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, … More

Rating: R
Genre: Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Robert Downey Sr.
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 22, 2001
Rhino Home Video


as The Arab

as Mark Focus

as Mrs. Swope

as Elias Jr.

as Bissinger

as Mr. Syllables

as Elias Sr.

as Mr. Cards

as Putney's Bodyguard

as Man in White Suit

as Wing Soney

as Wing Soney Jr.

as Pittsburgh Willie

as Mr. War Toys

as Mr. Lucky

as Mr. Dinkleberry

as Mr. Pit Stop

as Mr. Forget It

as Secretary

as Secretary

as Lady Beaver

as Assistant Director

as Script Girl

as Secretary

as Wall Man

as Cowboy

as Jim Keranga

as Mrs. Keranga

as Little Keranga

as Little Keranga

as Little Keranga

as Mr. Victrola Cola

as Mr. Token

as Bouncer

as Mr. Bad News

as Young Militant

as West Indian

as Moderate

as Eugenie Ferlinger/Nu...

as Bert/Mr. Lunger

as Secretary

as Youngblood

as Borman Six Girl

as Myron X

as President of the Uni...

as First Lady

as Secret Service Man

as Mr. Borman Six

as Mr. Bald

as Mr. O'Dinga

as Idea Man

as Idea Man

as Idea Man

as Idea Man

as Face-Off Boy

as Face-Off Girl

as Putney's Maid

as Air Conditioner Girl

as 2nd Stewardess

as Lucky Passenger

as Interviewer

as Putney's Chauffeur

as Lead Reporter

as Billy Reilly

as Sonny Williams

as Bodyguard No. 2

as President Mimeo's Ch...

as Mr. Executive

as Mr. Bourbon

as Mr. Ethereal Cereal

as Mr. Jingle

as Putney's Maid

as Mr. Executive
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News & Interviews for Putney Swope

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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

Putney Swope Quotes

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