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Petulia (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Lester
Produced by Don Devlin
Denis O'Dell
Raymond Wagner
Written by Lawrence B. Marcus
Story by Barbara Turner
Based on Me and the Arch Kook Petulia
by John Haase
Starring Julie Christie
George C. Scott
Richard Chamberlain
Music by John Barry
Cinematography Nicolas Roeg
Edited by Antony Gibbs
Distributed by Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release date
  • 10 June 1968 (1968-06-10)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Box office $1,600,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

Petulia is a 1968 American drama film directed by Richard Lester. The screenplay by Lawrence B. Marcus is based on the novel Me and the Arch Kook Petulia by John Haase. It was scored by John Barry.


Petulia Danner is a young San Francisco socialite married to a savagely abusive architect, David. At a benefit concert for victims of traffic accidents, she meets Dr. Archie Bollen, with whom she became smitten as he treated an injured Mexican boy. Archie is in the process of divorcing his wife Polo, sifting through relationships with the new man in his ex's life, his estranged sons, and well-to-do friends who only know Archie as one-half of a couple. Petulia and Archie embark on a quirky, desperate, and ultimately tragic affair.



Filmed on location throughout San Francisco, Petulia included scenes at the apartment building located at 307 Filbert Street, the Cala Foods on Hyde, and in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel where, amongst other things, Janis Joplin was filmed lip-synching to a pre-recording in May, 1967.


Petulia had been listed to compete at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival,[2] but the festival was cancelled due to the events of May 1968 in France.

Giving the film his highest rating, four stars of a possible four, Roger Ebert wrote in his Chicago Sun-Times review of 1 July 1968: "Richard Lester's Petulia made me desperately unhappy, and yet I am unable to find a single thing wrong with it."


Both Marcus and Turner were nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Drama.


Lester utilises the current west coast musicians of the time Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Grateful Dead playing "Viola Lee Blues", The Committee, and Ace Trucking Company are briefly featured in club sequences. Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, and Bill Kreutzmann appear in cameos during the movie's apartment house medical emergency scene as onlookers. Jerry Garcia also appears in duplicate on a large mural and in triplicate on a bus bench both times in stylized solid black and white.

Petulia was an influence on filmmaker Steven Soderbergh.[3]


The film was released on VHS. A US DVD was released in 2006, and now, following a deal Warner UK struck with former special interest label Digital Classics to release four catalogue titles from Warner Bros., Petulia was released[citation needed] on DVD in the UK in 2009, on the Digital Classics label.[4]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Petulia". Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ From Digital Classics' own website: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2009. 

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