Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1990

Henry & June is first NC-17 film

On this day in 1990, Henry & June, starring Uma Thurman, Fred Ward and Maria de Medeiros and inspired by the novel of the same name by Anais Nin, opens in theaters as the first film with an NC-17 rating. Set in Paris, France, in the early 1930s, Henry & June tells the story of the American writer Henry Miller (Ward), whose novels include Tropic of Cancer; his wife, June (Thurman); and their love triangle with the French writer Anais Nin (Medeiros). The movie, which contains lesbian sex scenes and nudity, garnered an Oscar nomination for its cinematography, but critical reviews were mixed.

On September 27, 1990, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the organization that voluntarily gives movies their ratings, debuted NC-17 (No One Under 17 Admitted) as a replacement for the X rating, which was thought to have become too closely associated in the public’s mind with pornography. Newspapers and TV stations refused to advertise movies that were rated X, and video stores such as Blockbuster wouldn’t carry X-rated movies. It was therefore believed that a new rating was needed for adult dramas that dealt with serious themes but contained sexually explicit or violent content. According to the MPAA, the NC-17 rating “does not mean ‘obscene’ or ‘pornographic’ in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense. The rating simply signals that the content is appropriate only for an adult audience.” The NC-17 is one step up from the R rating, which requires that anyone 17 or under must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. According to the MPAA, a movie with an NC-17 rating “May contain very strong sexual or offensive language, strong explicit nudity, very strong gore or disturbing violence, or strong drug abuse.”

Though the movie community–from producers to distributors–favored the new rating, some religious organizations and conservative groups initially opposed it. On October 13, 1990, the New York Times reported that “A theater in a Boston suburb removed ‘Henry and June,’ the first film to receive the new rating, from its exhibition schedule after local officials threatened to cancel the theater’s license. Radio and television stations operated by religious groups have condemned the new category, and in Birmingham, Ala., the city’s largest newspaper has said it will neither review nor accept advertisements for films that receive the NC-17 rating….Still, ‘Henry and June,’ which opened last week in 76 theaters in about 20 cities and grossed $863,000, does not appear to have been damaged commercially by the controversy. Beginning today, the movie will be shown in about 175 theaters in more than 60 cities.”

Tags
terms:
LawsFilm

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Apple founder Steve Jobs dies

On this day in 2011, Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Inc., which revolutionized the computer, music and mobile communications industries with such devices as the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad, dies at age 56 of complications from pancreatic cancer. Born on ...read more

Tecumseh defeated

During the War of 1812, a combined British and Indian force is defeated by General William Harrison’s American army at the Battle of the Thames near Ontario, Canada. The leader of the Indian forces was Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief who organized intertribal resistance to the ...read more

Dalai Lama wins Peace Prize

The Dalai Lama, the exiled religious and political leader of Tibet, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end the Chinese domination of Tibet. The 14th Dalai Lama was born as Tenzin Gyatso in Tsinghai Province, China, in 1935. He was of ...read more

Chief Joseph surrenders

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians surrenders to U.S. General Nelson A. Miles in the Bear Paw mountains of Montana, declaring, “Hear me, my chiefs: My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” Earlier in the year, the U.S. government ...read more

First presidential speech on TV

On this day in 1947, President Harry Truman (1884-1972) makes the first-ever televised presidential address from the White House, asking Americans to cut back on their use of grain in order to help starving Europeans. At the time of Truman’s food-conservation speech, Europe was ...read more

Iran-Contra scandal unravels

Eugene Hasenfus is captured by troops of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua after the plane in which he is flying is shot down; two others on the plane die in the crash. Under questioning, Hasenfus confessed that he was shipping military supplies into Nicaragua for use by the ...read more