Friday 31 July 2015


Richard Lester’s 1968 film, “Petulia,” aimed dead center at the swinging ’60s and hit the bull’s-eye in evoking the disoriented historical moment of the Vietnam War, psychedelia and mod fashion, when everything seemed to be unraveling. 

To the delirious playfulness of his two Beatles musicals, “Help!” and “A Hard Day’s Night,” Mr. Lester added a new layer of grown-up chaos with this story of a divorced, floundering San Francisco surgeon (George C. Scott); a kooky, free-spirited British beauty (Julie Christie); and her abusive husband (Richard Chamberlain), adapted from a novel by Lawrence B. Marcus. With Nicolas Roeg’s phantasmagoric cinematography and fractured narrative style, which jumps forward and back, this bittersweet movie was way ahead of its time.

“Petulia,” which screens Aug. 10 and 13 at the Walter Reade Theater, is a high point of Lincoln Center’s weeklong 15-film retrospective, “Richard Lester: The Running Jumping Pop Cinema Iconoclast,” beginning August 7th, which also includes “The Knack ... and How to Get It,” “Robin and Marian” and “The Three Musketeers.”

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