The President’s Analyst – Blu-ray Review

4.5 Stars Wacky political/sci-fi satire debuts on US Blu-ray
The President's Analyst Blu Ray Review Screenshot

Though best known today for co-creating the police comedy TV series Barney Miller (1975-1982), Theodore J. “Ted” Flicker had a very diverse career. Not only he was a writer and director, but he also worked as a playwright, actor, theatrical producer, author and sculptor over the course of his career. After making his movie debut as a director with the improvisational cult film The Troublemaker (1964), Flicker was brought to Hollywood for what would become his most recognized film, The President’s Analyst (which was also the first film Robert Evans greenlit as production head of Paramount Pictures). Previously released by Paramount on DVD and on Region Free Blu-ray by Imprint, Kino has licensed the movie for its US Blu-ray debut.

The President's Analyst (1967)
Released: 21 Dec 1967
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 103 min
Director: Theodore J. Flicker
Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Cast: James Coburn, Godfrey Cambridge, Severn Darden
Writer(s): Theodore J. Flicker
Plot: When the overworked and stressed-out White House presidential shrink runs away, the CEA and the FBR scramble to retrieve him before he could be abducted by various competing foreign intelligence services.
IMDB rating: 6.8
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: Kino Lorber
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 43 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: Blue keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 03/12/2024
MSRP: $24.99

The Production: 4.5/5

“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.” – opening disclaimer

When the President of the United States has troubles in figuring out how to deal with the national debt, international affairs and even deciding what to serve for dessert at state dinners, who does he turn to so he can speak about his fears and anxieties? The answer is NYC psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn), referred to the President by Don Masters (Godfrey Cambridge), an enforcer for the Central Enquiries Agency (C.E.A.) who also happens to be undergoing psychoanalysis with Dr. Schaefer. But what starts out as a dream job quickly turns into a living nightmare for Sidney, as he becomes paranoid that everyone’s out to get him because he knows too much. He’s not wrong, as every foreign government from the Soviet Union to Great Britain wants to know what Sidney has learned from the president, while the Federal Bureau of Regulation (F.B.R.) – specifically the bureau’s suspicious director Henry Lux (Walter Burke) – wants Sidney permanently silenced to keep the confidential information from being leaked out. However, there’s a wild card in this mix: a far more insidious organization than the C.E.A., the F.B.R., the Canadian Secret Service (C.S.S.) and the KGB altogether combined – The Phone Company (TPC)!

One of the most deliriously wacky comedies ever filmed, The President’s Analyst is both prescient of its time and also hints at some of the issues we’re dealing with now. Writer/director Theodore J. Flicker creates an atmosphere of both comedy and paranoia as Sidney realizes the dream job that he once coveted turns out to be not the case; the film melds elements of both political satire and even science fiction to make a point about issues involving privacy and ethics, particularly involving the alliance between the government and the telecommunications company. The film is also well shot by cinematographer William A. Fraker, well edited by Stuart H. Pappé, and immaculately designed by longtime Paramount stalwarts Hal Pereira and Robert R. Benton (the duo – plus Al Roelofs and Arthur Krams – even create a convincing recreation of the White House’s interiors); each contributions creates a style that’s both of the era the film was made in yet having a feeling of timelessness given the weight of some of themes included in the satire. Best of all, Flicker gets great performances from his cast from top to bottom, helping to sell the satire. All in all, The President’s Analyst has transcended the era it was made in and has become a cult classic; the issues it tackled through satire have become prophetic and more relevant since its initial theatrical release.

