Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blu-ray Review: OUR MAN FLINT (1965)


Label: Twilight Time DVD

Region Code: Region FREE
Rating: Not Rated 
Duration: 108 Minutes
Video: 1080p Anamorphic Wiescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Director: Daniel Mann
Cast: James Coburn, Lee J. Cobb, Jean Hale, Andrew Duggan, Anna Lee, Steve Ihnat

Derek Flint (James Coburn)—super-spy, man of multifarious skills, playboy extraordinaire—has his hands full in Our Man Flint (1965), the Bond spoof to end all Bond spoofs. With a team of mad scientists plotting to rule the world by controlling the weather, Flint is called into action by the chief (Lee J. Cobb) of Z.O.W.I.E.—Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage. Now he must contend with a seductive counter-agent (Gila Golan) and her evil cohort (Edward Mulhare), in a race against time to save the swinging world as we know it. 

James Coburn is the star in this whimsical Bond-spoof actioner from director Daniel Mann (BUtterfield 8), in it we're treated to equal parts homage and anti-007 shenanigans. It's got everything one could hope for from a Bond film plus some wonderfully irreverent humor, too. It's not quite as over-the-top as the Austin Powers films but it's pretty damned funny just the same, and it's interesting to note just how much Austin Powers copped from this film, from the particular tone of a phone to the idea of fem-bots - it's all right here. We get the nifty gadgets, the chics, garish fashions, the shag carpeted bachelor pad, not one, but three villains set on word domination, some hot pleasure unit action plus an awesome volcano lair plus it's all wrapped up in candy-colored 1960's technicolor.

Our super-spy is Derek Flint (Coburn), the character is pretty anti-Bond, the man is just not Sean Connery in any way, shape or form but is instead a lanky fellow with a toothy smile - not what one has come to expect from the super-spy genre but he brings his A-game with charisma to spare and an ultra-cool detachment, it makes for a great performance and he really makes it his own, which is something given how easy it would have been to just give what Coburn himself called a "Bond-age" performance.  

Flint is a former operative of the spy agency Z.O.W.I.E.  and is reluctantly brought back in by the spy chief (J. Cobb) to help stop a trio of scientist bent on controlling the world through means of weather manipulation, these weather manipulation scenes are a mixed bag of awful looking stock footage and dated (but awesome) miniature sets, some far worse than others. Shot relatively cheap the film definitely has it's share of schlocky moments, some o the sets visibly shake at times, but I sort of love that sense of underlying cheapness, it's part of the fun. 

Our Man Flint is fun stuff, there's so much to enjoy here for fans of the spy and spy-spoof genre, this one really holds up, there's some great super-spy riffing to be had and I would find it hard to believe that if you are a fan of the 007 series you won't love this spy spoof on the genre, I prefer it to many of the Roger Moore entries myself, this is great stuff. 

Blu-ray: Twilight Time presents Our Man Flint in a 1080p AVC encoded transfer in the original 2.35:1 CinemaScope aspect ratio. The print used for the transfer is in fantastic shape with few if any instances of dirt, scratches or specks and it has a healthy amount of natural film grain too, which is wonderful. The image doesn't exactly pop with 1080p brilliance like you would get from a new title and the fine detail while decent for a film of this age is not all one would hope for but overall this is a very nice image, aside from the truly awful stock footage elements.

The English language DTS-HD Master Audio Mono sounds quite nice, dialogue, score and effects all sound quite good and are presented with wonderful clarity, it's a lively audio track and the Jerry Goldsmith score sounds fantastic, even more so is the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 isolated score track that brings the Jerry Goldsmith score to life when broken free of it's mono theatrical track.  

We get quite a few more extra features on this disc that I am accustomed to seeing from Twilight Time, it's a pleasant surprise. First we get Jerry Goldsmith's isolated music score for the film, a fantastic score with a few nods to John Barry's iconic themes. 

The Audio Commentary with Film Historians Lee Pfeiffer and Eddy Friedfeld is a nice listen, pleasantly conversational and not at all academic or dry, good stuff.  There's an extended Theatrical Trailer (6:42)  for the film presented in 2.35:1 - it's a great trailer, too. 

