Review: ‘Putney Swope’

What happens when black militants take over a large Manhattan advertising agency is the basis for a comic satire on black racial identity and the dollar sign on the American altar of success.

What happens when black militants take over a large Manhattan advertising agency is the basis for a comic satire on black racial identity and the dollar sign on the American altar of success.

The situations include political caricature, but disappointedly nothing much beyond marginal interest occurs. The comedy is only intermittently funny and the satire is mostly shallow and obvious.

Putney Swope is the only black member of an ad agency. By happenstance he is elected to head the firm after the previous chairman dies.

Director Robert Downey’s sense of the ridiculous is employed in a spotty, punchline kind of comic usage. The sharp individual parts do not build to anything and the film, as a piece, is more often dull than exciting, less revealingly witty then merely clever.

Putney Swope

Production

Herold. Director Robert Downey; Screenplay Robert Downey; Camera Gerald Cotts; Editor Bud Smith; Music Charley Cuva; Art Director Gary Weist

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1969. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Stanley Gottlieb Allen Garfield Arnold Johnson Laura Greene Ramon Gordon

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