Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Movie comedy in the Sixties ran the gamut from corny crap to sharp-edged satire. I suppose the same could be said of any movie comedy decade, but it might be that the chasm was wider and deeper during the Sixties...and that it corresponded to the Generation Gap that, for much of the period, must have had Hollywood honchos hustling to create laff-fests that would somehow appeal to their increasingly edgy audiences while still remaining family-friendly.

One of the more successful efforts (in terms of quality if not box office) was The President's Analyst, in which James Coburn plays a swinging psychoanalyst who agrees to make himself available to the man in the Oval Office and understandably goes crazy from the pressure. Written and directed by improv pioneer Theodore J. Flicker on the cusp of the movie industry's transition from the Production Code to the more permissive ratings sytem, the 1967 movie remains remarkably (and appallingly) fresh with its takes on surveillance, big business, the Feds, and the culture wars while poignantly preserving the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll grooviness of its times. Propelled by plot devices common to the period, the movie is predictable in places, but it's also surprising in others, with strong performances from the gong-banging Coburn, as well as Severn Darden (from Second City), Godfrey Cambridge, Walter Burke, Eduard Franz, William Daniels, Joan Darling, Will Geer, Barry "Eve of Destruction" McGuire, Arte Johnson (almost unrecognizable) and Pat Harrington Jr., who would eventually turn up on One Day at a Time. In their roles, Joan Delaney and Jill Banner are better than you might initially think. The soundtrack is by Argentina's own Lalo Schifrin.

The movie's Film Forum revival is supposed to end Thursday, but it is available on DVD.

RELATED Taking Off will be at MOMA in a week.

Source (3:45)

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