A mysterious millionaire buys an ad agency and begins to replace its employees with his own people, who don't appear to be advertising types at all. A copywriter begins to suspect that the ... See full summary »
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Herbert B. Leonard
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A mysterious millionaire buys an ad agency and begins to replace its employees with his own people, who don't appear to be advertising types at all. A copywriter begins to suspect that the man isn't interested in selling products as much as he is in inserting his own sinister political beliefs into the commercials the agency runs on TV in order to subliminally brainwash an unsuspecting public into supporting the causes and candidates he wants them to. When the copywriter confides his suspicions to a friend and soon afterwards is mysteriously killed, his friend begins his own investigation. Written by
In this era of MAD MEN, people are taking a longer look at Madison Avenue advertising agencies and what they did in years gone by. Well, this rare 1980 film starring Robert Mitchum, issued as MIND GAMES, which exists only on video and has not been issued on DVD, should be of interest to anyone making a real study of this subject. Mitchum is as good as ever as the mysterious new boss ('with no background in the advertising business' as people mutter darkly to themselves) of an ad agency which he has just bought at a ridiculously high price. It turns out that Mitchum is up to no good. He eventually admits that he is amply funded by an anonymous group of the financial elite to insert subliminal messages into the ads of commercial sponsors, in order to influence elections. He has just turned round a US Senate race in Arizona by this means, and brought about the defeat of a liberal Senator named Grunsky. I noticed in the credits at the end that Alicia Grunsky was an assistant art director of the film, so this must have been an 'in joke' of the production team. The 'hero' of the story is the creative director of the ad agency, a Jon Hamm figure, who discovers the truth and struggles to stop Mitchum's diabolical plans to manipulate the public and eventually manufacture a president of the sinister elite's choice. Unfortunately, Majors wears one of the most offensively manicured beards imaginable, and is the very image of strutting male vanity, so it is impossible to warm to him. His girl friend is a pathetic, whimpering creature played by Valerie Perrine. Spare us! The only engaging and likable character in the film is an agency employee played by the amusing Saul Rubinek, but he gets killed by Mitchum's goons early in the story, his body stuffed into a refrigerator. The film is based on a novel called AGENCY by Paul Gottlieb, whose other filmed work in 1978 was IN PRAISE OF OLDER WOMEN. The actress Alexandra Stewart appeared in the earlier film and is very effective in AGENCY as well, as Mitchum's sinister and glamorous deputy. Stewart, Canadian by origin, was an alluring ingénue in the sixties in many British films and is still working, having appeared in an astounding 134 titles. She has often specialised in the restrained, aloof, seductive female characters who don't give anything away (except from time to time their virtue). This film is interesting if you are interested. Mitchum glides through it with his usual aplomb, smoothing the wrinkles out of the story by making everything seem convincing, due to his quiet, menacing dominance not only of the agency but of the screen as well.
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