Friday, August 15, 2014
A underrated lampoon that was ahead of its time
Has anyone else ever heard of this satirical cult gem? Long before Watergate shook Hollywood out of its government-is-your-friend fantasy-world, The President's Analyst directed by Theodore J. Flicker and starring James Coburn, entertained the preposterous notion that an American secret agent could assassinate one of his own countrymen, and this amusing movie is bold enough to play this cynical scenario for laughs. Move over The Parallax View and Capricorn One, here comes the real deal.
Though positioned as a comic thriller, it's kind of stupid for a lot of reasons and commercially bombed but it was also ahead of its time. The plot has sci-fi overtones with James Coburn playing Dr. Sidney Schaefer, a psychiatrist who is hired by the United States Government as the President’s ultra top secret personal psychoanalyst. After the initial euphoria of working for the worlds most important man, the stress of the job creeps in setting the stage of his descent into paranoia and suspicion. Instead of the normal thrills we would expect, this movie instead takes on the humor tinged, spoof track! Watch for the scene when James Coburn spins around looking for imaginary pursuers while a female chorus line imitates a theremin on the soundtrack ; I was on the floor!
Funny as this movie is, it plays into your dark fear that the Canadians are up to no good. Here they are right next door to the most powerful country in the world -the U.S. of A., is who I mean -- and you're going to tell me all they're worried about is keeping warm? There's no way they don't want a piece of the American pie, and in our false sense of security we probably aren't even monitoring our Northern border so that when the million-some-odd mounties that have been massing there flow into our motherland we'll be taken completely by surprise and helpless to stop them. I've kept this fear secret lest people think I'm crazy. But lo and behold, The President's Analyst features a militant, gun-toting, anti-American Canadian agent. It's the only movie I've ever seen that does and the music scored by Lalo Schifrin rightly amplifies the paranoia.