From the X-rated cartoon feature Fritz the Cat to the animated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Ralph Bakshi diverse body of work will be celebrated with a three-day tribute in Hollywood on April 29 through May 1. Presented in conjunction with ASIFA-Hollywood, the event is part of the American Cinemateque’s fantastic Animation A-Go-Go! series, which last week hosted Samurai Jack creator and Star Wars: Clone Wars director Genndy Tartakovsky.
The Bakshi retrospective will take place at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and the new American Cinematheque venue, the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. Bakshi will appear in person at the screenings, discussing the films that solidified his stake in animation history while digging up rarities from his personal collection.
On Friday, April 29, the ball gets rolling at the Egyptian at 7:30 p.m. with the infamous 1972 adult feature Fritz the Cat, Bakshi’s adaptation of a comic series by famed underground comic artist R. Crumb. The film tells the tale of a drop-out tom cat who is caught up in ’60s over-indulgence. The second feature on the double-bill will be Bakshi’s 1973 follow-up, Heavy Traffic, another highly personalized view of urban America. Ticket holders will also be treated to the world premiere of the unseen, three-minute Bakshi short, The Cigarette & The Weed; the 1967 eight-minute Paramount short, Marvin Digs; and a long-lost series of Coca-Cola commercials Bakshi made with Peter Max in the 1960s. Bakshi will be present for a discussion between films.
On Saturday, April 30, at 7 p.m., the Egyptian will host another double feature starting with the 1977 animated fantasy film, Wizards. The post-apocalyptic tale follows twin wizards–the wicked Blackwolf and the good-hearted Avatar–who battle for rule over a wasteland. Fans will be seeing Bakshi’s personal print of the film, which will be followed by 1975’s Coonskin (a.k.a. Streetfight), a bleak and brutal tale of Harlem street survival and an unforgiving war between gun-toting punks, prostitutes and all the cool, cruel people that populate the rest of the sidewalk. Also screening is The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse episode "Night of the BatBat,” which Bakshi directed in 1987. Bakshi will again be present for a discussion.
The Sunday, May 1 double-feature at the Egyptian kicks off at 5 p.m. with Bakshi’s 1978 animated take on The Lord of the Rings, which Peter Jackson cited as one of his inspirations for the recent live-action trilogy. American Pop (1981) will follow with the story of four sets of fathers and sons on a musical cruise through rock ‘n’ roll history, fueled by classic tunes from Gershwin, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Seger and dozens more.
Aero Theatre event will take place on Sunday, May 1. The double-feature will begin at 5 p.m. Fritz the Cat, followed by Wizards, with Bakshi offering commentary between films.