American theatrical poster
|Directed by||Robert Downey Sr.|
|Produced by||Fred C. Caruso|
Richard A. Roth
|Written by||Robert Downey Sr.|
|Music by||Charley Cuva|
|Edited by||Bud S. Smith|
|Distributed by||Cinema V|
Putney Swope is a 1969 satirical comedy film written and directed by Robert Downey Sr. and starring Arnold Johnson as the title character, a black advertising executive. The film satirizes the advertising world, the portrayal of race in Hollywood films, the white power structure, and the nature of corporate corruption.
Putney Swope, the only black man on the executive board of an advertising firm, is accidentally put in charge after the sudden death of the chairman of the board: prevented by the company by-laws to vote for themselves, in a secret ballot, most board members voted for the one person they thought could not win: Putney Swope.
Renaming the business "Truth and Soul, Inc.", Swope replaces all but one of the white employees with blacks and insists they no longer accept business from companies that produce alcohol, tobacco or toy guns. The success of the business draws unwanted attention from the United States government, which considers it "a threat to the national security".
In an interview on the DVD version of the film, Downey states that Arnold Johnson had great difficulty memorizing and saying his lines during the film shoot. Downey says he was not concerned because he had developed a plan to dub in his own voice to replace Johnson's.
Though the movie is in black-and-white, Truth and Soul's commercials are shown in color.
The character Buck Swope (portrayed by Don Cheadle), from Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights, was named as an homage to this film. Robert Downey Sr. also made a small cameo in Boogie Nights as the owner of a recording studio. The character Wing Soney, a Chinese businessman, was the inspiration for Cosmo, the Chinese character throwing firecrackers during the drug deal scene.
The song "Shadrach" by the Beastie Boys, from their 1989 album Paul's Boutique, mentions the film in the lyric "Music for all and not just one people, and now we're gonna bust with the Putney Swope sequel".
- Putney Swope at the American Film Institute Catalog
- "Rain, Moon Monday Balance B'way; 'Daddy,' 'Rider' Good 40G Starts; 'Midnight Cowboy', 8th, Wham 48G". Variety. July 23, 1969. p. 8.
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