The President's Analyst (1967) 

Directed by: Theodore J. Flicker

POTUS’ shrink (Coburn), who has an intimate knowledge of state secrets, suffers a breakdown and goes into hiding, with G-men, foreign intelligence and The Phone Company in pursuit.  Many of the gags and wisecracks in this largely toothless comedy don’t click, but thanks to Flicker’s control over the tone, which rarely topples into the cartoonish, they whiz right by without awkwardly failing.  As it treads the uneasy line between sharp satire and sloppy spoof, the film’s hurried pacing keeps it from going stale while Coburn’s even performance keeps it grounded.

An unwieldy allegory for the freewheelin’ ‘60s’ ethos of responsibility shirking and self-discovery, The President’s Analyst feels hopelessly dated, from the title (who says “analyst” anymore?) to its central villain (what’s a “phone company”?)  But, in depicting a country in which the “FBR” and “CEA,” as well as private citizens, have every doctor’s office, bedroom and bathroom bugged, every phone tapped, the film is presciently paranoid and almost contemporary in its cynicism—it even takes on the telecommunications lobby.  Released before Watergate and the exposure of Hoover’s COINTELPRO, The President’s Analyst deserves credit for its prophetic tackling of the ongoing national obsession with surveillance. 

Opens June 6 at Film Forum


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