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Putney Swope (1969)

tomatometer

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 2

audience

77

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 1,287

My Rating

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,

R,

Classics, Comedy

Robert Downey Sr.

May 22, 2001

Rhino Home Video

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All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (7) | Rotten (4) | DVD (6)

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.

December 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop 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.

August 21, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A way of giving the middle finger to Madison Avenue.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
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.

December 17, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Great drug-fuelled and flawed social commentary.

October 12, 2005
ColeSmithey.com

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.
July 14, 2012
366weirdmovies
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.
December 12, 2010
ajv2688

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
May 15, 2010
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

The movie starts with a board meeting at a major advertising agency. Putney Swope is on the board for no other reason than the fact that he is black, and the agency needs a "token" on the board. Swope is ignoring the meeting, reading Jet magazine at the big table, and everybody is ignoring Swope... Suddenly, the CEO croaks on the spot. No time is wasted. A janitor is called to haul off the corpse, and the board immediately and unceremoniously tackles the business of electing a new CEO. And as the votes are tallied one by one, the tension is built up and then finally snapped in a hilariously ironic climax to the vote, that gives the viewer a delicious dish of logical implications to savor for the rest of the movie. If you've ever talked back to some stupid television commercial, you'll like seeing this movie. Too bad there don't seem to be any real Putney Swopes in the world.
October 16, 2009
matertenebraum

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Putney Swope (DE)
  • Putney Swope (UK)
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