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The President's Analyst
Bar Harbor
kestrell and I watched this last weekend. It's a paranoid thriller/satire from 1967, written and directed by Theodore J. Flicker, and starring James Coburn and his excellent psychotic grin. Coburn plays a psychiatrist who gets hired to work for the President of the United States, to help relieve some of the man's psychic pressures. Coburn quickly finds that he no longer has any outlet for his *own* increasing pressures. He flees his job, pursued by agents of multiple countries who want the secrets inside his head. Wackiness ensues, including a delightful sequence where he takes refuge with some traveling hippie musicians. In the end, order is restored and goodness prevails... or does it?

This was of my favorite movies as a young man, but I hadn't seen it fifteen or twenty years. It has dated in rather a surprising manner. I mean, I was expecting to see fashion, music, culture, and politics which reflected the period, all of which are definitely there. What I was *not* expecting was the way in which the satire has been rendered... pathetic. Various ideas which are presented in the story as insane exaggerations, beyond the realm of the possible, have passed into actual history years ago, or are poised to happen at any time now. Some kinds of humor are funny because they're true, but satire gets less funny the more literally true it becomes. A lot of the humor still works, thankfully, and I do still recommend the film. But it's definitely not the same film I saw back in the 80s...

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I remember watching this with D a couple years ago. Over and over, I had to keep pointing out that in '67, such and such bits were meant as over-the-top jokes. Also, D would be the first to agree with you on the phrase "starring James Coburn and his psychotic grin."

Can you give an example without spoiling?

The *best* examples are major spoilers. But this one isn't too bad:
"...this isn't a case of a world struggle between two divergent ideologies, of different economic systems. Every day your country becomes more socialistic, my country becomes more capitalistic. Pretty soon we will meet in the middle and join hands."

"You know what country the president's worried about most? Russia? Cuba? No, what keeps him awake at night is...Libya!"

Back in 1967, see, that was a joke.

You know TPC monitors LJ, don't you?

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