Our Man Flint (Blu-ray)
Directed by Daniel Mann
Studio: Twilight Time (Fox)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 108 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 English
MSRP: $ 29.95
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Review Date: January 9, 2013
With the world’s weather conditions now under the control of a trio of mad scientists (Benson Fong, Rhys Williams, Peter Brocco) working for international organization of evil Galaxy with its two feuding operatives Gila (Gila Golan) and Malcolm Rodney (Edward Mulhare), the government’s top espionage agency ZOWIE (Zonal Organization World Intelligence Exchange) enlists top spy Derek Flint (James Coburn) to sort things out. Despite the agency’s head man Cramden (Lee J. Cobb) being less than enthusiastic about working with the independent thinking Flint, the expert fighter, fencer, and lover makes great strides toward finding the whereabouts of Galaxy’s headquarters, an extinct volcanic island stronghold which he must penetrate.
The Hal Fimberg-Ben Starr screenplay makes sure that while James Bond’s espionage authority is minimized so that Derek Flint can appear the greater agent, the zings against Ian Fleming’s superspy aren’t nasty or acerbic (Bond’s famous Walther PPK and tricked-out briefcase as well as mentions of SPECTRE and even an agent coded 0008 whom Flint throws around with the greatest of ease are all done with respect). Of course, Daniel Mann is a smart enough director to know that this studio-bound production can in no way match the production values of the Bond movies, so he and the production team go to town with what they have to offer: a zippy mid-1960s look and sound that are uniquely its own (saddled with some cheesy special effects that betray their origins). The sets are enormous and very colorful and are populated with an array of beauties (Flint himself has four live-in companions who seem to have no problem sharing him) while the gadgets and gizmos are less numerous but serve utilitarian purposes. The film’s first half is sprightly and fun as Flint journeys to Marseille and Rome though Mann’s pacing flags a bit once Flint gets to the island hideaway where Flint escapes numerous times but seems to have no trouble maneuvering through the complex without a disguise while he collects his kidnapped companions and plans his sabotage of the stronghold. It’s as if the producers decided to wrap things up quickly to get the film ready for release without thinking through a really first-rate finale.
James Coburn gets the full star treatment here and is convincing with both the action stuff and in the more personal moments. Lee J. Cobb gets to bellow and bray to his heart’s content as ZOWIE’s head man who must work with Flint against his better judgment even though he has a grudging respect for him. Edward Mulhare does a slick job as the slimy, aristocratic villain intent on bringing Flint’s reign as a superspy to an end. Director Daniel Mann chose Gila Golan for the pivotal role of the movie’s femme fatale over Raquel Welch with the intention of building her into a great star, but her lack of acting experience is painfully obvious, and while she’s undoubtedly alluring, she is stiff and mechanical in all the dialogue scenes. It’s always nice to see character actors like Benson Fong, Rhys Williams, and Peter Brocco get meatier chances to perform than they were usually afforded, and each gets the job done admirably.
The film’s Cinemascope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. For the most part, the images are very sharp and extremely colorful (reds are especially well delivered). Flesh tones are mostly realistic and appealing. While black levels are a shade or two less than optimum and there are a few shots especially in the film’s final third that seem a bit soft and less distinct than what has come before, the overall impression of the transfer is most impressive. The soft and scratched vault footage used from time to time can't be held against the transfer. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix will really impress you with its clarity and forcefulness. For a mono mix of this era, the dynamic range is very striking and the dialogue, music by the expert Jerry Goldsmith, and sound effects occupy the same track with great alacrity. No age-related artifacts like hiss, crackle, pops, or flutter mar the purity of the sound reproduction.
The audio commentary is provided by film writers/historians Lee Pfeiffer and Eddy Friedfeld and is a loose and lively affair with the two friends sharing views on the film and stories about its making and many other sidebars peripheral to the movie.
These bonus features are presented in 480i:
The theatrical trailer runs 6 ½ minutes.
“Spy Style” is a 6 ¾-minute vignette with critic Chris Gore and others discussing the film’s style and substance describing how the Austin Powers movies used much in the film as a template for their look and sound.
“Spy-er-ama” features historian Lee Pfeiffer, screenwriter Ben Starr, and others briefly discussing the memorable aspects of this movie and its sequel In Like Flint. It runs 9 ¼ minutes.
“The Perfect Bouillabaisse” offers a recipe for the famous soup in this 1 ½-minute clip.
“A Gentleman’s Game” is a brief 4 ¼-minute biography of star James Coburn.
Two screen tests are offered: the one with James Coburn and Gila Golan playing a scene from a play and not from the script of Our Man Flint runs 4 ¾ minutes. The one with James Coburn and Raquel Welch runs 2 minutes.
The following material is offered in 1080p resolution:
“Derek Flint: A Spy Is Born” is a 24 ¾-minute featurette narrated by Michael Monahan and others delving into the production’s history: the sad shape of Fox at the time, the early script with a different focus, and then focusing on the valuable participation in the project of producer Saul David, writer Ben Starr, and stars James Coburn, Gila Golan, and Lee J. Cobb.
“Directing Flint: Daniel Mann” is an 11 ¼-minute tribute piece to director Daniel Mann. Narrated in part by son Michael Mann, he paints a vivid picture of a man intensely interested in actors and acting and expounds on his father’s fiery spirit and fierce independence.
“Flint Vs. Kael” summarizes the less than supportive relationship critic Pauline Kael had with 20th Century Fox and the trouble she got into suggesting that critics who had praised the movie were kindly disposed to it due to an expense-paid junket to Jamaica they had taken part in. This little piece of history is related in a 6 ¼-minute piece.
There are three storyboard-to-film mock-ups that run 3 ¾, 4 ½, and 1 ¼ minutes respectively.
The isolated score track features a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 encode of Jerry Goldsmith’s engaging music for the movie.
The enclosed 6-page booklet contains many colorful stills, the poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s appreciation of the movie.
4/5 (not an average)
Our Man Flint is still lots of fun even decades after its initial success. The Twilight Time Blu-ray looks and sounds marvelous and is chock full of interesting and informative bonus features. Only 3,000 copies of the Blu-ray will be available, so those interested in experiencing this fondly remembered spy homage should hop to www.screenarchives.com to see if copies are still available. They're also available via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies. Highly recommended!