As draconian as the MPAA can be, it's still a better system than the one employed in the younger days of cinema. Back in the early 20th century, local boards were responsible for determining what was and wasn't safe for public consumption. This was a system of self-regulation where community leaders passed their own laws, often having no ties to the film biz. 1922's Motion Picture Producers and Distributors was formed as a way to prevent government entities from becoming involved in controlling the content of film. The Hays code was introduced in 1930, which detailed standards for appropriate content; guidelines like "Clergy should be presented in a positive light," and "The law should not be ridiculed," began to feel outdated when the turbulent 60's hit. The MPPDA had transformed into the MPAA and in conjunction with the National Association of Theatre Owners and the International Film Importers & Distributors of America, 1968 saw its first movie ratings system.
A montage made for the 2007 72 Hour Film Fest in Frederick, Maryland, shows us what was objectionable back in the early days of cinema. Not surprisingly, most of it seems very quaint by today's standards. It seems like these censors had a genuine foot fetish, if the number of scenes featuring feet are any indication. Sadly, there's no master listing of what film each scene is from, but the short still provides an interesting snapshot of how our morals have shifted. Hit the jump to watch, unless you're seriously offended by bare ankles.