LONDON: Clearing the television documentary on Andy Warhol which he and two other Appeal Court judges had barred from being shown on ITV, Judge Denning tried to give the programme his seal of disapproval by saying it shows “the perverts and homosexuals who surround Mr Warhol”.
Not only did Lord Denning confuse “perverts” and “homosexuals” but he found that the programme was “dreary and dull. Taken as a whole, however, it is not offensive.” That was his verdict after he’d seen the television programme made by photographer David Bailey which he and another Appeal Court judge banned without bothering to see some weeks ago.
Lord Denning may have been prepared to make a volte-face in the light of public opinion about the court’s television censorship, but he was determined to get a last word in on the subject.
He said: “I speak as I find. The film struck me as dreary and dull. It showed the sort of people, perverts and homosexuals, who surround Mr Warhol and whom he portrays in his works. Taken as a whole, however, it is not offensive.
“Viewing it piece by piece, there are some incidents which seem to be inserted in an attempt to liven up the dullness; but this attempt did not succeed as far as I was concerned.”
Whether Judge Denning watches the programme or not is immaterial, what is important is that the court got rapped over the knuckles rather sharply by Sir Peter Rawlinson, the Attorney-General, who said it had no right to issue an injunction against the broadcasting authorities on the strength of a private complaint.
Ross McWhirter, the shocked and somewhat disappointed would-be hero of the ban-Warhol attempt, should have complained about the showing of the programme through the Attorney-General, Sir Peter said. And if though there was a breach of the law regarding broadcasting standards in the screening of a programme, it was up to him to get the injunction against the authority concerned. In this way he scotched the clean-up-TV-campaigners’ hopes for more and more successful court actions against TV companies.
QUOTES: Ross McWhirter: “I have received donations towards my (legal) costs in advance of today’s hearing.”
Mary Whitehouse: “The case is a beacon to the silent majority.”
David Bailey: “If the judges had liked it that would have been really something to worry about.”
Jimmy Vaughan, Warhol’s European agent: “I’m delighted. It’s a victory against humbugs.”
FOOTNOTE: Four days later Andy Warhol’s Trash opened at the London Pavilion, two years after the cans of movie arrived at Vaughan Films, and minus 23 seconds.
It has taken two years to get the British Board of Film Censors to agree to give Trash an X-certificate.
The 23 missing seconds include a fraction of the scene in which drag starlet Holly Woodlawn masturbates with a beer bottle, a fraction of a scene where Joe Dallesandro injects heroin into his arm and a little of one of the movies infrequent fucks.
Only one of the London film critics (Alexander Walker of the Evening Standard) realised that Holly Woodlawn, the glamourous heroine, is a well known Warhol factory transvestite.