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In Like Flint Review

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The second of superspy Derek Flint’s adventures has him discover the President has been replaced by a clone, and it could be down a nefarious gang of haughty women who are plotting to take over the world by brainwashing people in their beauty salons.

★★★★★

Long before Austin Powers parodied the 60s spy formula with all its Bondian pomp and glamour, James Coburn took the helm in a series of silly and splendid espionage romps based around the bone dry spy Derek Flint. This was his second case (following 1965’s Our Man Flint) which manages the not-inconsiderable achievement of being camper, hammier and more fantastically ludicrous than its predecessor. If it comes right down it, and it does, this is a film about a gang of imperious female spa owners plotting to put a puppet regime in the White House eventually to take over the world. It could happen…

If 007 pretended not to notice how unrealistic his universe was, Flint revels in his own absurdity. Not exactly played for laughs, rather than accepting no one is going to take you seriously, especially when you have Derek Flint (James Coburn, so taciturn he might as well be walled in) joining the Russian ballet or dressing up like Fidel Castro or having lessons to speak dolphin. While Bond delivered the gags, Flint much of the time seems to be the butt of them. Which, interestingly, give the film a genial grace, with so little tension it just seems to waft pleasantly past.

Gordon Douglas coats the whole thing in a nutty sixties veneers of primary colours and horrible modernist designs of the Batman television series, it is vile and garish but fits with its winning sub sci-fi book exuberance. And while it seems there is a loose parody of the battle of the sexes at work, in these awkwardly Stepford-alike minxes who brainwash their fellows sisters with hairdryers, don’t worry devilish Derek ends up in orbit with two lovely female Russian cosmonaughts and loads of time to kill.