The President's Analyst (1967) Poster

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Over-looked gem
Woodby25 October 2000
Too many films want it both ways, but this is that rare example of a film that actually gets it. It genuinely is of its age - all swinging Sixties and cultural revolution - but it also sends all that up.

Read the plot elsewhere but suffice to say that those numb-nuts who believe it to be shambolic clearly don't know a carefully structured film when they see one. It's a comedy thriller that zips along whilst never missing an opportunity to provide some of the best satire you'll ever see on Flower Power, Psychiatry, American Liberalism and the Cold War.

Furthermore, for me, it's James Coburn's best performance because we get to see his comedic skills whilst at the same time get a generous slice of just what makes him the coolest cat ever to grace the silver screen.

I'm gobsmacked that this - one of my Top 25 films - is not considered a classic. For me it's up there with Dr Strangelove because it's got everything: great direction, a great great story, great dialogue, great sound-track, and did I mention the acting...?
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"Very good, indeed!"
craigjclark4 November 2002
"The President's Analyst" is a satirical counter-culture classic that takes aim at everything and everyone, including the counter culture itself. It's also endlessly quotable and is probably the only movie where you'll hear a line like "Don't say Chinks. Say Chinese restaurant. Chinks is bigoted." Absolutely golden.

My father used to work for The Phone Company and he absolutely loved this movie, as did I from the first time I saw it. I taped it off AMC years ago before they turned evil (back when there were no commercial breaks and they still showed plenty of films letterboxed), and I wouldn't part with my tape for anything in the world -- expect maybe a special edition DVD with all of the original footage and music restored.

To anyone who says this film is boring or unfunny, I say, "Poppycock!"
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Drugs, death and John Adams, too.
copper19631 May 2006
When James Coburn passed away in 2002, it was sad to see how little fanfare was generated by this event. Coburn's resume is as strong as any actor of the Sixties and Seventies. For almost a decade, Coburn played in some of the strangest and most unorthodox films of the era. Everyone knows that he capably spoofed the popular spy genre with his "Flint" films. But it wasn't until he became the President's analyst that he really hit his stride. The fabulous panoramic views of a pre-World Trade Center New York duel with the more grimy shots of the Manhattan Garment District. Look for a humorous assassination involving a knife and a clothing pushcart. Nostalgic observation: the New York Skyline appears the way it does on the New York Mets' uniform patch. The plot concerns the President's need for a head shrinker. Wanted: a man who can be trusted with the leader of the free world's secrets. Grandpa Walton (Will Gear) shows up as the President's prior therapist. He is wonderful as always. Edgy pop singer, Barry McGuire, plays a stoner with a catchy song on his acoustic guitar. One memorable sequence combines McGuire's tune (something about "changes") and a team of assassins in a field, attempting to kill our hero, Coburn. The killers use everything from guns to gas to blow darts. Even a net. In widescreen, the final shot of the movie resonates with a sly, satirical nod to the genre. The villain of the piece comes as a big surprise to anyone under the age of forty: think telephone exchanges and room-size computers. And mix. Bravo!
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A '60s satire
blanche-25 March 2008
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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An all time comedy!
SquirePM29 July 1999
James his best!

Godfrey his best!

Severn his best!

Did you think Dr. Strangelove was the best satire of the '60s? Then you never saw this movie. WHAT A HOOT!

There's poor James Coburn, on the lam, hiding out with a "typical American family" picked at random. They go to dinner in NYC, and suddenly the spies of many nations leap out from everywhere. The couple's eyes light up! Mom yells, "MUGGERS!!!" Dad whips out a gun...Mom takes a karate stance...and they lay waste an entire street full of professional killers. Coburn escapes again.

There's subtle humor, whacky humor and very strange humor here. The FBI probably started dossiers on everybody involved.
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Discover or Rediscover this movie
mercuryix4 August 2001
I forgot what a masterpiece of paranoia this movie is; only in this

case, it isn't paranoia, everyone really IS out to get you! This is

James Coburn's best performance in my opinion, as a psychiatrist

who has been conscripted to become the President's analyst, and

when he decides to quit, discovers just how disposal American

citizens are. This is my pick for THE paranoia movie of the 1960s.

That this movie came out in 1967 is incredible; it deals with

assassination carried out casually by the FBI, the CIA, the violence

that has been absorbed as wholesome by America, the escape

from violence into sex and drugs, and much, much more, all

during the time of the Vietnam War and zero tolerance for differing

views. The speech by the black FBI agent in the beginning on

how he discovered racism is especially painful, and remarkable

given the time period.

The movie is hysterically funny, cynical, black, and most ironically,

hopeful, and a must-see for any film lover. The script is terrific, but

the direction stands out in the inspired camerawork. This

obviously was a labor of love by the director/writer, and

interestingly, one of only two or three non-t.v. films he ever directed.

If you see it, you may be bored by today's sex and gore standards.

