Original 'Red Dawn' first PG-13 film

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The original "Red Dawn," released on Aug. 10, 1984, holds a special place in Hollywood history.

It was the first movie to arrive in theaters with a PG-13 rating and director John Milius was dismayed by the designation. "I asked the ratings people whether I could make cuts and get a PG. They said, 'This is World War III; there's no way that subject would get a PG.' "

("The Flamingo Kid," starring Matt Dillon, actually received the first PG-13 but it wasn't released until December of that year.)

The designation, which means "parents strongly cautioned, some material may be inappropriate for children under 13," was so new that stories asked, "What's a PG-13?" It represented the first adjustment in a ratings system that had awarded either a G, PG, R or X since 1968.

The change came after parents and critics complained about the gory or disturbing thrills of a couple of movies in particular. "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" featured a villain who yanked the heart out of a sacrificial victim's chest, while the early previews for "Gremlins" were misleading, director Joe Dante said.

He later told the Associated Press, "The idea of taking a 4-year-old to see 'Gremlins,' thinking it's going to be a cuddly, funny animal movie and then seeing that it turns into a horror picture, I think people were upset."

Enter PG-13, now a broad umbrella covering movies as diverse as "Skyfall," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and "The Amazing Spider-Man."

It wasn't the rating that prompted picketers outside the now-shuttered Squirrel Hill Theater in August 1984. Fifteen people showed up with signs urging, "Don't Support Hollywood Fantasies! Peace Now!!"

Protesters from the Women's Peace Network, Thomas Merton Center and Americans for Democratic Action, said they believed the movie reinforced Cold War stereotypes about the Soviet Union.

Picketers with leaflets in hand asked two elderly men if they planned to see "Red Dawn." One replied, "At $4 a ticket? You gotta be kidding."

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