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When Film Critics Actually Defended Free Speech

'King's Speech' PG:13 'censorship' revolt reveals how woke changed the rules

The removal of one four-letter word from an Oscar-winning film created a panic in 2011.


The classic film “The French Connection” loses a brief but powerful sequence to appease the woke mob, and most film critics look the other way.

That wasn’t the case with “The King’s Speech,” starring Colin Firth as the man who would be known as King George VI. The R-rated film won four Oscars, including Best Picture, and scored $138 million at the U.S. box office.

The King's Speech (2010) Official Trailer #1 - Geoffrey Rush Movie HD

The Weinstein Company, hoping to lure even more movie goers to watch it, released a PG:13 version of “Speech” which clipped several “F-bombs.” The studio sought out families who might cherish the movie’s hopeful messaging.

The response was swift and furious.

Time Magazine reported that the decision “stoked spasms of outrage in the college of critics,” including famed movie reviewer Roger Ebert.

The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips called the PG:13 version “pointless.

The PG:13 version would not supplant the original, R-rated model. Still, Firth fumed over the decision to release a sanitized version of his film oh, so briefly.

“I don’t support it. I think the film has integrity as it stands. I think that scene belongs where it is. I think it serves a purpose.”

Then-Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman raged against the “new” version as well.

In the past, you might have thought that winning an Academy Award for Best Picture would be enough to save a movie from being censored by its own distributor. And you would have been right.

He wasn’t done. The critic savaged Harvey Weinstein (yeah, that Harvey Weinstein) for approving the cinematic nip and tuck.

The Weinstein Company, like Miramax before it, is a brand that means something. The quality, and integrity, of the movies it distributes is the cornerstone of what the company’s name signifies in Hollywood. Is the gain in short-term profit via a PG-13 version of The King’s Speech really worth monkeying with the film’s essence?

Gleiberman, a rock-ribbed liberal, now works for Variety. Does anyone think he’ll spare a syllable to defend “The French Connection” from woke censors?

Time explains why the F-words in question are an integral part of “The King’s Speech.”

And by uttering the ultimate vulgarism, Bertie begins to understand that a volley of obscenity can blow away the cobwebs of euphemism and misdirection that have accumulated around the royal rhetoric he’s been schooled in. He need not be separated from his subjects by language. The people’s rough speech can, for occasional cleansing purposes, be the King’s.

The same is true, of course, regarding “The French Connection.” Words matter. Screenwriters take great care in using them to shape the tone of a film and the measure of a character’s soul.


Breitbart News’ John Nolte explains why in the case of Gene Hackman’s police classic.

[Hackman’s Popeye] Doyle is no hero. He’s a complicated, dangerous, and sometimes amoral obsessive pursuing a righteous cause (bringing down an international drug dealer). So, like many people in those days, he uses racial slurs—and not just ni**er….

I don’t know if the Doyle character is racist or a misanthrope. One of the endless pleasures of the French Connection is trying to figure Doyle out. One moment you empathize with him; the next, he betrays your empathy. One moment he’s a hero; the next, he’s a grade-A jerk. Great movies don’t give you all the answers. Instead, they challenge you to work through the complicated emotions that come with a complicated protagonist.

Nolte is on the right side of the ideological aisle, which means he’s eager and open to defending art and excoriating censorship.

Conservatives, by and large, are leading the fight against free speech suppression in 2023.

The Left’s embrace of the woke mind virus, and the fact that the vast majority of modern film critics, lean to the Left means films like “The French Connection” may have few defenders.

The times, they are a-changin’ and not for the better.


  1. So you RACIST fake “christian” SCUM are on the side of those who want to say FK FK FK FK FK . What a shock.

    1. Uhm what? The article is discussing censorship. A classic film with a morally dubious lead character had a scene cut for racial language that “modern” audiences may have a problem with. However, that film should be taught in context to the times and the character who utters the line. Art is art, and should be left as is. That’s like if someone found the Mona Lisa’s diary, and then decided to paint a mustache on top of the Mona Lisa because she said she felt like she may be a man.

  2. The left demanded free speech back when they were using it take power and change the nation. Now that they are the ones in power and the changes have been made, free speech is no longer useful and cannot be tolerated.

    1. “Now that they are the ones in power…’

      1980-1988 Ronald Reagan
      1988-1992 George Bush
      1992-2000 Bill Clinton
      2000-2008 George W. Bush
      2008-2016 Barack Obama
      2016-2020 Donald Trump
      2020-2023 Joe Biden

      That is 24 years of right-wingers in power and 19 years of left-wingers. A fifty-fifty at best.

      The US seems to be a mainly conservative nation.

  3. You can have all of the sexual speech you want. Racial speech is forbidden, unless of course you are denigrating whites.

  4. In the 60’s, when I was in my teens, the Left advocated a “free speech movement”, which included all sorts of language the Right considered vulgar. Now, it is the Left who are the speech police.

    Yes, the times they are a-changing.

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