One of the coolest, craziest, and most consistently inspired comedies ever made, Robert Downey Sr. (a prince)’s Putney Swope was busy blowing minds with its hilarious and unhinged portrait of a Madison Avenue ad agency turned on its ear by the turbulences of the 1960s, back before Don Draper was even a gleam in Matthew Weiner’s eye. An extraordinary send-up of the McLuhan generation’s conviction that the medium is the message, Downey’s 1969 masterpiece loots the entire cornball visual vocabulary of 1960’s television advertising in this non-sequitur-driven, relentlessly surrealist satire about the sudden ascension of a top ad agency’s token African American to chairman of the board. Truth and soul ensue . . . literally: the eponymous Swope promptly rechristens the firm Truth and Soul, Inc., fires all the old, white dead wood, and restaffs the business with black militants, inspired miscreants, and assorted bizarro yes and no men—and women. (“There’s a bunch of lilies shooting a commercial in our studio!”) A nonstop cavalcade of borscht belt zingers and hilariously scabrous racial and political invective, Putney Swope is one of the defining American films of its decade, relentlessly right on and a constant source of comedic inspiration for generations of younger cineastes and filmmakers. (The firecrackers in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights begin here.) With a cast of off-off-Broadway regulars new to film, soon-to-be somebodies, and indelible nobodies from who knows where, Downey’s film deposits us in a world populated by some of cinema’s most delirious creations, a dozen of whom we celebrate here.