The President's Analyst
|The President's Analyst|
Original theatrical film poster
|Directed by||Theodore J. Flicker|
|Produced by||Stanley Rubin|
|Written by||Theodore J. Flicker|
|Music by||Lalo Schifrin|
|Cinematography||William A. Fraker|
|Edited by||Stuart H. Pappé|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$2,450,000 (US/ Canada)|
The President's Analyst is an American satirical comedy film written and directed by Theodore J. Flicker, starring James Coburn. The widescreen cinematography was by William A. Fraker, and Lalo Schifrin provided the film's musical score. The film has elements of political satire and science fiction, and resembles many of the spy spoofs that proliferated in the mid-60s in the wake of the James Bond phenomenon, including Coburn's Our Man Flint and In Like Flint. The film's themes include modern ethics and privacy concerns, specifically regarding the intrusion of the Telecom system, working with the U.S. Government, into the private lives of the country's citizens. it was released theatrically on 21 December 1967.
Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn), a psychiatrist, is chosen by the U.S. Government to act as the President’s top-secret personal psychoanalyst, through Don Masters (Godfrey Cambridge), a Central Enquiries Agency (CEA) assassin who vetted Dr. Schaefer while undergoing psychoanalysis. The decision to choose Schaefer is against the advice of Henry Lux (Walter Burke), the director of the all-male, under-five-foot-six-inch Federal Bureau of Regulation (FBR). Dr. Schaefer is given a home in affluent Georgetown and assigned a comfortable office connected to the White House by a tunnel. From this location he is to be on call at all hours to fit the President's hectic schedule. However, the President's Analyst has one problem: There is no one to whom he can talk about the President's ultra-top-secret and personal problems. As he steadily becomes overwhelmed by stress, Schaefer begins to feel that he is being watched everywhere — which is actually true — until he becomes clinically paranoid; he even suspects his sweet girlfriend Nan (Joan Delaney) of spying on him — also true — as an agent of the CEA.
Schaefer goes on the lam with the help of a "typical" American family of gun-toting liberals who defend him against foreign agents attempting to kidnap him off the streets. He escapes with the help of a hippie tribe, led by the "Old Wrangler" (Barry McGuire), as spies from all over the world attempt to kidnap him for the secret information the President has confided to him. Meanwhile, agents from the FBR seek him out on orders to liquidate him as a national security risk. Eventually, he is found and kidnapped by Canadian Secret Service agents masquerading as a British pop group. Schaefer is rescued from the Canadians and an FBR assassin by Kropotkin (Severn Darden), a KGB agent who intends to spirit him away to Russia. Kropotkin has second thoughts about his plan, following a psychoanalysis session with the doctor, during which Kropotkin begins to come to terms with his unrealized hatred of his KGB-chief father. Now feeling he needs the good doctor's help to continue his self-analysis, he instead returns him to U.S. soil.
Kropotkin arranges a pickup with his trusted CEA colleague Don Masters, but Schaeffer is kidnapped again — this time by The Phone Company (TPC), a far more insidious organization than the FBR or KGB, which has been observing him throughout the film.
Taken to TPC's headquarters in New Jersey, he is introduced to the head of TPC (Pat Harrington, Jr.), who wants Dr. Schaefer's help in carrying out their plan. TPC has developed a "modern electronic miracle", the Cerebrum Communicator (CC), a microelectronic device that can communicate wirelessly with any other CC in the world. Once implanted in the brain, the user need only think of the number of the person they wish to reach, and are instantly connected, thus eliminating the need for The Phone Company's massive and expensive-to-maintain wired infrastructure.
For this to work, every human being will be assigned a number instead of a name, and the CC prenatally implanted. Dr. Schaefer is "requested" to assist TPC by blackmailing the President into pushing through the required legislation.
Masters and Kropotkin use their superspy abilities to come to Schaefer's rescue. They hand Schaefer an M16 rifle that Schaefer gleefully uses on The Phone Company's security staff. The three emerge victorious from the ensuing bloodbath, but months later, as Dr. Schaefer and his spy friends are enjoying a Christmas reunion, animatronic executives from TPC look on approvingly, while "Joy to the World" plays in the background.
James Coburn first met Theodore Flicker on the set of Charade where Flicker was visiting his friend screenwriter Peter Stone. Years later Flicker met Coburn at a Christmas party where he showed Coburn the script of the film that Flicker wished to direct. Coburn had just made Waterhole #3 for Paramount and showed the film to Robert Evans who loved it. A deal for production was made in five days.
Evans claimed that during production of the film he was visited by FBI Special Agents who told him that the Bureau didn't want the film made due to the unflattering portrayal of the FBI. Evans refused, then when pressure came from his studio he changed the FBI to the FBR and CIA to CEA by redubbing the voice track. Evans believed that his telephone was monitored by the Bureau (or the phone company) from then on.
The musical band of hippies led by McGuire was a Los Angeles rock group called Clear Light. They evolved from the band Brain Train and were just about to be signed to Elektra Records when they were cast in the film. They were, however, between vocalists (Cliff DeYoung joined them as singer after the film was made and is their lead singer on their sole album); McGuire played that part. The band only released one album and one single before breaking up, yet not only were they lucky enough to be cast in a film, but a few members actually had spoken lines. Reportedly, the role was originally offered to the Grateful Dead but they turned it down.
The film was a commercial failure, but a favorable critical response and numerous television showings over the years have helped it to develop a cult following.
Television prints and videocassette versions of the film were missing some songs written and performed by Barry McGuire, replacing them with generic instrumental music due to music copyright issues. The 2004 DVD release restores the songs.
A scene missing from current editions of the film is where Dr. Schaefer meets his lover Nan seemingly randomly at a 1960s-style underground movie. It's a satire of the art films of the time and sets the audience up for the paranoia of discovering that she's actually a CEA agent. (A still from the missing scene can be seen at Roger Ebert's site.) Another reportedly missing scene featured glowing eyeballs appearing while Sidney Schaefer goes paranoid.
- "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
- The Hollywood Interview.com (2008-02-28). "The Hollywood Interview: James Coburn: The Hollywood Interview". Thehollywoodinterview.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- p.133 Evans, Robert The Kid Stays in the Picture 2006 Phoenix Books
- Garcia: An American Life, by Blair Jackson
- Byrne, Diane M. (2011-08-12). "Megayacht News – John Wayne’s Megayacht Now on National Register of Historic Places". Megayachtnews.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- TPC.INT: FAQ: The History of TPC.INT
- "Quick Reviews: The President's Analyst". The DVD Journal. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- "The President's Analyst :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.