But if you remember the 60s, keep them in mind when you see

this film. You'll wonder how it ever got made.

Ten out of ten stars, because there isn't anything I can find wrong

with this film; it's brilliant in every aspect.
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Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy and so on and so forth ...
Merwyn Grote25 May 2007
My lasting view of Soviet-U.S. relations was clearly defined after watching THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST. Soviet spy/assassin V.I. Kydor Kropotkin, played by Severn Darden, explains to kidnapped American psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Schaefer, played by the irrepressible James Coburn: "Logic is on our side: this isn't a case of a world struggle between two divergent ideologies, of different economic systems. Every day your country becomes more socialistic and mine becomes more capitalistic. Pretty soon we will meet in the middle and join hands." Beautiful, simple logic, clearly stated in a whacked-out, slightly psychedelic satirical farce about Cold War paranoia. A gem of genius in a world gone mad.

Of course, it didn't pan out that way. The U.S.S.R., trying to maintain its communistic ideology in a world of blissful capitalistic greed, just couldn't keep up and went bankrupt -- financially, morally, socially and politically -- long before the great day of unification could arrive. If only the Reds had made THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST required viewing, maybe they could have hung in there just a tad longer. Of course, the U.S. still continues to slip-slide to the left, but, oh well, that's politics.

Coburn stars as the title character, a New York psychiatrist who lands the plum job of being the confidant to the President of the United States, who basically needs a shoulder to cry on before the job drives him looney tunes. At first, Coburn is elated at his new job, but soon he learns that a President's life isn't an easy one -- nor is the life of his shrink. But worse, the things that the good doctor learns under physician-patient confidentiality are a valuable commodity in international espionage circles. Thus, some people want to kidnap him and brainwash him for his secrets -- others just want him dead. Dr Schaefer suffers a bit of a nervous breakdown and hits the road; a gaggle of spies in hot pursuit.

You'd be hard pressed to come up with a political satire more quintessentially sixties than Theodore J. Flicker's THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST; giddily spaced out and always flirting with being just a little too silly and a little too over the top. It's a 1967 political satire made in the days before political satire became mean and strident. I mean, the unseen "president" in the title is treated with surprising respect, even though it would be fair to assume that he might be LBJ, hardly a man who endeared himself to anybody. Politics and political satire became surprisingly mean and vindictive from the Nixon years on, but a film like THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST retains a sense of mischief rather than malice.

As such, the film exists in something of a protective bubble of style. It is very sixties in tone -- dreamy pop-rock music in the score, a vaguely anti-establishment attitude, etc. -- yet, though the sexual revolution is just taken for granted, there isn't a mention of Viet Nam, anti-war protests, social unrest or anything too real that might distract from the superficial style and goofy story. Unlike, say DR. STRANGELOVE, the sardonic comedy isn't threatened by the gravity of its dark subject matter.

As a spy movie, the film is sort of anti-James Bond; by the time it gets around to the high-tech shenanigans about a plot to control the world, it has already taken a good-natured look at everything from suburbia to rock 'n' roll. There aren't any Connery-esquire Bond types -- or even anyone like Coburn's own Derek Flint -- rather the superspies the film offers tend to be chubby and middle-aged, with a cheerfully pragmatic view of their profession. Indeed, America's top agent is played by roly-poly African-American comedian Godfrey Cambridge. And though practically everyone in the film turns out to be a secret agent, the film gleefully works to avoid as many spy clichés as possible, and only surrenders to the clichés that can be gently mocked.

The film has that giddy air of laid-back sophistication that suggests that it was created by smart people, all of whom were just a little bit high on some sort of illegal substance. Rather than having the martini-sipping, Playboy magazine-style of cool detachment of Bond, the film goes for the trippy, brownies-munching cool disenchantment of Sgt. Pepper. With a bit of MAD Magazine's "Spy vs. Spy" tossed in. The result is as amusing as it is thought provoking. And it is a sensational solution to the hostility problem -- assuming, of course, you don't already have a license to kill.
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This movie is groovy
moviemik-328 January 2005
To me this is the movie about the paranoia of the 1960s. Theodore Flicker has made a gem.

In my estimation this movie features the best performances by both James Coburn and Godfrey Cambridge. The beauty of the film is that it moves from serious tones to comedy to farce without effort.

I hope this is a movie that no one tries to remake. In today's market there would be a car chase and this would turn into an out and out thriller.

One of the best films of the 1960s. Go to your video store or your movie rental company and take this movie home today. Sit back and laugh.
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Worth Seeing
Ephraim Gadsby8 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"The President's Analyst" is the sort of movie they wouldn't make today; it's a scatter-shot spoof without a mean-spirited bone in its body. It wouldn't even have been made a couple of years later. Richard M. Nixon, elected president in 1968 and at the top of Hollywood's "Enemy's List" would never have been treated as reverently and indulgently as this unnamed President (obviously LBJ, who was president when this movie was made).

