“Naked Lunch!” Banned Books Week Has “Cult Movie Monday!” This Banned Book Turned Into “Unfilmable” Film!

David Cronenberg Directs The “Unfilmable” Movie!

I’m taking part in “Banned Books Week” by focusing on great works of art that have been banned – and in this case, prosecuted for obscenity as well.

I will be sharing links so you can learn more, but first, let’s take a look at a controversial masterpiece that was banned 60 years ago!

“Naked Lunch” by William S. Burroughs

You can see from the cover what Newsweek thought of the book – this is a Grove Press book I bought when I was much younger…look at the $2.95 cover price for this paperback!

“Naked Lunch” follows the narration of junkie William Lee, who takes us on many journeys as well as various aliases: from the U.S. to Mexico, eventually to Tangier and the dreamlike Interzone.

The book is structured as a series of loosely connected vignettes. Burroughs stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order.

The book’s subject matter deals with drug use, sexually explicit acts and obscene language, which is why it was banned!

Burroughs states in his introduction that “On The Road” Author Jack Kerouac suggested the title.

“The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”

“Naked Lunch” is considered Burroughs’ seminal work. It was controversial in both its subject matter and its use of obscene language – what Burroughs recognized and intended.

The book was banned in Boston and Los Angeles, one of the more recent American books over which an obscenity trial was held.

My paperback includes coverage of that trial:

The book was banned in Boston in 1962 due to obscenity, but that decision was reversed in 1966 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The Appeals Court ruled that the book had redeeming social value.

It has become an iconic work of literature, and of course, Hollywood came calling…no wait, it was Canadian Director David Cronenberg who decided to tackle it!

A terrific special edition blu-ray release of the 1991 film “Naked Lunch” actually helps shine light on the original masterwork.

Here is the mesmerizing trailer – which includes Burroughs and gives a lot of information about the banned book as well!

As the intro to the Criterion Collection Blu-Ray says:

“In this adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s hallucinatory, once-thought-unfilmable novel Naked Lunch, directed by David Cronenberg, a part-time exterminator and full-time drug addict named Bill Lee (Peter Weller) plunges into the nightmarish Interzone, a netherworld of sinister cabals and giant talking bugs. Alternately humorous and grotesque—and always surreal—the film mingles aspects of Burroughs’s novel with incidents from the writer’s own life, resulting in an evocative paranoid fantasy and a self-reflexive investigation into the mysteries of the creative process.”

So this “Cult Movie Monday” gives you a chance to see how one great Artist takes another work of art and turns it into something unique…

A banned book on “banned books week” was turned into a uniquely original film.

Two of my fellow Bloggers have taken the lead in speaking out against book censorship..click on either link and you will see the current list of banned books across the country and it’s shocking what is included!


These links offer up many interesting details, and I went to each one, because the comments section is also worth reading as well…


If you enjoy these posts, why not subscribe and never miss out? It’s easy, and there are NO ads of any kind, just stuff I like…click on the main page and “follow” me on the upper right…


Leave a comment if you are supporting “banned books week!”

Categories: Art, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Great Films, Memoirs, Movies, Obscure Movies, Politics, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities, Uncategorized

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12 replies

  1. As always both interesting , informative… I learn much I just don’t know from you, John. Keep it coming I love it!

  2. What a fantastic way to kick off Banned Books Week John! I read the book years ago and thought it was brilliant, but I still need to watch the movie. Thanks for linking to my post.🤗

  3. I am not a believer in banning books, John. A warning on the cover about explicit content or language or triggers is reasonable, but people should be allowed to make their own decisions. I have never stopped by boys from reading any book they chose too. As a young girl of ten, I read Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Lace (very wicked in those days) and Princess Daisy. I am pretty normal [more or less – smile]

  4. Great to feature a banned book, John.
    I have never read it, but I did go to see the film when it came out. Great cast, and strangely unsettling to watch. I have never been sure if I would want to watch it again.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Yes Pete, it’s difficult material just as the novel is, but to be banned and prosecuted because of some words that are now said on primetime TV…we’ve come a long way but its also shocking to see the books currently being banned!

  5. The books that have been banned say a lot about the groups and organizations that are banning them.


  1. Banned Book Week Tastes Forbidden “Candy!” “Wednesday’s Bookmobile” Has Fascinating “Candy Men” To Talk Obscenity And Literature! – johnrieber
  2. #BannedBooksWeek! “What The Friday!?!?!” Shocking List Of Booking Banned Today! – johnrieber

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