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Our Man Flint(1966)
When scientists use eco-terrorism to impose their will on the world by affecting extremes in the weather, Intelligence Chief Cramden calls in top agent Derek Flint.
For more about Our Man Flint and the Our Man Flint Blu-ray release, see Our Man Flint Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on January 9, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: James Coburn, Lee J. Cobb, Gila Golan, Edward Mulhare, Rhys Williams, Sigrid Valdis
Director: Daniel Mann
» See full cast & crew
Our Man Flint Blu-ray Review
Climate change, circa 1966.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, January 9, 2013
James Bond had been around for well over a decade in one form or another by the time Our Man Flint came out in early 1966. But so-called "Bond Mania" was a relatively recent phenomenon, nonetheless. Though Ian Fleming had introduced the world to the "shaken not stirred" superspy in 1952's Casino Royale, and a rather lackluster television adaptation of the novel aired soon thereafter, it wasn't until a decade later that the feature film franchise was born with Dr. No, and while both Dr. No and its follow up From Russia with Love were sizable hits, it really wasn't until 1964's Goldfinger that the world seemingly combusted overnight, obsessed with all things espionage related. Suddenly both television and films were awash in spy properties, both good and bad. Television, which had in fact flirted with espionage in such well regarded series as the British Danger Man starring Patrick McGoohan (known as Secret Agent on this side of the pond), things really took off after Goldfinger stormed the figurative beaches and within a year of the film's release we had everything from the good (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) to the questionable (the retooled Burke's Law, which became Amos Burke, Secret Agent) on the small screen. Things were similarly varied on the big screen, with a glut of both high minded fare like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold to a bevy of satirical spoofs. The (no pun intended) funny thing about Our Man Flint, though, is how it kind of hewed a middle ground. The film in undeniably comic a lot of the time, but it isn't an out and out lampoon of Bond. In fact as the commentary by Eddie Friedfeld and Lee Pfeiffer states, Flint is actually an homage to the Bond films, often making fun of certain elements of not just the Bond franchise but of the whole spy genre, but done in an almost respectful, loving way.
James Coburn portrays Derek Flint, a rather Bondian superspy who is an expert in martial arts, speaks several languages fluently, is inerrantly suave with the ladies and also is no slouch when it comes to the latest high tech gadgetry, much of which fills his expansive New York apartment. Flint is also the bane of the existence of Lloyd Cramden (Lee J. Cobb), the head of the Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage (that's ZOWIE for you acronym lovers). ZOWIE is attempting to confront the (literal) machinations of three mad scientists who have begun tinkering with the world's climate, making our current day global warming seem like a pleasant picnic. Unfortunately everyone ZOWIE has sent to confront these madmen has not made it out alive, and Cramden is forced to deal with the now retired Flint, a man Cramden can't stand since Flint does not follow protocol.
There are some gentle jabs at the Bond way of doing things as Flint is tugged back into ZOWIE's lair, including one of the film's highlights, a great scene where Cramden shows Flint all the latest superspy gizmos that can help Flint out in his task of bringing the evil organization known as Galaxy to justice. Flint has his own particular gadgetry at his beck and call, however, delivering one of the film's best punch lines which won't be spoiled for you here.
The rest of Our Man Flint is a mad, at times almost psychedelic, romp as Flint deals with this film's version of Pussy Galore, a gorgeous woman named Gila (Gila Golan, a former Miss Israel). Flint's four live in "playmates" (hey, it was the sixties) also figure prominently (pun intended) into the plot, especially toward the end of the film when Flint invades Galaxy's headquarters. Also on hand are some great character actors, including an effete Edward Mulhare (soon to be the Ghost in the television version of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) and Benson Fong. Trivia lovers will also spot Hogan's Heroes regular (and future Mrs. Bob Crane) Sigrid Valdis as one of Flint's girlfriends, and a rather eclectic group of performers turn up in various bits, including everyone from future Russ Meyer protégé Tura Satana to future Mr. Barbra Streisand James Brolin.
The film is rarely laugh out loud funny, but it's often extremely amusing, and it's helped along by Coburn's own particular brand of just slightly smarmy charm. The film was directed by a perhaps unexpected helmsman, Daniel Mann, a journeyman director who had a number of high profile dramatic pieces to his credit, several of which won their lead actresses Academy Awards (Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba, Anna Magnani in The Rose Tattoo and Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8). Mann obviously didn't take the material all that seriously, but he did take his directorial craft seriously, and the film is artfully paced and includes some fantastic set pieces along the way, as well as a sixties explosion of mid-century modern production and costume design. I'd be remiss if I also didn't mention one of the sound effects, the distinctive ring of Cramden's hot line to the White House, a sound which has been ported over to several subsequent films and television series, including Austin Powers.
Our Man Flint Blu-ray, Video Quality
Our Man Flint is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Twilight Time with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. Twilight Time's Fox licensed material sometimes doesn't quite pop with the same vivacity that is exhibited in their Columbia – Sony offerings, and that's the case here as well. While the elements here are in very good condition, there's an overall softness, including some kind of strange softness toward the middle of the CinemaScope frame. The DeLuxe color hasn't aged particularly well and is noticeably faded at times, with flesh tones alternately kind of peach colored or brown. Other colors have weathered the ages much better, with the red and blue sides of the scale looking really good and robust. The film utilizes quite a bit of stock footage, including in the opening "weather montage" as well as several establishing shots, and that footage is noticeably more ragged than the bulk of the film. Overall this is still a wonderful looking transfer, but it's not quite in the top tier of what we've seen from Twilight Time (and Fox) in the past.
Our Man Flint Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Our Man Flint features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track that is surprisingly robust for its age. It's narrow, to be sure, but all frequency ranges come through loud and clear and a couple of explosive bursts along the way receive rather fulsome reproduction. Dialogue is very cleanly presented and Jerry Goldsmith's score (which is also available in an even better sounding DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 option) sounds fantastic.
Our Man Flint Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Twilight Time sometimes is lambasted for what some consumers perceive is a paucity of supplemental features. That shouldn't even be an issue with this release, for the label has ported over most of the Our Man Flint-specific features from the 2006 Ultimate Flint Collection DVD box set, as well as included some new items. Hopefully at least most of the rest will accompany Twilight Time's soon to be released In Like Flint, though label co-owner Nick Redman has let me know the label decided not to license the pilot for the proposed television series since they disliked it so much.
Our Man Flint Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Our Man Flint is, to purloin a phrase from the sixties, a hoot and a half. It's not hysterically funny, but it's extremely well done, a near perfect blend of whimsy and action. Coburn had one of his defining roles as Flint, and the supporting cast is top notch. The production design is just slightly loony, which befits the film's overall ambience to a tee. We've been pretty regularly spoiled by Twilight Time's Blu-ray releases, and the video on this particular offering isn't quite to the label's usual demanding standards, but it isn't overly problematic given reasonable expectations. The audio is great and the supplementary material is fantastic. Highly recommended.
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