Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer", a bantamweight "comedy" from Paramount in 1970


Henry Miller’s novel “Tropic of Cancer” was notorious after being banned as “obscene” from the United States in the 1930s; it would be re-published by Grove Press in 1961 and “cleared” by the Supreme Court in 1964.

Paramount made the film in 1969, about the time I would be getting out of the Army.  The film offers Rip Torn as the expatriate writer living in Paris (in the early 60s), living is adventurous life one day at a time.

His wife even pays him a visit, and he accuses her of having lice! (That issue came up in Basic Training in the Army!)  Later, there are all kinds of meandering misadventures, such as a gig teaching English in Dijon, where Henry uses a lot of creative metaphors in front of teenage males.

The film has Miller narrating by reading graphic text from his novel.  The language, as well as some “full” scenes (showing the “rosebush”) is responsible for the DVD itself (from Olive Films) sporting an NC-17.

What was striking for me was the “attitude” of Miller and some of his make “friends” in the film.  There is a curious juxtaposition of wanting the responsibility of fatherhood and seeing other women as playthings.  It’s hard for a non-heterosexual  to grasp.

Joseph Strick directed the film.

See review of a film about the Grove Press here March 14, 2012. 

Henry Miller was also a painter.  There is a 4-minute YouTube short, "To Paint Is to Love Again" on his painting career.  

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