Remember those old-time cowboys in Westerns who would mosey up to the bar and order sarsaparilla? A lot of viewers assume that this was a substitute for ordering alcohol, as the Hays Code had rules against drug use (mostly alcohol and illegal drugs. Tobacco smoking was still kosher in those days). But sarsaparilla was actually not so much a drink as it was a traditional medicine, and in the 19th century was mainly used as a treatment for syphilis. It's supposed to be an aphrodisiac, as well.
Note Jack clearly stating that four of his rescuers have tried to kill him in the past: Elizabeth, Will and Barbossa in the classic way and Tia Dalma, in a sexual way. There are also many hidden sexual innuendos throughout the trilogy; it may be rated PG-13, but it's still a Disney film.
"You took advantage of our hospitality last time, it holds fair now you return the favour", and Barbossa tosses Elizabeth to his men who begin pawing at her.
In the fourth film, Jack stating that he "support(s) the missionary's (Philip) position."
Also in the fourth:
Gibbs: (to Jack) "I thought you were hell-bent of finding the Fountain of Youth?"
Jack: "I'm still bent! Hellishly so!"
Angelica: "How is it we can never meet without you pointing something at me?"
Jack also slips in a masturbation joke when he says, "My eyesight's as good as ever, just so you know" in reference to the Black Spot on his hand. (Could also be a syphilis joke- while the Black Spot doesn't look like a syphilis lesion, they usually appeared much like that in art of the day, probably because they would be covered with black stick-on patches)
In the third film, Beckett finds his way to Shipwreck with Jack's compass, which Will gave Beckett, so naturally, Barbossa assumes Will's the one who betrayed them. Beckett says Will is "merely the tool of your betrayal" and singles Jack out as it's grand architect. Will says he acted alone. And Jack says, "Listen to the tool." The grin on Jack's face says it all.
"Waste not." That one was particularly creepy.
We also get this exchange from Curse of the Black Pearl, after Annamaria joins their crew. Note that both Will and Gibbs take a few seconds to reflect upon Jack's viewpoint, as well. (Not really, this is just part of a Running Gag throughout the film of other characters straining to see whatever Jack sees when he stares randomly off into the middle distance during some form of pronouncement.)
Gibbs: "No, no, no, no, no, it's frightful bad luck to bring a woman aboard. "
Jack: "It'd be far worse not to have her."
There's also this from the fourth film:
Angelica: "I was innocent in the ways of men!"
Jack: "You demonstrated a lot of technique for someone I supposedly corrupted."
This exchange in the second film as the crew are entering Tia Dalma's shack:
Gibbs: "Watch your back."
Jack: "It's my front I'm worried about."
There were a couple of Get Thee to a Nunnery moments throughout the film slipped in for this purpose. There was Tia Dalma's introduction:
Will Turner: "You know me?"
Tia Dalma: "You want to know me."
Jack Sparrow: "There'll be no knowing here!"
And then Jack's exchange with Angelica, which hinted at an actual nunnery pun:
Angelica: "What were you doing in a Spanish convent, anyway?"
Jack: "Mistook it for a brothel. Honest mistake."
When Universal was producing its series of Sherlock Holmes movies in the 1940s, it was explicitly decided that any references to drug use, including Holmes' canonical use of cocaine, would be censored. However, the writers did manage to slip one reference in: in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Holmes, captured by Moriarty and stalling for time, suggests to Moriarty that instead of just shooting him, he should try something "more creative" — like inserting a needle into his vein and slowly drawing out all of his blood. Upon hearing this suggestion, Moriarty snidely quips:
Moriarty: The needle to the last, eh, Holmes?
The 1939 'Hound of the Baskervilles' closed with the line, "Oh Watson, the needle."
Similarly, cocaine is never mentioned in the 2009 movie. However, at one point Watson looks at some bottles, picks one up and says disgustedly, "You do know what you're drinking is for eye surgery." Cocaine was used as a topical anaesthetic in eye surgeries, an application first discovered in the late 1800's.
