|Cramden on the Z.O.W.I.E. phone.|
Much of the film's humor derives from Flint's mastery of...well... everything. He can fence with two opponents simultaneously. He practices martial arts one on five. He dances with the Russian ballet. He can trace bouillabaisse on scent alone to the only restaurant in the world with that unique recipe. And he lives with four women that attend to his every need (e.g., shaving him, picking out his clothes, managing his business affairs, etc.). At one point, a frustrated Cramden explains: "Damn it, man, is there anything you don't know?"
Based on his earlier performances in The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), and Charade (1963), I never would have cast James Coburn as a suave secret agent. That's one of the many reasons I'm not a casting agent. Although Coburn was fine in those aforementioned films, he didn't seem like star material. Yet, Our Man Flint capitalizes on the "Coburn cool" and the actor dominates the screen physically and with his laid-back personality. Coburn also looks impressive in the fight scenes and that's not surprising since he learned martial arts from Bruce Lee.
|An impressive Coburn kick!|
The homages to the James Bond films are both obvious and subtle. There's a quick reference to SPECTRE and the availability of 0008. In lieu of Bond's attache case or gimmicky Aston Martin, Flint only has a lighter--however, it has "82 different functions--83 if you wish to light a cigar." Composer Jerry Goldsmith contributes an excellent title theme which is cleverly employed throughout the film.
|Flint with two of his ladies.|
One can also gripe that Flint loses steam in the last half-hour after the hero reaches Galaxy Island and the villains are revealed as misguided peace lovers. It's interesting to note the similarities in the climaxes between Our Man Flint and the later 007 entry You Only Live Twice (1967).
Our Man Flint was a resounding success with moviegoers and critics. A sequel, In Like Flint, followed in 1967 with Coburn and Cobb reprising their roles. It's sillier, but still very entertaining with another memorable Goldsmith theme. According to some sources, there were discussions about a third film to be called F for Flint (which became an alternate title for In Like Flint). I suspect that Coburn had no interest in being typecast and that nixed future theatrical installments. In 1976, ABC tried to a launch a TV series with the telefilm Our Man Flint: Dead on Target. It transformed Derek Flint into a private eye and featured a miscast Ray Danton in the title role.
Lastly, here are two famous bits of Our Man Flint trivia--you know, in case these topics pop up during a trivia tournament. The names of Flint's female companions are: Sakito, Gina, Anna, and Leslie. Flint's personal code book is based on a mathematical progression of 40-26-36.