THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST (1967)
Article 2641 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-29-2008
Posting Date: 11-5-2008
Directed by Theodore J. Flicker
Featuring James Coburn, Godfrey Cambridge, Severn Darden
A psychoanalyst gets the prestigious job of being the personal analyst to the President of the United States. When the demands of the job prove too much for him, he tries to escape, but finds himself pursued by spies from all nations who are either after the information in his head, or want him dead.
This movie manages to be an antidote to both the glut of spy movies from its own decade, as well as the rash of humorless paranoid thrillers from the following decade. It’s a convoluted, unpredictable comic thriller which lampoons both spies and paranoia. James Coburn is great as the analyst who must somehow survive an increasingly bizarre series of encounters using whatever strategies he can, including posing as a rock musician and psychoanalyzing a Russian spy who wants to force him to defect. One great scene involves a series of spies killing each other off in an attempt to get at the analyst. The biggest laugh I had comes at the end of the movie, where we meet the most insidious villain of them all; however, to say more would give away way too much. The science fiction element comes to fore at this point, and all I’ll say is that it turns out that a certain crucial character turns out to be a robot. On a side note, the spy organizations in the movie (the FBR and the CEA) were originally called by their real names and were changed after the movie was shot due to pressure from the FBI and the CIA. All in all, I found the movie strange and often brilliant, and, despite being shot at the time it was, it hasn’t dated all that much.