The President's Analyst

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The President's Analyst
Presidents movieposter.jpg
Original theatrical film poster
Directed byTheodore J. Flicker
Produced byStanley Rubin
Written byTheodore J. Flicker
StarringJames Coburn
Godfrey Cambridge
Severn Darden
Joan Delaney
Will Geer
Music byLalo Schifrin
CinematographyWilliam A. Fraker
Edited byStuart H. Pappé
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • December 21, 1967 (1967-12-21)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budgetover $2 million[1]
Box office$2,450,000 (US/Canada)[2]

The President's Analyst is an American satirical comedy film written and directed by Ted Flicker, starring James Coburn, with cinematography by William A. Fraker, and a musical score by Lalo Schifrin. The film has elements of political satire and science fiction, including themes concerning modern ethics and privacy, specifically regarding the intrusion of the telecommunications monopoly, working with the US Government, into the private lives of the country's citizens. The film was released theatrically on December 21, 1967. Although initially not a commercial success, the film received was reviewed favorably, eventually achieving cult film recognition.[3]

Plot[edit]

Psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn), is chosen by the US Government to act as the President’s top-secret personal psychoanalyst, from a referral by Don Masters (Godfrey Cambridge), a Central Enquiries Agency (CEA) assassin who vetted Schaefer while undergoing his own psychoanalysis. The decision to choose Schaefer is against the advice of Henry Lux (Walter Burke), the under-five-foot-six-inch director of the all-male, Federal Bureau of Regulation (FBR). ("Lux", like "Hoover", was once a famous make of vacuum cleaner.) Schaefer is given a home in affluent Georgetown, and assigned a comfortable office connected to the White House by a secret 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 a unique problem: there is no one he himself can talk to 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 until he becomes clinically paranoid; he even suspects his sweet girlfriend Nan (Joan Delaney) of spying on him as an agent of the CEA. All of Schaefer's paranoid suspicions eventually turn out to be true. Still worse, Schaefer has a habit of talking in his sleep.[3]

Schaefer goes on the run with the help of a "typical" American family of gun-toting conservatives who defend him against foreign agents attempting to kidnap him off the street. He escapes with the help of a hippie tribe, led by the "Old Wrangler" (Barry McGuire), as spies from many nations 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, Schaefer 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 Russian KGB agent who intends to spirit him away to the Soviet Union. 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 US soil.

Kropotkin arranges a pickup with his trusted CEA colleague Don Masters, but Schaefer is kidnapped again, this time by TPC (The Phone Company), a far more insidious organization than the FBR or KGB, which had been secretly observing him. Taken to TPC headquarters in New Jersey, he is introduced to it leader (Pat Harrington, Jr.), who wants Schaefer's help in carrying out their plan for world domination. As the TPC leader makes his presentation, a camera closeup reveals electronic cables connected to one of his feet, revealing that he is actually an animatronic robot.

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 phone number of the person they wish to reach, and they 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 have the CC prenatally implanted. Schaefer is "requested" to assist the TPC scheme 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 trio emerge victorious from the ensuing bloodbath, but months later, as Schaefer and his spy friends are enjoying a Christmas reunion, animatronic executives from TPC are seen look on approvingly at a secret monitor, while "Joy to the World" plays in the background.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

James Coburn first met Theodore Flicker on the set of Charade where the screenwriter was visiting his colleague and friend, Peter Stone. Years later Flicker met Coburn at a Christmas party, where he showed Coburn the script of a film that the screenwriter wished to direct. Coburn had just made Waterhole #3 for Paramount, and showed the script to Robert Evans, who loved it. A deal for production was made in five days.[4] It was the first movie Evans greenlit as the new head of Paramount Studios.[1]

Evans claimed that during production of the film he was visited by FBI special agents, who told him that the Bureau did not want the film made due to the unflattering portrayal of the FBI. Evans refused, but when pressured by his studio he changed the "FBI" to "FBR", and "CIA" to "CEA" by redubbing the voice track slightly out-of-sync.[3] Evans believed that his telephone was monitored by the Bureau (or the phone company) from then on.[5] The film's opening credits include a disclaimer that it was made without cooperation from the FBI or CIA.[3]

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 had recently been signed to Elektra Records when they were cast in the film. However, the band soon replaced its vocalist; (Cliff DeYoung joined them as singer only after the film was made and was their lead singer on their sole album); McGuire had played that part in the film. The band only released one album and three singles before breaking up, yet not only were they lucky enough to be cast in a film, but a few members actually had spoken some lines. Reportedly, the role was originally offered to the Grateful Dead but they had turned it down.[6]

The ship used by the Canadian Secret Service was John Wayne's personal yacht, the Wild Goose.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was a commercial failure,[citation needed] but received positive reviews from critics. As of 2019, it held an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 20 reviews.[8]

Deleted scenes[edit]

Television prints and videocassette versions of the film were missing some songs written and performed by Clear Light with Barry McGuire, which had been replaced with generic instrumental music due to music copyright issues.[9] The 2004 DVD release restores the songs.[3]

A scene missing from current editions of the film is the scene in which Schaefer meets his lover Nan seemingly by chance at a 1960s-style underground movie.[3] This satire of the art films of the time sets the audience up for the paranoia of discovering that she is actually an undercover CEA agent. A still frame from the missing scene can be seen at Roger Ebert's site.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

The Internet fax service The Phone Company took its name from this film.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hyams, Joe (11 June 1967). "Poured in the Mogul Mold".(subscription required) Los Angeles Times. p. I55.
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969. p. 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Thompson, Nathaniel. "The President's Analyst". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  4. ^ "The Hollywood Interview: James Coburn". The Hollywood Interview. 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  5. ^ Evans, Robert (2006). The Kid Stays in the Picture. Phoenix Books, p. 133.
  6. ^ Garcia: An American Life, by Blair Jackson
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "The President's Analyst (1967)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  9. ^ "Quick Reviews: The President's Analyst". The DVD Journal. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  10. ^ "The President's Analyst :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. February 16, 1968. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  11. ^ TPC.INT: FAQ: The History of TPC.INT Archived July 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]