Putney Swope (1969) is a English movie. Robert Downey Sr. has directed this movie. Arnold Johnson,Stan Gottlieb,Allen Garfield,Archie Russell are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1969. Putney Swope (1969) is considered one of the best Comedy movie in India and around the world.
Dark satire in which the token black man on the executive board of an advertising firm is accidentally put in charge. Renaming the business "Truth and Soul, Inc.", he replaces the tight regime of monied white ad men with his militant brothers. Soon afterwards, however, the power that comes with its position takes its toll on Putney...
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This film had about everything one could wish when viewing it originally, at the end of the 1960's decade. It was immensely entertaining, and provided a contemporary view of the many changes which had occurred during that period - and were still ongoing - in terms of the Black Power movement, Vietnam, and the volatile movement which followed the quieter, preceding postwar 1950's. All of this and one of the funniest films, then or now. Viewing it for the second time recently, I was surprised to find it as engrossing as when seen originally. Its humor is as funny, and its message as strong. And in viewing it now, you get all of this, while at the same time gaining the added enjoyment of its being a "period piece," and a superb chronicling of its this historic, turbulent time.
When someone refers to the independent cinema realm in the United States it's often inferred that it means the filmmaker or people behind the project had much more creative freedom and did what they wanted. This, today, is not really always the case unless someone is a solid "auteur" and creative freedom still comes with the caveat that one has to find distribution with one of the independent divisions of major studios or by getting picked up somehow for some kind of low-level deal at a worthwhile film festival. But Putney Swope, Robert Downey Sr's film about a tough-as-nails African-American accidentally promoted to head advertising guru at a production company, *is* independent cinema, the kind of work that went right along with the likes or Romero's Night of the Living Dead and Cassavetes Faces at the same time of getting no real typical studio distribution but causing waves, kicking ass and taking names in the cinema world. For all its moments that are rough and crude, it's unforgettable. It's also a film that is funny, very and excruciatingly funny. Sometimes the sense of humor is just so ridiculous it's nearly impossible not to laugh, from the mere appearance of the President Mimeo with his wife to lines of dialog from the advertisements Swope's team puts together like "I can't eat an air conditioner" in a real "soul" voice. It is as smart as the audience it is aiming at, which is anyone with two brain cells to put together who can see that this work isn't offensive or *too* shocking because it's meant to rattle the cage, and it does this pretty well in the first five minutes. Once that's past Downey Sr goes on his blitz of sorts as far as being a filmmaker with nothing to lose: his protagonist is part Fidel Castro, part Isaac Hayes circa 1972 (and yes it's 1969 in the film) and part hard-assed ad exec with a firing streak to make Mr. Spacely on the Jetsons look kind. And don't forget those side characters, dear God. There's so many memorable lines and moments that it's hard to keep track. From maybe the most hilarious botched assassination attempt in any movie to the one ad for "Face-Off" skin cream that includes lines that would give South Park a run for its dirty-mouth money, to just little asides with the one guy from Jack Hill's movies playing the Muslim who keeps giving lip to Swope and that one boy with the the nun who curses up a storm and impresses Swope in a swift stroke. It's a pretty direct message about media and advertising, but there's also a lot of powerful moments where it just hits the nail on the head about racism in America, sometimes without having to do more than a gesture and sometimes with doing something HUGE like having black panther types going this way and that around Swope's advertising regime. And for a low-budget production (I mean super low, hence the comparison to Night of the Living Dead and Faces) Downey got some really good actors, all non-union, and it's hard to imagine that some of them might have had their first time on camera here. It should be mentioned that Downey's style doesn't make it perfect: it is crude and sometimes too crazy and dated for its own good, and I'm sure I didn't get some of the underlying humor of a couple of the ads since I'm from a full generation after these ads were aired (albeit the "Miss Redneck Jersey" was definitely not lost on me). In general though this is one of the finest of its time period, a satire that stings and a feature with a predominantly black cast that is all too knowing of what comes from an excess of power, regardless of skin color. It is, as someone might say, "good s***."
Robert Downey Sr's PUTNEY SWOPE is an outrageous stab in the back of the advertising world. Apparently, Downey had a nose-diving career in the advertising industry, and this film are all his "I hate this job" daydreams while trying to endure it. The opening Boardroom scene is some of the most bizarre, wacky and brilliant satire ever committed to film. It's the story of the accidental voting-in of the Board's token black man as President of the agency (he's their Music Director). From there, Downey's daydreams turn the struggling white-led advertising company upside down and into the successful black-run "Truth And Soul" advertising agency (Complete with what you might call a corporate Intranet: "The Drum" -- see the movie, you'll understand). The movie is refreshingly un-P.C., with dialogue like, "I'm a happy Chink!" and the proposed advertising campaign that has Colombus meeting Indians with "cleft heads." Oh yes, and a pot-smoking midget President of the U.S.A. There's one thing that is really annoying (to me, anyway; others don't seem to mind): that the lead character's voice appears dubbed. WHY did they do that?? Was the actor unintelligible or something? In fact, looking at the credits for this flick, I see that Downey himself provided the voice for Swope. I sure wish he'd email me with the reason why... Also in the cast is actor Alan Arbus, himself a one-time Ad-man. If you like bizarre outrageous humor, this is a definite for you!
This movie shows that the free enterprise system and the quest for the almighty buck transcends all racial and ethnic barriers. Ultimately the market place determines the message that is sent to the public. This movie dramatizes that point. A conservative white-collar advertising company is taken over by a group of street-wise African Americans chaired by a no-nonsense black man who wants to make a buck and believes he can sell products by telling the the truth. But the movie shows that no matter how hard he tries to do something different, the market place and the political system demands that he conform, rendering him no different than his predecessors. Interesting, off-beat movie.
Certainly one of the most hilarious films of all time. Excellent original music, clever, heady...it's hard to be articulate about something this good. There isn't one character that you don't instantly love to watch- Myronex "Putney, there's trouble in the black room!" "My name is Rufus." The lines, thrown away left and right, are classics themselves, recalling Slapshot, Caddyshack, Anchorman, Repoman, Dolemite, any comedy whose dialog is not of the formulaic set-up punchline variety. "Putney, Myronex called you tasteless!" "My organization is pro-integration..." "Where's Lopez? 'He's in my head'" They don't sound brilliant until you hear them in the context of the scene. ...This movie will eat your brain, it's too good. I've read reviews calling this film racist, which couldn't be farther from the truth. Every scene is gold, from the Etherial Cereal commercial to the Brothers In the Black Room meeting to that haunting trumpet in the closing scene. One word - genius.