This movie precipitated the creation of the NC-17 MPAA rating, which it earned in place of an "X". The two to three second shot of Anaïs Nin (Maria de Medeiros) looking at an explicit illustrated postcard involving a Japanese woman and a squid, less than three minutes into the opening credits of the film, was the cause of the NC-17 rating.
'Phillip Kaufman (I)' first came into contact with 'Henry Miller''s works during the 1950s while studying at the University of Chicago. Kaufman once recalled that "Tropic of Cancer", which is mentioned in the film as the book Miller was in the process of writing, "was the ultimate secret book everybody was reading".
When Anaïs Nin (Maria de Medeiros) flips through the stack of erotic postcards in the beginning of the film, one of them is of a woman propped up in a chair with a hat on and is shown hiking up her skirt with one hand. The image is the same one used on the first edition cover of Anais Nin's short story collection titled, "Delta of Venus."
Approximately 135 minutes into the film, Anaïs Nin (Maria de Medeiros) is attending an event at which a strolling guitar player can be heard strumming "Gran Vals" by Francisco Tárrega which has more recently been readily recognizable from its notes comprising the Nokia ring-tone.
The film is apparently one of only three Academy Award nominated films to be released with an NC-17 rating in the USA. The films are Henry & June (1990), _Wild at Heart_, which were both released in the same year, and Requiem for a Dream (2000).
The full actual real life birth name of Anaïs Nin, portrayed in the film by Portugese actress Maria de Medeiros, was Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell but was also known by the much shorter three word name of Anaïs Nin Culmell.
According to show-business trade paper 'Variety', the "pic's title, also the title of the [source Anaïs] Nin book, is actually a misnomer. This is the story of Henry [Miller] ['Fred Ward'] and Anais [Nin] [Maria de Medeiros]; June [Miller nee Smith] [Uma Thurman], playing a marginal role, is offscreen much of the time".
The picture's source book "Henry and June" (1986) is also known by two longer titles. They are "Henry and June: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin" and "Henry and June: From A Journal of Love: the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1931-1932)".
Approximately twenty-two years later, Philip Kaufman would make another film about the relationship between a writer and a spouse: Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012). That movie and Henry & June (1990) are also similar in that both films are titled with the names of two central romantic characters in each picture, though in one film they are first names, and in the other they are surnames or last names.
The movie received 18+ ratings certificates in both the United Kingdom and New Zealand but in Australia the film got an M rating which is a 15+ certificate. In the UK, "this work was passed uncut" by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification).
According to the Turner Classic Movies website, "according to an interview in the December 1991 issue of Details magazine, actor Gary Oldman, billed as Maurice Escargot, appears in [the] film opposite wife Uma Thurman".
The novel "Tropic of Cancer" written by Henry Miller (played in the movie by Fred Ward), is the book that Miller is working on during the film, was a real life novel and was first published in 1934. It was made into a feature film Tropic of Cancer (1970) which debuted in theaters in 1970. Miller actually appeared in the movie as a spectator. Also in 1970, the first filmed version of Miller's novel "Quiet Days in Clichy" [Quiet Days in Clichy (1970)] debuted, with the second, "Quiet Days in Clichy" [Jours tranquilles à Clichy (1990)], launching in the same 1990 year as Henry & June (1990).
The film was first released in the same 1990 year as "Quiet Days in Clichy" [Jours tranquilles à Clichy (1990)] which was based on the novel of the same name by Henry Miller and also featured the real life Miller in the film as a character, portrayed by actor Andrew McCarthy.