The League for the Virtue ( National Legion of Decency ) is a lobby group created in 1933 by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States . The goal was to purify film productions that seemed to have a bad influence on the general population and children in particular.
Supported by Pope Pius XI , who even encouraged other countries to establish their own League, the League for Virtue was one of the strongest lobby groups of the time. In 1934 , between 7 and 9 million people (mostly Catholics, but also Protestants and Jews) were sworn to condemn and boycott any film offensive Christian morality.
The League had its own film rating system, which covered both US-produced and imported foreign productions:
- A : approved;
- B : disapproved for young people, with a warning even for adults;
- C : disapproved for all.
This classification was slightly modified in February 1936 :
- AI : morally healthy for all audiences;
- A-II : morally healthy for adults;
- B : partly morally shocking for all;
- C : condemned.
A film condemned was the obsession of the studios, which saw a significant loss of revenue. Elia Kazan ‘s Baby Doll was sentenced in 1956 .
The system remained unchanged until November 1957 when it was truly recognized that category B was too blurry and did not prevent people from going to see a B-categorized film. Hence the creation of category A- III (morally healthy for adults) which led to the amendment of category A-II in “morally healthy for adults and adolescents”. As a result, category B seemed much more prohibitive.
There was also a Separate Classification (replaced by category A-IV in the late 1960s ). Created in 1937, this category was the indispensable tool that allowed the League to classify films that, although morally undesirable, required some explanation in order to avoid misinterpretation or false conclusions. This category was mainly applied to political films, especially concerning communism .