Henry & June (1990)

NC-17 | 136 mins | Drama, Romance, Biography | 5 October 1990

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HISTORY

The film concludes with the following written epilogue: “It was Anaïs Nin’s wish that their story be told only after the death of the last remaining survivor… Hugo. Hugo became a film maker. His short films are in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. With Anaïs Nin’s support, 'Tropic of Cancer' was published in 1934. It was banned in all English-speaking countries for 27 years. Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller remained life-long friends and supporters. Both wrote many books about June. June became a social worker in Queens.”
       End credits include “Special thanks to”: George Hayum, Esq.; Rupert Pole; Joaquin Nin-Culmell; and: “Filmed with the assistance of Ministere de la Culture, France; M. Jack Lang; M. Marc Nicolas; M. Bernard Miyet; Mairie de Paris; M. Jean-Eudes Rabut, M. Patrice Bresson.” Also stated in the end credits are the following acknowledgments: 'Un Chien Andalou' by Luis Buñuel, distributed by ‘Les Grands Films Classiques’; 'Maedchen in Uniform,' distributed by Beta Film; 'La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc,' distributed by Gaumont; Photographes Originales de Brassai, copyright Gilberte Brassai 1989 all rights reserved.”
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer-director Philip Kaufman was introduced to author Henry Miller’s work while studying at the University of Chicago in the mid-1950s. At the time, most of Miller’s publications were banned in the U.S., but novels including Tropic of Cancer (Paris, 1934), were secretly passed among fellow students. At the end of the 1950s, Kaufman travelled to Paris and smuggled Miller’s novels back into the U.S., reportedly hiding them beneath “dirty underwear” in his knapsack. Kaufman later met Henry Miller and Anaïs ... More Less

The film concludes with the following written epilogue: “It was Anaïs Nin’s wish that their story be told only after the death of the last remaining survivor… Hugo. Hugo became a film maker. His short films are in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. With Anaïs Nin’s support, 'Tropic of Cancer' was published in 1934. It was banned in all English-speaking countries for 27 years. Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller remained life-long friends and supporters. Both wrote many books about June. June became a social worker in Queens.”
       End credits include “Special thanks to”: George Hayum, Esq.; Rupert Pole; Joaquin Nin-Culmell; and: “Filmed with the assistance of Ministere de la Culture, France; M. Jack Lang; M. Marc Nicolas; M. Bernard Miyet; Mairie de Paris; M. Jean-Eudes Rabut, M. Patrice Bresson.” Also stated in the end credits are the following acknowledgments: 'Un Chien Andalou' by Luis Buñuel, distributed by ‘Les Grands Films Classiques’; 'Maedchen in Uniform,' distributed by Beta Film; 'La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc,' distributed by Gaumont; Photographes Originales de Brassai, copyright Gilberte Brassai 1989 all rights reserved.”
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer-director Philip Kaufman was introduced to author Henry Miller’s work while studying at the University of Chicago in the mid-1950s. At the time, most of Miller’s publications were banned in the U.S., but novels including Tropic of Cancer (Paris, 1934), were secretly passed among fellow students. At the end of the 1950s, Kaufman travelled to Paris and smuggled Miller’s novels back into the U.S., reportedly hiding them beneath “dirty underwear” in his knapsack. Kaufman later met Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin in the early 1960s, when Nin was still relatively unknown. Kaufman noted that he and Nin “inspired one another” over the years, and he considered himself greatly indebted to her.
       Nin was famous for publishing erotica, and it was generally known that she was closely associated with Henry Miller. Her provocative journals alluded to an affair with the famous author, as well as other prominent writers of her generation, but the books withheld details about the depth of her relationship with Miller. As stated in the epilogue, Nin refused to publish an uncensored account of the affair until the three other members of the foursome – Henry and June Miller, as well as Nin’s husband, banker Hugh Parker Guiller (commonly known as Ian Hugo) – were dead. Hugo was not mentioned in many of Nin’s contemporarily published journals, but was reportedly aware of her promiscuity. He outlived Nin’s 14 Jan 1977 death by eight years.
       In 1947, Nin began an affair with actor Rupert Pole, who was sixteen years her junior. According to Pole’s 27 Jul 2006 LAT obituary, the two travelled to California so Pole could pursue work as a forest ranger. Nin spent half the year with Hugo in New York City, and half in Pole’s Sierra Madre, CA, cabin, claiming that she needed to write in isolation. Similarly, she told Pole that she had to live in New York City for “writing assignments.” Nin married Pole in 1955, although she was still Hugo’s wife. Modern sources, including articles in the 17 Oct 1993 and 31 Dec 2006 NYT, gave conflicting accounts of Hugo’s knowledge of his wife’s bigamy.
