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DVD SAVANT

In Like Flint


In Like Flint
Fox Home Entertainment
1967 / Color / 2:35 anamorphic 16:9 / 114 min. / Street Date July 16.2002 / $14.98
Starring James Coburn, Lee J. Cobb, Jean Hale, Andrew Duggan, Anna Lee, Hanna Landy, Totty Ames, Steve Ihnat
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Art Direction Dale Hennesy, Jack Martin Smith
Film Editor Hugh S. Fowler
Original Music Jerry Goldsmith
Written by Hal Fimberg
Produced by Saul David
Directed by Gordon Douglas

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

A very limp sequel to the original Our Man Flint, In Like Flint hasn't got much going for it beyond its snickering title and several nice Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack cues. If the first picture was a happy accident where a lot of random ideas happened to coalesce, this followup looks like too many people with way too many bad ideas got into the act. James Coburn tries to enliven the damp proceedings, but even when it was new, audiences could tell it was missing something essential.

Synopsis:

A trio of feminists are helping a group of Army conspirators to overthrow the government, not realizing that their male comrades are going to betray them when they've succeeded. From an island spa called Fabulous Face, they dispatch a lookalike to replace the President (Andrew Duggan) and quickly discredit security chief Lloyd Cramden (Lee J. Cobb) with compromising photographs. Derek Flint (James Coburn) is busy talking to dolphins and performing ballet in Russia with duplicitous ballerina Natasha (Yvonne Craig), but he eventually goes to Fabulous Face to straighten things out. Cramden's already a prisoner there, having foolishly tried to crash the place while disguised as a woman.

If this is Austin Powers' favorite movie, it must be because of the old dirty joke in the title.  1 The freshness of the humor dates back to the 40s, the decade when In Like Flint's writer Hal Fimberg wrote scripts like The Boogie Man will Get You and Abbott and Costello In Society. The first film was pegged on making Derek Flint a fantasy joke, a SuperSpy who out Bonded James Bond; and since he really doesn't have much going for him as a character in his own right, continuing his adventures would have required some stroke of conceptual genius. Instead, Flint is dulled down to a rather generic spy hero who's now much more friendly with his 'old pal' Cramden, and lowers himself to the level of ordinary discussions with people ... in other words, he's pretty dull. Worse, the action scenes don't have much pep or point, and are instead played for silly laughs, with a not-very-good double doubling Coburn in the fancy stuff. Fox doesn't seem to have understood the idea of a recurring franchise until their next year's Planet of the Apes.

Our Man's ridiculous plot had direction, pace, and a sense of grandeur; In Like's story meanders about, spending lots of time away from Flint (perhaps giving Lee J. Cobb more to do so he would return?). When Cramden goes in drag as a disguise, the show stoops to the Jerry Lewis level, but doesn't get any laughs. The Russian episode with Coburn prancing about in a ballet costume, and his Fidel impersonation on an airliner full of chickens, are more pointless tangents. In contrast to the dynamic opening of the first film, the sequel begins with a tour of the Virgin Island resort that just doesn't belong. The presence of Yvonne Craig reminds us that in 1967, Fox was riding high on Batman mania, and had decided that low camp was the order of the day for everything spoofy.

Pitching the nefarious plotters as a trio of ladies with teapots might have been a laugh riot in the producer's office, but the jokes are so thin and the satire so non-existent, that it just turns into more wasted time. The always-dependable Anna Lee, that great actress from so many classic films, gives it her all, but the writing gives her nothing to work with. In her review, Pauline Kael mentioned seeing two versions of the film. In the second, she reported, a few lines of dialogue where Flint gently castigated the ladies for their misbegotten scheme, were dropped. Instead, his first word - "Ladies..." was cut directly to his last two words: " ... Forget it!" The movie is a pretty painful example of feminism (or pre-feminism?) being subjected to ridicule.

Derek Flint, in the first movie, was fun because he was so consistently perfect. Nobody ever touched him; he was made of Teflon, like The Great Leslie. Nobody got the best of him, not for a moment, and when they thought they had, it was because he allowed them to fool themselves. He was ahead of everyone else in the plot, making wild Sherlock deductions from less than zero evidence. And everything he did was ultra-stylish. Merely escaping from Galaxy Island like everyone else wouldn't do - he had to make a grand showoff dive from the summit of a volcano.

In In Like Flint, Derek's just an ordinary guy. He's barely a match for the guards in the industrial room with the conveyor belt. He's locked up, swatted on the head, and made to take an ordinary airliner with ordinary slob passengers. In the dismal finale, he leads a convoy of rubber boats full of bikini-clad starlets on a foolish invasion. The babes overcome the male soldiers of unhappy-looking Steve Ihnat with embarassing oo-la-la embraces, in a scene that would defeat the best efforts of any director.

Gee, Savant, tell us what you really think of In Like Flint. Well, there's not much more to say. We fans of this kind of nostalgic fluff enjoy series like the Beach Party movies, which are really far worse than this show - if Coburn's mugging brings back the same Frankie & Annette feelings for you, the quality of the film will be secondary. The Jerry Goldsmith music is still worthwhile, even though it hasn't a tenth of the impact of the first movie. In the final analysis, Derek Flint has to be written down as a one-shot Spy whose second outing is better forgotten.


Fox Home Entertainment's DVD of In Like Flint is beautiful. The 16:9 transfer is slightly more attractive than most of the first film, mainly because the photography here doesn't look as rushed. The Dolby Digital track is clear but uneventful. Again, the only extras are trailers from the other four titles packaged in this 'Austin Powers' promotion. The jacket artwork chops up the film's original art, cropping Coburn's legs on the left and disguising the fact that the woman in the chair is aping Coburn's pose from the first film's poster. One of the stills on the back cover is a mistake that shows Flint being shaved from the first movie.

If, like Austin Powers, In Like Flint is for you, this very inexpensive Fox disc is a great buy.


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, In Like Flint rates:
Movie: Fair
Video: Excellent
Sound: Good
Supplements: Trailer
Packaging: gaudy yellow-orange Keep case
Reviewed: July 1, 2002


Footnote:

1. For you younger pups, the saying, "In Like Flynn" means you're doing just fine, especially with the opposite sex, as would Errol Flynn, eminent ladykiller.
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DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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