Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, starring Julie Christie, George C. Scott (who looked a little like Sean Penn then) and Richard Chamberlain, was shot and set in San Francisco in 1967. An odd film but interesting in that it’s one of the few in which the villain—if he is a villain—occupies traditional decor while our main protagonist, a divorced doctor, occupies the modern. This bucks a pretty solid trend of villains or generally immoral types living in the coolest decor while heroes enjoy Queen Anne chairs and overly baroque curtains.

In the midst of this small current wave of 60s nostalgia (in music anyway) it’s interesting to remember what 1967 actually looked like, or at least what an art director thought San Francisco looked like in 1967, which was of course the height of Haight-Ashbury. Full photo set here.

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

Petulia, 1968

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2 Responses to “Petulia, 1968”

  1. Eric Says:

    I have seen “Petulia” three times on DVD…and I still DON’T know what the hell’s it all about! I hate it (legendary film critic Pauline Kael thought so saying it was one of worst films she ever saw). Like “Easy Rider”, “Petulia” is one of those late-60’s movies where I wondered, ‘Forget about the plot…what is THE MESSAGE?!?’ (the sightings of Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead, as extras, adds to the confusion) The only thing that caught my eye was Joseph Cotten: had not this film been the disappointment, he would had been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor in 1968.

  2. LB Says:

    Well of course you’re completely right. It’s a mess as a film; I’m just interested in the sets and the timing. It’s one of the few examples of the reverse of the usual breakdown of the modern/traditional divide, morally speaking. As a film thought it’s pretentious, aspiring to art through all that disjunction and staginess but failing.

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