In Like Flint (Blu-ray)
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Studio: Twilight Time (Fox)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 114 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0, 5.1 English
MSRP: $ 29.95
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Review Date: February 17, 2013
A cabal of powerful women representing the fashion, cosmetics, publishing, and communications worlds decide that men have misused their power and decide to take the reins of ruling the world. In collusion with the President’s (Andrew Duggen) chief advisor General Carter (Steve Ihnat), they manage to kidnap the President and substitute a look-alike actor in his place who will see that the women headed by Elisabeth (Anna Lee) with plans implemented by henchwoman Lisa Norton (Jean Hale) can gain control of the world by threatening a nuclear assault if their will is not obeyed. At the request of ZOWIE head Cramden (Lee J. Cobb), Derek Flint (James Coburn) is called into action, but he doesn’t spring immediately into service until he realizes that his three Girls Friday have been abducted, too. But General Carter has his own plans for gaining power that none of his partners know anything about.
Scripted by Hal Fimberg, the “women rule the planet” scenario is rather tired and not especially well plotted with Fimberg and director Gordon Douglas trundling along at a laggard pace de-emphasizing the nuclear threat that’s supposedly the trump card the ladies have to get their way. Despite location work in Jamaica, the movie still has the look of a heavily studio-bound production, and effects like matte work (a ballet performance where Flint shows his dexterity in tights in a huge concert hall, Flint climbing aboard an about-to-launch spacecraft) look particularly patched-together and phony. The movie seems silly rather than funny (Lee J. Cobb in drag is especially desperate), a mood killer when the only people seeming to be having a good time are the people making the film. On the plus side, Coburn is still game for anything and shows his agility in a fight in a gym where he uses various pieces of apparatus to his advantage, and the film’s production design is a textbook of mid-to-late 1960s style and décor. But the things about the original film that made it so much fun and so different don’t register with the same impact in the sequel, and quadrupling the number of voluptuous women on display may have pleased a great percentage of the film’s viewing audience but since nothing special is done with them, their presence is a rather vacuous addition to the movie’s contents.
Though he doesn’t appear bored by playing the same role again, James Coburn doesn’t really discover any new colors for Derek Flint in his second go-round. And he definitely proves himself a man of his era when he scoffs at the very notion of women ruling the world. Beautiful Jean Hale tries to expand her femme fatale role by donning a dowdy disguise early in the movie to get Lee J. Cobb’s Cramden under her spell, but a severe hairstyle, glasses, and a Southern twang can’t hide her innate beauty, and she seems less important to the film as it runs. Andrew Duggan gets to play dual roles as the President and his look-alike, but there isn’t a smidgen of difference between them (how interesting it would have been for the actor playing the Chief to be completely different in private). Anna Lee is regally aloof as the female mastermind of the operation.
The film’s Cinemascope 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. (For the record, In Like Flint and the Doris Day-Caprice were Fox’s last two CinemascopeÔ productions.) For most of the film, the transfer is a gorgeous one with superb sharpness, breathtakingly lush color, and pleasing flesh tones. There is an occasional shot that breaks the spell a little (that matte shot in the dance hall has the on-stage dancing going in and out of focus sloppily and location long shots are a bit soft), but color control is really outstanding with a vivid all-red boudoir of the Russian ballerina played by Yvonne Craig rock solid with no blooming. Black levels are good rather than great, but shadow detail is very good regardless. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.
The disc offers two English sound mixes, both DTS-HD Master Audio-encoded. The 1.0 theatrical track sounds fine and is typical of its era, but the 5.1 track expands Jerry Goldsmith’s playful score into the front right and left channels for a more pleasing effect and superior fidelity to the 1.0 mix. The 5.1 does not use the rear channels much at all apart from occasional echoes from the front channels. Dialogue has been well recorded and is always discernible in both mixes.
The audio commentary is by film magazine publisher Lee Pfeiffer and critic Eddy Friedfeld, and it’s a lively conversation from two fans of 1960s genre films that fans will want to hear. They occasionally go off topic to discuss other films and stars of the era, but In Like Flint doesn’t get ignored.
The isolated score track is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.
The first four video featurettes are in 1080p. The remaining video features from 2006 are in 480i.
“Derek Flint: The Secret Files” is the first of four more recent featurettes which present a group of film historians commenting on the Flint films. Along with the son of original director Daniel Mann and the daughter of James Coburn, scholars such as Scott McIsaac and actress Jean Hale comment on the two films with a special shout-out to James Coburn’s stunt double Buzz Henry. This runs 15 ¾ minutes.
“James Coburn: Beyond the Spy” allows James Coburn’s daughter to talk about her father’s interest in acting and his individualism which would never have allowed him to do any more Flint movies. Scholar Matthew Bradford and costume designer Ray Aghayan also contribute to this 15-minute vignette.
“Designing Flint” spends 11 ½ minutes discussing the production design of the movie (Jack Martin Smith and Dale Hennessey receive kudos) allayed with the costumes by Ray Aghayan (who speaks about his close working relationship with Hennessey).
“Flint Vs. Zanuck” gives background on the stormy relationship between producer Saul David and studio head of production Richard Zanuck which led to David’s ouster in 1967. This runs 7 ¼ minutes.
“Take It Off” begins as a tongue-in-cheek look at health spas as an introduction to the plot of In Like Flint. This runs 8 ¾ minutes.
“Puerto Rico Premiere” features TV personality Art Linkletter interviewing celebrities in Puerto Rico for the premiere of the movie. He speaks briefly with Sammy Davis, Jr., Lee J. Cobb, James Coburn, and Edie Adams. It runs 11 ¾ minutes.
The improvised screen test of actress Jacki Ray is handled by director Gordon Douglas and runs 2 ¼ minutes.
“Future Perfect” features film historian Chris Gore among others discussing how prescient the Flint films were in showing technology ahead of its time. It also discusses how the Flint villains were usually misguided in their aims while the Bond villains were truly sinister. This runs 7 ½ minutes.
“Feminine Wiles” features historians Chris Gore and Mary Corey discussing the early signs of the women’s movement present in the movie though they believe it to be showing “Playboy feminism” rather than any radical philosophies of the women’s movement. It plays for 6 ¼ minutes.
“Spy School” features former CIA operative Chase Brandon discussing the glamorized espionage of the 1960s spy films and how unlike spies are in real life. This runs 6 ½ minutes.
“Musician’s Magician” presents the son and daughter of Jerry Goldsmith talking about their father as well as music historian Robert Townsend discussing the technique of Jerry Goldsmith. This runs 5 ¼ minutes.
“Spy Vogue” is a 6-minute featurette detailing the kitschy aspects of the film from its Playboy hipsterism to its clothes and sets.
There are two theatrical trailers. The In Like Flint trailer runs 1 minute while the one for The Quiller Memorandum runs 3 ¼ minutes.
The enclosed six-page booklet features some color stills and artowkr, poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s enlightening analysis of the movie.
3.5/5 (not an average)
In Like Flint doesn’t match its parent film, but fans of the series will certainly want to add this colorful spy spoof to their collections especially as it contains near-reference video and excellent audio encodes to double your pleasure. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if copies are still obtainable. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.