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Putney Swope (1969)

Arnold Johnson , Stan Gottlieb , Robert Downey Sr.  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Arnold Johnson, Stan Gottlieb, Allen Garfield, Archie Russell, Ramon Gordon
  • Directors: Robert Downey Sr.
  • Writers: Robert Downey Sr.
  • Producers: Robert Downey Sr., Henri Pachard
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: August 1, 2006
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FUF7DK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,385 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Putney Swope" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by director by Robert Downey Sr.
  • Interview with by Robert Downey Sr.
  • Liner Notes

Editorial Reviews

A hallmark of 1960s radicalism and one of the first major underground films, Robert Downey Sr.'s seminal Putney Swope remains a classic of social satire. After the CEO croaks during a boardroom meeting at a Madison Avenue ad agency, members trying to sabotage each other's chance of winning the top spot each vote for the token black guy, thereby electing Putney Swope. Swope swoops into action, firing them all and replacing them with armed radicals, soul brothers, and sexy red-hot mamas. Re-naming the agency "Truth and Soul," Putney sets about revolutionizing the corporate world of advertising, banning the marketing of products such as cigarettes, alcohol and violent toys. The agency produces raucous, kooky TV spots - offensive, humorous, and, at first, wildly successful. But can "Truth and Soul" last, not only in advertising but within Putney himself?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Movie Ever Filmed March 18, 2000
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
I tried to be more subdued, but honesty is the best policy. Yes, I've seen Citizen Kane, Rules of the Game, Black Orpheus, and Apocalypse Now. They're all wonderful, but none is so all encompassing as Putney Swope. As the liner notes say, it's "relevant to everything." Every time I watch it, I see something else in it. I cannot imagine the space/time gap (or drugs) that inspired the creativity of the screenplay, but it has not been matched. The performances, for the most part, are equal to the script. Admittedly, it's not for everyone. My wife and I have occasionally subjected couples to "the Swope test," which requires married couples to view it together. At least two divorces have occurred, because one partner laughed at every line, while the other saw no humor at all. But the partners who both enjoyed it will stay together always. In short, a miracle.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanity in every frame... January 9, 2004
Format:DVD
The true beauty of this film lies in the fact that Downey is able to pack so much insanity in so tight a space. Every frame of this picture is spilling over with madness worthy of the Marx Brothers at their anarchistic best. Just dig the names, man! We have Mark Focus, Mr. Victrola Cola, Mr. Ethereal Cereal...my God, it's the 1960s at its dark, psycho-delic best. Sure, it's a bit dated, but come on - it's an artifact, as telling of the times as "Magical Mystery Tour" or "Gimmie Shelter."
Incidentally, unlike most "racial comedies" of the 1960s, Downey allows his pointed satire to skewer both black and white (think Hal Ashby's "The Landlord"). All in all a perfectly insane picture; maybe not a cinematic classic, but certainly the damn funniest products of "alternate" cinema to date.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this film is Treasure June 10, 2000
By Joel
Format:VHS Tape
It is 1970; I am 19 years old and it is my first date with a girl named Angel (her last name). I am a sophomore at SFVSC and the week before my date, my buddies and I saw Putney Swope at the Fox Theatre in Westwood.
With my laughing muscles in my face and stomach still aching from the lactic acid built up during the movie, I called Miss Angel and invited her out. She was a prissy little girl and I thought that Swope would be a quick way to cut through her pretentiousness. I put her on notice after asking her "how gross do you go?" in preparing her for the film. She accepted the challenge.
I picked her up in my bright yellow brand new Ford Maverick. She sneered at the lack of leather or power windows or status car crests.
About halfway through the movie she leaned over to me and asked me to take her home. She hated it and hated me. Being a gentleman I determined that she had adequate bus fare and sent her back home.
The movie is my absolute favorite. A depiction of reality demonstrating that regardless of a person's paint job, we are all the same on the inside.
I along with my college buddies never let a visit pass without some reference to this movie.
It was a valuable lesson in our lives.
The passing of Arnold Johnson last month adds a touch of sorrow to tonight's gathering of my buddies as we celebrate our 50th birthdays.
The Borman 6 girl sure does have soul. See the film and learn about Chairman Mario, Mark Focus, President Mimeo, Wynn Sony, Victrola Cola, Lawrence of Nigeria and Face Off.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great comedy that gets better after 25 viewings. December 7, 1998
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Downey's masterpiece is both a comedy, in a ha-ha way (it's got so many priceless, huge laughs, it's hard to see anything else) & in a grander, Shakepearean way. Swope's rise & fall owe, in equal parts, to both "the system" & his own (and maybe everybody's) shortcomings as a person. The very moment he begins his descent ("You & me, Swope...You & me" he says to a mirror) is ambiguous: is he doomed b/c he decides not to trust anyone who doesn't kiss up or is he doomed b/c he trusts too many self-interested souls for too long? Putney trashes advertising, race-relations, politics (with a midget president who looks a lot like Reagan -- this was 1969!), big-business, Mensa, gender blah blah blah. And yet, for the all the big message stuff, it's a film w/a heartbeat. It's intimate & personal. I promised myself I wouldn't write about Putney b/c it seems impossible; it's very hard to do justice to a film whose every shot (even the most awkward) seems perfectly suited to the moment. Watching this movie obsessively (w/friends, of course) rewards w/new insights nearly every time out. Jeez, it's been months -- I'm due to watch it again soon.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How many syllables Mario?! October 20, 2001
Format:DVD
The above line is just one of many that you will be quoting for days after watching this great, great movie. I'm probably not smart enough to write the review this movie deserves, as it touches on themes I am unaware of. I laughed a lot, though. If you like movies that emerged from the countercultural America of the 1960's and you haven't seen this you are in for a rare treat. After I first viewed it around ten years ago I watched it over and over. I am so glad to finally have this gem on DVD.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funniest movie I've ever seen December 12, 1998
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
The first half of the film, from Putney's ascent to the top of the agency through the commercials created, is the funniest bit of film making ever recorded. The second half, with his descent into selfish egoism, starts to drag a bit, but that only lets you recover from the holding-your-sides laughter in the first half. Can't recommend this film enough.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Top 10 Film
This almost-unknown film from the psychedelic/revolutionary era is simply one of the Top 10 films of all time. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Al Fisicaro
5.0 out of 5 stars My favoritest movie of all time
Beautiful!

