Saturday, February 20, 2010
Our Man Flint (1966)
When the intelligence agencies of the world find that their agents are being murdered at an alarming rate their leaders all write out the qualities an agent will need to succede against the terrible crisis they are facing. Derick Flint is the only agent with all the qualities, but his old boss refuses to work with him until ordered to by the president. Flint is the worlds greatest secret agent, worlds greatest lover, an expert on electronics and Dolphin speech and goes to Moscow for Ballet (To Teach!) When attempts on his life are made, Flint begins to search out the mad scientists who want to remake the world after taking over with the aid of their earthquake machine.
Making a good James Bond spoof is hard enough today, as Mike Myers' increasingly tired "Austin Powers" series proved with its latest installment. Making one in the go-go 1960s, with Sean Connery in his 007 prime and the temptation to plunge into campy stupidity at an all-time high, would seem to have been almost impossible. But somehow, "Our Man Flint" pulls it off. With wit that's as light as a feather and as dry as a martini, the film strikes a classy balance between its spoofing of superspy tropes (the gorgeous women, the island volcano headquarters) and the deadpan performance of James Coburn as Derek Flint. Coburn brings a catlike suaveness to the absurdly competent Flint, whose pocket lighter boasts no less than 86 different functions. ("Eighty-seven," he blithely observes, "if you wish to light a cigar.") The writing is often smarter than you'd expect it to be, including a trio of morally shaded villains and some clever criticism of the spy genre's objectification of women. (Flint is respectful, caring, and never less than a gentleman to the women in his life. All five of them.) Watch "Our Man Flint" to see where the shagadelic Mr. Powers lifted some of his best material.
I probably would've liked it more if it wasn't made before my time. I'm just not a superfan of older movies.