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Putney Swope

4.1 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A token employee on Madison Avenue becomes his agency's president and makes some changes. Directed by Robert Downey.

Special Features

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

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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FUF7DK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,526 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Putney Swope" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Roger Townsend on 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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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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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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By A Customer on December 12, 1998
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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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 the movie above him. This is the full screen pan/scan version. The newer DVD version's cover has the fist and woman picture. This is the widescreen version. If you care about widescreen, I would avoid purchasing from marketplace sellers that do not explicitly state which cover/version they are selling.

Just a few references... If you are considering getting this, have a look at Eclipse Series 33: Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr.. With that you'll get the widescreen version of Swope plus two other films that are similarly bizarre, Chafed Elbows (1966), and No Excuses (1968). If you like Putney, be sure to check out Downey Sr.'s later work Hugo Pool (2006) which is also rather bizarre. And finally, I stumbled on a Dudley Moore film, Crazy People (1990) which almost seems like it's an homage or a sequel to Putney Swope. Check it out as well.
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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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