Saturday, December 12, 2009

Putney Swope (movie review)

This comical spoof came out in 1969 at the same time as Easy Rider and marks a time of overturning cultural conventions.

Many of the clich├ęs in the film involve reversing or tweaking well-known formulas.

A white ad agency with a token black guy becomes a black ad agency with token whites.

Only the commercials show up in color.

The sometimes Castro-like Putney refuses to advertise booze, cigs, and war toys, though he's under pressure to cave, burns through his credibility at a high rate, giving it his best shot.

The white director (Robert Downy) provides the raspy voice for our black star (Arnold Johnson) again adding to the "wilderness of mirrors" aspect.

The film was something of a hot potato, yet managed to become semi-popular thanks to Cinema 5 in New York and thanks to the prevailing culture of the times. There's some nudity, but by today's standards it's tamely innocuous, not that far from actual commercials (we live their dream).

Compare with Mad Men, Austin Powers, The Spook Who Sat By the Door.