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The Barefoot Executive

The Barefoot Executive(1971)

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The Barefoot Executive A young man discovers a chimp... MORE > $11.95 Regularly $14.99 Buy Now


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At the offices of struggling television studio United Broadcasting Corporation, mailboy Steven Post routinely annoys programming director Francis X. Wilbanks with his "tips" on how to revive the flagging ratings. Despite the warnings of Jennifer Scott, who is Steve's girl friend and Wilbanks' secretary, Steve continues to pester Wilbanks with ideas for shows such as Abraham Lincoln's Doctor's Dog , which, combining as it does three beloved elements, he believes is destined to be a hit. When the latest ratings come in at a new low, Wilbanks fears for his job. At Jen's that night, Steve finds her despondent because her neighbors, the Bernaduccis, have been transferred to San Francisco and must leave behind their pet chimpanzee, Raffles. Steve is horrified to learn that Jen plans to keep Raffles, whose main activity consists of watching mindless television shows. The next morning, however, Steve notes that all of the shows preferred by Raffles the night before have topped the ratings. Later, after Raffles again chooses one of the most popular shows being broadcast, Steve grows certain that the chimp can predict public tastes. He then spends the evening charting Raffles' viewing preferences, and in the morning is shocked and thrilled to confirm that Raffles' choices mirror those of the audience. That night, Roger, Steve's rival for Jen's attentions and Wilbanks' nephew, takes Raffles for a walk. Upon finding Raffles gone, Steve rushes out in search of them, only to discover them in front a television set in a shop window. When Steve tries to pull Raffles away in order to protect his secret from Roger, the animal explodes in anger, breaking the shop window, and he and Roger are arrested. Later, Steve convinces Jen not to return Raffles to the Bernaduccis and buys her and Roger tickets to a baseball game. There, Jen extols Steve's virtues, not realizing that he is at that moment breaking into a pet store to steal a chimpanzee, which he then leaves in her apartment, leading her to believe that the replacement chimp is Raffles, while he takes the real Raffles with him. With unlimited access to Raffles, Steve plots the night's shows and in the morning tells Wilbanks that he has a foolproof method for predicting the top ten programs. Although Wilbanks dismisses him, Steve convinces the executive's chauffeur, Mertons, to slip his ratings predictions to the company president, E. J. Crampton, who is visiting that day. Seeing that Steve has perfectly guessed the shows ratings, Crampton asks him to accompany them to a screening of new shows that evening. Desperate to have Raffles nearby, Steve plots to sneak the chimp into the back of the theater, disguised as a plumber. When Raffles blows audible raspberries, however, Steve hustles him into the projection room, where he can see the chimp's reactions through the window. Raffles clearly prefers the low-budget Devil Dan show, which Crampton takes as proof that Steve is faking his prowess. Crampton schedules The Happy Harringtons to run the next day, but Steve, sure of Raffles' skills, secretly replaces the film canister with that of Devil Dan . Although Wilbanks immediately fires Steve, the next morning the show is rated number one, and Crampton names Steve the new vice-president of programming. Over the next months, Steve continues to "intuit" the top shows, and as UBC becomes the number-one station, Steve rises in the ranks. Despite his swank new apartment and professional reputation, Steve worries over lying to Jen and the constant pressure of sneaking Raffles into screenings. On the night of the Emmy Awards, with Steve certain to win as TV Man of the Year, he feels guilty about his deception and so launches into a speech to Jen about the merits of discovering something instead of inventing it. He then receives his award, along with a new car, sparking concern in Crampton that Steve will soon take his job. With this in mind, he commands Wilbanks to discover Steve's secret. Wilbanks then sends Roger to spy on Steve, and Roger soon reports that Steve has three televisions, hundreds of bananas, and a short roommate. Jen hears and, realizing that Steve is hiding Raffles, confronts him furiously, but after Steve reveals that he planned it all in order to have enough money to marry her, she agrees to help him. Roger, however, then hears from the projectionist about a chimpanzee and deduces Steve's secret. He, Mertons and Wilbanks spy on Steve's apartment, and when they see Raffles watching television and drinking beer during the commercials, they accept the animal's expertise and determine to steal him. Wilbanks and Mertons crawl along the high-rise window ledge to gain entrance into Steve's apartment, but when they reach his window, Raffles runs past them onto the ledge. As they dangle above the street trying to follow the chimp, Raffles races down the building wall, arriving downstairs as Steve drives up. Steve returns him to the apartment, where Raffles locks the window, leaving Wilbanks and Mertons stranded outside. The men are spotted by the police, who assume they are suicidal and call in rescue teams and a priest to talk them down. UBC news helicopters hover overhead as the men are caught in a net and carted off. Reporters hear Wilbanks talking about a chimp, and upon learning about Raffles from the doorman, they run to Mertons for the story. Soon, the newspapers carry all the details about the monkey that programs the shows, and the subsequent scandal places UBC on the verge of ruin. Crampton convenes the industry heads to decide what to do, and they resolve to buy Raffles from Steve and return him to the jungle. Steve initially refuses, but when they offer him one million dollars, he gives in, explaining to Jen that now they have everything and can marry. Jen, however, responds that now they have nothing. Wilbanks, Crampton and the other executives fly Raffles over the jungle, planning to parachute him down. In the air, however, Raffles opens the latch and everyone except his handler is sucked out and forced to parachute to safety. Back in the city, Mertons calls Steve and trades Raffles for the one million dollars, which he needs to finance an expeditionary force to find the executives. Steve and Jen are married and, with Raffles in the bumper seat, they take off for destinations unknown.