Putney Swope [1969]

If you're looking for a movie that shocked the filmgoing public with its outspoken take on race relations in corporate America circa 1969, look no further than this Robert Downey debut effort. Made on a shoestring in black and white, this film begins with a wonderful moment of racial discomfort. The board of directors at a Madison Avenue ad agency must elect a new chairman, and, in the maneuvering to make sure that enemies don't get votes, all the board members accidentally cast their ballot for the board's token black man, Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson). Swope immediately cleans house and transforms the agency into New York's hippest shop with a Black Power mentality and a willingness to tell previously unspoken truths in advertising. Though it looks dated today, it is a fascinating time capsule of the period and still contains its share of outrageous laughs. --Marshall Fine

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