Our Man Flint (1965)
|Year Of Production||1965|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Daniel Mann|
Twentieth Century Fox
Lee J. Cobb
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
James Bond is British. He works for the British Secret Service. He's cool, sophisticated, and one of the biggest money-spinners there has ever been in movie-making history. But he's British, and that really annoys Hollywood.
There have been many Hollywood attempts to make an American James Bond. My personal favourite is Harry Tasker - played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies (I keep hearing rumours of a True Lies II - I don't know whether to be excited, or filled with dread, but I'm leaning toward the latter...).
And, there have been innumerable send-ups of James Bond. This seems incredibly foolish to me, because Bond is self-deprecating, and the parodies end up looking foolish (Austin Powers is only the most recent). But they keep making them - perhaps the parodies are easier than the real thing? The only parody I have really enjoyed, so far, is Derek Flint.
Unless you're my age, you probably don't remember Derek Flint. Played by James Coburn in two movies, Our Man Flint (made in 1965) and In Like Flint (made in 1967), Derek Flint can probably lay claim to being the real inspiration for Mike Myers and Austin Powers, but please don't hold that against him. Derek Flint is not an employee of any government agency - he appears to be independently wealthy (it's never explored, but he has his own plane). He is awesomely competent at everything - when we first see him he has just come back from Moscow, where he went for the ballet (not to watch - to teach). His karate is not wonderful, but bear in mind that this film was made in 1965, well before even Bruce Lee (let alone Jackie Chan or Jet Li), and other films of this era offer far worse simulations.
Derek Flint has clearly never heard of safe sex. He has four women draped over him at his apartment, and he sleeps with a female villain with no qualms. Part of the cachet of the ultimate secret agent, I guess. Yes, this film is somewhat sexist (wait until you see the Reward Room...) - it features a pleasure island where almost all the women wear bikinis (bikinis before stretch materials - urgh!) but all men are fully dressed. Hmm - must remember the age of the film - it is a product of its time.
There are some jabs at James Bond, quite lacking in subtlety. Flint is offered a Walther PPK (Bond's weapon), and a briefcase filled with weapons (remember From Russia With Love?) - he turns them down as "crude" - he produces his cigar lighter with 83 functions. Later we see Flint encounter another agent, identified as 0008 (not named in the credits, but looking a lot like George Lazenby - the IMDB claims it's Robert Gunner), and get the better of him. Oh, and the evil organisation is GALAXY - described as "much worse than SPECTRE". It's a bit sad that they felt the need to be so blatant about "our agent is better than yours".
Plot? Nah, I'm not going to trouble you with the plot. The plot isn't relevant to this kind of movie. Suffice it to say that there is a plot concerning mad scientists and an attempt to take over the world, as usual.
If you're curious about what inspired Austin Powers, or you'd like some laughs at James Coburn as the ultra-competent, super-sophisticated secret agent, then I can definitely recommend this movie.
This film was made in 1965. That's 37 years ago. We shouldn't expect too much, because film-making technology was less advanced then, and the film has been stored and used for a long time. So it's impressive that it looks as good as it does. It's not perfect, but it's rather good.
The opening credits proclaim this to be Cinemascope, which implies an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. I'm pleased to say that that is what we get (yay!), and it is 16x9 enhanced as well (extra yay!).
On a smaller screen (like a 68cm TV, for example) this will look marvellously sharp and clear, and you'll wonder at my suggestion that it shows a trace of softness on some scenes - you have to be watching on a large screen to see it. Shadow detail is excellent. There's no low-level noise. Some of the footage of natural disasters (the storm at the beginning), and some of the aerial footage (such as at 27:14, and 97:01), is rather grainy, but these shots are few, and short, so you can ignore them (I haven't included them in the ratings below).
The colour is wonderful. This film needs vivid and intense colour to convey its milieu. There are no colour-related artefacts. This is despite some very strong colours, fully saturated - there are some quite strong yellows and reds, in particular.
There are some film artefacts (I'd be amazed if there weren't), but they are few, and small - very impressive. The only artefact I bothered noting was at 63:57, where there's an unexplained lighting change, but I suspect that's source material related (it's on the R1, too).
There's no significant aliasing - it's very minor and momentary. There's no significant shimmer, either, and.no MPEG artefacts. Yup, this is quite a clean transfer.
There are subtitles and captions in English and French. I only checked the captions, and they are accurate, well-timed, and easy to read.
The disc is single sided and single layered. That means no layer change. The movie is not over-compressed to fit into the one layer because it's not all that long, and there's only one trailer.
There are soundtracks in English and French. I only listened to the English, which is a Dolby Digital 2.0 effort without surround encoding. It is mono.
Dialogue is clear and readily understood. There are no audio sync troubles in the movie (there are a few in the trailer).
The score is a fairly early Jerry Goldsmith score. It is quite suitable for its purpose, but not memorable.
The surrounds and subwoofer can take the night off and play cards - they won't be required.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static and silent.
Very much a classic 1960s trailer, with footage from the film and voice-over. This trailer is not 16x9 enhanced, and rather grainy. Look at this and think what the film could have looked like...
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The R1 version of this disc was released recently, and is fairly similar. It has three more trailers (In Like Flint, Fathom, and Modesty Blaise), all fairly scratchy. The transfer on the R1 is very slightly better - a little crisper, but still with minimal aliasing. You could very easily be happy with either disc, especially on any screen under 80cm.
Our Man Flint is a rather good James Bond spoof, given an excellent transfer to DVD.
The video quality is excellent, especially considering the age of the film.
The audio quality is completely adequate, but far from special.
The single extra is about as basic as you get.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|