Sunday 2 December 2018

Movie Review: Our Man Flint (1966)

A satirical James Bond-style spy spoof, Our Man Flint offers some funny moments but reeks of cheap plastic and barely developed story ideas.

The Galaxy criminal organization, led by three pacifist scientists, has devised a method to control the world's weather to demand global disarmament. In response, the member nations of the Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage (ZOWIE) under chief Cramden (Lee J. Cobb) scramble to identify an agent to stop the mayhem. They come up with Derek Flint (James Coburn), a former ace spy and now an exceptionally wealthy international playboy.

Cramden shares a choppy history with Flint but is finally able to convince him to help. Flint's investigation takes him to Marseilles and Rome. He thwarts assassination attempts by Galaxy agents Gila (Gila Golan) and Gruber (Michael St. Clair), and seduces Gila to try and identify the evildoers' secret hideout. But lying in wait is chief henchman Malcolm Rodney (Edward Mulhare), who advocates for Flint's quick elimination, and who has kidnapped Flint's four lovers to use as bargaining chips.

The idea of bumbling scientists as chief bad guys using weather events as pressure tactics while rejecting the use of guns is promising for a satire. But that's about it for bright sparks on display in this lame attempt by 20th Century Fox to cash in on the international spy craze ignited by the early Bond movies. Our Man Flint is beset by garish sets, dialogue surprisingly free from wit, and bland directing courtesy of Daniel Mann.

The action scenes are poorly staged, the scientists barely get to explain their plot, and never expose on the difference between killing innocent people by floods, volcanoes and earthquakes, as opposed to more traditional weapons of mass destruction. Some bizarre 1960s kitsch moments feature beautiful looking people playing on manicured fields or engaging in free sex at the secret hideout, but how exactly all this is supposed to fit into the plan for world domination is left up to the imagination.

Maybe it's all part of the satire to throw unrelated but hip concepts at the screen and hope some of it sticks, and Flint's four lovers not saying a meaningful word between them appears to be knowing wink at the subjugated role of women in this made-for-the-screen spy genre. Meanwhile, James Coburn is willing to partake in the festivities and brings a glint in the eye and a perpetual smile to assure everyone not to take anything seriously.

Our Man Flint is a satire of a sub-genre already on the way to satirizing itself, and a cheap-looking one at that.

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