Petulia (1968)



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Movie Info

Petulia is Richard Lester's ode to the Swinging Sixties: a time of psychedelic instability when neither those who were square, nor those who were hip, really had it right. George C. Scott is Archie Bollen, a divorced San Francisco doctor in the midst of "discovering himself." Julie Christie is Petulia Danner, a peculiar young beauty recently married into an established family. Archie's sterile apartment and detached, bemused manner exemplify his inability to emote. Petulia's forward nature and desperate tenderness betray her fear of her sullen, abusive, pretty-boy husband (Richard Chamberlain). The physician and the newlywed embark on a schizophrenic love affair amid Pepsi references, automated motels, roller derbies, and a cameo by Big Brother and the Holding Company -- but they never achieve the daring to truly change their lives.

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Critic Reviews for Petulia

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (3) anti-The Graduate ... an essential film from and about America in the dying days of the '60s, yet the modernism of its style and ambitions makes Petulia impressively ahead of that time.

Jan 25, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

It is the coldest, cruelest film I can remember, and one of the most intellectual... It is lifeless, heartless bloodless, the expression of Lester's abstract thought about the American way of life. And it is terribly effective.

Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Petulia is a strange, lovely, nervous little film, very jaggedly cut (by Richard Lester, who also directed Help! and How I Won the War) so that the parts don't quite match and the plot is almost scattered through.

May 20, 2003 | Full Review…

You may not greatly take to Petulia, but don't miss it.

Jul 17, 2018 | Full Review…

Jack-rabbiting technique embodies foreboding and dissonance rather than gimmicky whimsy

Mar 15, 2010 | Full Review…

Innovative in narrative and style, Lester's dissection of mores and manners through marriages and affairs captures vividly the zeitgeist of the Summer of Love and the violent Vietnam War with brilliant turns from Julie Christie and George C. Scott.

Jul 14, 2008 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Petulia

I don't remember this movie well, but I can tell you that the summary on here is totally wrong. Look it up on imdb, that's the real summary. Anyway, this is another one of those love and divorce and affair related movies. Pretty average, from what I remember.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


Sometimes you really don't know what to say about a movie other than "that was one of the goofiest exercises in cinema I have seen in a long time." The main story is constantly intercut with short clips of future, past, or random events, incongruous moments and locales pop up just to make you scratch your head, all the while involving you in a melodramatic-romantic-comedic-mystery! Reminiscent of Bunuel infused with a swinging '60s sensibility, would not be out of place as an aperitif during a David Lynch film festival either. Throw in some fantastic masterful camerawork by Nicolas Roeg and you've got an experience you won't soon forget, or sort out.

Doctor Strangeblog
Doctor Strangeblog

Super Reviewer


VERY 60's! Episodic and stream of conciousness. The clothes are great and Julie is luminous.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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