The Barefoot Executive (1971) Poster

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More Than Simple Humor
GeorgeSpiggot10 July 2004
Although not part of the Dexter Riley series (in fact made just after the first one), it carries Russell where Dexter might have gone after college. The same type of humor skims the surface of this movie but, it is the biting satire that is it's heart. Playing to the pretentious attitudes of people who cater to each other more than their clients, in this case the TV audience, they are completely stumped when an outsider successfully predicts the new favorite shows. But Russell holds a secret that would completely demoralize everyone in charge. Never mind a young mail clerk seems smarter than seasoned pros, but what about a monkey!

This movie showed a maturity the Riley series never did, although the concept of a bunch of college slackers was ahead of it's time, and stood out from the rest of the Disney fare at that time. Well worth viewing as it shows Russell at the beginning of his adult career. His comedic timing and relaxed, natural acting talent are quite evident here.
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Silly but kids will like it
preppy-313 April 2007
Young idealistic Steven Post (Kurt Russell) wants to get ahead in the TV industry but obnoxious boss Francis Wilbanks (Joe Flynn) constantly ignores him. Then Steven's loving girlfriend Jennifer (Heather North) gets a chimp (don't ask) who can predict what TV shows will be hits (!!!). Steve uses the chimp (without telling anyone) and becomes vice-president of a network in no time (just like real life huh?)...but Wilbanks is VERY suspicious of how he knows what shows will be popular.

VERY silly Disney comedy. The humor and slapstick are either stupid and/or predictable, the characters are 1-dimensional and the lines would be laughed off "The Brady Bunch" as being too corny...but the kids will like this. Unlike the G rated movies today there's no crude humor, no violence and no jokes about bodily functions. This basically has good clean (if silly) humor.

I admit most of the movie had me rolling my eyes but I did keep watching. I actually did laugh a few times towards the end (the reactions of a woman being interviewed on the street were very funny) and it was fun seeing Russell and John Ritter so young. Also Flynn has his moments as does Harry Morgan as the president of the network. North is sweet (but not TOO sweet) as Jen and look for Bill Daily at the end. And the chimp was adorable! So it is silly and predictable with a title song that makes you want to cut your ears off...but it's perfect for the kids. I give it a 5.
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Monkey movie with a difference
georgethetee13 July 2002
All the way through this film, part of me was saying "I don't like this kind of film" while the rest of me was replying "No, but I'm enjoying it!" The rather offensive premise here is that the tastes of the great american television-watching public can best be assessed by a chimpanzee.

There's a little go at political-correctness, major swipes at TV production values and some great characterisations of TV exec types.

I watched it while laying carpet tiles and it made a welcome distraction and a good excuse to take a break. I enjoyed it
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TV station gets a hairy helping hand from the animal kingdom
helpless_dancer11 August 2001
One of the funniest comedies I've seen yet. What made this so was the interplay between Wally Cox and Joe Flynn [one of my favorite comics]. The bit on the building ledge was too much and had me rolling. The bellowing company prez was well played by Harry Morgan, a man I well remember from the early 60's sitcom "Pete & Gladys" where he played the put upon hubby, Pete Porter. John Ritter performed the snobbish, suck-up nephew to the hilt who, of course, gets his just payment in the end. 4 stars.
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So that's who took off "T.J. Hooker"....
Mister-627 August 1999
A monkey who fills network slots?

Just another executive meeting at the networks, you might think, but this is the beauty of the plot that is "The Barefoot Executive", a movie made when Disney was in its live action glory.

A still-young Russell is a mail boy at one of the big networks who has ideas but the stuffy boss (Flynn) will have none of it. Then, Russell agress to babysit his girfriends' neighbor's pet chimp (probably a '70s thing) who turns out to be a whiz at picking out all the popular shows. One thing leads to another until Russell, playing all the chimp's hunches, finds himself on top of the TV programming world.

It's not Prokofiev but for pure fun this movie is a keeper. How can you dislike a movie that not only has Russell and a cute chimp but also the comedic timing of both Joe Flynn and Wally Cox? Their moments together are pure hilarity. Even "MASH"'s Col. Potter (aka - Harry Morgan) has plenty of good scenes as a blustering head honcho.

