The Barefoot Executive (1971)

Article 2379 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-30-2007
Posting Date: 2-16-2008
Directed by Robert Butler
Featuring Kurt Russell, Joe Flynn, Harry Morgan

An ambitious mailboy at a TV network discovers that his girlfriend’s chimp can pick the best-rated TV shows. He decides to use the chimp’s ability to help his own ambitions to move up the executive ladder.

Apparently the fantastic content of this show is that a chimp is better able to pick hit TV shows than Joe Flynn and Harry Morgan. Though I don’t mean this as a slap against either Flynn of Morgan, I see nothing fantastic about this concept; with the recent spate of popular reality TV shows, I find it quite plausible that a chimp may be in charge. At any rate, I don’t think there’s enough fantastic content to qualify this one as genre. Nevertheless, I found this one of Disney’s more enjoyable shopping-cart movies; like many of their better comedies, it has a satirical edge and (for the most part) eschews over-the-top slapstick. As usual, there’s the great cast of familiar faces; on top of those listed above, we also have Wally Cox (who steals the movie as Flynn’s nervous chauffeur), Hayden Rorke, John Ritter (in his first theatrical movie role) and one-time serial actor Tristram Coffin (as a sponsor). One of my favorite things in this movie is to listen to the names of the various programs and then try to figure which real-life programs are being referenced; you’ll find references to “Star Trek”, “Laugh-In”, “I Love Lucy”, “I Spy”, and others. And, remember, “Abe Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog” is not the same as “Abe Lincoln’s Dog’s Doctor”.

Hey, here’s an idea for a reality show – “Can your Pet Be a Big TV Executive?”. People bring in their pets and they compete to see who will be the next head of a network. Let me run that one past the chimp and see if it will fly…



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