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  Our Man Flint Is There Nothing He Cannot Do?
Year: 1966
Director: Daniel Mann
Stars: James Coburn, Lee J. Cobb, Gila Golan, Edward Mulhare, Benson Fong, Shelby Grant, Sigrid Valdis, Gianna Serra, Helen Funai, Michael St Clair, Rhys Williams, Russ Conway, Ena Hartman, William Walker, Peter Brocco, Robert Gunner
Genre: Comedy, Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: An international, highly secret organisation with incredible power over the weather has struck, destroying a dam and flooding a valley so that a congregation of world leaders known ask for the help of Z.O.W.I.E. - Zonal Organization for World Intelligence Espionage. This initiative is led by Cramden (Lee J. Cobb), and once he hears that agents are being killed off at an alarming rate, he immediately escorts the diplomats to the computer room to inquire who the best agent really is to handle the threat. The answer, loud and clear, is Derek Flint (James Coburn) and he's the popular choice amongst the governments - but what if he isn't interested?

Don't worry, he'll be drawn in soon enough. Our Man Flint was the first of two Flint movies to star Coburn, an American answer, one of many, to the popularity of the British James Bond series. In effect, this was more like a big budget version of a television series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a little spoofier perhaps, but with similar concerns. Scripted by Hal Fimberg (who had written for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and came up with the story) and T.V. writer Ben Starr, Flint was like Bond only more so, with more women, more gags and... well, about the same amount of action.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then this film is a truly reverent tribute to 007 - there's even a Scottish agent called 0008 (uncredited Robert Gunner) making an appearance at one point. Flint is a renaissance man par excellence, when Cramden asks in disbelief if he went to Russia simply to watch a ballet, he is corrected: "No! To teach!", and also enjoys the company of four live-in girlfriends. You'd think he'd be exhausted, but he still finds room for romance with beautiful enemy spy Gila (Gila Golan, Miss Israel 1961) once he manages to win her over to his cause, of course.

There's international jetsetting here - Flint has his own private jet, naturally - as he heads for Europe to track a specific bouillabaise that will lead him straight to the weather-wrecking menaces. Eschewing the help of Z.O.W.I.E.'s agents, he only needs his cigarette lighter to get him out of trouble as it has eighty-two uses (eighty-three if you count lighting cigars) although we only see it utilised a handful of times, as a radio and oxy-acetylene torch among other things. It's a running joke how capable Flint is under pressure, and if he is under pressure he never gives that away, not even breaking a sweat.

This means it's oddly satisfying to see him outfoxed, but as this happens, ooh, about twice you're better off staying on his side. After the four girlfriends are kidnapped, Flint tracks them down to an island lair where the bad guys live in something approximating paradise (for the sixties, anyway) which might well have you pondering that maybe the bad guys have the right idea. Flint, however, doesn't like to be told what to do, even if it's "enjoy yourself in our new world of perfect leisure" and so the penalty for these idealists has, sorry everyone, to be blown up - that presumably includes the beach bunnies we saw in their multitudes. "You are not a pleasure unit" becomes Flint's mantra to the females, right on, Mr Flint, but you're the one hogging the ladies. I tell you, if Coburn wasn't to goddam charming it would be easy to dislike this superspy... Great, of its time music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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