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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Humor > Satire > Spoof > Our Man Flint (1966/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

Our Man Flint (1966/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B     Sound: B-*     Extras: B     Film: B-

 

 

PLEASE NOTE:  This Blu-ray is limited to 3,000 copies and is available exclusively at the Screen Archives website which can be reached at the link at the end of this review.

 

 

As Skyfall hits new highs for the long-enduring James Bond franchise, a new wave of interest in the entire Spy genre will once again result and as an aside, this should finally get the ball rolling on getting the many classic film and TV shows in the genre out there on Blu-ray.  Save The Persuaders overseas, The Prisoner worldwide, Agent 8 3/4ths (aka Hot Enough For June, all three reviewed elsewhere on this site) here and the newer Spy films by default, hardly any of the classic shows or films have made it to the HD world.  Now that is starting to change.  The two Derek Flint films 20th Century Fox made starring James Coburn are now coming out on Blu-ray one month apart from each other, but there is a catch.

 

Instead of a wide release, Fox has decided that both will be issued as limited edition Blu-rays running only 3,000 copies each, but it is the first of the classic Bond competitors to be issued on Blu-ray and this comes seven years since the Ultimate Flint Collection DVD set.

 

Our Man Flint (1966) is the first of the two and as noted in our previous review, features the great James Coburn (who had already done well in the genre with Charade, also on Blu-ray from Criterion, reviewed in that and Technicolor DVD versions elsewhere on this site) a romantic comedy with Spy overtones.

 

Flint is an expert ace agent who is simply not active at the time a new crisis arises.  When his spy agency Z.O.W.I.E. (Zonal Organization World Intelligence Espionage) needs him, spymaster Lloyd Cramden (Lee J. Cobb) has to call on him despite trying everything in his power to do so.  The evil Galaxy organization has their hands on a weather machine and they intend to hold the world ransom and will permanently damage the polarity and atmosphere if their demands are not met.  Led by Malcolm Rodney (Edward Mulhare perfect to play a stuck-up elitist villain), Galaxy will stop at nothing unless something or someone can stop him.  Due to their leadership, Z.O.W.I.E. is unprepared to do anything about this, but Flint has a few ideas that just might work and the one-man army goes to work.

 

Based on Hal Fimberg’s Flint books, Fimberg did the screenplay adaptations himself, with Ben Starr also working on the first one.  Though not taking the spy genre too seriously, the films have their amusing action moments.  Looking at the film again, it should be noted being over the top on top of being over the top was an aspect that helped make the film work, yet it played this straight and serious versus the outright serious (going into senseless grossness) of the Austin Powers films is why this works better.

 

Director Daniel Mann more than holds his own helming the big, colorful production and the supporting cast is solid with Gina Golan, Benson Fong, Sigrid Valdis and Michael St. Clair adding to the fun in the first film, not to mention all those one-liner actors upping the humor value all the more.  Love that wild production design (you can see how Ken Adam was upping everyone’s game) and the result is a film that becomes its own self-contained world that would celebrate its artifice as much as any of the other Bond competitors.

 

Seeing it on Blu-ray makes all that work even better, bringing out more of the fun and the era in which it was made.  I take the films for what they are, trying to go over the top once and for all in the original Spy Craze era before Bond could get there, though Bond was not comical until the 1970s, meaning these films were really going into another direction.  Still, it made the Coburn a big star and helped reestablish Fox as a serious hitmaking studio after its own troubles.  Its plot has also been ripped off several times.  I am just surprised such a big film is coming out in limited quantities, but this is as loaded as release as Twilight Time has issued to date and a must have for Spy fans and, of course, Flint fans.

 

 

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer was among the last major Fox productions shot in the CinemaScope format wile the Bonds beginning in 1965 were shot in Panavision.  The DVD version looked good, but this new Blu-ray of Flint has better color range and richness throughout, originally processed in DeLuxe color, a lab Fox founded so they did not have to pay Technicolor anything.  Shot by Director of Photography Daniel L. Fapp (West Side Story, One, Two, Three, Ice Station Zebra), it is meant to be seen on a large, big, widescreen and now more than ever, more so than most action films today.

 

There is some softness and grain here and there, with this likely being an HD master that is a big older, but it fares well against some recent Bond Blu-ray releases.  Though they were hardly sent to the press (including us), I’ll use You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and The Spy Who Loved Me (all also 2.35 X 1 scope films that we finally caught up with, but are unreviewed on the site) to give you an idea of how good this Flint looks.  All four films have some softness issues that need corrected, but Flint could not have more accurate color, yet it is not as rich, naturalistic or wide-ranging as Twice or Service with its dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor, but it does push the color making it richer than Spy Who Loved Me, which purposely playing against this whole era of Spy films to establish a new era of Bond.  They all look fine and are the best they have looked to date, but unless a huge amount of money was spent, I cannot see Flint looking too much better.

 

*The sound on the film itself is DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless as the film was optical theatrical mono yet this is warmer and richer enough to surpass the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono from the DVD.  That is great for purists, but no 5.1 or even stereo upgrades here, so maybe the dialogue and sound effects elements do not survive separately, but the isolated music track with Composer Jerry Goldsmith’s fun score is here in stereo and could have been lightly included in the final film mix to upgraded it to simple stereo at least.  Too bad that is not the case and I would rate the sound quality of the isolated score above the rating I have at the top for the film itself, which would be a B.

 

However, the film still sounds good, but the Goldsmith score sounds much better and Twilight Time has included background starts and stops including Goldsmith cueing the orchestra to play in a great additional behind the scenes look at this hit film.

 

Extras have been expanded from the DVD edition and repeat the terrific feature length audio commentary track by film scholar/fans Lee Pfeiffer and Eddie Friedfeld, a new illustrated booklet on the film with another winning essay by Julie Kirgo, plus you get that great new isolated music score, trailers and four new featurettes: Spy-er-rama, A Gentleman’s Game, Spy Style and The Perfect Bouillabaisse repeated from the DVD.  New extras include three storyboard sequence comparisons to final scenes from the film, two screen tests (one of which has Coburn reading with a rather nude and young Rachel Welch) and three new featurettes Fox has made on the film since the DVD release in 2009 included here: Derek Flint: A Spy Is Born, Directing Flint: Daniel Mann and Flint vs. Kael about how critic Pauline Kael benefited from going after the film behind the scenes in a classic battle of the press versus the studio and producers.

 

That makes this as loaded as any James Bond Blu-ray, which says something since they are so extensive.  If you are a serious Spy fan, Our Man Flint is a must-have Blu-ray and makes all previous versions of the film on home video highly obsolete.

 

 

As noted above, Our Man Flint can be ordered while supplies last at:

 

www.screenarchives.com

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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