Posts Tagged ‘Lee J. Cobb’

My Classic Movie Pick: In Like Flint, for the 1967 Movies Blogathon

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.   1967 in Film Blogathon 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.

1565in_like_flint 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.

Flint's gal pals under the brainwashing hairdryers.

Flint’s gal pals under the brainwashing hairdryers.

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!

Flint's time with Natasha is interrupted by the KGB.

Flint’s time with Natasha is interrupted by the KGB.

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 learning about the Feminists plans of taking over the world.

Flint learning about the Feminists plans of taking over the world.

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.

Coming up with a plan to stop General Carter

Coming up with a plan to stop General Carter

Operation Smooch!

Operation Smooch!

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!

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Classic Movie Suggestions for New Year’s Eve

The Lady Vanishes (1938 film)

The Lady Vanishes (1938 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a Classic Movie fan.   I drive my family a bit nuts due to our dvr list being full of old movies’ titles.  Turner Classic Movies is my favorite channel, and I am often watching one of the movies from that channel and not watching network tv.   Our family usually stays home on New Year’s Eve, munching on favorite snacks,  and watching movies.  With all of this in mind, I thought I’d make some Classic Movie suggestions for New Year’s Eve viewing, movies that I have seen and highly recommend.

If you like a good mystery, with a bit of comedy mixed in and espionage, than The Lady Vanishes is for you.  It was one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s biggest hits in England, and he made this movie in 1938.  The movie stars Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, and Dame May Whitty, as the vanishing lady of the movie’s title.  Most of the action takes place aboard a train  as a group of British travelers are winding their way across continental Europe in order to get to a port city in France to then take a boat back to England.  Margaret Lockwood’s character is a young, rich socialite, who befriends Dame May Whitty’s character.  Upon awakening after a nap, Lockwood goes about the train to find Whitty, and she is not there, she has vanished!  No one on the train believes her that the elderly lady was on the train.  Michael Redgrave, playing a handsome music professor, agrees to help Lockwood search the train to find the missing elderly lady.  This movie was one of Hitchcock’s last British movies before he came to America and Hollywood.  In fact, this movie did so well at the British box office, that it helped Hitchcock prove to American movie studios that he knew how to make successful movies and he was able to make  a nice, profitable deal with MGM, who he made his first American movie with.

My next movie suggestion would be for an audience of teens and adults to experience the great character study that it contains. The movie is 12 Angry Men, directed by Sidney Lumet.  The movie stars Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E. G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, Ed Begley, Martin Balsam, and John Fiedler( great character actor known for his light and high-pitched voice.  He was the voice of Piglet in many Winnie the Pooh movies and one of the regular patients of Bob Newhart’s Dr. Hartley on the Bob Newhart tv show.)

Publicity photograph of Henry Fonda.

Publicity photograph of Henry Fonda. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The plot is very straightforward and pulls no punches.  A teen has been on trial for murder.  The action of the movie takes place in the jury’s deliberation room.  All but one of the jurors thinks the teen committed the murder and it is up to that one juror, Henry Fonda, to carefully relook at all of the evidence with his fellow jurors, and to see if it is possible  that the teen is innocent.  The movie is riveting,  and we also get to know each juror and what makes him tick, why some of the jurors are eager to just get a verdict in and leave so they can get on with their weekend plans.  Jurors and their prejudices are also scrutinized by Fonda and one another.   The movie is tense, dramatic, well-acted, and makes one look inward; how would we act if we were on a jury, deciding upon a life and death situation?

For an exciting family adventure, one cannot go wrong with a Disney movie and one of my favorites is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  The famous novel was written by Jules Verne and Walt Disney decided to make a movie based upon this popular book.  The movie appeared to American audiences in 1954, and it starred Kirk Douglas(who sings in the movie, and not too badly!), James Mason, Paul Lukas, and Peter Lorre.

Lukas and Lorre are scientists who have been hired by the U.S. Government to try and find out what is causing the mysterious sinkings of commerical ships on the high seas.  Kirk Douglas plays a sailor, Ned, who agrees to go along on the investigation.  The trio soon discovers that a technologically  advanced submarine, the Nautilus,

Captain Nemo

Captain Nemo (Photo credit: gnews pics)

Captain Nemo's Office

Captain Nemo’s Office (Photo credit: Peter E. Lee)

and a strange and engimatic Captain Nemo, played by James Mason, are responsible for the sinkings.  With Captain Nemo’s dire warnings about the environment, the movie doesn’t seem that dated, and what more can one ask for then an epic submarine vs. giant squid battle!

My last movie recommendation is the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  It is a favorite at our house, even our menfolk enjoy the humor in it, and the dance numbers and songs don’t make them cringe!  It was made by MGM in 1954, directed by Stanley Dolen, choreographed by Michael Kidd, and it starred Jane Powell as Milly and Howard Keel as Adam Pontipee.  Adam is the oldest of 7 brothers.  He decides on his next visit to town, when he buys supplies, that he’ll also get himself a wife.  He wants a helpmate who will cook and clean and sew, a woman who is pretty, but who can also work hard.  He finds that wife in Milly, a local girl who works in the town’s restaurant.  Milly agrees to marry Adam, but she is angered with him when they arrive at Adam’s cabin and find that his 6 brothers live there too.  The 6 are a mess-they’re rude, dirty, and after she gets over her initial shock,

Cover of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers...

Cover of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Milly takes on the task of turning these 6 new brothers-in-law into gentlemen.  She also impresses on them how to properly court a girl.  At a local barn raising, potluck and dance, the 6 brothers set their sights on 6 ladies from the town, who are unfortunately seeing 6 men from the town.  Adam, seeing his brothers moping around the cabin as winter sets in, tells them about a story written down by Plutarch, how some Roman Soldiers got wives from the Sabine Women.  The brothers take Adam’s advice  and hilarity ensues.  An interesting side note is that at the same time Seven Brides was in production, MGM was pouring more money and time into another musical, Brigadoon.  The studio fully expected Brigadoon to be a box office smash and to their surprise, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was the smash hit, and Brigadoon didn’t fare as well at the box office.   The roles of the brides and brothers were mostly filled by dancers, but Julie Newmar-pre Cat Woman days, and Russ Tamblyn-before he played Riff in the movie West Side Story, are a bride and brother you might recognize.   For a fun, toe-tapping way to welcome in the New Year, don’t overlook this gem!