18+ rating on the cover had no consumer advice.
They released it for a second time in December 2011 as part of their ‘El Paso Pictures’ series.
The cover lists it as MA15+ (High level violence), however, there is no record of this in the National Classification Database.
Why was it refused?
The ‘indecency and excessive violence’ would have included some or all of these scenes.
10:15 – Pudge (Keenan Wynn) grabs Alice’s (Michele Carey) breast. Mrs Perkin’s (Peggy Stewart) attempts to protect her but is punched in the stomach and shot.
20:00 – Alice is stripped by the gang, staked out on the ground and raped.
68:00 – Alice shoots one of her rapists in the chest as he sits on the toilet.
80:00 – Pudge is staked out naked on the ground and Alice takes her revenge by castrating him.
40 Graves for 40 Guns
Directed by Paul Hunt / 1971 / USA / IMDb
In April 1973, a 2434.43-meter (88:44) print of 40 GRAVES FOR 40 GUNS was censored by 66.84-meters (02:27) for an R-rating. The cuts were made to remove ‘excessive violence’.
The original running time indicates it may have been precut before submission.
Regent Trading Enterprises was the applicant.
In the early 1980s, 40 GRAVES FOR 40 GUNS was released by K&C Video.
Please e-mail us if you can confirm which version this tape contains.
The suspected cuts
Sunrise Tapes (nl) – VHS as MACHISMO – 90:39 (PAL)
Regent Trading Enterprises (au) – R-rated – 88:44 (≈ 86:17 PAL)
The bulk of the 02:27 of cuts must have been in the very violent final act when Wichita (Sean Kenney) and his gang finally attack the town. The violent shoot-out begins at 81-minutes and does not let up for the next 5-minutes.
Other violent scenes include a smaller shoot-out when three of Wichita’s gang are gunned down by the Mexicans (50:00), the Doctor being hit in the face (58:00) and a nearly two-minute sequence of a topless Lil (Rita Rogers) being pushed around by Wichita’s gang (73:00).
THE WILD BUNCH (1969) was such an obvious inspiration for the bloody mayhem. An American video release from 1989 even retitled it THE REVENGE OF THE WILD BUNCH.
The Legend of the Lone Ranger
Directed by William A. Fraker / 1981 / USA / IMDb
In July 1981, a 2593.58-meter (94:32) pre-censor cut version of THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER was passed with an M-rating.
It was awarded for violence, which was said to be:
Later that month it was dropped to a G-rating by the Films Board of Review. It is very rare to see a title skip a rating, bypassing ‘Not Recommended for Children (NRC)’, on appeal.
Presumably, Hoyts Distribution was expecting an NRC, but settled for a G-rated theatrical release. It appears their pre-cutting was considered unnecessarily harsh by the Films Board of Review and not harsh enough by the Censorship Board.
The British Board of Film Censorship removed 00:05 of horse fall footage from the UK theatrical release. That A-certificate print ran 96:49 which indicates the Australian pre-censor cut version was missing at least 02:00.
In the early 1980s, THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER was released on tape by 20th Century Fox Video.
The cover lists it as being G-rated, so presumably, it is the same as the theatrical version. Please e-mail us if you have any information.
In February 1984, a 94-minute tape was passed with a PG-rating. CBS/Fox Video was the applicant. It is unclear if this was a retrospective classification of the aforementioned tape or a new release.