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Episode 113 - Putney Swope (w/ Seth Stevenson)


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Poll: Episode 113 - Putney Swope (26 member(s) have cast votes)

Should "Putney Swope" enter The Canon?

  1. Yes (11 votes [42.31%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 42.31%

  2. No (15 votes [57.69%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 57.69%

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#1 Dalton Maltz

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 11:01 PM

This week, Slate contributor Seth Stevenson joins Amy to discuss Robert Downey Sr.’s 1969 film “Putney Swope.” Seth and Amy note the film’s focus on the blurred line between art and commerce, the significance of Putney’s voice-dub, and what the conflation of “obscenity and originality” reveals about the advertising world. Then, they share how “Putney Swope” has reshaped their perspectives on modern advertisements.

#2 slinkydink

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 08:13 AM

While not everything works in PS, it's the type of movie that gets me excited for films and the grimy 60s NYC that bred so much creativity. Had to vote yes.

Chafed Elbows is another great one included in the RDS Eclipse box set.

#3 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 10:44 AM

I'm more positive than negative on the film (the seat-of-the-pants punk-rock style of it was charming and held my interest). But I'm glad that both hosts acknowledged that it's a messy film that doesn't totally hold together.

Interesting as a conversation-starter and a historical artifact, but not good enough to be Canon.

#4 Marsellus_H

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 12:20 PM

I do think the canon needs some more b shlock form earlier than the 80s. This isn't the most entertaining the bunch, nor the most influental, but it was a fun watch anyway. I really, really have got a soft spot for this take-no-prisoners-style of filmmaking. I find it much less ciynical than the after-oil-crisis 70s and 80s stuff tends to be. The influence it might have is more on a personal note: In my eyes, imperfect stuff tends to inspire me much more than great perfect masterpieces. I'm a super soft yes at the moment, It's sort of an art pour l'art argument to me: Although I can understand anybody voting no on this one, I want it to be included for the sheer pleasure of it. Can you dig it?

#5 A.V.

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 04:22 PM

slightly disappointed there was no mention of beer (1985), loretta swit, rip torn, kenneth mars, david alan grier.

not sure it's better or worse than swope, but it's its closest parallel in terms of advertising world, and TV ad sendups at a similar period of time. it may not be as groundbreaking but it's certainly more together, so it'd have been interesting to hear a comparative discussion.

#6 bravo

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 05:26 PM

Is my leg being pulled? That was my feeling for the hour or so I spent watching Putney Swope, a "satire" that seems unsure what it wants to say about its satirical object beyond selling guns is bad. The politics of the film feel unformed, and it's unclear how much of an anti-racism message there actually is. Whatever there may be is undercut by Downey doing a frankly troubling blackvoice.

The commercials are occasionally funny, but little else works. Consider the aggressively hostile but aimless satirical scenes with President Mimeo. Is it really funny that the president and first lady are little persons? Is doing a Kissinger accent a really funny send-up of Kissinger? How you answer these questions will dictate how you feel about Putney Swope. For my part, I vote no.

#7 TheFanon

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 03:15 PM

The quality of Putney Swope isn't quite canon-worthy, but it's worth watching for those interested in cult oddities and the independent underbelly of New Hollywood. Light no.

Also, How To Get Ahead In Advertising is very underrated.

#8 Johnny Pomatto

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 08:11 PM

I had never seen PUTNEY SWOPE before. I was only aware of it and Downey Sr.'s reputation. For the first 15 minutes of watching PUTNEY SWOPE, I was truly blown away. Its satyrical elements felt incredibly ahead of its time. I questioned why more people didn't still talk about this film as a prescient predictor of commercial media. But as the film continued, it wore me down a bit. It often seemed to go in circles, and scenes and character behavior would be hilarious one minute and then unintelligible the next. Mercifully short at 84 minutes, it somehow felt much longer than that, and I have to imagine that it would indeed be a stronger and more focused film at a tight 45 minutes or so. I feel that satires that were made around this era sometimes had difficulty keeping their target in focus for too long. I thought that PUTNEY SWOPE was very similar in tone to films like Brian De Palma's GREETINGS, HI MOM!, and Robert Townsend's HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE. All films I enjoy, but all plagued with similar issues of meandering direction and lack of focus. Amy seemed determined to let in a film about advertising into The Canon, and PUTNEY SWOPE may be the best example of the genre, which hasn't always been represented often on film, but I don't know if this is consistent enough to get Canon access. So while I'm going to have to vote NO for The Canon, I will absolutely recommend this film to like-minded friends who will appreciate its spirit. It's certainly going to inspire me to broaden my Robert Downey Sr. horizons a bit.

#9 FictionIsntReal

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 08:46 PM

The best thing I've ever read on advertising is Kevin Simler's Ads Don't Work That Way. Anyone who talks about ads "fooling" people is missing the point: awareness is enough.

I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as most Canon films (it was compared to SNL's parody commercials, which are funnier than the examples here), and will even disagree with Seth that the film is "woke" simply due to its subject matter. However, it does seem distinctive & influential enough to have a place.

I happened to watch this right before De Palma's "Hi, Mom!", so like Palmatto I can see the similarities. But I'll give the nod to this one, which gave me more laughs and was a less unpleasant watch.

#10 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 10:59 AM

I liked that Crazy People was brought up on this podcast. It's also not a great movie, but the "truth in advertising" fake ads are hilarious. Worth a look.



#11 anangrybeet

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 11:31 AM

I can't imagine this movie not being in The Canon, it seems perfect for it: a great film that's culturally and historically important. I'd recommend Hi, Mom! and The Watermelon Man if you're looking for similar films about race in the same time period.

#12 Nathan Roberson

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 11:59 AM

This is the kind of movie I love being introduced to, showing other people, and talking about with curious strangers at a bar. It is experimental and unabashedly messy. One of the all time pinnacles of film though? Not so sure. I vote no.
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