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Our Man Flint

(1966) *** Unrated
108 min. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Director: Daniel Mann. Cast: James Coburn, Lee J. Cobb, Gila Golan, Lee J Cobb.

/content/films/4463/1.jpgThere's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment in beloved spy spoof Our Man Flint when an extra blatantly cops a feel from a curvy, scantily clad actress. This unintentional detail probably as much about Our Man Flint's place in the firmament of swingin'-'60s camp as anything else in the picture. Released at pretty much the zenith of the "spy craze"—clinched by the James Bond films and carried on by slew of imitators on screens big and small—Our Man Flint introduced private superspy Derek Flint, as portrayed by the inimitable James Coburn amongst bevies of "babes."

Hal Finberg and rewriter Ben Starr share screenplay credit for this colorful Cinemascope adventure directed by Daniel Mann (BUtterfield 8) and snazzily scored by the great Jerry Goldsmith (who had recently composed the theme tune for the spy show The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). A knowing American affront to Bond, Our Man Flint makes a couple of overt, cheeky references to the burgeoning Bond franchise: a Sean Connery lookalike dubbed "Triple-0 Eight" and the comment "It's bigger than SPECTRE." Though he can handle himself (with wacky-looking martial-arts moves), Flint comes equipped with the requisite goofy gadgetry, the better to infiltrate the villains' giant compound and save the world.

Amusingly, the first line of Our Man Flint goes "Gentlemen, it's quite true. The weather still continues to defy nature." That threat has since become a daily one, but it's a suitable reason to prompt Lloyd Cramden (Lee J. Cobb), chief of spy agency Z.O.W.I.E. (Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage), to reluctantly recruit Flint into action. Though I'll always think of Cobb as the originator of Willy Loman on Broadway, he pleasantly surprises as a fine nattering comic foil here, pulling takes at Flint's free-love harem and super-confident super-competence.

To the extent that Our Man Flint works, it does so due to its tossed-off wit—like the odd mismatch of names and faces for mad scientists Doctors Krupov (Rhys Williams), Wu (Peter Brocco), and Schneider (Benson Fong)—and the sheer oddity of Coburn, the toothy, gangly character actor who nevertheless charms his way into stardom here with laid-back cool. The sex objectification of women obviously hasn't aged well, but there's definite nostalgic appeal in the shag-adelic style, which laid the groundwork for Austin Powers (which sampled Flint's Presidential-hotline ringtone).

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Aspect ratios: 2.35:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono

Street date: 1/15/2013

Distributor: Twilight Time

California-based Twilight Time makes available classic films in editions strictly limited to 3,000 units (distributed exclusively by Screen Archives Entertainment). Overseen in large part by star archivists Nick Redman and Mike Matessino, these releases all feature fresh hi-def treatment that includes isolated score tracks and six-page color booklets with original publicity shots, poster art, and excellent liner notes by film historian Julie Kirgo. Twilight Time selects neglected titles and makes the studio's home entertainment divisions offers they can't refuse: let Twilight Time handle the releases and cater to an audience of devoted film collectors. So far the strategy seems to be working out nicely: as the titles move toward selling out, they become hotter and hotter collectibles.

Twilight Time, Fox, and Cinema Retro Magazine team up to load up this special edition with bonus features, beginning with a freewheeling and informative audio Commentary by Eddie Friedfeld and Lee Pfeiffer of Cinema Retro.

As per Twilight Time standard, the disc includes an Isolated Score Track showcasing Jerry Goldsmith's music in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.

Along with the "Theatrical Trailer" (6:24, SD) and three Storyboard Sequences"Arrival at Galaxy Island" (3:46, HD), "Control Room Battle" (4:31, HD), and "Escape from Armageddon" (1:23, HD)—we get a ton of fascinating featurettes. 

"Spy Style" (6:48, SD) recalls the look and feel associated with Flint.

(9:14, SD) elaborates on Flint's place in the spy oeuvre, with comments from Friedfelt, Pfeiffer and screenwriter Ben Starr.

"Perfect Bouillabaise"
(1:30, SD) goofily celebrates the plot's key recipe.

"A Gentleman's Game"
(4:13, SD) profiles James Coburn, including comments from his daughter.

Also on hand are "Screen Test - James Coburn and Gila Golan (4:40, SD) and "Screen Test - Raquel Welch and James Coburn" (1:54, SD).

"Derek Flint: A Spy Is Born" (24:49, HD) winningly elaborates on the origins, success, and influence of Flint.

"Directing Flint: Daniel Mann" (11:09, HD) takes a closer look at the film's director.

Finally, the most fascinating featurette, "Flint vs. Kael" (6:07, HD) examines the brouhaha that emerged from critic Pauline Kael taking shots at Flint.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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