       Eleven years after her marriage to Pole, Nin became anxious about the “legal consequences of having two husbands who claimed her as a dependent on their tax returns.” Upon invalidating her marriage to Pole, she finally admitted to having a husband in New York City and said that she would not divorce Hugo because of his financial support, as well as his patience with her affairs and long absences. Hugo was most likely unaware of Pole at the time, according to modern sources.
       In the mid-1970s, Nin was diagnosed with cancer and chose to spend her remaining years with Pole in a Los Angeles, CA, house designed by Pole’s half-brother, Eric Lloyd Wright, the grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright. While Nin’s posthumously published diaries stated that Hugo never knew of her second husband, a close friend of the author claimed that Nin confessed her bigamous relationship to Hugo before her death, and he forgave her. Nin’s public deception was so effective that her 16 Jan 1977 obituaries listed Hugo in the NYT and Pole in the LAT. Pole’s 27 Jul 2006 LAT obituary noted that Hugo and Pole met one another after Nin’s death and had brief periods of communication. Upon Hugo’s death in 1985, Pole dispersed the ashes of his rival husband in Santa Monica Bay, CA, where Nin’s ashes were scattered in 1977.
       Following Nin’s wishes, Pole did not publish Henry and June: From “A Journal of Love”—The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1986) until after Hugo’s death on 7 Jan 1985. The book contained excerpts from Nin’s self-censored The Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1931-1934, which was first printed in 1966. Since Nin named Pole the trustee of her last will and testament, he published several other books written by Nin after her death, including Incest: From “A Journal of Love”-- The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1932-1934) (New York, 1992), and Fire: From “A Journal of Love” – The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1934-1937) (New York, 1995).
       It was the first of these publications that inspired husband and wife team Philip and Rose Kaufman to spend one year writing the screenplay for Henry & June. According to production notes, Philip Kaufman saw their writing process as a reflection of Miller and Nin’s collaborations. Rose continued to research and augment the screenplay throughout production. Their son, Peter Kaufman, produced the picture.
       While a 17 Sep 1989 LAT news item announced that actor Fred Ward had replaced Alec Baldwin in the role of “Henry,” and principal photography was scheduled to begin Nov 1989, a 27 Sep 1989 Var brief stated that filming began 4 Sep 1989 in Paris, France, with a predominantly French crew. Production notes reported that the film was shot over a period of fifteen weeks, with an approximate end date in mid-Dec 1989. Aside from location filming in Paris, the production also worked at France’s Epinay Studios.
       Henry & June made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on 14 Sep 1990, even though it was not registered for the competition. At the time, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had assigned the picture an X-rating, making it ineligible for general distribution in the U.S. Although critics largely disliked the film, they generated and signed a petition protesting the X-rating because it imposed limitations on “artistic freedom.” Similarly, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) complained that the X-rating was a response to several lesbian scenes in the picture, as reported in an 11 Sep 1990 LAT article. Although MPAA’s X-rating was initially created to warn parents about content that was deemed inappropriate for children, GLAAD and movie critics pointed out that the rating had become inextricably associated with pornography. GLAAD noted that similar films with heterosexual sex scenes were not rated X, and argued that the MPAA was representing a moralistic judgment against homosexuality. The organization also took issue with MPAA’s R-ratings of films that depicted violence, stereotyping, and discrimination against homosexuals, such as the British-German co-production Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989, see entry) and House Party (1990, see entry).
       Although other non-pornographic films were granted X-ratings at the time, they were produced by foreign and independent companies that did not have the same financial resources or political sway to pressure the MPAA as the major Hollywood studios. Movies such as the French-British Peter Greenaway picture The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989) and Pedro Almodóvar’s Spanish release, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down (1990) were released without ratings so they could be screened in a greater number of U.S. theaters.
       Henry & June, however, was backed and distributed by Universal Pictures, a major Hollywood studio. Universal was so confident the film would be cleared for release without an X-rating that it was confirming contracts with exhibitors throughout the U.S. one month before release, according to a 21 Sep 1990 LAT news item. Although the MPAA rating appeal hearing was scheduled for 3 Oct 1990, just two days before the film’s 5 Oct 1990 national opening, Universal’s distribution and marketing campaign advertised an R-rating. Universal’s chairman, Tom Pollock, vowed that Henry & June would not be released without an R-rating, and noted that editing or striking revised film prints before 5 Oct 1990 would be impossible.
