Of the 34433 feature films which have undergone censorship between 1944 and today, 274 Italian films, 130 American films and 321 from other countries have not received clearance. 10092 were authorised following modifications. That’s almost a third. Yet revision of completed films by the State was just the tip of the iceberg, because the majority of censorship was carried out on scripts, with negotiations taking place between State officials and producers and directors. Friendly advice, moral suasion, we could say today: heavy-handed, though, as approval of the screenplay was a must in order to access tax breaks, get grants from the national bank and have co-production credits recognized. Basically, without ministerial approval, the film would not get off the ground. Some auteurs who attempted to work independently, like Fellini and Lattuada with Luci del varietà (The Lights of Variety, 1950) or Lizzani with Achtung! Banditi! (Attention! Bandits!, 1951) were punished with partial or total refusals by the censorship commissions. So there were many films that clashed with the censors, especially due to risqué images, but also because of references to politics, the forces of law and order or for scenes that were too violent. The major cases of the `50s, already examined in the Italia Taglia (Italy Cuts) project were La spiaggia (The Boarder, 1954) and Totò e Carolina (Totò and Carolina, 1955).
Tension would mount as customs evolved, peaking in the boom years, when there was a change (partly generational) in the viewing public and a different balance between politics and cinema. All the major auteur films of the period ran into censorship problems: Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960), La dolce vita (1960), L'avventura (1960), Dolci inganni (Sweet Deceptions, 1960), La ragazza in vetrina (Woman in the Window, 1961), Il gobbo (The Hunchback of Rome, 1960), Odissea nuda (Nude Odyssey, 1961) and many others, not to mention the parliamentary questions raised and the courtroom battles fought over La dolce vita or La ricotta (Curd Cheese 1963). Ten years later, the final battles would be fought not by the censors but by the magistrates, who tried to oppose the changing face of society with film seizures and trials. Those were the years of the Pasolini’s “Trilogy of Life” and Ultimo tango a Parigi (Last Tango in Paris, 1972), but also of All'onorevole piacciono le donne (The Eroticist, 1972) starring Buzzanca. And shortly after that, the arrival of hardcore pornography would turn things around again, a precarious balance between legality and illegality, films rejected and fraudulent copies presented for censorship, films screened without clearance and others with altered titles.
From that moment, the work of the censors ceased to be sensational or a major issue, even if it continued, especially with regards age restrictions. The last big-news case in censorship now dates back many years, Totò che visse due volte (Toto Who Lived Twice, 1998) by Ciprì and Maresco, while the last film to not receive censorship clearance (the only one in the new millennium) was Morituris by Raffaele Picchio, of 2012.