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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Humor > Satire > Spoof > Ultimate Flint Collection (Our Man Flint/In Like Flint)

Ultimate Flint Collection (Our Man Flint/In Like Flint)

 

Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Films: B-

 

 

So many films and TV shows were inspired by the James Bond films that many are still not available on DVD or have even been shown on TV in decades.  All are a hoot, intentionally or not, but some are standouts and no set of feature films did a better job in showing the response and Hollywood attitude to Bond at the time than the Derek Flint films 20th Century Fox made starring James Coburn.  Issued several times before, the new Ultimate Flint Collection offers both Our Man Flint (1966) and In Like Flint (1967) at the peak of the Spy Craze.

 

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 (a great set of performances by Lee J. Cobb) reluctantly calls Flint back to duty in Our Man Flint.  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.

 

In Like Flint has the U.S. President kidnapped and Flint called in to find him.  This leads him to an all-women’s organization who have their won crazy plan to take over the world.  At least a minor genre classic like the previous film, both produced by the late Saul David (Logan’s Run), the films (along with the 1967 comedy version of Casino Royale) inspired the Austin Powers films and look very good for their age.  Fox did put some money into them, more than just about any Bond-like film of the time.

 

One of the reasons the films work is simply because Coburn’s comic performance, underplayed while still being the good guy taking things seriously, something producer David would try later with Ron Ely in Doc Savage with less success.  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.

 

Credit to the directors of each should be noted, with Daniel Mann establishing the world of Flint very well and the underrated Gordon Douglas pulling off a very interesting sequel.  Both know how to direct and do good things with the material.  What may have seem dated to some a few years ago suddenly seems ageless since the Austin Powers films and fashion itself have brought back some of the more interesting items here.

 

The supporting casts are pretty good, with Gina Golan, Benson Fong, Sigrid Valdis and Michael St. Clair adding to the fun in the first film, while Anna Lee, Jean Hale, Andrew Duggan, Herb Edelman, Deanne Lund and Yvonne Craig (soon to be the first and best live action Batgirl on the final season of Batman) add fun and spice to the already manic situations in both films.

 

While the Bond films were just becoming larger and larger productions that would influence commercial cinema worldwide, David, Fox, Fimberg, Coburn and company found more than just a niche.  However, Coburn was smart enough to know this did not have the endless source material Bond had and quit before the bottom fell out.  A third film never emerged and the craze started to slowly peter out.  However, they are very entertaining films and were only rivaled by the jokier Dean Martin/Matt Helm series at Columbia and British Bulldog Drummond revival (Deadlier Than The Male in 1967 and Some Girls Do in 1969) with Richard Johnson taking a character that influenced Bond and trying to make him into Bond.

 

With the Bonds out in expanded special editions and eventually in Blu-ray, Fox has decided to go all out for the Flint films with the best playback copies to date and a nice set of extras.

 

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on both films look good and were among the last major Fox productions shot in the CinemaScope format.  While the Bonds beginning in 1965 were shot in Panavision, Fox was still using the older system to the end.  Both processed in DeLuxe color, they look good and were shot by cinematographers who knew how to shoot for a big screen: Daniel L. Fapp (West Side Story, One, Two, Three, Ice Station Zebra) and William H. Daniels (Von Ryan’s Express, Valley Of The Dolls) both looking very good for their age here.

 

The sound is only Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono for both films, though we thought the music was originally recorded in stereo.  Composer Jerry Goldsmith already created a favorite in the genre with the theme to the hit TV spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., but managed to create another classic in his theme and scoring of both films.  It is one of the biggest factors that separated them from all other Bond spoofs and imitators.  Also, the sound effects as fun as they are iconic.  Goldsmith is one of the great composers and his work here is very good.

 

Extras are terrific and include two feature length audio commentary tracks by film scholar/fans Lee Pfeiffer and Eddie Friedfeld that are among the most hilarious and informative commentaries of the year.  If you are sick of commentaries that play like animated radio passively describing every scene, but also are not a fan of “facts-only” commentaries that sometimes do not work, you’ll love these.  Be sure to watch the films first.

 

The DVDs of the films themselves also include trailers to both films, plus the lame version of the Fathom trailer (instead of the politically incorrect sexy one) and one to the awful Modesty Blaise film.  Those trailers are repeated on the third bonus DVD with The Magus, Peeper, Deadfall, Quiller Memorandum and The Chairman trailers, most of which you will find reviewed elsewhere on this site.

 

That bonus DVD also includes a terrible, failed 1976 TV movie pilot to revive Flint called Dead On Target that was dead on arrival, but is amusing to watch.  There are also extras for each film in their own sections on the disc.  Our Man Flint includes an extended trailer and four new featurettes: Spy-er-rama, A Gentleman’s Game, Spy Style and The Perfect Bouillabaisse.  The In Like Flint section includes two brief on-camera interviews with Coburn and Cobb by Art Linkletter at the premiere in Puerto Rico, Deanne Lund screen test for the film, original promo featurette “Take It Off”, and five new featurettes: The Musician’s Magician, Future Perfect, Spy School, Spy Vogue and Feminine Wiles.

 

All in all, this is a solid set for some good films that have become better with time.  More studios should give this kind of treatment to their spy movies, no matter how big or small, because who knows what kind of materials are in the vaults.  With the huge hit success of the new Casino Royale, we may just be on the verge of a new boost in Spy cinema.  The Ultimate Flint Collection pretty much lives up to its name.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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