Heavy Traffic (1973)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting looking film with a decent story

Interpretational nature of the story might not be for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Heavy Traffic

Studio:  Steve Krantz Productions

Genre(s):  Animated/Adult

Release Date(s):  August 8, 1973

MPAA Rating:  X


I will be an artist…I will be an artist!!!

Michael Corleone (Joseph Kaufmann) is a struggling artist in the city and feels his life is one big pinball game. Trapped at home with his mother and father who argue constantly, Michael is trying to make it as an underground comic book artist. Hooking up with a girl named Carole, Michael decides it is time to get out and get to California, but winning this game is harder than it might appear.

Written and directed by Ralph Bakshi, Heavy Traffic was the follow-up to Bakshi’s popular Fritz the Cat. Much like Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic received an X-Rating, but despite this, became a big moneymaker. The film was well received by critics, and many point to this film as Bakshi’s biggest critical success.


I need this like I need a hole in the head…

Heavy Traffic followed in Fritz the Cat’s trendsetting style by telling a graphic story through animation. The movie shows nudity when it wants to show nudity and isn’t inhibited (though a few scenes were allegedly even cut for the finished version). It is also quite violent and full of vulgar language which helped seal its fate as an X-Rated film, but probably also brought it more attention.

Bakshi supposedly had a lot of problems bringing this film to the screen when he got in a financial battle with his producer Steven Krantz over the funding. This led to Bakshi getting locked out of the office and almost fired, but eventually Krantz was forced to allow him back. It is fortunate that the film didn’t crash and burn during production because it ended up being quite interesting.


Hey, didn’t we used to be animated?

The movie is all a mental battle (it is bookended by live action scenes featuring Kaufmann as Michael and Bevery Hope Atkinson as Carole), and with the bookends it is implied that Michael is trying to figure things out as he plays pinball. Much like pinball, Michael thinks he is in a winning position by his actions in the film but always finds himself in a losing spot…pinball will always let you score high but everyone eventually loses. It is unclear what is real and what is fake about Michael’s fantasizes, but obviously he and Carole have been together in the past.

Heavy Traffic is a strange movie and worth seeking out. The movie is definitely not for kids (it would still be R-Rated today…I doubt it would be saddled with a NC-17 rating…Unrated is more likely). If you think animated films can’t push the boundaries, I recommend seeking out a film like this, Fritz the Cat, or even something like Heavy Metal which will show why animated can be for adults too.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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