       Just six days after the 21 Sep 1990 LAT brief, a 27 Sep 1990 NYT article announced MPAA’s creation of a new NC-17 rating – no ages seventeen and under. The category was meant to distinguish adult films from pornography, and Henry & June was the first film to be released with this rating. The popular correlation between X and pornography was due, in part, to MPAA’s failure to trademark their X-rating, leaving it vulnerable to appropriation by pornographic filmmakers. In their announcement, MPAA officials promised to trademark NC-17 right away, but their definition of the category had yet to be clarified for exhibitors, critics, and audiences. The 27 Sep 1990 NYT interpreted that NC-17 would be applied “to all movies that include adult themes or content and is intended to deny admittance to such films to all viewers under 17 years of age.” Noting that there were over 20,000 theaters in the U.S. at that time, and many had “rental contracts” prohibiting them from screening X-rated films, NYT stated that exhibitors, particularly shopping mall landlords, would demand to see new language associated with NC-17 before Henry & June’s 5 Oct 1990 release date. Theater owners feared they would be held liable for showing movies legally restricted from their venues if NC-17 was not clarified.
       Although MPAA president Jack Valenti claimed the decision was not based on one particular film, industry insiders argued that the association was marred by its six-month refusal to change Henry & June’s X-rating. Not only were Universal and its parent company, MCA, Inc., opposed to the rating, but renowned law professor Alan M. Dershowitz agreed to represent the studio and urged Kaufman to challenge the MPAA on constitutional grounds. Additionally, thirty top filmmakers including Sydney Pollack, Francis Ford Coppola, and Rob Reiner sent Valenti an “open letter” claiming, “the artistic freedom and integrity of American filmmakers are being compromised by an outdated and unfair rating system.”
       Unnamed attendees at various MPAA meetings reported that “the turning point” came when Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures, formerly supporters of the MPAA, reconsidered their position and sided with Universal. With the appeal hearing looming on 3 Oct 1990, two days before Henry & June’s 5 Oct 1990 release date, MPAA changed their guidelines to avoid the appearance of backing down, according to various contemporary sources. Universal dropped their appeal upon the creation of the NC-17 rating.
       Network television stations and exhibitors demonstrated little reluctance to advertising or screening Henry & June with the NC-17 rating, according to a 5 Oct 1990 LAT article. That day, the film was booked at eighty theaters in thirty-two markets. Even though the picture had not yet been viewed by protestors, many objectors gathered in several locations across the nation, including Orange County, CA, as reported in an 8 Oct 1990 LAT article, and Dedham, MA, where one theater stopped showing the picture due to protests by “local officials.”
       Despite generally negative reviews, the highly publicized MPAA dispute attracted audiences, and theaters reported sell-out crowds. As the first NC-17 release, Henry & June grossed approximately $850,000 its opening weekend at seventy-six theaters across the U.S. The discrepancy between reports of eighty theaters in the 5 Oct 1990 LAT and seventy-six in the 8 Oct 1990 LAT may or may not reflect protestors’ success at shutting down four venues.
       Audiences interviewed upon leaving theaters were overwhelmingly in agreement that the film was not pornographic. According to LAT, one thirteen-year-old boy snuck into a theater at Westwood, CA’s Mann’s Fourplex with his parents and told reporters that the film was “great.” His parents agreed they did not regret bringing their son to the movie.
       Henry & June was nominated for one Academy Award in the category for Best Cinematography (Philippe Rousselot).
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
17 Sep 1990
p. 2, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 1990
p. 6, 62.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Sep 1990
Calendar, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
21 Sep 1990
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
4 Oct 1990
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
5 Oct 1990
Calendar, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
8 Oct 1990
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jul 2006.
---
New York Times
27 Sep 1990
Section A, p. 1.
New York Times
5 Oct 1990
p. 18.
