Our Man Flint
Directed by Daniel Mann
Starring James Coburn, Lee J. Cobb, Gila Golan
Whose gonna save the world? It’s 1960 something, the weather’s gone nuts, and no one’s even HEARD of ozone yet. The world’s leaders are assembled to deal with the crisis, and the answer is almost unanimous — Derek Flint (James Coburn) is the man, and a drab gray IBM Hollerith collator backs them up. Only Cramden (Lee J. Cobb), Flint’s ex-boss, disagrees — there’s some mysterious bad blood between them. Maybe it’s the clash of bureaucracy vs. free will, but Cramden’s hand is forced — he must come hat in hand to the Dakota. Could ex-super-agent Flint leave his four themed girlfriends and save the world? Would next Thursday be convenient? Certainty — Flint will drop by Marseilles, identify the problem in a dive strip club, seduce a fashion maven Gila (Gila Golan) in Rome, and pop off to Galaxy Island to destroy the evildoers.
Ever been to Galaxy Island? Corporate home of Exotica Beauty Products, it’s the quintessential volcano headquarters of Doctors Schneider (Benson Fong), Krupov (Rhys Williams), and Wu (Peter Brocco). They’re drilling a hole to the earth’s core, making volcanoes go off, earthquakes rock L.A., and causing extra snow in Fargo. This world domination plan requires all the men to wear snappy uniforms, all the women to become pleasure units, and everyone gets free drugs. The Galaxy Island staff spends their free time testing the Pleasure Units at a Disco, a Roman orgy, or in a Drive-In Passion Pit. If this is Galaxy’s idea of World Domination, I’m ready to sign up today. But not Derek Flint. He smashes a few control panels, chop sockies some overweight guards, and blows the place up after saving his women by putting them in 55 gallon drums and pushing them over a waterfall. The world is saved from Too Much Fun, Flint’s girls are safe, and a bunch of engineers got blown to bits. Sure, he got his, but I’m stuck writing DVD reviews for a living.
The term “spy spoof” got stapled to this movie, but I’m not sure it’s fair. A number of similar films were released in response to the wild success of James Bond, and this is one of the best. While everything is over the top, and Suspension of Disbelief is written in the plot synopsis, there is no attempt at broad humor. Everything in this film is presented seriously, with nary a sly wink. Coburn is perfect for the part — wiry, athletic, debonair, and completely control even when he’s being led off to a disintegrator. He has extensive job skills, ranging from fencing to ballet to the ability to stop and start his heart at will. Coupled with the catchy tune the red telephone plays when Mr. Pres calls, he is completely cool. Derek Flint even has his own theme music, and well deserves it. The enemies are reasonable, women pliable and the world is saved though judicious use of high tech gadgets and fisticuffs.
While marketed as a proto-version of some recent successful spoofs, this movie and its companion, In Like Flint, stand head and shoulders above as great fantasy entertainment. Production is top notch, casting and acting perfect, and the story flies along so fast you never worry about its absurdity. The DVD is spare, with only a theatrical trailer and a cross promo added to the film, but this is a movie I’ve watched a dozen times, and something new always pops out of the background. I regret that Flint felt he had to detonate Galaxy Island; I would have gladly gone to work for this organization. I’ll bet they even had a decent 401(k) plan.
Fox Home Video: http://www.foxhome.com