Review: Putney Swope
Blu-ray: Putney Swope (1969)
Putney Swope is one of ‘those’ films…normally at 60MW towers before we watch a film we head over to YouTube and check out the trailer. Having seen the trailer for Putney Swope, I was NOT looking forward to seeing it…very 1960s, and… hummmm. Seeing Robert Downey Sr. directed it gave it some novelty value but … hummmm.
Starring Arnold Johnson as Putney (but voiced by Robert Snr because the actor kept forgetting his lines) this 1969 story revolves around the only black advertising executive in a firm, who by chance is picked as the new chairman because the whole board votes for the one person who can’t win – The Black man.
He then re-names the business ‘Truth and Soul, Inc.’, and replaces all but one of the white employees with black power and hippyish right-on jive employees and refuses business from companies that produce alcohol, tobacco or toy guns.
Weirdly business booms.
It’s so successful the President (Pepi Hermine), who is a small person married to another small person, considers it a threat to the national security.
With bit parts like Antonio Fargas as a … ummm Arab. This is one weird film. One that we at 60MW couldn’t stop watching! And what’s more, we laughed at it, more than once. One of the adverts for ‘Face Off’ cream involves a song with lyrics about beavers and dry humping, making you not really think that it’s probably one of the first inter-racial kisses of cinema.
In 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”, and for 1969 it is. Quite stinging and still relevant, and most of all funny and surreal, Putney Swope is a surprise of a film, and deserves it’s cult status.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- 4K restoration by the Academy Film Archive and the Film Foundation
- Original mono audio
- Audio commentary with writer-director Robert Downey (2001)
- Audio commentary with film critic and historian Sergio Mims (2019)
- Interview with Robert Downey (2001)
- Audio interview with cinematographer Gerald Cotts (2019)
- Film Forum Q&A with Robert Downey (2016): the writer and director in conversation with Bruce Goldstein at the Film Forum, New York
- Original theatrical trailer
- Dan Ireland trailer commentary (2014): short critical appreciation
- Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Limited edition exclusive booklet featuring a new essay by Christina Newland, an archival article on the film, archival comments from Robert Downey, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and full film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 3,000 copies for the UK
Review by Tina from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.