Paramount Studios presents
The President's Analyst (1967)
"It explains your utter lack of hostility. You can vent your aggressive feelings by actually killing people. It's a sensational solution to the hostility problem."- Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn)
Stars: James Coburn
Other Stars: Godfrey Cambridge, Severn Darden, Joan Delaney, Arte Johnson
Director: Theodore J. Flicker
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, sexual situations, some racial slurs)
Run Time: 01h:42m:47s
Release Date: 2004-06-08
DVD ReviewFrom Frasier Crane to Dr. Phil, psychiatrists have always been able to make people laugh. Of course it isn't always intentional, but there's nothing like a shrink tickling your funny bone. The President's Analyst, made back 1967 and set in a seemingly fictional America, does not provide us with a funny therapist, but the situation Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn) finds himself in works to create an amusing experience.
Sidney is a highly skilled psychiatrist, so skilled that the CEA (a fictional organization similar to the CIA) has tapped him to become the president's personal therapist. Initially this is an ideal job—Sidney and his girlfriend, Nan (Joan Delaney), are moved to a new house in Georgetown (at the taxpayers' expense, reminds the head of the FBR—the FBI's fictional counterpart). Unfortunately, the idealness lasts for only so long. The president's schedule is demanding, forcing Sidney out of bed at all hours of the night with a flashing red light that seem to come from nowhere (how such a light could exist is never explained, but it is probably provided by the same people who created the technology for Adam West's Batman).
The unpredictability of his new job wears away at Sidney, and eventually he succumbs to paranoia and is convinced that everyone is a spy. Desperate to escape, Sidney flees to New Jersey with a family and spies from all over the world are out to capture him. Making things worse, the FBR has designs to kill him. Thankfully, Don (Godfrey Cambridge), one of Sidney's patients and a CEA agent, is working to rescue him. Amusingly, Don is a good friend of the Russian spy Kropotkin (Severn Darden) and they work together to find Sidney.
Coburn is not someone who fits the bill of a comedic leading man, but he does well here. The script works with his acting style perfectly, accommodating his lack of comedic timing by making Sidney the straight man while all those around him are the funny ones. Godfrey Cambridge and Severn Darden turn in fine supporting work, providing the majority of laughs. The downfall in the cast is then-newcomer Joan Delaney. She serves well as eye candy, but there isn't an ounce of acting talent in her body.
The script, written by director Theodore J. Flicker, offers many laughs at the expense of modern-day political correctness. The opening disclaimer that assures us this story is purely fictional contains a sharp tongue of irreverence that most Hollywood producer's would be afraid of today. It's actually quite refreshing to listen to Flicker's dialogue; he doesn't insult anybody, he just makes fun of everyone. The American left comes off as paranoid, the conservative government is bogged down in regulations, the Russians are inept fools, and even the phone company gets their just desserts.
Despite having written a first-rate script, Flicker fails in his direction of the material. There are three bizarre, prolonged musical numbers that seem to go on forever. The camera is used in a rather sloppy, amateurish way; even the techniques that do work, such as editing a conversation over the course of moving action from one location to another, are dulled because he uses them too often.
It's not often that a script like The President's Analyst comes along, which makes it even more disappointing when the whole movie doesn't live up to its potential. Still, despite the flaws in Flicker's filmmaking, the overall experience of watching his work is enjoyable. There's no doubt that we aren't getting the best possible version of the script, but what we have here is a great way to spend a couple of hours.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The movie's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is preserved here in an anamorphic, single-layer transfer. Grain is constant throughout, and is especially noticeable in the romantic scenes between Coburn and Delaney. Scratches and print defects permeate from the opening credits all the way to the closing credits. None of the colors are vibrant and there is rarely a sense of depth in the image. This is a poor transfer by Paramount's standards.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: Presented in mono, The President's Analyst's original sound mix is preserved with this DVD release. Unfortunately, it's not a good mix. The front soundstage offers all of the audio information, with a constant hiss. Dialogue is at times difficult to understand and none of the sound effects have the zing that they are clearly meant to have. The ADR from the source material is quite poor, and this transfer does not hide any of its faults. Another characteristic of the movie's original soundtrack is that the audio's ambience jumps drastically between cuts (again, this is not hidden by the DVD's mono track).
Audio Transfer Grade: D+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Extras Review: Paramount has sprung for no extras on this DVD. None, nada, zip! Not even a trailer. For shame, Paramount!
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsThe President's Analyst is a fine movie, but it could have been great with a different director. Paramount's DVD is a true disappointment, containing absolutely no features, poor audio and image transfers. Anybody who appreciates sharp humor should see this movie, but don't buy it, rent it.
Nate Meyers 2004-06-07