For kids and grown-ups who grew up on these movies, there can be no substitutes. "The Barefoot Executive" is monkeying around at its best.

Nine stars. And we'll get through this if we ALL KEEP COOL HEADS!
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Monkeying Around with an Industry
koconnor-12 September 2003
Nice, safe family comedy featuring a television network, a cute/funny chimp, and a young Kurt Russell in the prime of his Disney phase.

Kurt is a low-level employee with a big television network with high-level ideas. By shear chance, he discovers that his neighbor's pet chimp is able to correctly predict the big ratings winners for each week's programs, and surreptitiously uses the animal to move up within the organization.

The chimp demonstrating his disdain for poor programming (clearly enunciated raspberries, followed by screams of displeasure, and culminating in his throwing some destructive object at the screen) sent me into fits of laughter.

But it also gave me (as a seven year old) an inkling into how the television industry works, and thereby planted the seeds of a life-long interest in the boob tube. And to this day, I am still wondering what the subject matter of "Devil Dan" is, and why it was so much more of a winner program than "The Happy Harringtons"...

Get the kids away from "Nickelodeon" for a couple of hours with this campy treat...
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An Unusual Disney Film
loza-128 May 2005
I think most of us know what is a Disney film. It is for all the family to enjoy, often taken from a classic story. Don't get me wrong. I love Disney films. Apart from Dick Van Dyke's goddawful accent in Mary Poppins, Disney films are characterised by quality and attention to detail. But a film that launches an attack on the entertainment industry and corporate America, now that is unusual for Disney.

The basic plot has been dealt with by other reviewers. It is interesting that corporate America's first reaction to the chimp was first disbelief, then abduction. Was it just coincidence, or was it deliberate, that all the business executives in this film - all the bad guys - wear spectacles that look like goggles?

Fascinating was the use of the adjective "simple", when an executive says to his chauffeur: "Will you stop that simple wheezing!" I liked it so much, I started using it myself.

This is one of Disney's forgotten films, true it will never be as spectacular as Lady and the Tramp or Mary Poppins, but it deserves a watch now and again.
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Excellent work from one of my favorite periods of live-action Disney films
BrandtSponseller17 August 2006
The Barefoot Executive may appear to just be a light and fluffy 1960s/1970s-style Disney comedy, and it can certainly be enjoyed that way, but you don't have to dig very far below the surface to find a subtly clever satire of the television industry with a very insider feel. Having worked in radio for a while, and having friends and family who do or did work in television, as well as reading a lot of behind the scenes books on television programs, a lot of the jabs at the industry feel spot on.

The humorous premise, probably stemming from a common joke about this, is that a "monkey" (actually a chimpanzee here) could pick a television stations' programming and do just as good or even a better job at it. Screenwriter Joseph McEveety and director Robert Butler get the dynamics between various levels of employees right, including the bigwigs. There are nice, continuing threads of intertwined sycophancy, insular ideas, fears of getting canned or demoted over ratings or general incompetence, and self-righteous assertiveness. Some of those things may be contradictory, but nevertheless they're representative of life within the walls of a broadcast media outlet--and probably many other places of employment as well. To an extent, the personal dynamics aspects of The Barefoot Executive are suggestive of an early version of Office Space (1999). But towards the end of the film, The Barefoot Executive nicely diverges into slightly more absurdist territory.

Raffles, the chimpanzee, is charismatic and impressive. But an unexpected surprise was the scope and chemistry of the cast, which includes veteran character actors and Disney regulars Joe Flynn and Harry Morgan, veteran television actor Wally Cox, the woman who has supplied the voice of Daphne in most of the Scooby-Doo series and animated films since 1970, Heather North, and in one of his first films, John Ritter. Ritter is on fire here. He steals almost every one of his scenes. And that's quite a feat seeing that the star is an engaging Kurt Russell, who had already made a string of very successful films for Disney.
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The TV Set
elizasimons9 May 2006
It'll be fun to see how David Duchovny & Jake Kasdan's excellent new film "The TV Set" compares to this film of 35 years ago. Lila Garrett, Robert Butler & the others involved in "The Rating Game" aka "The Barefoot Executive" had done nothing but live through pilot hell for most of their careers. The people involved in "The TV Set" have jumped from pilot hell to feature hell and back enough times. And both sets of film makers manage to make us laugh and laugh a lot. Even the two casts are interchangeable. The cast of one would be equally brilliant in the other film. The intervening years teach us there's still great pain that goes along with the politics of television, and there is great talent.
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Chimp's Choices
bkoganbing5 July 2012
I could never give a truly bad review to a film with as talented a cast as this one. One of the things I liked about the Walt Disney Studios is that they gave employment to a lot of familiar faces from the big studio era when they were finding it hard to get work. But this was not one of the better efforts from the Magic Kingdom.

