Features and Columns · Movies

The Cinematic Ingredients of ‘Licorice Pizza’

More like West San Fernando Valley Graffiti.
Alana Haim Cooper Hoffman Licorice Pizza
By  · Published on April 20th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores the cinematic influences of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza.

It can be tricky to tease out the difference between homage and plagiarism in art. And cinema is no exception. Certainly, there is a difference in intent: plagiarists attempt to pass off someone else’s work as their own. At the same time, those in the business of homage engage in imitation to flag inspiring and admired works. Movies are positively littered with referential hat-tips. And really, the more interesting question isn’t plagiarism vs. homage but lazy vs. good homage, which is to say: homage that points to other films while remaining its own, distinct thing.

Paul Thomas Anderson wears his heroes on his sleeve. Especially his creative lineage to New Hollywood superstar Robert Altman. And PTA’s latest, Licorice Pizzais no exception. Taking place in the San Fernando Valley during the 1970s, the film follows an entrepreneurial high schooler (Cooper Hoffman) and the ebb and flow of his relationship with a young woman named Alana (Alana Haim), who feels caught between adulthood and youthful revolt.

As the following video essay details, Licorice Pizza has a number of explicit cinematic parents, from Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear to the chaotic circus-like work of Federico Fellini. There are also subconscious genre ties to meandering coming of age hangout films like Dazed and Confused and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But one citation rings loud and clear: Francis Ford Coppola’s 1973 film American Graffiti.

Watch “The Movies That Licorice Pizza Steals From”:

Who made this?

This video on the movies that influenced Licorice Pizza by Andrew Saladino, who runs the Texas-based Royal Ocean Film Society. You can browse their back catalog of videos on their Vimeo account here. If Vimeo isn’t your speed, you can give them a follow on YouTube here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.