Not dirty so much as violent, but careful editing cuts down a lot of things in The Dark Knight that would otherwise have cranked up the rating to the levels of Gorn horror films. Take Two-Face's burn scars. At first they went with a down-to-earth look that scared the crap out of test audiences. They had to make the scars worse so they'd be so over-the-top as to not be horrifying.
In Beyond the Forest, when Bette Davis complains about her indolent maid not cleaning the dining room table she says, "I can write your name in the dust". She quite clearly spells out "S L U T". At the time this movie was made, "slut" referred to a woman who was lazy and didn't know how to clean or keep house. It didn't change into the definition of "woman who Really Gets Around" until much later.
In Bringing Up Baby, while David is taking a shower, Susan secretly takes away his clothes to get him to stay. He is forced instead to wear her frilly bathrobe and answers the door in this bathrobe. The following scene is arguably the first time the word "gay" was used in a film to mean "homosexual", and the meaning would have been lost on most audiences back when the film was made.
Mrs. Random: Well, who are you? David: I don't know. I'm not quite myself today. Mrs. Random: Well, you look perfectly idiotic in those clothes. David:These aren't my clothes. Mrs. Random: Well, where are your clothes? David: I've lost my clothes. Mrs. Random: But why are you wearing these clothes? David: Because I just went gay all of a sudden! Mrs. Random: Now, see here young man, stop this nonsense. What are you doing? David: I'm sitting in the middle of 42nd street waiting for a bus.
In his book Gay New York, George Chauncey mentions that the comment about 42nd Street confirms the double entendre was intentional. Before WWII, 42nd Street was one of the main spots in New York for gay men to look for "trade".
Of course, it's entirely possible that he meant "silly or frivolous", the commonplace meaning of "gay" at the time of the film's release. It is certainly what the audience assumed he meant; however, in the gay community of the time, the word "gay" meant exactly the same thing that it does today. It's worth noting that the line in question was improvised by Cary Grant. It's also worth noting that Cary Grant was allegedly "silly or frivolous."
Ghostbusters, a PG-rated movie that kids enjoy, has subtle innuendo. For instance, the one scene where a siren unzips Ray's pants in the middle of the night to do what would be implied as fellatio.
Not so much implied as directly stated - the next shot after the zipper going down is Ray's eyes crossing and falling back on the pillow with a silly grin.
But then the film flew by so close it sliced off the radar dish with the "Dickless!" sequence in the mayor's office.
In Night at the Museum, the Teddy Roosevelt character has from his hips to the bottom of his chest flattened by a mail coach. Sacajawea uses a lit candle to soften and pour the wax to re-mold the damage to his midsection. The "oh boy" moan could have been bracing himself for the pain, but let's pretend that it's not.
The 1934 pre-code film Wonder Bar featured a rare instance of homosexual humor that came very close to getting the film banned altogether. During a dance, a gentleman approaches a dancing couple and asks if he can cut in; when the woman accepts, however, he dances away with the man instead. Al Jolson responds to this by waving a limp wrist and musing, "Boys will be boys!"
The 1934 film version of The Merry Widow, directed by Ernst Lubitsch, had minor cuts imposed on it as The Hays Code was starting to come into effect. Left in was the close-up during the trial scene of Danilo's handcuffs, which are personally engraved.
The Hays Code would allow especially lurid material, only if there were some kind of "value" to the film, educational or otherwise. So, lurid exploitation films could game the code by purporting to carry a moral warning. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why the "moral" message to films like Reefer Madness looks so boneheaded: it's completely cynical and artificial, and is present solely for the purpose of getting all the other crap in the film past the radar.
In The Three Stooges' You Nazty Spy as well as Malice in the Palace' and Rumpus in a Harem'' the boys discuss going "over the Giva Dam". Not bad for the time periods of the films.
In one short, Curly tells a women they should play "Post Office," she replies, "That's a kid's game." Curly says "Not the way I PLAY it..."
After watching Preston Sturges' classic comedy The Miracle Of Morgans Creek, reviewer James Agee wrote, "The Production Code must have been raped in its sleep." How else do you explain a movie about a young woman who goes out with a bunch of soldiers, gets drunk, and can't remember what she did, except it turns out she's both married and pregnant? Not to mention the fact she has tries to trick the man who's been in love with her since they were kids into marrying her, so there's also bigamy involved. And that's not even mentioning the fact the whole movie is basically a parody of the Nativity story.