Disney's All American hero in films at this time was Kurt Russell who plays a kid who is a mail delivery clerk at the UBC network by day and a night school student looking to better himself. By accident he discovers that the chimpanzee his girlfriend Heather North has can pick winning television shows. His taste mirrors that of the American public which is a proposition a lot might agree with.

Russell is promoted to a Vice Presidency in charge of programming keeping the chimp's participation a closely guarded secret. But a whole lot of vested interests want to find out. They stop at nothing as you will see.

Some might call this film cute and innocuous as most of the Russell Disney flicks were, but I think The Barefoot Executive is the worst of what he did for that studio. To me the whole thing was so dopey and even a cast that has Harry Morgan, Wally Cox, Alan Hewitt, Joe Flynn, and Iris Adrian in it can't sell this one. I will say that Adrian has only a small bit, but it is memorable.

John Ritter is also in The Barefoot Executive playing a role that might have led him to be cast as Jack Tripper in Three's Company. Maybe the film did his career some good.

I'd see The Barefoot Executive should be seen for the marvelous cast, but I think you'll agree with me when you see how silly it is.
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Beer Swigging Monkey Picks TV Hits!
wes-connors30 September 2007
Kurt Russell (as Steven Post) works as a mail-boy for struggling TV station UBC (that's United Broadcasting Corporation); he is going nowhere at work, offering ridiculous projects like "Abraham Lincoln's Doctor's Dog" to studio executives - because Lincoln, doctors, and dogs are popular. Programming director Joe Flynn (as Francis X. Wilbanks) wisely rejects Mr. Russell's proposals, but has no idea how to pick a hit TV show. His secretary Heather North (as Jennifer Scott), who does double duty as Russell's girlfriend, has a chimpanzee who bugs the heck out of Russell when he wants to watch TV. Turns out, the monkey watches all the popular shows, and can easily pick the hits. Russell discovers the chimp's talent, and uses him to advance his own career. Understandably, things gets HAIRY for Russell and the cast!

Raffles the chimp (handled by Frank Lamping) performs well; Raffles does look bored and/or distracted during a few scenes, when the chimp is supposed to look interested; these could have been corrected with re-takes or editing. A mild satirical edge is present - imagine a monkey picking hit TV shows! AND, it's a monkey who gets a BEER during the commercials (drinking in a Disney film)! A look through the cast will reveal s bunch of fun TV actors to recognize and try to place. You could make a drinking game, in honor of Raffles' beer-guzzling, by guessing actors, and where you've seen them before. Here's a start - Hey, isn't that "Dr. Bellows" from "I Dream of Jeannie"? Down the hatch!

**** The Barefoot Executive (3/17/71) Robert Butler ~ Kurt Russell, Joe Flynn, John Ritter, Harry Morgan
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Mildly Amusing
gavin69422 December 2017
A young man who works in the mail room at a TV network wants to move up the corporate ladder but finds himself stymied by his selfish boss. By chance he discovers that his neighbor's chimpanzee has a knack for picking successful TV programs.

This is classic Disney all the way. Somewhat silly, harmless fun, it is not hard-hitting and has really no deeper meaning or social commentary. One could, if they wanted, point to the jokes about monkeys picking what we see on TV. But that is not exactly deep satire.

Kurt Russell was alright early in his career, but it seems like this was an even bigger showcase for John Ritter. As Ritter's first film, he does not get a large amount of screen time, but certainly makes the most of each line he delivers.
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That's funny... 'cause they're monkeys!"
fom4life26 September 2008
When I was born, The Disney Company released 'The Barefoot Executive'. The BE does a fairly good job managing the TV station. For starters it has employed a young Kurt Russell. What a delight to witness the early career of so great an actor who has given us great movie treasure's such a 'Big Trouble in Little China' and 'Executive Decision'. He may have gotten older and fatter but is still a class act.

