In a season when Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers and Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction earn R ratings, why did Hollywood's ratings police choose to slap an NC-17 on a 25-year-old classic? The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave the dread rating to Sam Peckinpah's 1969 Western The Wild Bunch, which Warner Bros. had submitted for a director's-cut rerelease, citing the violence as a reason for its decision (ironically, this same cut is the version now available on video).
The ruling has angered filmmakers. ''I never thought there would be a film with an R in 1969 but rerated NC-17 25 years later,'' says Martin Scorsese. ''The Wild Bunch is not for everyone, but you can't deny it's a great work of art.'' Stone agrees: ''[It's] a benchmark and should be seen in its full glory.''
There's speculation that the studio might ignore the MPAA and release the film with its original rating thus inviting a showdown. ''Warner has to decide whether to accept (the ruling),'' says an MPAA spokesperson. ''They have not appealed it.''