New York Times
17 Oct 1993.
---
New York Times
31 Dec 2006.
---
Variety
27 Sep 1989.
---
Variety
17 Sep 1990
p. 100, 126.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Philip Kaufman Film
A Universal Pictures Presentation of
A Walrus and Associates, Ltd. Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Unit mgr
Unit mgr
Unit mgr trainee
Unit mgr trainee
3d asst dir
Trainee asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Literary consultant
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Focus puller
2d cam asst
Cam trainee
Cam trainee
Steadycam op
Cam op - 2d cam
Video op
Best boy
Generator op
Key grip
2d grip
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
1st asst art dir
Storyboard artist
Sketch artist
Artistic consultant
Art dept consultant
FILM EDITORS
Addl film editing
1st asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Set decorating consultant
Chief constructor
Head const grip
Chief carpenter
Property buyer
Property buyer
Property buyer
Property master
Propman
Chief painter
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Ward mistress
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward workshop supv
Ward trainee
MUSIC
Mus selected by
Mus selected by
Mus selected by
Orig source mus and arrangements
Mus consultant
SOUND
Sd des
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd asst
Sd trainee
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Asst to supervising sd ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Asst dial ed
Asst dial ed
Apprentice dial ed
Apprentice dial ed
Supervising ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd eff
Foley artist
Asst foley artist
Foley ed
Asst foley ed
Apprentice foley/Eff ed
Foley rec
Sd transfer op
Recording services provided by
Recording services provided by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles by
DANCE
MAKEUP
Chief makeup
Asst makeup
Chief hairdresser
Asst hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
(France)
Casting
(U.S.)
Casting
(U.S.)
Prod supv
Casting England
Casting extras
Asst extras casting France
Casting adv (Musicians)
Scr supv
Scr trainee
Loc auditor
Accountant
Asst to the prod
Prod coord
Unit pub
(France)
Unit pub
(U.S.)
Voice and speech coach
Puppet coach
Ventriloquism coach
Dog trainer
Period cars
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Ward driver
Tracking car
Post prod accountant
Post prod accountant
Post prod coord
Filmed with
Camera equipment
Sound equipment
Electrical equipment by
STAND INS
Fred Ward stand-in
Uma Thurman stand-in
Maria De Medeiros stand-in
Richard E. Grant stand-in
Kevin Spacey stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Henry and June: From a Journal of Love -- The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1931-1932 by Anaïs Nin (San Diego, 1989).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 October 1990
Premiere Information:
Venice Film Festival world premiere: 14 September 1990
Los Angeles opening: 5 October 1990
New York opening: week of 5 October 1990
Production Date:
4 September--mid December 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
25 January 1991
Copyright Number:
PA511743
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
136
MPAA Rating:
NC-17
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30652
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1931 Paris, France, writer Anaïs Nin is supported by her banker husband, Hugo, who sacrificed his work as an artist to back her fledgling career. However, Anaïs complains he is a bureaucrat, and longs for friendships and sexual affairs with “creative” people. One day, Hugo brings home American novelist Henry Miller, who is staying at the apartment of Osborn, their eccentric playwright friend. According to Osborn, Henry’s work speaks for average people, but he will never be published because of his raunchy depictions of sex. Anaïs is intrigued by the expatriate and goes to Osborn’s run-down residence to loan Henry her typewriter. There, she finds Osborn in bed with three women and learns that Henry is at a movie. Inside the theater, Anaïs touches Henry’s shoulder from behind and he runs away in tears. She follows him to a backstreet café, where he explains his despair: The actress in the film reminds him of his estranged, bisexual wife, June, who supplied him with outrageous stories about her life to inspire his work. June believed Henry was the next Fyodor Dostoevsky and financed his career in order to be “immortalized” in his novels. When Henry questioned the source of his wife’s assets, he was disgusted to learn she was prostituting herself to a man named “Pop.” In response, he left her in New York City and travelled to Europe, hoping to live in a society that was more hospitable to struggling artists. Back on the streets of Paris, Anaïs gives the destitute author money and follows him into a brothel. Sometime later, June Miller arrives in Paris to ... +


