Mr. Freedom

Rated 4.0

American expat director William Klein’s 1969 romp, about a self-styled ersatz superhero (John Abbey) crusading against “anti-freedomism” in France, is a blunt, spazzy, prescient satire of U.S. foreign policy. Of the French, Mr. Freedom’s boss, Dr. Freedom (Donald Pleasance), advises, “They are 50 million mixed-up, sniveling crybabies who haven’t stood on their two feet since Napoleon. And that wasn’t yesterday. And Napoleon wasn’t even French.” “He was Corsican!” Mr. Freedom dutifully replies. “That’s right, boy. So the French are the white man’s burden. Our burden. We’ve had to carry them through two world wars already, and we’re damn well gonna carry them through the next.” And so, in Mr. Freedom goes, with guns blazing and speeches rambling. Camped up with many savorable small details, like the mixed-bag of performances, the film plays by design like a political cartoon dashed off in the heat of inspiration. And for what it is, it holds up. “Now we have Bush,” Klein recently has said. Bush is exactly Mr. Freedom.”