Even the greatest Hollywood legends come with controversies. Elia Kazan became infamous when he testified against members of the Communist Party in the 1956 McCarthy Witch Hunt trial.
Over the years, there have been multiple falls from grace. The reasons behind these capitulations can be anything from excessive drinking or drug abuse, inappropriate conduct of a physical nature, or even political affiliations.
Furthermore, some movies or works of canon also suffered the same fate. Some films were made in different political times, and compared to modern-day ideals, they just look wrong.
A film lover asked recently about other iconic people or movies that suffered a similar fate. The Internet was all too happy to respond, so here are some movies, producers, actors, or directors that found retroactive infamy.
1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
To kick the discussion off, Breakfast at Tiffany’s received a lot of grief, though not because of any male vs. female dichotomy. Mickey Rooney’s yellowface interpretation of an Asian landlord is cringe 101. Even in the ‘60s, this must have crossed a line.
2. Mel Gibson
Before cancel culture had a stranglehold over western society, Gibson was famously arrested after a DUI, with cops reporting antisemitic remarks and drunken behavior. Somehow, he evaded total cancelation and has made a comeback of late.
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3. American Beauty (1999)
Sam Mendes even agreed the backlash American Beauty received was, in some ways, a good thing. The portrayal of a dad falling in lust with his daughter’s teenage friend was bound to raise some eyebrows. Then there is also Kevin Spacey (see below).
4. Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey’s stellar acting career is impossible to ignore. While Spacey was recently acquitted of all charges against him, it is unclear whether the numerous allegations of inappropriate behavior will permanently tarnish his career in the public’s mind.
5. Roman Polanski
For obvious reasons, Polanski gets a mention. Younger film lovers will likely see his work before they hear the story, which may be for the best. A director exiling himself in Paris to stop extradition for physical misdemeanors with a minor is not good optics.
6. Birth of a Nation (1915)
Made in 1915, this ‘movie’ charts the lives of a Northern and Southern family during the American Civil War. There is a good reason for the posthumous outrage on this film’s depiction of African Americans and its praise of the KKK.
7. Woody Allen
The flawed genius is cited throughout this thread. Allen left America for France in 1992 after accusations of improper conduct with his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow. Subsequently, many Hollywood heavyweights avoided any association for a long time.
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8. Michael Cimino
The Deer Hunter is still heralded as an elite piece of cinema. Director Michael Cimino enjoyed the accolades until years later when it became clear he hadn’t written the script himself and “lied about his background,” according to one testimony in this discussion.
9. Charlie Chaplin
For some, Chaplin is Hollywood. Without the silent movie pioneer’s success, who knows if Hollywood’s story would be the same? Because of his ties with the Communist Party, Chaplin was deported when on vacation in Europe.
10. Crash (2004)
The winner of the 2004 Academy Award for Best Picture, Crash features an ensemble cast and revolves around themes of racism and bravery. Some readers say it is “an awkward attempt to talk about race.”
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