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review added: 8/9/02



The Flint Films

review by Adam Jahnke of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Our Man Flint

Our Man Flint
1965 (2002) - 20th Century Fox

Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/C/D

Specs and Features:

108 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailers (for Our Man Flint, In Like Flint, Fathom and Modesty Blaise), film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English and French (2.0 mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned



In Like Flint

In Like Flint
1967 (2002) - 20th Century Fox

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/C+/D

Specs and Features:

114 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailers (for In Like Flint, Fathom, Modesty Blaise and Our Man Flint), film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English and French (2.0 mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned


"But that's impossible!"

"Of course it is! That's why he's Flint!"

Perhaps the best indicator of the immense popularity of James Bond back in the 1960's isn't the fact that the franchise is still going strong today, but rather the staggering number of parodies, spoofs and outright rip-offs spawned by the character. I suppose the equivalent for my generation would be the spectrum of Star Wars wannabes foisted upon the public in the late 70's and early 80's. But even that wave of sci-fi popularity pales a bit in comparison to the Bond phenomenon. And of all the James Bond imitators, few were as outlandish as Derek Flint. As played by James Coburn, with his toothy smile and whiskey-smooth voice, Flint was more superhero than spy. Proficient in dozens of languages, from Russian to Dolphin, a master of the martial arts, a scientist who invents his own multi-use gadgets and is constantly surrounded by a bevy of gorgeous live-in companions, the American Flint could kick James Bond's ass. In fact, in a scene in the original Flint adventure, 1965's Our Man Flint, he basically does just that.

Our Man Flint finds Z.O.W.I.E. (which stands for Zonal Organization World Intelligence Espionage, if you can believe it) threatened by three rogue scientists who have developed a machine to control the world's weather. Against his better judgment, Z.O.W.I.E. chief Lloyd Cramden (Lee J. Cobb) calls on Flint, computer-selected as the only man who could possibly save the world. In the process, Flint beds a rival agent named Gila (Gila Golan), battles her male counterpart (Edward Mulhare) and infiltrates an island of beautiful, brainwashed women.

Flint returned to the screen two years later with In Like Flint. This time, a group of women have infiltrated the government, replacing the President of the United States with a surgically-enhanced actor, taking control of a orbital space platform and discrediting Cramden. It's up to Flint to get to the bottom of their plot and prevent a rocket full of nuclear weapons from reaching the platform, allowing Flint to beat Bond into space a full dozen years before Moonraker.

Neither movie is particularly brilliant, but they're light, breezy fun if they catch you in the right mood. Our Man Flint is slightly better, with Flint given a specific mission that he must carry out. With In Like Flint, he must unravel the plot as he goes along and this results in a sluggish, awkward pace. Also, the casual misogyny of In Like Flint will either amuse or horrify you, depending on how rabid a feminist you are. Both movies suffer from stiff, unconvincing action scenes, particularly In Like Flint, which culminates in a weightless, slow motion fist-fight in outer space. But Coburn's charm and the nonstop parade of 60's music, fashions and sets are almost enough to carry the movies along. The Flint pictures can't begin to compete with the Bond movies of the era (though they're arguably more entertaining than bottom-of-the-barrel 007 flicks like A View to a Kill), but they can certainly hold their own against Dean Martin's Matt Helm series of spoofs.

Picture-wise, Fox has done a surprisingly good job of bringing these movies to DVD. Both are presented in crystal-clean anamorphic widescreen, with vibrant colors and virtually no artifacting. A mildly distracting halo effect mars some of both discs, but for a pair of thirty-year-old, second-tier titles, these are pretty darn good-looking discs. The sound quality is not so hot. Presented in English and French mono, the effects sound artificial, the dialogue sounds like it was recorded in a metal cave and Jerry Goldsmith's score hammers you in the face with all the subtlety of a 2x4. In Like Flint seems to do a slightly better job melding these elements together than its predecessor, but neither of these discs will make you nostalgic for the days of monophonic sound.

Extras are virtually non-existent, consisting solely of the same four theatrical trailers on both discs: both the Flint flicks as well as the other two movies in Fox's 60's spy series, Fathom and Modesty Blaise. Given his participation on other recent DVDs, I can't imagine it would have been too difficult to coax James Coburn into providing an interview or possibly even a commentary, so the lack of any substantial extras here is particularly disappointing.

Far from being cinema classics, the Flint movies aren't much more than amusing curios of a bygone era. If you're a collector of 60's pop culture or spy movies, the picture quality and low prices of the Flint movies may make them worth picking up. If you're only mildly curious, and AMC isn't showing letterboxed versions of the movies, you'll be better off meeting Derek Flint at the rental shop. Otherwise, you might find the irresistible superspy all too easy to resist.

Adam Jahnke
ajahnke@thedigitalbits.com


Our Man Flint


In Like Flint


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