Strangers on a Train had no shortage of themes that pushed the limits of the Hays Code, but a particularly shocking line occurs just after the protagonist's cheating wife has been through the Tunnel of Love with her two dates; as they're climbing out of the boat she stumbles and one of them says (paraphrased) "Don't break your leg, we've got a use for you later."
James Bond's famous one-liners originated as a way to get the violence and nudity, which was sometimes quite shocking at the time, past the radar so as to secure U.S distributors. For instance, a brutal hearse crash is mellowed with the line "I think they were on their way to a funeral", not to mention the "You've had your six" line, which dulls Bond shooting an unarmed man in cold blood.
Diamonds Are Forever features the most flamboyantly gay yet still just subtle enough characters yet seen. One of them squeals in delight when Bond roughly pulls the hitman's arms between his legs and ties him to the bomb.
Never Say Never Again had Bond and Fatima Blush coming out of the ocean and Bond quipping, "I think we scared the fish!"
The 1935 film "Dracula's Daughter" features a steamy scene where Dracula's daughter, who is artistically talented, attacks and bites the female model she had hired for a head and shoulders portrait. The model is just wearing her bra with the straps pulled down, and the attack is quite intense, with lots of "No, don't touch me!" Maybe no one in the Hays Office wanted to admit that the first lesbian-vampire movie had just been made.
One of the most infamous scenes in Spartacus (1960) has this little exchange between Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier) and his slave Antoninus (Tony Curtis):
Crassus: Do you eat oysters?
Antoninus: When I have them, master.
Crassus: Do you eat snails?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?
Antoninus: No, master.
Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn't it?
Antoninus: Yes, master.
Crassus: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals.
Antoninus: It could be argued so, master.
Crassus: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters.
All of this scene happens while Curtis is bathing Olivier. They're talking about sexual preference, not seafood. Apparently this metaphor seemed so obvious to Universal executives that the scene was cut after its premiere to avoid the wrath of the censors. It was not put back into the film until 1991.
The live-action version of The Cat in the Hat runs away with this trope (epically). Unfortunately, the excessive crap past the radar got the film a lot of bad reviews, is considered a stain on Dr. Seuss's legacy, and is the reason why there will never be another live-action incarnation of a Dr. Seuss work (meanwhile, 2D and 3D animated ones are still okay).
A rare example from an R-rated film: the straight-to-DVD Cruel Intentions 2 includes a sequence where two "cousins" (actually played by identical twin sisters) get nude and make out in a shower in front of one of the male leads. Such Twincest is very rare in mainstream films, and the fact it was allowed to remain in the final film is all the more surprising considering it was originally produced as the pilot episode for a never-aired Fox TV series called Manchester Prep (though it's assumed the sisters scene was never intended for the network version).
A blink-and-you'll-miss-it example from the end credit sequence in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: the end titles are modeled after the Marauder's Map featured prominently in the film, a magical map that can track the locations and movements of nearby people and that displays each person as a pair of footprints. Two particular sets of footprints◊ are hidden in a remote niche, and based on their positioning and movements, it's pretty obvious that the two are making out.
Rick: How'd you get in here? You're underage. Young Woman: I came with Captain Rénault. Rick: (rolls eyes) I should've known... Young Woman: (primly) My husband is with me too. Rick: Oh, he is? Captain Rénault is getting broad-minded.
Lolita (1997). Dolores has just been sitting in the lap of Humbert Humbert, only to rush out when her mother comes in.
Charlotte: Humbert, is she keeping you up?"
Humbert: [beat] No...
Not that the Stanley Kubrick stints in this trope either; when Humbert goes to pick up Dolores from summer camp after the death of her mother he passes a sign saying WELCOME TO CAMP CLIMAX. In another scene, the Farlows hint to Humbert that they're very 'broad-minded'. Likewise when Claire Quilty is checking into a hotel with his wife, he gets into a conversation with the manager that's laced with homosexual innuendo, as well as implying that his wife is something of a dominatrix.