James Coburn is Dr. Sidney Schaefer, a rather self-satisfied analyst. His ego is given anenormous boost when he is assigned a new patient: the President (who is never seen). Barely hashe begun his new job when he realizes that he is being watched, and his paranoia goes throughthe roof. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. And they are.Every spy agency imaginable, foreign and domestic, wants Dr. Schaefer — either alive to get hissecrets,…or dead so he can’t talk.
The first half is the best. Coburn, cast against type, is not the man of action from hiscontemporaneous Flint movies, but is quite properly terrified by the world he has fallen into, andhis manic grin during his paranoia hits is side-splitting. Indeed, there is a lot of very funnymaterial here, ranging from the inescapable red alarm glare whenever the President requiresCoburn, to the J. Edgar Hoover character portrayed as a grotesque gnome. Once Coburn falls inwith a group of hippies, the film begins to slow down, and the last act is pretty straightforwardcomedy-adventure, with Coburn being helped out by an American and a Russian spy who happento be close friends.
Serious problems here. The sound is mono, and that’s fine. There is no distortion, and LaloSchifrin’s score is typically driving and infectious. No, the problem is that the entire film isdesynchronized, with the sound about a second behind the picture. Most distracting.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen image is nicely sharp, and is blessed by fine blacks,colours and contrasts. The print is in fine shape, and there are virtually no speckles. There is noedge enhancement to speak of, and the grain is also at a minimum, particularly impressive for afilm from 1967.
Finally a bit too gentle for its own good, the film is nonetheless too warm-hearted to bedisliked. And as a retro treat, it’s hard to beat.