Barbarella leads off my 1960's movie poster wall calendar for March. This wacky, sexy sci-fi comic strip classic directed by Roger Vadim and starring Jane Fonda (the same one who was so vocal about Seth MacFarlane's boob song at the Oscars), was released less than a month before the MPAA had enacted its initial G-M-R-X rating system in November 1968. So, with no official rating attached to it-- it probably would have been given an "M," maybe an "R"-- when the movie made it to my hometown probably around six months later (that was the way things went back then) the theater owner, who had been stamping movies retroactively with his own ratings, decided to label Barbarella an "X" and enforce admissions accordingly. Of course this did nothing but increase both the mystery surrounding it and my interest in it-- being 9-10 years old I could only speculate the orgiastic behavior that movie indulged in, and oh, how I speculated.
So imagine my surprise and confusion when the movie was re-released in 1977 with a "PG"!* By the time I saw it, I was a veteran of In the Realm of the Senses and Deep Throat, both of which existed in a completely different world from that of Roger Vadim. Ever since then I can't help but chuckle about the "X" ratings that I routinely saw attached to mainstream movies back in the early days of the ratings system, before that "X" got tripled and became exclusively associated with pornography, and how far removed from reality my imaginings were from what those movies-- many of which would, like Barbarella, be re-rated with much more box-office friendly classifications-- actually had in them. (I still get a dirty thrill from the poster for The Best House in London though!)
(*Does anyone know if there were cuts made to Barbarella before that PG rating? I've always assumed that it was essentially the same movie, but I could be wrong. And I think that PG was the first time it had been officially rated too.)