The second and final theatrical adventure of super-spy Derek Flint involves more sexist silliness as executives of cosmetics company Fabulous Face (led by John Ford character actress Anna Lee) have partnered with a rogue military wing of the U.S. Military (led by sharp-voiced Steve Ihnat) to instill a more reasonable form of governance headed by women. It’s a storyline that kind of / sort of / treats assertive women as great big jokes (there's no dignity in Operation Smooch), and allows even more sexism to bleed in scenes which, if replicated today, would probabaly encounter a less than forgiving mass audience.
However, as a time capsule of Wrong behaviour that was written as tongue-in-cheek satire during the late sixties, the Flint films have no betters, and they manage to maintain popularity because of the sometimes brilliantly absurd moments where Flint’s super-ness is exquisitely ridiculous. There’s a reason we see Flint communicating with a dolphin early in the film, and the whole movie would collapse if James Coburn wasn’t so suave in playing his James Bond spoof completely straight (dolphin squeaks included), yet grinning at the right junctures to let audiences know both the actor and the character are cognizant of the film’s silliness.
Fox’ second Flint film has a tone that's also close to their TV series Batman, and while not as blatantly cartoonish, the storyline, sets, and villainous maneuverings (gassing the U.S. President during a golf game and replacing him with a perfectly crafted duplicate / ham actor) owe a little to Lorenzo Semple, Jr,’s Batman scripts.
Flint gets girls even if they hate him or have duplicitous characters, and like Bond, the series maintains the ludicrous conceit that rather than kill Flint immediately to ensure total world domination, the villains keep him alive to explain things, show their alternative viewpoints and their unique lifestyles; and when death is a must, they reluctantly decide on a method that happens at a later time due to an overconfidence streak inherent to over-bearing villains, or a poor sense of momentum during the implementation of Plan A.
Like their Blu-ray for Our Man Flint [M], Twilight Time’s disc showcases a gorgeous transfer with rich colours that flatter the film’s cinematography, and the pastel colour scheme and diffused lighting borrowed from then-contemporary fashion magazines. Unlike the prior BR which featured just a mono DTS track, the sequel comes with its original mono mix and a tolerable faux DTS 5.1 mix that's an upgrade from the bullshit surround sound mix on the prior 2002 and 2006 DVDs. Also included in a stereo isolated track of Jerry Goldsmith’s score, and the commentary track from the 2006 Ultimate Flint boxed set.
Film historians Lee Pfeiffer and Eddy Friedfeld continue their lengthy history of the Flint films, contributing the same depth of detail towards the cast, script, and the spy genre, but like the prior Flint track, their viewpoints are similarly affected by a bias that ‘few good films are made nowadays,’ and there are points where viewers may well yell back in protest (and be quite justified in their vigor).
Also ported over to the BR are the remaining featurettes from the Ultimate Flint set, with nods to veteran director Gordon Douglas (Them!, Stagecoach [M]) and the film’s writers, an exclusive featurette on Coburn, distinguishing real CIA intelligence vs. pure Flint fantasy, the gorgeous set design and colour schemes, portents of future events (“An actor as President?”), a featurette on composer Goldsmith, and a somewhat amusing defense of the film’s sexist elements. (Unlike the prior Flint film, the sequel boasts more risqué visuals, especially the red-saturated title sequence with beautifully layered health spa images that infer girl-girl contact, and feature three glimpses of genuine boobies.)
There’s also a featurette on a ‘missing’ chunk of 3 minutes removed by Fox CEO Richard D. Zanuck for pacing which creates a spastic discontinuity in the affected scene, and led to producer Saul David leaving Fox. (David produced a series of popular films while at the studio, including Von Ryan’s Express and Fantastic Voyage, of which the latter is slyly referenced on a fake movie magazine cover seen in Flint’s main title sequence.)
Ephemeral extras include a screen test with shapely but dramatically stiff Fox starlet Deanna Lund prior to her joining the cast of the studio's Land of the Giants TV series; a sexist promo featurette (“Take It Off”) that ridicules women who frequent health spas as a tie-in to behind-the-scenes footage of the Flint film with some unique views of the sets and extras, including the Jamaican location that also appeared in Dr. No (1962); and a very odd reel of interview material conducted by Art Linkletter who interviewed film stars (James Coburn, Lee J. Cobb) and wholly unrelated celebrities (Sammy Davis, Jr., Edie Adams) because they happened to be present at the Puerto Rico resort where Fox held the press junket & premiere.
The BR states there’s two Flint trailers on board, but what’s archived is a TV spot and a trailer for the 1966 spy film The Quiller Memorandum (which is perhaps an upcoming TT BR release?). Other oddity: the “Spy Vogue” featurette is missing its opening text credits, and there’s no i.d. captions for the interview subjects – perhaps a boo-boo in the master provided by Fox?
Julie Kirgo’s liner notes provide a brisk summation of the film’s highpoints, and the great cast who often steal scenes: Andrew Duggan is wonderful as the real + faux President (his parting monologue as the fake President in the finale is brilliant), and Lee J. Cobb reprises his role as Flint’s boss, and makes an expectedly hideous woman when he attempts to gain entry to Fabulous Face's island lair in drag. There’s also some amusing casting coincidences: supporting actors Jean Hale and Yvonne Craig both appeared on Fox’ Batman series, and Craig and Ihnat appeared together in the 1969 Star Trek episode “Whom Gods Destroy.”
While this was Hal Fimberg’s last produced screenplay, director Douglas directed a string of Frank Sinatra crime films for Fox – Tony Rome (1967), The Detective (1968), Lady in Cement (1968) – before branching out to other studios, directing the franchise sequel They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (1970) for UA and ending his career with the gimmicky ephemeral production Viva Knievel! (1977).
After leaving Fox, producer Saul David made just a trio of films: Skullduggery (1970); Logan’s Run (1976), which expanded on the utopian world in Our Man Flint, and another post-apocalyptic drama, Ravagers (1979).
© 2013 Mark R. Hasan