5.7/10
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6 user 26 critic

Tropic of Cancer (1970)

NC-17 | | Biography, Drama | 27 February 1970 (USA)
The film depicts the adventures of expatriate American writer Henry Miller and his friends, as they pursue art, money, food, and sex in Paris.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Fillmore
David Baur ...
Carl
Laurence Lignières ...
Ginette (as Laurence Lignères)
Phil Brown ...
Van Norden
...
Vite Cheri
...
The Princess
Raymond Gérôme ...
M. Le Censeur
...
Madame Hamilton
Sabine Sun ...
Elsa
Sheila Steafel ...
Tania
Gladys Berry ...
American Lady
George Birt ...
Sylvester
Stuart De Silva ...
Ranji
Steve Eckardt ...
Cronstadt (as Steve Eckhardt)
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Storyline

Henry is an ex-pat in Paris, cadging drinks and meals and places to sleep, giving advice about women to clueless men, flirting with the wives of acquaintances, burning bridges, and making philosophical observations. In vignettes we see his wife Mona come to Paris and leave immediately when she tastes Henry's vagabond life; he tries teaching English at a school in Dijon, takes the son of a wealthy Indian to a bordello, gets a job as a proofreader at the Herald Tribune, and helps out a pal who's in and out of an asylum and deeply in love with a whore. Can Henry make his own discovery of ecstasy? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated NC-17 for strong language and sex-related dialogue | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 February 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De kreeftskeerkring  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was refused a UK cinema certificate in 1970. It has never been resubmitted to the BBFC, though the film was shown on Sky TV in 1990. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Henry Miller: This, then, this is not a movie. This is a libel, slander, defamation of character, a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of art, a kick in the pants to God, man, destiny, time, love, beauty, what you will. I'm going to sing for you. A little off-key perhaps, but I will sing. I will sing while you croak. I will dance over your dirty corpse.
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Connections

Referenced in American Grindhouse (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Frölicher Landmann (The Happy Farmer)
from "Album für die Jugend (The Album for the Young), Op.68"
Composed by Robert Schumann
(At the scene when Henry recollects Tania)
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User Reviews

Interesting, but unfocused
19 October 1998 | by (Budapest) – See all my reviews

In order to appreciate Henry Miller's style, it is essential to get a feel for the juxtaposition of his elegant, often heartfelt prose, and the profane nature of his subject matter. He is the modern Catullus, the poet not of "lovemaking" but of the joys of flat-out *****ing.

The movie had difficulty synthesizing this sense of sacred and profane in harmony. It tried now with a Rip Torn overvoice reading from Miller's work, then with some poetic shots of the beauty of Paris. It never really seemed to succeed.

The movie could never find anything to focus on. It represents a string of vignettes, and they don't seem to lead to any common goal. Many scenes seem to concentrate on the minor characters for much too long, and without apparent purpose. Such picaresque efforts rely on the charm of characterization for impact, and this film has some of that, but not enough. It's structured as if somebody said "let's make a film of Tropic of Cancer" without actually feeling any passion for why they wanted to do that.

It was certainly interesting to see Rip Torn so young and so good-looking, and to see Ellen Burstyn in such a flagrant display of nudity. Some of the locales are accurately evocative, and Torn is reasonably credible in the lead. It is fairly explicit in the sexual scenes, and extremely explicit in its use of language.

You could watch it and not feel you've wasted your time, but be advised that you won't feel much rewarded, either.


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