A word of warning. There were two DVD versions of this movie. The first one's cover has a man with an afro, leaning with back to the camera with scenes from... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Ted Felix
5.0 out of 5 stars Putney Swope is the worst boss ever
I feel guilty about liking this film. But I can't help it. Putney Swope is the worst boss ever.
Published 1 month ago by Tragic City
5.0 out of 5 stars Great satire
Classic, one of the favorites and probably gets better with time. If I could find the DVD I would watch it right now!
Published 3 months ago by LB
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
I remember seeing it for the first time. It wasn't easy because it was rated 'X', and I wasn't 18 yet. Do any of you even remember movies that were rated 'X'? Read more
Published 4 months ago by Big Z
3.0 out of 5 stars Strangely interesting
I felt like I was watching something surreal. Quite the period piece, it was satisfying -- but maybe you have to have lived through the time period to think so.
Published 4 months ago by betti boop
5.0 out of 5 stars A little known CLASSIC comedy.
A classic and unique comedy. Robert Downy Sr. gets credit. Many funny, funny memorable lines. A bit dated today but brings back the spirit of the 60's, and 70's and all the BS... Read more
Published 5 months ago by BILLB
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest movies ever made...
Well, that may be a bit of a stretch but the moral behind the moral of the story is really deep.
Published 5 months ago by Neil Heller
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant satire.
One of the best films of the era. First saw it in 1976. It is even more relevant in 2013.
Published 12 months ago by XXll
4.0 out of 5 stars Good late 60s/early 70s "get The Man" flick
A little edgy, a little chaotic, but worth watching. Curiously, this movie is in black and white, but perhaps that is a political statement.
Published 13 months ago by C. Burgess
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