In 1931 Paris, France, writer Anaïs Nin is supported by her banker husband, Hugo, who sacrificed his work as an artist to back her fledgling career. However, Anaïs complains he is a bureaucrat, and longs for friendships and sexual affairs with “creative” people. One day, Hugo brings home American novelist Henry Miller, who is staying at the apartment of Osborn, their eccentric playwright friend. According to Osborn, Henry’s work speaks for average people, but he will never be published because of his raunchy depictions of sex. Anaïs is intrigued by the expatriate and goes to Osborn’s run-down residence to loan Henry her typewriter. There, she finds Osborn in bed with three women and learns that Henry is at a movie. Inside the theater, Anaïs touches Henry’s shoulder from behind and he runs away in tears. She follows him to a backstreet café, where he explains his despair: The actress in the film reminds him of his estranged, bisexual wife, June, who supplied him with outrageous stories about her life to inspire his work. June believed Henry was the next Fyodor Dostoevsky and financed his career in order to be “immortalized” in his novels. When Henry questioned the source of his wife’s assets, he was disgusted to learn she was prostituting herself to a man named “Pop.” In response, he left her in New York City and travelled to Europe, hoping to live in a society that was more hospitable to struggling artists. Back on the streets of Paris, Anaïs gives the destitute author money and follows him into a brothel. Sometime later, June Miller arrives in Paris to reunite with her husband and Anaïs is mesmerized by her beauty. Anaïs and Hugo become fast friends with the Millers, but June suddenly decides to return to America. When she tries to book an ocean liner back to New York City, she does not have enough money, and Anaïs gives her a fist-full of cash. However, June arranges to meet the male booking agent for a romantic tryst in exchange for a ticket, and pockets Anaïs’s money. Before June’s departure, Anaïs meets her at Henry’s studio and they read his unfinished manuscript for Tropic of Cancer. June is outraged to recognize herself in the character “Mona” and complains that Henry is incapable of understanding beauty. As the Millers fight, June accuses her husband of misogyny and runs away. Anaïs follows her friend into the misty evening and they go to a lesbian nightclub, where June admits to living a life of indiscretions. However, Anaïs is impressed by June’s sexual worldliness, and wishes aloud that she, too, could be free from social conformity. As the friends embrace on the dance floor, June announces she is leaving in the morning. She gives Anaïs her silver bracelet and they kiss. In June’s absence the following evening, Hugo and Anaïs meet Henry at another nightclub. There, Anaïs tells Henry that she intends to write a book about June. While Hugo plays conga drums, Henry follows Anaïs backstage and they make love. The experience rekindles her affection for Hugo, but when he leaves town on a business trip, Anaïs begins a passionate affair with Henry. He introduces her to the Parisian underworld of contortionists, magicians, and the renowned photographer, Brassi. In time, Anaïs shows Henry her private journals and he vows to love her forever. They continue to read each other’s work, but Henry begins to edit Anaïs’s journals and insists her prose will grow stronger with his criticism. Offended, Anaïs storms away and Henry follows her through the Parisian streets during an “Art Student’s Ball.” They reconcile and return to Osborn’s apartment, but Henry is unable to perform sexually and falls asleep. Anaïs wanders back through the carnival and has sex with a costumed stranger, only to realize he is Hugo. With her sexual fantasies incited, Anaïs takes Hugo to the brothel frequented by Henry to watch a love-making “exhibition” between two women who resemble her and June. Anaïs later seduces her cousin, Eduardo, and tearfully confesses her infatuation with June. During his separation from Anaïs, Henry finishes Tropic of Cancer on her typewriter. With the manuscript and a bouquet of pilfered flowers in hand, Henry bicycles to Anaïs’s country home and they make love. At the same time, however, Hugo returns unexpectedly from a business trip and the maid stalls him in the kitchen. When he heads upstairs, Anaïs quickly explains that Henry is sleeping in her study, exhausted from finishing Tropic of Cancer, and whisks her husband into their bedroom to make love. As the couple reads the manuscript in bed, Henry tries to sneak away, but Hugo invites him into their chambers and praises the book. Later, Anaïs tells Henry that the novel provokes her jealousy of June. When he insists Tropic of Cancer represents an emotional farewell to his wife, Anaïs promises to help publish the book. One night, Anaïs and Eduardo visit Osborn’s apartment for a party and are surprised to find June, drinking with her husband. Stepping away from the revelry, June admits she read the book Anaïs wrote about her and complains it is not true to life. When Henry’s new publisher, Jack, arrives at the party, June is appalled to learn her husband will only earn five percent of the book’s profits. She seductively asks Jack to meet her on another occasion to sweeten the deal. When the party ends, June complains that Tropic of Cancer is not ready for publication, and insists that Henry is taking advantage of Anaïs. Losing control of his anger, Henry becomes violent and June hides in the bedroom with Anaïs. There, the two women make love, but June accuses Anaïs of being in cahoots with Henry, exploiting her sexuality to benefit her own writing career. When Anaïs runs to Henry’s side, June’s suspicion of their affair is confirmed. Declaring her intent to leave both writers for good, June tosses her lovers’ manuscripts into the air and runs away in a deluge of scattered pages. Henry follows his wife, denying his infidelity, with Anaïs in tow. Outside in the foggy night, Henry assumes June is lost forever and embraces Anaïs, but the she believes their muse is watching from afar. Back at Osborn’s apartment, Anaïs pieces the pages of her book back together, ends her affair with Henry, and returns to Hugo. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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