Putney Swope (1969) - Rotten Tomatoes

Putney Swope (1969)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

After several years working along the margins of the underground film scene in New York, director Robert Downey broke through to wider recognition with the arthouse hit Putney Swope, a wildly irreverent satire of race and advertising in America. Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson) is the token African-American executive at an otherwise all-white advertising agency when the chairman of the board unexpectedly drops dead. Through a fluke in the chain of command, Swope becomes the new head of the firm, and decides its time to do things his way. He fires nearly all the staff (except for his one token white employee), renames the agency Truth and Soul, Inc., and announces they'll no longer accept accounts advertising tobacco, alcohol, or war toys. The ads they do produce -- for acne remedies and breakfast cereal, among other things -- are wildly successful, and the iconoclastic ad agency (which only accepts payment in cash) is targeted by government operatives as a threat to the national security. Antonio Fargas and Allen Garfield lead the supporting cast; Mel Brooks makes a cameo appearance. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: R
Genre: Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Robert Downey Sr.
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 22, 2001
Rhino Home Video


Eric Krupnik
as Mark Focus
Laura Greene
as Mrs. Swope
Allen Garfield
as Elias Jr.
Ramon Gordon
as Bissinger
Joe Engler
as Mr. Syllables
David Kirk
as Elias Sr.
Don George
as Mr. Cards
Buddy Butler
as Putney's Bodyguard
Vincent Hamill
as Man in White Suit
Tom Odachi
as Wing Soney
Ching Yeh
as Wing Soney Jr.
Joe Fields
as Pittsburgh Willie
Robert Staats
as Mr. War Toys
Alan Abel
as Mr. Lucky
Sol Brawerman
as Mr. Dinkleberry
Ben Israel
as Mr. Pit Stop
Mel Brooks
as Mr. Forget It
Louise Heath
as Secretary
Barbara Clarke
as Secretary
Catherine Lojacono
as Lady Beaver
Ron Palombo
as Assistant Director
Wendy Appel
as Script Girl
Geegee Brown
as Secretary
Vance Amaker
as Wall Man
Al Green
as Cowboy
Walter Jones
as Jim Keranga
Khaula Bakr
as Mrs. Keranga
Melvia Marshall
as Little Keranga
Annette Marshall
as Little Keranga
Andrea Marshall
as Little Keranga
Eddie Gordon
as Mr. Victrola Cola
George Morgan
as Mr. Token
Abdul Hakeim
as Bouncer
Allan Arbus
as Mr. Bad News
Jesse McDonald
as Young Militant
Vince Morgan Jr.
as West Indian
Al Browne
as Moderate
Marie Claire
as Eugenie Ferlinger/Nu...
William H. Boesen
as Bert/Mr. Lunger
Carol Farber
as Secretary
Cerves McNeil
as Youngblood
Carolyn Cardwell
as Borman Six Girl
Chuck Green
as Myron X
Pepi Hermine
as President of the Uni...
Ruth Hermine
as First Lady
Paul Storob
as Secret Service Man
Lawrence Wolf
as Mr. Borman Six
Jeff Lord
as Mr. Bald
Tom Boya
as Mr. O'Dinga
Major Cole
as Idea Man
David Butts
as Idea Man
Paul Alladice
as Idea Man
as Idea Man
Ronnie Dyson
as Face-Off Boy
Shelley Plimpton
as Face-Off Girl
El?bieta Czy?ewska
as Putney's Maid
Paulette Marron
as Air Conditioner Girl
Carol Hobbs
as 2nd Stewardess
Marco Heiblim
as Lucky Passenger
as Interviewer
Peter Maloney
as Putney's Chauffeur
Larry Greenfield
as Lead Reporter
Lloyd Kagin
as Billy Reilly
Perry Gerwitz
as Sonny Williams
Herbert Kerr
as Bodyguard No. 2
Hal Schochet
as President Mimeo's Ch...
George T. Marshall
as Mr. Executive
Fred Hirshhorn
as Mr. Bourbon
Donahl Breitman
as Mr. Ethereal Cereal
Peter Benson
as Mr. Jingle
Elzbieta Czyzewska
as Putney's Maid
George Marshall
as Mr. Executive
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Putney Swope

Critic Reviews for Putney Swope

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3)

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.

Full Review… | December 17, 2006
Top Critic

A satire on American ways of life, written and directed by Downey and misfiring on most cylinders.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

If you're in a silly enough mood, you might have a good time.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The commercials... are absolutely brilliant, and the sheer gonzo tenacity of the whole enterprise makes it all work, even the stuff that doesn't work.

Full Review… | August 21, 2012
Movie Metropolis

A way of giving the middle finger to Madison Avenue.

Full Review… | July 14, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The humor is occasionally forced, with some cliched comedic devices serving as satire. The commercial parodies, however, are devastatingly funny and right on the money.

Full Review… | December 17, 2006
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Putney Swope

When the chairman of an ad agency dies, the board all secretly vote Putney Swope, the token black executive, as the company's new leader, assuming that no one else would vote for him. He immediately fires the cracker staff, hires brothers and changes the company name to "Truth and Soul Advertising." Wicked, politically incorrect and completely absurdist satire packed with nonsense and wordplay; the president is a pot-smoking dwarf and director Robert Downey Sr. dubbed all Putney's lines, so the black hero sounds like a Brooklyn Jew.

Greg S

Super Reviewer

This movie is cool, it made its audience think about the racism in the media at the time and showed in a radically comedic way how things could change. I think this movie is awesome, but it has some weak spots, it could be a bit better. Overall, I liked it, it's good, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

robert downey's dad produced this withering satire in 1969 giving madison avenue and 60's race relations a thorough skewering. it's a bit scattered and certainly dated with no-budget production values and the dubbing of swope's lines throughout bothered me. i wish i could give it more than 3 stars as i certainly admire the spirit behind it. of interest to fans of underground films and counterculture

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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