Along for the viewing experience is John Ritter who makes his acting debut. Interestingly when I was young I was not allowed to watch 'Three's Company'. Harry Morgan from M.A.S.H. is on hand to deliver yucks as the grumpy TV president, alongside with McHale's Navy's Joe Flynn. The film has some other talented actors and also stars a Chimp named Raffles. : "That's funny... 'cause they're monkeys!" Homer Simpson The movie centers on Raffles uncanny ability to pick out what TV shows the public will like and which they will not. Raffles informs Kurt Russell's character Steven Post of this inside information which he uses to raise himself to the top of the TV executive world. "Forget about such schlock as 'Cavemen', 'Emeril' the sitcom, and the latest reincarnation of 'The Bachelor' and concentrate on 'Heroes', 'Lost', and 'The Office'. Steven Post even has ideas of his own. One of his show ideas is a TV program entitled "Abe Lincoln's Doctor's Dog.' This was an actual episode on 'Screen Director's Playhouse in 1955.

Most fake TV shows in movies tend to be so badly produced it seems very unrealistic and unlikely that anyone in the real world would ever want to watch them. It is possible however that someone would actually green light such horrid programming. For this very reason it was probably a wise idea to keep the story focused on the people who were in charge of the programming and not the programming itself, although the few clips one sees of the TV shows talked about are standard looking TV show clips and promotion for such Disney classics as the 'The Shaggy Dog'.

The movie has very many funny and wacky moments and makes it worth a movie rental and maybe even a place in the family library. But there are a few glitches in the TV screen. When Kurt Russell's girlfriend catches him with her kidnapped chimp, he gives her a sweet apology and explains the real good (for himself) that came out of the deceit he has pulled on everyone around him. For the sake of moving the plot along, she seizes from being majorly being cheesed off at him and accepts his weak apology with a smile. For some reason I thought there was to be a great slapstick chase at the end of this film and for that reason I was a tad bit disappointed in the ending. Although the greedy TV executives get what they deserve in the end, I thought the ending deserved a little something more.

Although not perfect, 'The Barefoot Executive', is worth turning on. It was remade as a TV movie in 1995. This version has not been deemed worthy to be released on either VHS or DVD. But you have the original one to watch and enjoy.
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Winning Disney fodder
ksaelagnulraon4 December 2001
I'm not usually turned on by animal comedies, and I read the synopsis for this one and decided to give it a miss. Then I was flicking channels and came across a late film on the Disney channel, started watching it, became engrossed and thought it was nice, just funny enough without going overboard for laughs. Kurt Russell is certainly a long way from "action hero" status; the story works well enough, and it's classic Disney fodder that parents can enjoy with their kids. Rating: 6/10.
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The plot and situations in this movie are so ridiculous that I was laughing until I cried, especially toward the end.
jefks14 April 2007
I just saw The Barefoot Executive for the first time on TV, and was pleasantly surprised. Joe Flynn was funnier than in any episode of McHale's Navy (in which he played a similar character). His crabby, confused, exasperated behavior and expressions throughout the film just made me roll. Starts out kind of slow and campy, with a silly plot. I thought at first just another squeaky clean shallow 70's family movie. But the film really starts to get funny when Kurt Russel's character realizes that the chimp can pick the winning TV shows. As Russel tries to sneak the chimp into the TV preview room, the scenes of the chimp going up and down the mail dumbwaiter are great. The interaction between Flynn and his chauffeur (Wally Cox) are hilarious. The chimp's reactions when a very young (and very funny) John Ritter sneak into the apartment are great. When Flynn, Cox and Ritter spy on the chimp, and the resulting kidnapping scene on the building ledge, it just absolutely cracked me up! Lots of comical sight gags and facial expressions in this movie. A very funny moment that's easy to miss is when Flynn is eating a banana (soon after hearing a Doctor "expert" theorize that bananas are "brain food") - one example of great humorous satire throughout the movie. Bill Daily has a brief but hilarious part towards the end. A great and appropriate ending wraps it all up in a neat package which I won't reveal - all very funny!
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