The BBFC have rated Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar as 17 for infrequent strong language.
The decision is explained in the Extended Classification Information:
J. EDGAR is a biopic of J.Edgar Hoover, the founder and head of the FBI. It was classified 15 for infrequent strong language.
The BBFC’s Guidelines at 12A/12 state The use of strong language (for example, ‘fuck’) must be infrequent. The film contains only one use of ‘f***ing’, which would have been permissible at 12A. However, it also contains two uses of cruder language (in this case ‘c***sucker’) that were more appropriately classified at 15 where the Guidelines state There may be frequent use of strong language. None of the language is personally directed or accompanied by violence, but is spoken in a derogatory manner about political opponents who are not present at the time.
The film also contains some moderate violence during shootouts between police and mobsters. However, the violence is almost always bloodless and lacking in injury detail.
The film also contains some mild bad language, such as damn and Jesus Christ. There are a couple of uses of the term negro, although the term is not used in a pejorative sense, simply reflecting the common terminology of the period in which the film is set. The historical nature of the term and the lack of intent to offend is reinforced by sight of Martin Luther King using it himself in a televised speech.
Seems a bit harsh, but the US film censors seemed to agree that J. Edgar went beyond PG-13 and rated the film as R.
Interesting to note the inconsistent use of asterisks in the BBFC piece. It let one ‘fuck’ through but censored the next. Is this the BBFC keeping the page itself down to a 12 rating?