Nowadays we call them shrinks, or the people who make loads of money for sitting in one spot and nodding their head every once in a while!
Written By: Theodore J. Flicker
Directed By: Theodore J. Flicker
The President’s Analyst is an odd satire, but then it is a satire about an odd time in American, and world, history. The period of the late 60’s was when the morals of the 50’s were dying out, the hippie wave of the 60’s was in force, and the materialistic nature of the 70’s was beginning to take shape. Throughout all this the paranoia of government as big brother was growing. The President’s Analyst seeks to satirize these various elements all at once, sometimes it succeeds other times you are left wondering what just happened?
James Coburn falls easily into the role of the smug psychiatrist, sorry analyst, Sidney Schaefer. His character is the largest satire of the film, because he is the films irreverent look at upper class America, American ignorance and the growing idea of feelings and thoughts needing to be looked at and dissected. His character is taken apart and he is used as the brunt of glimpses into hippie culture, big business, big government, the 60’s relationship, the 50’s relationship, political leanings and more. Coburn handles all of the various ideas thrown at him with a calm, and crazed when needed, demeanor that represents how the respectable man of the 60’s was expected to act. Godfrey Cambridge and Severn Darden are delightful as a pair of opposing secret service agent that have a more than amicable relationship. The moments between their two characters end up being the funniest in the entire movie.
There are a lot of satirical moments that fall flat and don’t quite seem to either go anywhere or present in any clear fashion the ideas they are trying to assail. The movie also leaves you with a sense of, “That was it?” when it is over and leaves you wanting for even the tiniest bit of substance to grab a hold of. But, Theodore J. Flicker did a wonderful job of catching the paranoia of the times through various gags and different camera techniques at important moments. When Flicker wants the audience to feel as if they are being assaulted through the actions against Sidney he zooms in and closes the rest of the world out, or crushes Sidney in claustrophobia. The world is closing in on us, or maybe Sidney is just being paranoid, who knows? Although when little kids have junior spy kits I think we all have a right to be paranoid.
The President’s Analyst is a good entry in the satire and political parody genre, and for people of the 60’s I’m sure it is a memorable and noteworthy one. However, when looked back at through the lens of time The President’s Analyst does lose some of its luster and key references and jokes end up not making sense or falling criminally flat. That being said, it is funny and it does satirize some issues that are still important today, and is interesting for any student of history. The President’s Analyst isn’t a must see, but it is a perfectly fine film to waste a couple of hours watching.
I love this movie, although it does just spin out to its conclusion. The scene when Sidney becomes convinced that everyone — including everyone in a restaurant — is a spy that has targeted him is fantastic. When I saw Clooney’s character flip-out in his final scene of “Burn After Reading” it felt like an homage to this one.
Having now seen Burn After Reading I have to admit I didn’t pick up on that scene as an homage to this film. However it may well be an homage and my not picking up on it is merely a sign of the lack of impact The President’s Analyst had on me.