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Petulia Poster
5.8/10 by 5 users
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An unhappily married socialite finds solace in the company of a recently divorced doctor.

Release Date:June 10, 1968
Genres:Drama, Romance, Foreign
Production Co.:Warner Brothers/Seven Arts, Petersham Pictures
Production Countries:United States of America
Director:Richard Lester
Writers:, ,
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:divorce, socialite

Petulia Reviews

  • Beautifully Dated...It Adds to the Film.
    by chconnol on 29 April 2004

    45 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

    "Petulia" is one of the best American films of all time. It should be ranked with "Citizen Kane" and I'm not being sarcastic.

    The beauty of the film is how dated it is. Some films that "define" or capture a certain period of time very well often appear very dated later on and lose their effectiveness because of it. But because "Petulia" is so definately set in it's time period, it's like watching a time capsule. There are films which are made today that take place in the late 60's and try for that "mod" feel. But they're removed from that time and therefore can't capture the true feeling of that tumultuous time. "Petulia" captures it beautifully and integrates the 60's experience into it's storyline and structure. For example, when Archie returns from a day out with his sons and returns to his apartment, on TV there is a newscast about Vietnam. It's not overplayed or anything. It's just there as it would have been on any TV in 1968. It's carefully woven into the structure of the film.

    Lester has been praised for his editing in this film and it's pretty ingenious. But overall, I found it at times a little too much. There is a LOT of jumping around in time. We learn the story of Petulia and her abusive husband and the little Mexican boy very slowly over the course of the film. It's only in the final moments of the film where we get the gyst of Petulia's neediness and of Archie's as well. I will never forget the final moment where Petulia softly says Archie's name before being putt under gas to have her baby.

    A VERY 60's film. Anyone with an interest in the times and how they might've felt should see this film. One of the most underrated films of all time. Lester shows his true genius here. And like the film, he's the most underrated director. Too bad he's not making films anymore.

  • Forgotten classic from the 60's
    by Boyo-2 on 23 December 2004

    38 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

    In many ways, this is a plot less, jumble of the movie, but at the same time there is something really fantastic about it, and some movies are better off jumbled up cause its fitting, never more so than in the case of "Petulia." George C. Scott plays a recently divorced man who willingly begins a semi-affair with Petulia, who is married to an abusive man. She is a 'kook', to use a 1960s term, but not in the Goldie Hawn silly mold.

    Scott's character takes life as it comes. He's very easy going, and its nice to see him in a role in which he rarely raises his voice or gets manic or seems to care what happens one way or the other. He loves Petulia but does not take her very seriously, until she is badly beaten up by her husband.

    The editing can be studied by film students. Its a main part of the story as its told primarily through flashbacks. The beautiful city of San Francisco is used to full advantage.

    Christie has rarely been more beautiful. Richard Chamberlain has his best movie role. Shirley Knight, Arthur Hill and Joseph Cotten round out the memorable cast.

    I urge all serious moviegoers to get a glance at this one. 9/10.

  • Petulia you fool ya.....that was the original tag line
    by maxren17 on 12 November 2005

    29 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

    I saw this film when it opened and recently bought the video and watched it again.

    I remembered being very moved by the characters and the pairing of Julie Christie and George C Scott. Christie was so young and Scott was also still quite young as well. They had great chemistry. I didn't know that Shirley Knight was nominated for an award for her role. She's very good. Her scene with Scott where she's trying to appease him and he loses his temper is electric. She says more in her look, using her eyes to convey her hurt and confusion, than most actors say in too many words.

    Julie Christie has always had a way of getting under your skin. She is able to make you care for her (a lot like she did in "Darling") despite the fact that her character initially comes off as flaky or "kooky." It starts out light and amusing then turns dark and insightful. I remembered this movie for years until I was able to buy the video. It is very 60's in sensibility. So, if you weren't around during that period, see this movie. It captures the sixties in way few films have done as well.

    San Francisco looks beautiful in 1967.

  • Nothing says heartbreak like Petulia
    by cairnsdavid on 15 November 2002

    29 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

    I've never seen a film which captured the confusion of love gone wrong like this. The kaleidoscopic editing can be a distraction but it also helps create the torment of the main character as his life slowly ceases to make sense. Stunningly photographed by Nicolas Roeg, and a clear influence on his later BAD TIMING, in which the neurosis, present in all the characters of PETULIA, blossoms into full-blown psychosis. What this film has over Roeg's is a sharper compassion and a satiric portrait of late summer-of-love San Francisco which feels accurate and quite ahead of its time. Disillusion has already set in. George C Scott is majestic, and Julie Christie goes from irritating in the "BRINGING up BABY for the Pepsi Generation" opening sequences, to ultimately moving and affecting. The ending, where she goes under the gas (to give birth, but it feels more permanent than that), is as oddly chilling as Lester's earlier HOW I WON THE WAR (which ends with Michael Crawford eating a biscuit, and manages to make this terrifying). What can I say? If you have time and sympathy for people who are a bit screwed up, PETULIA may speak to you.

