Putney Swope, Revisited – Sort Of

This may seem a tad late, but I finally got to see the 1969 movie Putney Swope by Robert Downey (no, not that one. His father.) I did see it about a year after it first came out, but I didn’t really see it. It was like this: everyone I knew said Eliot, you have GOT to see Putney Swope. It is exactly the kind of movie you would like. So I hightailed it uptown to the Thalia, that venerable revival house on upper Broadway, and caught a showing. I do not recall what the second feature was that afternoon, but what did that matter? I wanted to see the film that was exactly the kind of movie that I would like. So I settled into one of the many empty seats and waited. I don’t know if it is still like this in the renovated and snazzy Leonard Nimoy Thalia, but back then in an apparent fit of pique the designer had arranged the seats so that they sloped UP toward the screen, not the other way around like everyplace else on the planet. I always wondered about that when I attended the Thalia… My reverie was cut short as the film began. Putney Swope. Exactly the kind of film I would like. It may come as no surprise that I was unable to concentrate on the film. As it unspooled, my mind kept repeating What DO these people think of me?? What DO these people think of me?? So I never did get to see the thing until yesterday, well into the 21st Century. What did they think of me, anyway?

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