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Petulia

4.4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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(Jun 20, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

"It's a very real film about two people trying to get through to each other," director Richard Lester (A Hard Day's Night) says of his landmark romance Petulia, set in summer-of-love-era San Francisco. There Julie Christie plays a unhappily married socialite trying to get through to a recently divorced doctor (George C. Scott), who in his own words just wants to "feel something." He'll soon feel, even hurt, a lot. Because we know why kooky Petulia so desperately reaches out. As Lester zigzags through the flashbacks and flash-forwards of cinematographer Nicolas Roeg's startling images and Lawrence B. Marcus' knowing screenplay, Petulia's jigsaw pieces form a celluloid time capsule of life and love in the turbulent '60s.

DVD Features:
Featurette
Theatrical Trailer


Special Features

  • New featurette: "The Uncommon Making of Petulia"
  • Vintage featurette: "Petulia: The Uncommon Movie"
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Julie Christie, George C. Scott, Richard Chamberlain, Arthur Hill, Shirley Knight
  • Directors: Richard Lester
  • Writers: Barbara Turner, John Haase, Lawrence B. Marcus
  • Producers: Denis O'Dell, Don Devlin, Raymond Wagner
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 20, 2006
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000ERVK5I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,573 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Petulia" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
There's an oft-repeated list of breakthrough films from the 1960's that contains the great: Dr. Strangelove, Point Blank, Bonnie & Clyde, Blow Up; the good: The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy; and the unwatchable: Easy Rider. But never Petulia! Why? Richard Lester's dazzling arsenal of jump-cuts, flash-forwards and flash-backs--used to comic effect in A Hard Day's Night and The Knack--are harnassed to a scathing and ahead-of-its-time analysis of various San Franciscans during the Summer of Love. I've seen the film at various times over 30 years and I still catch throwaway visuals and verbal asides that add resonance to the story. The performances are pitch perfect--with Julie Christie proving that no star since Audrey Hepburn combined beauty, talent and mystery in quite the same way. The cameos capture the city during that pivotal summer: Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Grateful Dead in performance; Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir taunting Petulia as she's carried into an ambulance; Howared Hesseman--later of TV's WKRP, giving George C. Scott the stoned treatment as he wanders around chilling looking, faceless Daly City. This doesn't celebrate the dawning of the Age of Aquarius--it dissects it, damns it, and, oddly enough, ends up finding some heart beneath the cool. It's a '60s classic that's aged as beautifully as, say, Bonnie & Clyde, which is the fate of very few "breakthrough" films.
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Format: DVD
The beautiful Julie Christie - there has never been another screen actress, before or after who has had her radiant appeal. She made Petulia - a strange, hyperbolic and surreal sort of film - in 1968 at the height of her stardom. She'd just won the Best Actress Oscar for Darling a few years previously and was now considered one of the icons of the swinging sixties, which made the decision to have her star in this film all the more appropriate.

Now finally released DVD, Petulia is just as bizarre, frustrating - and even as irritating - as it was thirty years ago, but the film is worth revisiting, mainly for performances by Christie, Scott and Chamberlain and also for the colourful images of San Francisco during the late 1960s. Directed by Richard Lester, with Nicolas Roeg as cinematographer - who gives the film an artier look than it really deserves - Petulia skewers time like a knife.

The film utilizes fast forward and backward cuts, which at the time seemed avant-garde and unconventional, but today it comes across as sort of exasperating. It begins when Petulia, a rich, married, kooky waif, played by Julie Christie, propositions Archie, a tired divorced surgeon, played by George C. Scott, at a San Francisco charity ball. She tells him that she has a husband, but that she desperately wants to have an affair with a married man.

Obviously a little odd, Petulia manages to capture Archie's heart and arrives with a tuba and bruises at Scott's apartment quite early one morning. He's a little hesitant to get involved with her as he still has feelings for his wife Polo (Shirley Knight). Archie's friends, Barney and Wilma (Arthur Hill and Kathleen Widdoes), understanding nothing, show him films of himself and his former wife, in hopes of reconciliation.
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Format: VHS Tape
Richard Lester's hazy "Petulia" is Top Ten list material, in my opinion. More the prototype for Soderberg's "The Limey" than even "Point Blank" was, this film is a masterpiece of fractured time, subjective narration, and non-linear editing.
"Petulia" tells the story of two very different people whose lives irrevocably intersect in a vague search for place and self in the 1960s. Lester claims to have shaped "Petulia"'s characters as symbols of 1960s America, and yet rarely has the cinema offered such complex and three-dimensional characters. The title character in particular, played by Julie Christie, is a young "kook" recently married into comfortable wealth, and whose behavior is not only unpredicatable, but erratic to the point of schizophrenia. George C. Scott's Archie is a rather serious doctor in the midst of a divorce (he terminated his marriage, he says, because he'd tired of being "a handsome couple") and making a rather forced effort to enjoy new bachelorhood. In the opening scene, Petulia tells Archie, "I've been married six months and I've never had an affair." After much discussion, but no kissing, Archie and Petulia decide, almost out of resignation, to have an affair. What these characters take from each other is a very complicated thing, which I can only describe as brief protection from what seems inevitable loneliness. Certainly they're an interesting pair. Über-critic Pauline Kael describes Julie Christie's portrayal of Petulia as "lewd and anxious, expressive and empty, brilliantly faceted but with something central missing, almost as if there's no woman inside." I couldn't say it better myself. George C. Scott's Archie is a brilliantly understated masculine foil to this Petulia.
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By A Customer on November 20, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
All the other reviews printed here confirm my long lasting enthuasm for "Petulia". I have screened it at least twice each year since the tape was released.
Lacking in the other comments ( printed here) is the central theme, as I saw it.
The conflict of a disaffected professional whose real life was in the operating room. He walks away from a seemingly "perfect" marriage for reasons even he cannot understand. He is looking for something at a personal level which he cannot define. His encounter with Petulia is pure serendipity. She, for reasons of her own is also searching for meaning. They touch, briefly, and move on. The affect of their relationship on those around them provides the counterpoint to this truly heartbreaking drama.
The wild 6os in San Fransco provides a very suitable backdrop for the main theme.
The final scenes in the labor and delivery rooms are pure genius.
When she says "Archie" it tells it all.
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