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Putney Swope (1969)

The chairman of a multi-million-dollar advertising company unexpectedly dies mid-sentence, forcing the remaining members of the board to vote for who shall replace him by means of a secret ballot.

The catch is that the bylaws of the corporation prohibit voting for yourself. So everybody votes for the one person who they’re certain won’t get in – the one token black member of the board: Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson).

So Swope becomes the new CEO with a landslide. His motto is “Rockin’ the boat’s a drag. You gotta sink the boat!” He promptly fires all of the white executives (except one), renames the agency ‘Truth & Soul Inc’ and hires a young, idealistic and politically militant black staff who want to tell the actual truth in advertising.

Truth & Soul Inc refuse to take accounts from cigarette manufacturers, liquor companies or the war machine. They become so successful that the government becomes alarmed.

Eventually, everyone becomes corrupted, even Putney himself, who takes to dressing like Fidel Castro.

It’s a whirlwind of late 60’s counterculture. biting satire, golden one-liners, a pot-smoking dwarf President of the USA and an oriental man throwing firecrackers on the floor who Putney describes as “a one-man Pearl Harbor” (a scene recreated in the 1997 film Boogie Nights).

Nathan
Stanley Gottlieb
Elias, Jr.
Allen Garfield
Joker
Archie Russell
Bissinger
Ramon Gordon
Hawker
Bert Lawrence
Mr Syllables
Joe Engler
Putney Swope
Arnold Johnson
Elias, Sr.
David Kirk
Mr Cards
Don George
Wing Soney
Tom Odachi
Wing Soney, Jr.
Ching Yeh
Mr Major
Spunky-Funk Johnson
Pittsburgh Willie
Joe Fields
Putney’s Bodyguard
Buddy Butler

Director
Robert Downey Sr.