The President’s Analyst is a criminally underseen that gem spans comedy, espionage, adventure, and a dollop of what would have been sci-fi at the time of release but is now remarkably prescient.
James Coburn, fresh from In Like Flint, stars as Dr Sidney Schaefer, a regular psychotherapist who is plucked from his routine surgery to exclusively be at the beck and call of the President of the United States. The pressure soon becomes too much to bear, and he absconds. But, with so much delicate information in his head, the rival arms of the government can’t let him get away. One wants him to return, the other wants him dead, and the rest of the world wants the president’s secrets.
Written and directed by Theodore ‘Ted’ J. Flicker (the font in the opening credits doesn’t do his name any favours), The President’s Analyst is a gloriously quirky satire that boasts a jazzy score from the legendary Lalo Schifrin, which heightens the ‘sixties spy’ feel of the movie. Coburn appears to be having a blast as the therapist, particularly in the scenes where he joins up with the psychedelic rock band Clear Light (a real, also forgotten group). As the film progresses, the situations get increasingly and delightfully absurd, and the climax is fantastic, but we won’t spoil that here.
The depiction of the relationships between the various countries’ agents is wonderfully played, with the USA’s Don Masters (Godfrey Cambridge) and Russia’s Kropotkin (Severn Darden) showing the humanity under the cloak and daggers. Much of the politics of the film is as relevant today as it was on release, with both left and right-wing extremists coming under the spotlight.
Imprint’s Blu-ray release showcases the film in the best possible way. Even though the extra features are limited to a commentary (by Tim Lucas) and an on-camera appreciation from Kim Newman, the wealth of information delivered is entertaining and worthwhile. As Newman says in his spot, The President’s Analyst is a film that deserves to have the cult status that has eluded it so far. Hopefully, its time will come soon.