Review: Our Man Flint

Megalomaniacal scientists (Benson Fong, Peter Brocco, and Rhys Williams) develop a weather-controlling machine and threaten to use it unless all world governments drop (nuclear) arms and surrender to their authority. If not, every conceivable meteorological disaster known to man will be unleashed. The U.S. spy agency Z.O.W.I.E. (Zonal Organisation World Intelligence Espionage) locates the one agent capable of putting a stop to all this; No, not 007, but Derek Flint (James Coburn), suave, meditative, Renaissance man and extremely efficient secret agent. Basically, he’s 007, Vincent Price and Hugh Hefner all rolled into one. Unfortunately, his flustered boss (Lee J. Cobb) is having a Dickens of a time trying to get him to do his national (or global) duty. Flint would rather teach ballet in Russia, or bed every hot chick in the entire universe, several of whom seem to be his concubines/servants. Gee, do you think we’re in the 1960s here? Edward Mulhare (from TV’s “Knight Rider”) and Gila Golan play the other heavies, with bald Michael St. Clair another baddie, interestingly named Hans Gruber.

A definite inspiration for “Austin Powers” (along with “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”), this 1966 piece of fluff from Daniel Mann (“Butterfield 8”, “Willard”) is one of the better, cooler Bondian films, with a generally spoofy tone to it. Coburn, perhaps the coolest actor to ever live is clearly having the time of his life in a role said by many to be his signature role and certainly the one that made him a household name. Flint is quite different to 007 in that he’s more insubordinate, not especially patriotic, a supplier of his own gadgets, willingly walks into a certain trap seemingly just for the hell of it etc. He seems quite similar to Coburn himself, or at least one’s impression of him (lithe, laidback, a ladies’ man, somewhat of a renaissance man and a martial arts enthusiast/practitioner). His Derek Flint might even be cooler than 007 himself in terms of his encyclopaedic knowledge of just about damn everything you could possibly need to know, including martial arts, and how to bed a bevy of attractive women.

Scripted by Hal Fimberg (“The Boogie Man Will Get You”, with Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre) and Ben Starr (“The Busy Body”), the story isn’t great, Golan is a weak actress (but the former Miss Israel sure looks fine in that red bikini!) and the film is never quite sure who the main villain is. But that’s OK, because it all looks nice, is enjoyably campy, and has a main character and performance that makes it all worthwhile. It’s groovy, baby! This is the only 007-variant you need to see (and there are many), especially if like me, you’re a Coburn fan.

Rating: B-


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