The Flim-Flam Man (1967)

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Released 14-Sep-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio-Musical theme.
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 99:33
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Irvin Kershner
Studio
Distributor
20th CENTURY FOX
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring George C. Scott
Michael Sarrazin
Sue Lyon
Harry Morgan
Jack Albertson
Alice Ghostley
Albert Salmi
Slim Pickens
Case Click-Coloured
RPI $14.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Action behind credits 3:28.

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Plot Synopsis

†††† It will be good news to lovers of classic films that Bounty Films have added three more interesting titles to their catalogue, each originally from a major Hollywood studio. Firstly, from Universal, we have the Audie Murphy 1958 western Ride a Crooked Trail in a very satisfying anamorphic transfer of just about the full CinemScope image. Then we have the 1954 Alan Ladd western Drum Beat,, originally released by Warner Brothers at Sydney's marvellous Hoyts Plaza, in a disappointing anamorphic transfer which trims the sides from the CinemaScope image. Finally, from 20th Century Fox, comes the 1967 comedy The Flim-Flam Man delivered by Bounty in a sparkling anamorphic transfer very close to the original CinemaScope ratio of 2.35:1. The reviews of the first two of this trio of films have already been posted on this site, and now it is time for The Flim-Flam Man.

†††† Based on the only novel penned by academic Guy Owen, William Rose's screenplay begins behind the credits with a sequence that immediately sucks us into the two principal characters. Rose, whose next screenplay was to be Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, begins with a young man jumping a freight in rural America - we are actually in Cape Fear County. Almost as soon as the young man is on the train he sees an older hitcher unceremoniously tossed off into the green shrubbery of the countryside. The young man jumps off and goes back to assist his fellow grifter. The young man is Jason Treadaway or ""Curly" (Michael Sarrazin) and the colourful older man is rural con artist, Mordecai Jones (George C. Scott). In a smart, witty script Mordecai claims to hold the honours degree MBSCSDD. - "Master of Back Slapping Corkscrewing and Dirty Dealing". We learn that both men are on the run, Curly hiding out in a deserted railway carriage from MPs after going "over the hill" only five weeks before the end of his military service. Mordecai, having been in prison for his swindling activities, has fallen back into his old routine as "The Flim Flam Man", keeping one step in front of the law as he moves from town to town on the lookout for the next sucker. He justifies his exploitation of the yokels by asserting that, rather than cheating them, he is dependent upon the inherent greed of mankind. With some reluctance from Curly, Mordecai persuades him to assist him in his schemes and the two begin town-hopping seeking gullible prey. They need transport and steal a car from a wealthy farmer's daughter, Bonnie Lee Packard (Sue Lyon), the red convertible a recent gift from her parents (Jack Albertson and Alice Ghostley). Curly has pangs of regret over stealing the car from such a lovely young thing as Bonnie Lee, and he rings her to apologise. Romance begins between the two, with clandestine meetings when Curly sneaks back to the Packard ranch. There are other colourful and entertaining exploits. A town is wrecked, as is Bonnie Lee's gleaming red convertible. An old truck is converted to escape along railway tracks - "this truck's stole and the laws on our tail" - there are various run-ins with the law, headed by Sheriff Slade (Harry Morgan) and Deputy Meshaw (Albert Salmi), a back alley sting involving Jarvis Bates (Slim Pickens) until climactically Mordecai is held captive in the Court House and Curly resorts to explosives in an attempt to free his mentor.