James Coburn (flashing his trademark grin on many occasions) plays Dr. Sidney Schaefer, who is offered, an accepts, the post as analyst to the President of the United States. When he discovers the president now has someone to talk to about his problems and he himself (Schaefer) is denied the privilege because of the high degree of national security he's privy to, he grows increasingly paranoid and he finally escapes -- and is pursued by the secret service of every country in the world, including his own. He tries to deal with problems first by running away, then by facing them and defeating them by intelligence -- and, eventually, by delighting in raw violence.

The movie has culture and counter-culture in its cross-hairs. For instance, while the FBI and CIA are common fodder for satire, when Schaefer finds himself in a group of hippies, they utter vacuous phrases and sing songs with banal lyrics -- and even the hippies, mods and rockers are not what they seem. Though the FBR (based on the FBI, with every agent looking and talking like every other agent) is colored in less than friendly tones, when a young boy uses a derogatory ethnic term, it's an FBR agent who upbraids him and tells him not to use that word because "It's bigoted." A liberal New Jersey householder, trying to show how far he agrees with a liberal president, begins to grouse about the "right wingers" next door who put out a flag every day. "They ought to be gassed," he growls. Moments like these make the movie shine. Whoever you are, whatever your politics or nationality, you can't take offense, since everybody is in the movie's cross-hairs at some time. Even the Canadians.

**Spoiler Alert** The chief enemy in the movie, however, is not the Russians or the FBR or the right-wingers or the liberals or the hippies or even the Canadians, but a common enemy of all. Like the Soviet Union, this enemy is largely non-existent as such these days, but even in its present form it's something everybody loves to hate, whoever their provider.

Coburn is surrounded by a solid cast, chief of whom are Godfrey Cambridge and Severn Darden as friendly rival agents from different sides of the Cold War. They provide lots of laughs, as does Pat Harrington, who comes in late but makes the whole thing worthwhile. The happy ending is SO happy it's a scream, even considering the sting in its tail.
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Hit or Miss Satire Of 60s Phenoms.
Robert J. Maxwell4 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Kind of fun. An episodic, jet-propelled satire of just about everything in the contemporary newspapers. The President of the US (Lyndon B. Johnson at the time, briefly glimpsed walking his hound dogs on the White House lawn) is a troubled man. He recruits a psychoanalyst (James Coburn). Johnson was REALLY troubled. Troubled enough to summon Coburn at all hours of the day or night by means of hidden, blinking red lights. The red lights and buzzers interrupt Coburn while he's in sessions with other patients, while he's entering elevators, while he's making love, while he's headed towards the urinal. It drives him nuts, and he finally takes off on his own to escape the burdens.

Alas, the word gets out that the president's analyst is free. He knows so much that every secret agency in the world -- from China and Russia to Canada -- are out to find and kidnap him and send him to what he calls "a brain laundry." Worse, the "CEA" and the "FBR" know this, and they set out to kill him before the others can get him.

The chase takes everyone from Washington, through New York and New Jersey, to the Midwest. Nice to see Greenwich Village again, as it was then, watching Coburn run in and out of the Cafe Wha?, which was on, what, West Fourth? The Cafe Wha? was a phenomenon of the psychedelic age and a lot of the targets here are -- blissed-out hippies and so on.

Nobody -- no social position, no attitudinal set, no object, no entity of any kind -- is spared. William Daniels and his family live in a disgustingly neat and revoltingly decorated middle-class tract home in Seaside Heights. They're liberals. We know they're liberals because Daniels makes a point of telling us. The only thing is, his home and car have .44 magnums stashed in them because they are surrounded by gun-crazy right-wing fascists who might attack them.

The chief of the "FBR" is named Lux, a brand of vacuum cleaner, just like Hoover. Hoover had what amounted to a fetish for tall, impressive agents, so Lux is about five and a half feet tall, and all of his agents are even shorter than he is.

That height business is typical of the jokes. You have to (1) notice it, then (2) interpret it. With some of the other jokes, you might not get past (1). For instance, there is a scene in which Coburn is boffing a hippie chick in the middle of a field and he is stalked by a killer. The killer is killed by an agent of some other government. He in turn is killed by still a different agent, and so on. And as the serial assassinations go on, the weapons used become more and more ridiculous -- from shooting, to strangling, to a blowgun, to poison gas, to a fish net, and finally a pitchfork. It's more ludicrous than funny, I guess, but someone went to some trouble to think of that sequence of weapons.

Competent performances by about all concerned, especially Severn Darden as a Russian agent. Joan Delaney, Coburn's girl friend, looks and acts like a model. She has a whispery, pre-teen voice, and she walks with that half-flailing slink that models have developed for the runway.

It's not a zany laff riot but it's quietly amusing and it is nicely paced, with few pratfalls and a lot of gags that are almost subliminal, especially now that their targets have been almost lost in the mists of antiquity. You might enjoy it more if you'd been around and aware in 1968.
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