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At first, Dr. Sidney Schaefer feels honored and thrilled to be offered the job of the President's Analyst. But then the stress of the job and the paranoid spies that come with a sensitive government position get to him, and he runs away. Now spies from all over the world are after him, either to get him for their own side or to kill him and prevent someone else from getting him. Written by
Ken Yousten <firstname.lastname@example.org>
James Coburn is "The President's Analyst" in this 1967 dark-humored film also starring Godfrey Cambridge, Severn Darden, Eduard Franz, Will Geer and Barry McGuire. Coburn is Sidney Schaefer, a New York psychiatrist chosen to be the analyst for the President of the United States. It's a great honor and all that, but the assignment turns out to be nothing but trouble. He becomes paranoid and when he starts to believe his girlfriend is a spy, he escapes his many watchers by joining a White House tour and attaching himself to a couple, Bing and Jeff Quantrill (Wiliam Daniels and Joan Darling). Claiming that he works for the President who wants to get a handle on what Americans are thinking, they agree to take him back to the New York suburbs with them. But Sidney can't escape - everyone seems to know where he is, even later on, when he runs away with a group of hippie musicians and dons a wig. One faction of the U.S. government wants him found and returned to Washington; another one, the FBR, wants him dead. All the other countries want him to find out what he knows, or they want him dead so no one else learns anything.
There are lots of great things in this film, but the best is the segment with William Daniels and Joan Darling, who play two liberals who have more guns in their house than a gun store. "The people next door are Fascists," Bing says. "They ought to be gassed." With Sidney in Chinatown, government agents approach them to kidnap Sidney. Jeff attacks with karate while Bing shoots to kill - and Sidney takes off.
Baby boomers will especially enjoy all the '60 elements. "The President's Analyst" walks a line between satire and the real feelings of the '60s (many of which are still held) about the government. And it succeeds beautifully. James Coburn was an underrated actor who always delivered unique characterizations, and he was never without some underlying humor. You can see the analyst deteriorate - he starts off with an ego as big as New York after getting his assignment, and bit by bit he descends into nervous breakdown-land. The other performances are excellent, from Godfrey Cambridge, Eduard Franz, Will Geer and the rest. But Daniels and Darling - priceless.
Excellent film, highly recommended.
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