- May 8, 2000
The President's Analyst
Length: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English Mono
English subtitles; Closed Captioned
Special Features: none
Release Date: June 8, 2004
This film has not been made with the consent or cooperation of the Federal Board of Regulations (F.B.R.) or the Central Enquiries Agency (C.E.A.). Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental, and so forth and so on.
The above text is the very first thing you see as you watch The President’s Analyst, and it sets the tone for things to come.
Set in the late 1960’s, Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn), a noted psychologist in New York City, is called upon to leave his private practice and become the President’s personal analyst. It seems that the burdens of attaining world peace, worrying about the national debt, and making dessert choices at state dinners has taken a toll on the President, and he needs some help setting his mind at ease.
It seems, though, that the job of President’s Analyst comes at a high price. Members of government agencies, both domestic and foreign, will do anything to capture Dr. Schaefer and extract the information that he now possesses. And if they can’t have Schaefer’s secrets, then the alternative is to kill him so nobody else can have them either. Surprisingly, there is another rogue agency, more powerful than all the governments of the world, that wants Schaefer, too.
The interplay between an American agent and a Soviet agent (Godfrey Cambridge and Severn Darden) is priceless, playing much like Wile E. Coyote and the Sheep Dog from the old Warner cartoons - working against one another, but being sociable and civil in the process (though here, they eventually end up working together to fight the ultimate evil agency, TPC).
James Coburn is perfectly cast as Dr. Schaefer. He is able to do more with a double-take or a wry smile than anyone else, and plays the whole thing up to great comedic effect. His love interest (and spy) is played by Joan Delaney. Pat Harrington turns in a delicious performance as the president of “TPC.”
Also appearing are William Daniels in a hilarious role as Wynn Quantrill (a concerned American citizen), and Barry McGuire and Jill Banner as a couple of hippies.
McGuire has an excellent musical interlude, Inner Manipulations. The music is by Lalo Schifrin, Barry McGuire and The Clear Light. Thankfully, Paramount has restored music which has been missing from previous home video releases of this film. My thanks to Peter Fitzgerald for enlightening me on the edits the film has seen over the years.
Look quick for some animation by Depatie-Freleng near the end of the film.
This is a classically funny but understated film that absolutely oozes The Sixties like few other films I can recall. There is no mistaking the period in which the film was made. The clothes, the hair, the furniture, the music... far out. For me, that adds to the fun. Your mileage may vary.
The President’s Analyst comes to you in an anamorphically enhanced, 2.35:1 widescreen version. The image is pleasantly sharp, considering the age of the film elements. It has good contrast and deep black levels overall, though one or two scenes suffer from a very mild lack of depth in blacks. There is good shadow detail throughout.
The color (by Technicolor) is wonderfully saturated, offering up deep and vibrant colors without saturating to the point of bleeding or losing detail.
There were a few instances where I noticed very mild ringing in high contrast areas, such as the border between building and sky. I’m not sure if this was due to oversharpening, or if they were resampling artifacts. Either way, they were very mild and fleeting. I didn’t even notice them until my second pass through the disc - so you’re likely not to notice unless you’re looking for it.
The most bothersome issue with the transfer is the amount of dust. There are mild but pervasive negative and positive specks throughout the film. These specks are frequent, but fleeting. While a minor annoyance, they wouldn’t keep me from adding this film to my library.
This transfer is above average in the video department, for an older catalog title - losing points for dust and scratches more than anything else.
There is one audio track to choose from - the original mono track. The sound is clean with no noticeable hiss. Dialog is always easy to hear and understand, and music sounds okay, utilizing much of the frequency range available to it. The bass won’t rattle your windows, and the high end of the range is slightly lacking compared to a modern recording - but the audio on disc is probably accurate when compared to the original recording.
There are no special features.
I love this film. It’s a great sixties comedy - much more subdued than, say, The Pink Panther films of the era, but still very funny in its own right. The transfer is very nice, save for the dust...
It’s priced to sell, too, at a suggested retail of $14.99. You’ll probably find this for under $12 at your local retailers or online.