Cover Story

The 25 Most Controversial Movies Ever

The world's $583 million obsession with ''The Da Vinci Code'' proves it: We're fascinated by what shocks, disgusts, and divides us

Image credit: A Clockwork Orange: Kobal Collection
BONNIE AND CLYDE
Image credit: Bonnie & Clyde: Everett Collection
BONNIE AND CLYDE

25 ALADDIN
DIRECTED BY RON CLEMENTS AND JOHN MUSKER (1992)
THE PLOT You know: the genie-in-the-lamp tale.
THE CONTROVERSY The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee balked at a lyric describing the film's Arabian setting as a land ''where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face.'' Result? The studio dubbed out the lyric for subsequent releases.

24 CALIGULA
DIRECTED BY TINTO BRASS (1980)
THE PLOT This lavishly decadent film depicts the orgy-filled life and death of ancient Rome's most notorious — and clearly psychotic — emperor (Malcolm McDowell).
THE CONTROVERSY Described as a ''moral holocaust'' by Variety, the film was first given a very limited theatrical release for fear of prosecution on obscenity grounds.

23 KIDS
DIRECTED BY LARRY CLARK (1995)
THE PLOT A group of teens (played by, among others, Rosario Dawson and Chloë Sevigny) prowl the streets of NYC in search of sex, booze, drugs, and other high-risk kicks.
THE CONTROVERSY Clark's disturbing vision of promiscuous, borderline-sociopathic teens was heralded by some as a much-needed wake-up call about the nation's youth. Others saw prurient exploitation. As a buffer against the furor, Miramax created a new entity, Excalibur Films, to release the pic.

22 DO THE RIGHT THING
DIRECTED BY SPIKE LEE (1989)
THE PLOT Racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood escalate from amusing to tragic during the course of a single scorching summer day.
THE CONTROVERSY While the film was seen by some as a masterpiece (and earned Lee a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nom), others blasted the director as irresponsible, predicting that the film's shocking climax — in which Mookie (Lee) hurls a trashcan through a storefront window, inciting a riot — would evoke similar reactions from urban moviegoers. Thankfully, the film proved to be more of a catalyst for heated debate than a flashpoint for actual violence.

21 BONNIE AND CLYDE
DIRECTED BY ARTHUR PENN (1967)
THE PLOT Faye Dunaway is Bonnie, a bored Texas girl looking for danger. Warren Beatty is Clyde, a pistol-packing ex-con. They fall in love and kick off an infamous Depression-era crime spree.
THE CONTROVERSY Two years before Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, Penn's bloody, slo-mo bullet-riddled finale, where the young lovers bite the dust, sparked an outcry — even tough-guy actor James Garner, no stranger to shoot-outs, called it ''amoral.''

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