In Like Flint (1967)

*. Our Man Flint made a lot of money, and since I don’t think there was any question that they were aiming to launch a franchise with it a quick sequel was inevitable. Unfortunately, unlike the Bond and Harry Palmer movies they didn’t have a series of novels to work from. They needed to write a script then, from scratch and in a rush.
*. I think this goes a long way to explaining why In Like Flint disappoints. It has all the trappings of a parody-Bond spectacle but at the end of the day doesn’t have a story to tell.
*. I don’t mean that the story makes no sense or is otherwise ridiculous. It’s more that there’s no clear sense of what the point of any of it is. Take, for example, the subject of the villains. As with the scientists in Our Man Flint, the women here aren’t all bad. They want to make a better world by putting women in charge. But their methods are hard to figure. Shouldn’t they be brainwashing men instead of their sisters? In fact, that was at first what I thought they were doing. I figured General Carter and his flunkies were all either brainwashed or had been replaced. What good was it doing to reprogram housewives with hairdryers?

*. Then there’s General Carter. What is his aim? Power, I guess. Though I can’t see what it is he wants to do with it. He’s so vaguely motivated that I can’t blame Steve Ihnat’s performance for making him fade into the background. He needed a cat or a metal hand. As Lee Pfeiffer remarks on the DVD commentary, “if there’s one thing this film lacks it’s a key, central villain in it . . . the villains are sort of spread throughout and none of them resonate.” This is a problem with the script more than anything. They had the cast and the sets and some fun action sequences (I particularly like the routine in the gym), but no clear idea as to what any of it was about.
*. It’s hard to say what we’re supposed to think of the women’s movement. They make some good points (at least to a twenty-first century ear), but Flint only sees them as deluded and a joke, and they are only redeemed by throwing their lot in with him and taking down the bad guys through Operation Smooch. I don’t think there’s any way of reading this as progressive. At least the women are not brainwashed into being pleasure units, but are they being brainwashed into being feminists? Or just fembots serving the feminists?

*. As the fake president is led off at the end he quotes Shakespeare, specifically Richard II from the deposition scene (totally fitting), and the Harfleur speech from Henry V (incorrectly, as it is so often). Would you get that in an Austin Powers movie today? And this was Austin Powers’ favourite movie!
*. The original Learjets with the tip tanks were a pretty plane weren’t they? That’s Bill Lear himself (founder of the company) welcoming Flint on board.
*. There are a few nice moments, but overall this doesn’t add anything or go in any new direction. I can tell why Coburn didn’t want to do any more. There are some good parts — I give a lot of credit to Coburn, Jerry Goldsmith, and the production design — but it mainly feels like a rehash, only heavier. Still better than the average Bond spoof, and still watchable over fifty years later, even as something more than a time capsule. As dated as it is, there’s something in Flint that holds up.

5 thoughts on “In Like Flint (1967)

  1. tensecondsfromnow

    A surprisingly quick dead end for the series. lacks the big scale climax of the first film, and despite the attraction of Coburn and irony, the attitude to women is a bit grating here, and as you say, less than progressive. The first film is still celebrated, this one….not so much…

    Reply
    1. Alex Good

      I think not having an established franchise hero (like Bond, Palmer, or even Helm) hurt because it meant they were just trying to keep up without having any base to work on. Given how thick on the ground these movies were at the time it also meant they had to invest a lot just to stand out. With Coburn losing interest there just wasn’t any point.

      Reply

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