The President’s Analyst

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

James Coburn earned a reputation in sixties cinema playing a wide variety of characters in different genres by playing it with a sense of ease and cool. From being one of the Magnificent Seven to the laid back secret agent Derek Flint, Coburn always won viewers over. In one particular movie from that period, he plays a character that might be a bit different from what he’s played before but manages to let some of that ease and cool show in bits. In this particular movie, it’s a United States of the past in the environment of the super secret and the suspicious. It’s freaky, it’s psychedelic, but it’s not blamed on the President’s messenger, it’s more or less blamed on The President’s Analyst.

Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn) deals with a wide variety of patients in his practice as an analyst. To keep himself relaxed, he likes hitting a small gong. On one of these instances, a patient named Don (Godfrey Cambridge) comes in on one of his relaxing times ahead of his appointment time. Little does Sidney realize that Don has just killed a man on the street fulfilling his duties as a CEA agent. At first, Schaefer is intrigued a bit by Don’s revelation but it doesn’t end there. It seems Don is working on orders of the President of the United States to hire Sidney as his personal analyst. Sidney is thrilled with the news and has to take certain measures and changes to do the job. Although, bending an ear for a president comes with some paranoid consequences and it seems that everyone is going after him to find out what he knows.

This film has a unique premise with a sixties sensibility and almost every bit of sixties cinema put in to the mix, complete with hippie references, a musical montage involving the main character, and some scenes with lots of color. The film takes a satirical look at that period in the country not in the environment that most of the secret agent movies at the time portrayed. It’s also interesting to note the groovy score by Lalo Schifrin which seems like a good precursor to his classic score for Dirty Harry filled with great beats and background wailers.

James Coburn is low key but wonderful as Dr. Schaefer who can practically wins most people trust by being so good at what he does, even when it comes to an encounter with a Soviet agent. He plays paranoia with a sensible head and tries to find any means possible to escape in the most unexpected sort of ways.

The film is amusing in its nature, clever in it’s dialogue and intriguing without going too much over the top. Although the ending is somewhat unexpected, it remains an interesting piece of sixties cinema both in it’s widescreen glory and it’s satirical mix of intrigue and comedy.

Video: How does it look?

For the second time (first being laserdisc), The President’s Analyst gets the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen treatment and the results are better than expected for a sixties film. The print is very clean with very little hints of grain except in extreme closeups in the beginning of the film and during the musical montage. Other than those two spots, the film looks fine on DVD with the colors looking rich without being drained and holds up well despite the limitations of sixties film stock not getting the same clarity as some to make for a very nice transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital English Mono track spread to most channels but nothing equivalent to the quality of most of the recent movies. One interesting note for this track that it reinserted a music scene that previous releases (VHS and LD) had omitted because of music rights. It fits in nicely with the scene and it’s sounds good on the audio track. Both the score and the dialogue comes out very crisp and has it’s own mono muteness but with most of the activity being in the center channels. Overall, a good track. This disc also has English Subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

It would’ve been nice if someone who was common to taping things from the American Movie Classics cable channel would have given a copy of the trailer of this film to Paramount to use on this DVD, for there are no extras and the trailer is nothing but a distant memory (I can’t understand it because all it uses is the score of the film and not the previously omitted piece of music).

A constantly interesting time capsule of the sixties, The President’s Analyst provides a very amusing film and a satisfactory DVD that comes recommended.

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