When I learned that classic film bloggers Silver Screenings and The Rosebud Cinema declared June 20-22 as 1967 in Film Blogathon, I jumped at the chance to write about a film from that year. Be sure to visit these wonderful blog sites to read about more films that premiered in 1967. I have always enjoyed a spy caper movie. When the first James Bond flick Dr. No hit the movie screens in 1962, it was a huge,smashing success. It only cost $1,000,000 to make the film but it raked in much more in profits. Hollywood took notice and more spy movies went into production to capitalize on this new movie genre. 1966, two screenwriters, Hal Fimberg and Ben Starr, wrote a film plot centering on a new American super spy named Derek Flint. 20th Century Fox loved the idea and asked Daniel Mann to direct. Lee J. Cobb was signed to play the super spy’s boss, Lloyd Cramden and James Coburn was hired to play the super spy, Flint. This first film, Our Man Flint, did great at the box office and that led to 20th Century Fox making a sequel, 1967’s In Like Flint, with the change of Gordon Douglas for director, and only Fimberg wrote this second film’s screenplay.
In the first film, Flint takes some fun jabs at 007 and his gadgets, shows he is cooler than cool, a master of disguise, a karate master, and a charmer of the ladies. He has a trio of scientists to deal with as the main baddies. In 1967’s sequel, the times were changing and this was reflected in the plot, pitting our super spy against a group of feminists who want to take over the running of the world!
These ladies are using their make up corporation Fabulous Face as a front for their plans, and using their spa resort in the Virgin Islands as their secret base. The ladies have successfully kidnapped the US President(Andrew Duggan), replaced him with an actor who has had plastic surgery to make him look like the President, made Flint’s boss Cramden look like a scandal swamped idiot who has to be put on administrative leave, and have sent two Russian lady cosmosnauts into space in order to gain control of a new space platform. Their last goal, to replace male world leaders with strong females, is in the works when Flint has to infiltrate their HQ’s and stop them. It was fun to see Anna Lee, British actress and one who usually played such polite, gentle characters get to play the leader of these feminist baddies!
Lee J. Cobb is good as the spy boss, head of Z.O.W.I.E., which stands for Zonal World Organization Intelligence Espionage. He admires Flint’s skills but also is frustrated with him because Flint often goes it alone on missions, refusing the gadgets offered to him. Flint doesn’t use a gun, he relies on his karate skills, and at times, he reminded me of a proto-type for MacGyver, without all the girls! Flint has a cool jet, a fab apartment with the latest 1967 home furnishings, and 3 ladies who take care of him at home. In the first film, he had 4 ladies caring for him and as Flint meets with Cramden(Cobb) in the second film, Cramden asks about those 4 ladies and is told that they all got married!
Flint’s new ladies, a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead all get tricked into going to the spa run by Fabulous Face in the Virgin Islands. The spokeslady for Fabulous Face, Lisa(Jean Hale) has a plan to brainwash Flint’s 3 ladies into believing that women should run the world, that men are worthless. However, Flint’s 3 gal pals are immune to the brainwashing so into cryogenic shower stalls they go for future efforts.
Meanwhile, Flint is in Moscow trying to find out about the cosmonauts and the new space platform. He gets to be in a Moscow Ballet number with their star ballerina, Natasha(Yvonne Craig-tv’s future Batgirl) and then back at her place, in between kisses, tries to discover what the Russians are up to. He realizes he has to get to the Virgin Islands, to that spa where his 3 ladies are being kept prisoner. Fabulous Face holds the key. The closest a Russian plane can fly to the Virgin Islands, in 1967, was Cuba, so in a jab at communists, he dons a Fidel Castro outfit, with beard and dark sunglasses and boards a plane to Cuba. I caught the jab as all the passengers on the plane looked like Castro, the stewardess was a plain, sturdy woman, and they had to share their seating area with crates of chickens!
Cramden, in Washington D.C., with the help of young Lieutenant Avery(Thomas Hasson), has discovered that the Z.O.W.I.E. office has been bugged, that the President is a fake, that Cramden’s own forced scandal was part of a larger plot, and it all points to Fabulous Face. Cramden declares that Flint’s not the only master of disguise and comes up with one to help him get into the spa. It was interesting to see Cobb play in a film that was a campy take on spy films. Usually Cobb acted in serious, dramatic works. He did fine and I like to think that he enjoyed himself, even when he had to don make up, wig, and heels!
Flint, Cramden, and Avery get to Fabulous Face and so does the double-crosser, General Carter(Steve Ihnat). Carter was working for the US Government as a liason for them and Z.O.W.I.E. He was actually working with Fabulous Face on their plans, but decided to double-cross the ladies and take over the world for himself. This turn of events causes Flint and his side to work with the lovely ladies on an Operation Smooch, to bring down General Carter and his minions.
In Like Flint is a fun, silly romp into the world of super spies, super villains, and 1967. The opening shots of the film are close ups of ladies getting massaged and bathed at that spa, filmed in the color red with gauzy swaths of fabrics obscuring things a bit, an obvious nod of how James Bond movies open. James Coburn is great as Flint. He exudes cool and while he may not have had drop dead handsome looks, his voice is one to reckon with! I could just sit and listen to him read a phone book!
Here is the link from TCM of a trailer for the movie, and it is available to buy through the TCM Shop. In Like Flint is available to buy via Amazon or to watch on their instant rent. Also, a kind soul has put the entire film up on Youtube. So kick back on your groovy couch and plan to watch this coolest of cool spies in action!