The critical and commercial success of his X-rated debut feature Fritz the Cat, an adaptation of Robert Crumb’s comic strip, allowed adult animator Ralph Bakshi to produce the film he initially intended to make as his first: a pinball-playing cartoonist named Michael Corleone escapes the shocking and brutal experiences of living in 1970s New York City by satirizing them into something altogether more outlandish. Mixing live action, animation, and photography (which Bakshi largely uses as backdrops for his cartoon characters), Heavy Traffic is an unrepentantly imaginative, frequently grotesque headtrip of life on the margins, and perhaps one of the most ambitious and personal animated works of the 20th century.

Preceded by:
Rabbit of Seville
Chuck Jones, 1950, USA, 35mm, 8m
In this brilliantly-synced musical cartoon, often cited as one of the greatest ever made, Chuck Jones stages an antagonistic scenario between Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd around selections from Gioachino Rossini’s opera buffa The Barber of Seville.

“In the same year Scorsese was examining his formative life in Little Italy with Mean Streets, Bakshi was looking back at his Italian-Jewish upbringing in Brooklyn and doing something just as loose and expressive. Bakshi employed a lot of the last gasp of golden age animators he had worked with previously on Fritz The Cat, once again putting them to work on another experimental, X-rated animated feature. Bakshi also taped a lot of the movie’s dialogue with real characters off the streets of New York, lugging around a Nagra and mic and picking up all sorts of additional dialogue and atmosphere. To me, the biggest and brightest example of freedom in an AIP movie: its genre elements were fool-proof after the success of Fritz and Bakshi could do his weird, wild thing.” –Owen Kline