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Blue movie

Posted by ESC on October 06, 2009 at 00:33

In Reply to: Blue movie posted by Victoria S Dennis on October 05, 2009 at 21:17:

: : Does anyone know the origin of the phrase 'blue movie'? I have found references to an Andy Warhol movie with the title "[f-word]" that was later changed to "blue movie" but was this the origin or was the phrase already in use by this time?

: "Blue" for "obscene" dates back to the 1820s. See here: And the Oxford English Dictionary has :
: - 1959 Spectator 14 Aug. 180/1 "It meant that the theatre-going public were deprived of..outstanding contemporary plays, yet allowed to visit 'blue' variety shows."
: - 1965 Punch 2 June 799/1 "He also wanted to see a blue movie."
: This well pre-dates Warhol's film.
: (VSD)

BLUE - According to "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner, (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982) "blue movies, 1950s (was derived) from the 1864 use of 'blue' to refer to indecent or obscene talk."

The "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" states: "blue. According to the 'Dictionary of American Slang, 'blue' in the sense of risqué or bordering on the obscene has been current since about the turn of the century and it suggests that 'blue' got this meaning 'perhaps because the color blue is associated with burning brimstone.' Well, perhaps - but that doesn't square with its use by people in show business, especially the more raffish kinds of show business like nightclubs and was standard practice to change the color filters on spotlights when the star dancer went into the gamier parts of her act. A favorite color used during these portions of her act was blue, so 'dipping into the blue,' as the common expression went, may well have come from this change in color of the spotlight." The Morris Dictionary has a separate entry on the term blue laws. But it doesn't explain how they come to this conclusion: "The New York Times reported that the name derives from Puritan legislation, regulating Sabbath conduct, printed on blue paper in the theocratic New Haven colony in the 17th century.' That's a nice story, but the truth is simpler. The 'blue' in 'blue law' is simply a synonym for 'puritanical' or 'strict.'"