Tropic of Cancer (film)

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Tropic of Cancer
Tropic of Cancer poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Strick
Screenplay byBetty Botley
Joseph Strick
Based on Tropic of Cancer
by Henry Miller
Produced byJoseph Strick
Starring Rip Torn
James T. Callahan
David Baur
Laurence Lignères
Phil Brown
Dominique Delpierre
CinematographyAlain Derobe
Edited by Sidney Meyers
Sylvia Sarner
Music by Stanley Myers
Tropic Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • February 27, 1970 (1970-02-27)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States

Tropic of Cancer is a 1970 American drama film directed by Joseph Strick and written by Betty Botley and Joseph Strick. It is based on Henry Miller's 1934 autobiographical novel Tropic of Cancer . The film stars Rip Torn, James T. Callahan, David Baur, Laurence Lignères, Phil Brown and Dominique Delpierre. The film was released on February 27, 1970, by Paramount Pictures. [1] [2]


Strick had previously adapted other controversial works of literature – Jean Genet's The Balcony and James Joyce's Ulysses . Though the book came out in 1934, the film is set in the late 1960s when Paris, while little changed visually, was a very different place. Filming took place on location in Paris, produced by Joseph Strick with some help from the author, whose persona was portrayed by Rip Torn and his wife Mona by Ellen Burstyn. The novel had provided a test for American laws on pornography and the film was rated X in the United States, which was later changed to an NC-17 rating in 1992. [3] In the UK the film was refused an 'X' certificate by the BBFC.


Henry Miller, a writer from New York whose money has run out, lives in Paris on the generosity of American friends who give him food and a space to sleep. His wife Mona crosses the Atlantic to see him, but soon leaves when she realises the hopelessness of his position. When he does wheedle a bit of cash, he spends it on drink and women. He finds a job, providing bed and board though no pay, as a teacher of English at a boys' school in Dijon, but soon leaves. Another opportunity is to mentor a wealthy young Indian, which again does not last. Finally he lands a proper job with an American newspaper and becomes friends with another expatriate, Fillmore. From a rich family, Fillmore has got involved with Ginette, possibly a prostitute, who is possibly infected and probably pregnant. He suffers a mental breakdown and is hospitalised. Once he is released, Henry persuades him to head back fast to the USA, promising to take care of Ginette. When Fillmore gives him 500 francs for Ginette, Henry realises that, despite his love for the Old World and the freedom he has enjoyed there, he too could now head back fast to the USA.


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  1. "Tropic of Cancer (1970) - Overview". 1970-02-19. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  2. "Movie Review - - Rip Torn Portrays Miller in "Tropic of Cancer" Adaptation". 1970-02-20. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  3. Fox, Margalit (June 7, 2010). "Joseph Strick, Who Filmed the Unfilmable, Dies at 86". The New York Times . Retrieved April 1, 2014.