  • Inexplicably overlooked
    by T-Boy-3 on 24 March 1999

    24 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

    Certainly one of the top films of the '60s, this film was overlooked (misunderstood?) at its release and has yet to be "rediscovered." Lester's use of flashbacks and forewards is a little confusing at first, but it's also a vital element in what makes this film so worthwhile. The performances are first-rate all the way, including Richard Chamberlin, who has never been this good before or since, and Joseph Cotton, who speaks volumes in his brief scenes. Challenging and disturbing, definitely a film that deserves (and requires) a second look. Maybe someone will do a Lester retrospective (he also did the Beatles' first films)so that this masterpiece can finally find the audience it deserves.

    by rclarknv on 23 April 2004

    23 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

    Petulia is a movie of suggestion and inference, something rare for movies of its time. The aimlessness of its cast only hints at darker, neurotic motives. It seems the players' purposelessness is the point; not so. Characters have plans but don't know or admit them. This film uniquely rides on nuances, from reflections to innuendo.

    Chamberlin's the most overt character, with his barely-contained lust for the little boy. 'Petulia' has appetites, but for not what she knows. Ditto Scott's restless character.

    The graphics are subtle and rich at the same time. Overall, seems to me this film was ahead of its time in concept and execution. Hope it makes its way to dvd...

  • Richard Lester's Masterpiece
    by none-102 ( on 2 February 2000

    22 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

    Lester's "serious" film is a stylistic and cinematic masterpiece that -like much of Lester's work- has been underrated for decades. "Petulia" features the performance of a lifetime for Julie Christie and stunning work by George C. Scott and Richard Chamberlain.

    This film is amazingly shot by Nicholas Roeg (!) and is a riveting piece of timeless cinema. A must-see.

  • Absolutely Cool
    by Pamela Reed (DysfunctionalDiva) on 5 September 2002

    19 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

    I adore this film and I'm so surprised that it doesn't have a higher score for user votes. I stumbled on this film on cable and was mesmerized. It's truly is fabulous - if it sounds like I'm gushing over it, it's because that's precisely what I'm doing. Julie Christie is just awesome in this film. She so kinetic, and of course, beautiful. The biggest surprise for me was watching Richard Chamberlain. I always thought of him as just the King of Television Mini-Series, and he was so utterly different in this than what I grew up thinking him to be. The film is so stylistic - wonderful the way it plays with time and images. Petulia is the best hidden surprise that I've stumbled on in the last 5 years. Now if someone would only release it on DVD - PLEASE!

  • What a long strange trip this has been
    by Clark Richards on 6 January 2005

    15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

    I could not give a wide range recommendation for this film. If you don't like abrupt flashback edits and a story that unfolds slowly, then this is not for you. However, if you can hang with the film you will be rewarded for your effort with some truly bizarre moments. There are images from the film that really stuck with me. The absurdity of situations seemed to come back to me days after having watched it. I remembered the gift of the Tuba, the hospital staff trying to explain the 'dummy teevee' procurement procedure, and of course, George C. Scott making his way into not only a 'Big Brother and the Holding Company' concert, but also a 'Grateful Dead' show. Huh?

    Added to that you have Richard Chamberlain in all his dandy elfin fabulousness, Joeseph Cotten collecting a paycheck and a very young Howard Hesseman(Dr. Johnny Fever) in a cameo that really served no purpose that I could fathom.

    A lot of cat and mouse love affair nonsense between the beautiful Julie Christie and the 'throat lozenged' George C. Scott....what? could happen. A lot of obsession and a bit of denial make up the bulk of the movie.

    It is interesting to see Scotts' character change throughout the film.

    Richard Lester has made many, many great films. And although this film doesn't carry the Richard Lester stamp, it is still one of his best films. I loved it. 9/10.

    But really, George C. Scott at a 'Dead' show? Trouble ahead, trouble behind indeed.

    Clark Richards

  • I've been thinking of this movie a lot of late
    by jimma7ig-1 on 3 April 2005

    16 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

    I was reviewing Julie Christie's career on the net, and, of course, came across one of my favorite's. As expected, the leads are the best...over time and effort. I saw it the year it was released. It still stays with me...clearly and distinctly. From Chamberlain to Knight and Joseph Cotton, everybody stands out. The director uses the Bay area quite nicely as the backdrop. If it was on tonight, on the cable, I would be sure to watch it. I viewed the movie through the eyes of Scott's character. He is in the middle of the late 60's and lost and his wife, Shirley Knight, just doesn't get it. What is the fuss. Kooky or straight, average wage earner or wealthy, they all are portrayed well... as their lives intersect. Yes it is a slice of life, in the vein of the theatre of the absurd...yet it made so much sense as I was watching it. Later Scott played a head surgeon in a New York hospital opposite Diana Rugg. It was as though the character in Petulia got transferred to New York, still lost but still the good doctor. Julie Christie continues to work when she wants to and picks her projects well. Unlike one of the reviewers on this site, Christie did significant work in Afterglow with Nick Nolte in the mid 90's. How could he drop that from his memory bank. Petulia is well worth the concentrated effort it takes to watch.

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