Of the countless secret-agent spoofs inspired by the James Bond phenomenon of the 1960s, perhaps the looniest is “Our Man Flint,” a 1966 20th Century Fox production starring James Coburn as an international operator inspired at least as much by Hugh Hefner as Ian Fleming.
With his toothy, feral grin and lanky swagger, Coburn brought a knowing, satirical edge to his portrayal of Derek Flint as a tuxedoed superman, called into action by his former World War II commander (Lee J. Cobb), now the head of the spy agency Zowie, to combat three scientists who have threatened to destroy the world through what at the time was the fantastical prospect of climate change.
A pioneering metrosexual who lives with a harem of four selflessly devoted women, Flint is a Zen master and an accomplished epicurean (able to identify the neighborhood in Marseille that would produce the blend of spices in a bowl of bouillabaisse), a master of mixed martial arts and classical ballet (who gives lessons in Moscow).
As the new Blu-ray of “Our Man Flint” (Twilight Time; screenarchives.com; $29.95) makes eye-searingly clear, Flint also has appallingly bad taste. Where Ken Adam’s elegant production design for the Bond films gave the series minimalist cool, “Flint” has clashing Kool-Aid colors, period furniture checked out of the prop warehouse and pointlessly vast interiors.
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The film’s wittiest aspect may be Jerry Goldsmith’s score: the same three-note theme is endlessly reset in different styles and contexts, an idea developed by John Williams for Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye.”
The director, Daniel Mann, was a disciple of Sanford Meisner known for his meticulous work with actors, and while “Our Man Flint” makes few demands on that skill set, it remains an entertaining artifact.