Little known even inside the movie capital, Ms. Gordon is the Motion Picture Association of America's top advertising enforcer. Outside of show business, it's a job that most people do not know even exists: evaluating and approving or disapproving all advertising for rated movies before it can be disseminated. Last year, Ms. Gordon and her six lieutenants evaluated more than 60,000 submissions — trailers, television spots, Internet ads, press kits, print ads, radio commercials, online games.

A veto from Ms. Gordon, 57, can send movie marketers scrambling. A planned poster for a recent Jennifer Aniston comedy was rejected because it depicted a man groping her. A newspaper ad for Dwayne Johnson's last movie was rejected because it failed to adequately display the film's rating.

DVD cases for horror movies have lately failed inspection for standard no-no's: guns pointing at people, human incineration, impalement. A single trailer can be submitted more than 30 times before winning approval.

"I don't know what more we could do," said Ms. Gordon, whose official title is senior vice president for advertising administration at the Motion Picture Association. "We don't want anything to offend the public, and I'm really proud of our track record," she added.

Ms. Gordon, a warm but feisty grandmother of three, prefers to toil in obscurity. Her offices, located in the suburban Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, are far from the corridors of movie power. Only rarely do the movie marketers she judges work with her in person. Studios submit their marketing materials by messenger or via a secure computer system and responses are issued in writing.

But a handful of watchdog groups have been trying to drag Ms. Gordon and her advertising review process into the spotlight. Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a Boston-based organization, has lambasted Ms. Gordon's group for what it sees as lax oversight of TV ads for PG-13-rated films. ("Self regulation of movie advertising has failed," said Susan Linn, the childhood group's director.) Other critics have focused on movie trailers, particularly the R-rated "red band" variety that have proliferated online.

Ms. Gordon's department has also been criticized — most prominently by the Federal Trade Commission — for insisting that cross-promotions for food or toys, such as themed Happy Meals, are outside its purview. In a December report, part of a periodic review of entertainment industry practices, the commission also criticized the "explicit and pervasive targeting of very young children for PG-13 movies."

Some of this heightened scrutiny appears to be political; critics sense a weakened Motion Picture Association. Last year, the companies that finance the organization — Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers and Walt Disney Studios — slashed the association's budget by about 20 percent. (Budgets for the ratings and advertising review are separate.) Moreover, the organization is searching for a new leader following the recent resignation of its chairman Dan Glickman.

But Ms. Gordon is frustrated, and fighting back. Complaints about the advertising review process, she maintains, are rarely from the public but rather from a tiny cadre of professional complainers. "It's a few special interest groups trying to make a name for themselves by unfairly going after us," she said.

Against this backdrop, Ms. Gordon agreed to pull back the curtain on her process, something she has never done since taking over the advertising department in 2003 — although she declined to discuss any specific film's marketing. Greater transparency, she decided, will help prove to naysayers that the Motion Picture Association's approach to film advertising is anything but cavalier.

In general terms, Ms. Gordon's team evaluates promotional materials to determine whether they are suitable for the intended audience. Billboards for R-rated movies must be tame enough for the masses, including children. But TV spots for those same movies — provided they run during late-night cable television, for instance — could feature violence and sexuality. An Internet trailer that is viewable only to people who have passed an age-verification test could go even further.

There are some explicit rules. A mass-circulation movie poster, for instance, cannot show "dismemberments," "children in peril," "cruelty to animals," "offensive gestures," "drugs or tobacco products" or "people or animals on fire" (comic book characters excepted), among a laundry list of other images and words. But most decisions are subjective and rely on personal judgment.