Our Man Flint (1966/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)
B Sound: B-* Extras:
B Film: B-
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
above, Our Man Flint can be ordered
while supplies last at:
- Nicholas Sheffo