As the titular psychoanalyst who soon finds himself in the middle of competing factions, James Coburn has one of his best leading roles that allowed to play against the usual cool tough guy he often played in supporting parts prior to this movie; year later, Coburn would pick up a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing Nick Nolte’s alcoholic father in Paul Schrader’s neo-noir Affliction (1998). As C.E.A. enforcer – and Sidney’s patient turned ally – Don Masters, comedian Godfrey Cambridge has one of his more notable film appearances here; his finest hour on film would come in Melvin Van Peebles’ Watermelon Man (1970), in which he donned whiteface (for the first few minutes of the movie) to play a bigoted man who wakes up one morning to find he has turned black. One of the earliest members of the Chicago based improvisational comedy troupe The Second City, Severn Darden also has one of his most notable screen roles as KGB agent Kropotkin; in addition to working as an actor and comedian, he even contributed some music to Dennis Hopper’s notorious film The Last Movie (1971). Completing the cast here are Eduard Franz as the C.E.A. director Ethan Allen Cocket, Walter Burke as the diminutive yet powerful F.B.R. chief Henry Lux, Barry McGuire as the head of a hippie commune (he even contributed a song to the film’s soundtrack), Will Geer as Sidney’s mentor and psychologist, Jill Banner as the hippie “Snow White”, William Daniels and Joan Darling in scene stealing appearances as the seemingly “typical” American couple the Quantrills, Arte Johnson as F.B.R. agent Sullivan, the lovely Joan Delaney in her film debut as Sidney’s girlfriend Nan and Pat Harrington Jr. (Schneider from TV’s One Day at a Time) as The Phone Company’s president with a nefarious plan for world domination explained through animation by the DePatie-Freleng studios.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film is presented in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio, taken from a brand new HD transfer created by Paramount Pictures from a 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative. Film grain, color palette and fine details are all presented faithfully with minimal cases of scratches, tears and dirt present on the transfer. Overall, this movie is likely the best the movie will ever look on home video and surpasses the previous Imprint Blu-ray release.

Audio: 5/5

The film’s original mono soundtrack is presented on a DTS-HD Master Audio track for this release. Dialogue, sound mix and Lalo Schifrin’s swinging music score are all faithfully presented with minimal cases of distortion like crackling, popping and hissing present on the track. Overall, this release is likely the best the movie will ever sound on home video and surpasses the previous Imprint Blu-ray.

Special Features: 3.5/5

Commentary by film historian/writer Julie Kirgo & writer/filmmaker Peter Hankoff – Newly recorded for this release, Kirgo and Hankoff go over many of the details and themes of the movie, with some personal recollections of Theodore J. Flicker from Kirgo.

Commentary by film historian/novelist/critic Tim Lucas – Ported over from the Imprint Blu-ray, Lucas goes over many of the details of the film’s production as well as details of certain members of the cast and crew.

Theatrical Trailer (3:38)

Bonus KLSC Trailers – Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round, A Fistful of Dynamite, Harry in Your Pocket, The Internecine Project, The Ipcress File, Arabesque & A Dandy in Aspic

The lone casualty here from the Region Free Imprint Blu-ray was an interview with critic/film historian Kim Newman.

Overall: 4.5/5

Although it garnered a mixed reception upon initial release – some positive critical notices, but a lukewarm box office intake – The President’s Analyst has survived not only as a wacky satire of political and social attitudes of the 1960’s, but as a cult classic anticipating many of the discussions surrounding the issues discussed in the film that we’re dealing with now. Kino has likely delivered the best home video presentation of the film, with an excellent HD transfer and two informative commentary tracks – one newly recorded for this release – going into the background of the film. Very highly recommended and absolutely worth upgrading from previous DVD and Blu-ray releases.

Mychal has been on the Home Theater Forum’s reviewing staff since 2018, with reviews numbering close to 300. During this time, he has also been working as an assistant manager at The Cotton Patch – his family’s fabric and quilting supplies business in Keizer, Oregon. When not working at reviewing movies or working at the family business, he enjoys exploring the Oregon Coast, playing video games and watching baseball in addition to his expansive collection of movies on DVD, Blu-ray and UHD, totalling over 3,000 movies.

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JoeStemme

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Theodore J. Flicker's PRESIDENT'S ANALYST is a truly unique film of the era. It features some terrific and prescient subversive material. Flicker's screenplay mixes spies, conspiracies and a dash of sci-fi in a darkly amusing paranoia stew.


The second half of the film suffers from a bit of haphazard plotting and a lack of focus (until the wonderful final act). Still a pretty amazing document. The scene where William Daniels as the well-armed "Liberal" (a stand in for the Nixon 'Silent Majority' types??) confronts the muggers is hilarious.

Hard to believe a major studio today would finance and release such a compellingly anti-corporate politically explosive film. Some terrific performances by Severn Darden, Godfrey Cambridge and a laid back James Coburn. Cult actress Jill Banner (Spider Baby) appears as 'Snow White'. Barry McGuire wrote one of the tunes and appears as a member of the band in the film. Flicker (who co-created the classic Barney Miller TV series) displays some insighful commentary - much of which remains relevant to this day.


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