The first of several featurettes begins with Spy Style (6:48) a brief and fun look back at the film with film critic Chris Gore and set designer Perry Blake that puts the film in context of the spy craze of the 1960's following the box office phenom that was Dr. No (1962)

Up next is Spy-er-Rama (9:14) features Pfeiffer, Friedfeld and screenwriter Ben Starr discussing the film's origins beginning with 20th Century Fox's reluctance to finance any more epic films after the fiasco that was Cleopatra (1963) which nearly bankrupted the studio, plus them wanting to cash-in on the Bond zeitgeist with a mainstream hit. 

Perfect Bouillabaisse (1:30) is a fun recipe laden goof paying tribute to one of the film's tastier subplots. A Gentleman's Game (4:13) is a fond appreciation of James Coburn from cast and crew, remembered as a one of a kind gentleman by all accounts. 

Derek Flint: A Spy is Born (24:29) is the longest of all the other featurettes and also puts the film into context with the 60's and the spy craze, it talks about film's like The House on 92nd Street (1945) and it's gritty docudrama style and the evolution of the spy spoof which aped similar spoofs like The Pink Panther (1963) which were big box office successes. There's some talk about a nutty first draft of the script which involved an alien angle, really weird stuff. eventually screenwriter Ben Starr was brought onto the project and he speaks a bit about his own life's experiences finding their way into the script. James Coburn's daughter Lisa makes an appearance and offers an appreciation of her father's character and sense of style. 

Directing Flint: Daniel Mann (11:09) is a look back at the film's director with fond remembrances from son-in-law Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters) and his son who speaks of ruining the final shot of the Judith (1966) when he inadvertently walked onto camera during an impossible to re-shoot explosive finale. 

My favorite segment was Flint vs Kael (6:07) in which we learn how the legendary film critic loathed the film and the controversy her scathing review stirred up, even ending in her firing from McColl's magazine.

The special features are rounded out by three storyboard to film comparisons totaling about 10 minutes in length  featuring Jerry Goldsmith's score. Lastly but not least are two screen tests featuring James Colburn and Gina Golan in black and white plus another with Coburn opposite a very lovely Raquel Welch who was up for the role of the seductive counter-agent but who instead went on to feature in The Fantastic Voyage (1966) instead. Last but certainly not least is an full-color 8pg. booklet with writings from regular Twilight Time writer Julie Kirgo offering the always insightful liner notes, this time pitting the film's inherent sexism up against the delightful whimsy of the spy spoof.

The disc is jam-packed with extra goodies, a fantastic edition from Twilight Time and surely one of their most well-stocked with extras so far. As with all Twilight Time DVD Blu-ray release this title is limited to just 3,000 editions and is available exclusively from  so snap it up quick if it's appealing to you. 

Special Features: 

- Isolated Score Track 
- Audio Commentary with Film Historians Lee Pfeiffer and Eddy Friedfeld
- Derek Flint: A Spy is Born (24:29) 
- Directing Flint: Daniel Mann (11:09) 
- Spy-er-ama (9:14) 
- Spy Style (6:48) 
- Flint vs Kael (6:07) 
- A Gentleman's Game (4:13) 
- Perfect Bouillabaisse (1:30)
- Screen Test - James Coburn and Gila Golan (4:40)
- Screen Test - Raquel welch and James Coburn (1:54) 
- Storyboard Sequence 1 - Arrival at Galaxy Island (3:46)
- Storyboard Sequence 2 - Control Room Battle (4:31)
- Storyboard Sequence 3 - Escape from Armageddon (1:23)  
- Original Theatrical Trailer (6:26) 

Verdict: This was a first time watch for me and it was quite a romp, James Coburn at first seemed an odd choice to me but he completely owns this film. Our Man Flint is a quite a romp, chock full of jokes, gadgets, lavish sets, volcano lairs and world threatening baddies all wrapped up in garish 60's technicolor awesomeness, this gets a high recommend. 4 Outta 5