Animator Ralph Bakshi's frenzied glimpse into the sleazy 1970s New York of pimps, drag queens, and Times Square perversity, this hallucinatory romp centers on Michael (Joseph Kaufman), an underground cartoonist who lives with his shrill Jewish mother and mobster Italian father, and escapes the urban squalor via his art. The stage is set for a crescendo of explosive violence when Michael gets romantically involved with sassy black bartender Carole (Beverly Hope Atkinson), arousing his father's racist fury as well as the jealousy of Shorty, Carole's violent, legless barfly devotee.
Bakshi's second film remains one of his boldest and most brilliant, thanks to its uncompromisingly bleak vision, over-the-top violence, satirically exaggerated racial stereotypes, and frank sexuality. But beyond all the wildness beats a real heart and piercing honesty. Bakshi's technique of integrating live action and old films with different styles of animation works perfectly in this loosely autobiographical series of hallucinatory vignettes. This hilarious, horrifying, bittersweet portrait of urban alienation and artistic struggle still resonates with a raw power that has lost none of its force in the passing years.
From director Ralph Bakshi (FRITZ THE CAT, COOL WORLD) comes an adult oriented animated feature that deals with the darker side of urban life as the fantasies of a young man are made real in a plethora of colorful characters.
HEAVY TRAFFIC's live action sequences were filmed in New York City.
This film was originally rated X but was later cut for an R rating to receive wider distribution.
Partially into the films production, Bakshi got into a fight with one of the producers. This resulted in the producers seeking to fire Bakshi and hire Chuck Jones to finish directing the film. When Jones was approached, he declined.