When a mysterious group of evil doers take control of earth’s weather, who ya gonna call, 007? No, get Flint!
Our Man Flint is a 1966 American action film that parodies the James Bond movies. The film was directed by Daniel Mann, written by Hal Fimberg and Ben Starr, and starring James Coburn as master spy Derek Flint. It has a great spy-fi story that features a boatload of genre tropes. For example the bad guys have a submarine and a secret island lair, there’s a femme fatale, and Flint himself is one also. He’s designed to be an over-the-top cliched character, an exaggerated caricature of the movie spies he represents.
When John F Kennedy included Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love as part of his favorites reading list, not only did it elevate the spy novel to being acceptable literature for mainstream society at the time, it was instrumental in creating one of the longest enduring movie franchises to ever exist. Bond, James Bond,007 became as well known as Jesus Christ, and there were definitely many more attempts to emulate him than the icon of christianity by men who wanted to be him, or at least viewed as like him by women and men they encountered.
Demand for stories depicting spies and spy-fi soared making it an integral part of pop culture that still thrives today. Shows like Secret Agent Man, The Avengers, The Man From Uncle, Get Smart, and others owe their existence to Kennedy’s mention of Fleming’s works. Among the many imitations and well done parodies of 007 was a notable one titled Our Man Flint, a very tongue-in-cheek parody of the iconic British secret agent
Flint was an over-the-top fictional character whose qualities were a combination of all of Bond’s best plus more. He was an expert martial artist, in possession of a remarkably disciplined mind approaching that of a yogi or mystic, spoke multiple languages, a connoisseur, a bon vivant expert in sartorial matters, and of course, a ladies man. He also displays a vast amount of scientific knowledge and demonstrates familiarity with the cutting edge of technology. Flint was a sort of Batman without the cape and cowl. In short he is a man’s man that the ladies find irresistible. So irresistible he has a harem of four beauties who share him, confirming his masculine virility.
Flint was not above using technology to achieve his goals, and get the desired results for his efforts. He had a special watch that served several other functions besides accurately keeping time, and a lighter that also served multiple functions, in keeping with the spy-fi trope of devices that do more than their appearance might indicate.
Flint is called upon by a secret government organization called Z.O.W.I.E. he had previously worked for, to solve the mystery of the main premise of the film which is find and stop a trio of “mad scientists” who are attempting to blackmail the world with a weather-control machine. He is brought out of retirement to deal with the threat of Galaxy, a world-wide crime organization led by the trio.
Flint decides to take them on after a preemptive assassination attempt by Galaxy’s section head, Gila (Gila Golan), who replaces a restaurant’s harpist while Flint is dining with his four live-in “playmates”: Leslie (Shelby Grant), Anna (Sigrid Valdis), Gina (Gianna Serra), and Sakito (Helen Funai). Gila uses a harp string as a bow to fire a poisoned dart, which misses Flint, but hits his former boss Cramden (Lee J. Cobb). Cramden is delightfully, and amusingly portrayed by Cobb as a blustering older man that is trying to keep up with his former employee but is simply not equipped for the task in any way.
This is just the start of the farcical narrative that has Flint Globetrotting around the world in search of clues that will lead him to the villain’s headquarters, and putting a stop to their crimes. He even encounters a substitute for Bond along the way in the person of agent 0008 in Marseilles. Our hero finally locates the secret island base, which is also home to a sleeping volcano, after encountering multiple bad guys and villains along the way.
There is also a silly subplot involving a self proclaimed aristocratic snob Malcolm Rodney played by Edward Mulhare (The Ghost & Mrs. Muir and Knight Rider), who Flint defeats in a sword fight.
The secret base also holds another surprise. The scientists are creating an army of women they have technologically programmed to be sex slaves for their enjoyment, and have kidnapped Flint’s girlfriends to add to this collection. Flint, of course arrives just in time to save his companions and even Gila, who had attempted to kill him earlier in the film. The story ends in heavily cliched fashion when the volcano explodes just after Flint makes a narrow, and daring escape.
This is an adorable, absurd, silly, heavily stereotyped, and cliched story in movie form that is still fun to watch to this day. It depicts a parade of exaggerated villains, adventures, mystery, beautiful women, and action in a story that is mostly just an excuse to portray popular male fantasies of the era in which it was made. Funny thing is, all these years later, these fantasies have not much changed. Flint is the archetypal hero all of us guys wish we could be sooner or later.
Despite all that, or maybe because of it, Our Man Flint received mostly positive reviews in response to its release, and is still highly regarded today. The film give birth to a sequel titled “In Like Flint” (1967).