†††† The producer of The Flim-Flam Man was Lawrence Turman, a prolific producer with forty-two titles to his credit including such diverse films as The Young Doctors (1961), Judy Garland's final screen appearance in I Could Go On Singing (1963), The Graduate, his next production in 1967, right through to the brand new The Thing. Turman must be responsible for the excellent talent working on this film. The second unit director was the great Yakima Canutt, his expertise no doubt responsible for the film's opening and other physical highlights. As stuntman extraordinaire or second unit director, Canutt worked on 232 films from 1915 to 1975! The music is from the legendary Jerry Goldsmith, with a variety of themes, the highlight being the use of the harmonica in the catchy main title melody, and the Director of Photography is Charles Lang (Some Like It Hot / The Magnificent Seven). The cast is also pure gold. First we have the seasoned veterans, Jack Albertson (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), the great Alice Ghostley (New Faces of 1952), Harry Morgan (M*A*S*H), Albert Salmi (The Brothers Karamazov) and Slim Pickens (Dr Strangelove). The younger generation supplies Sue Lyon, still on a high from Lolita (1962) and The Night of the Iguana (1964), and the young man with the most soulful eyes ever to appear on the screen. Michael Sarrazin should have become a big star, but the heights escaped him despite ripping hearts apart in Sydney Pollock's unforgettable They Shoot Hoses, Don't They? (1969) and delivering another strong performance for Paul Newman in Sometimes a Great Notion. Sarrazin worked fairly consistently to the end of his life, passing away earlier this year. Unfortunately, George C. Scott does a lot of "acting" as Mordecai, overplaying the role outrageously. Scott is far too young for the role, and his make-up is extremely bad, resembling at times Robert Helpman in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Scott, so good in The Hustler and Anatomy of a Murder, is here a collection of twitches and grimaces while the other players hit just the right note of heightened comedy the film demands. How much better the film would have been with Jack Albertson playing Mordecai!

†††† This is an entertaining romp with a flavour of Mark Twain about it. The rural scenery is very lovely, in beautiful rich colour, and under the direction of Irvin Kirshner (Robocop 2) the comedic action is fast and furious - "we wrecked a car - we wrecked a town". Technically first rate, the film gives us two young actors making the most of early opportunities, one established star hamming shamelessly, and a battery of seasoned pros showing just how it should be done. The Flim-Flam Man is a very enjoyable film, with its pleasures enhanced by the quality of the transfer.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† This is an outstandingly good anamorphic transfer from Bounty. The 1967 CinemaScope ratio of the film was 2.35:1, and this transfer gives us the entire image.

†††† The print used is in excellent condition, with not one frame of apparent damage. The CinemaScope image is clear, clean and sharp from edge to edge. The frequent shots of farmland America look glowingly lovely in beautiful, rich De Luxe colour, with the greenest fields, bluest sky and the reddest convertible seen on screen for quite a while. Skin tones are also excellent. This is an absolutely lovely looking print and transfer. There is a moderate amount of grain, and blacks are deep and solid. Detail, as in the goods displayed on the shelves in the general store, is excellent. The occasional night scene, such as the young lovers meeting, shows considerable shadow detail. I was not aware of any film artefacts and digital enhancement is extremely well controlled.

†††† There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† We do not have the original four track stereo soundtrack, but the mono that we do have is in excellent condition.

†††† There is one audio stream, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoded at 192 Kbps. The sound is particularly dynamic, despite the age of the soundtrack and the mono limitations. The opening gives an excellent example, with the harmonica based theme, the noise of the train and the clanging of the crossing signal all beautifully balanced, sharp and clear. There is no hiss or crackle, and no pops or dropouts.

†††† Dialogue is perfectly clear, without any sync problems. There is considerable depth throughout the film, with particular oomph in the action scenes, such as when the town is virtually demolished by one red convertible. Jerry Goldsmith's excellent music is all reproduced with richness and clarity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

†††† There is nothing on this disc apart from the film and itís Main Menu.

Main Menu

†††† A coloured still with the main title theme from film.

Censorship

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R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††† This title is not available in Region 1, its only availability seeming to be a Region 2 Spanish release.

Summary

†††† This 1967 comedy is a quality production with a lot going for it. The script is good, tight and clever, the music attractive and there are some great action sequences. The cast is excellent, with the exception of the leading man who supplies enough ham for a month of Christmas dinners. Bounty has used a beautiful widescreen print and has given us an immaculate transfer of the original CinemaScope image. The Flim-Flam Man should delight fans of vintage widescreen movies. No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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