The Wild One was refused a certificate when first submitted to the BBFC for classification in 1954. The American film, starring Marlon Brando in the iconic lead role, has a motorcycle gang terrorising a small peaceful American town. The Wild One tapped into real fears and social concerns at the time about juvenile delinquency and gang violence. The BBFC described the film as a ‘spectacle of unbridled hooliganism‘ and ‘potentially dangerous on social grounds‘. The Board expressed a genuine fear that the antisocial behaviour and nihilistic attitudes of the film‘s ultra-cool heroes (‘What are you rebelling against, Johnny?‘, ‘Whaddaya got?‘) could exert a harmful influence on teenage audiences in the UK and aggravate the country‘s current problem with delinquency.
The Wild One remained banned until 1967 when the BBFC granted it an ‘X‘ certificate, having considered that the passage of time had reduced the impact and relevance of the film to late 1960s teenagers. The Wild One was later classified ‘PG‘ on video in 1988, and the film remains at this category today.