Thursday, February 01, 2007

Subliminal Messiahs

I'm watching the 1980 movie Agency tonight. Directed by George Kaczender and based on the 1974 novel by Paul Gottlieb, the movie focuses on a series of intrigues at an advertising agency.

Lee Majors plays the firm's creative director, who begins to get suspicious when the staff of the agency -- recently acquired by a man with no advertising experience (played by Robert Mitchum) -- begins to agressively turn over. What finally persuades him that something is awry is the mysterious suicide of a colleague, who'd been acting increasingly paranoid.

I won't give away too much of the plot, but in the end, the movie is about the insidious insertion of subliminal messages in advertisements. There are some quite comic moments, including an opening sequence of a surreal goth-meets-hippie dance number staged for an underarm deodorant featuring a breathy musical chorus of "No sweat," a scene in which Majors's character points out that a print ad for Scotch includes a subliminal death mask in the ice cubes, and the scene in which Majors's character sees the real ad behind the ads.

The print of the DVD, issued by a division of PMC Corp., isn't that great. There are some momentary glitches in the very beginning, and the audio is marred by some amount of hiss and overly boomy voices.

Regardless, if you're at all interested in advertising, it might be a movie worth watching.


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