Review: ‘In Like Flint’ (1967) | Pop Culture Crossing

            In Like Flint is the 1967 sequel to the retro-spy film Our Man Flint, which was released the prior year. The sequel is directed by Gordon Douglas and written by Hal Fimberg and, though it is more self-aware than its predecessor, it is plagued by severe pacing problems. As a result, In Like Flint drags itself across the finish line.

            The film’s story follows the creative and ostentatious super-spy, Derek Flint, as he works with Z.O.W.I.E. (Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage) in an attempt to thwart an all-female cabal from taking over the globe. In Like Flint has elements that are reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada, Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Thunderball. Fans of those films will appreciate the similarities that can been seen between them and In Like Flint. Fortunately, James Coburn’s Flint is still eccentric, even more so than in Our Man Flint, but remains charming nevertheless.

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

            Sadly, In Like Flint has glaring problems concerning its pacing. These are most evident in the first and third acts of the film. The first act feels less like In Like Flint and more like In Like Cramden as it highlights Cramden’s exploits and ways in which the United States’ foes are attempting to manipulate the head of Z.O.W.I.E. The third act, on the other hand, has a decent build to the climax, but fizzles at the most important part, and, sadly, ends on a lackluster note. These pacing issues make it especially easy for audiences to lose interest.

            In Like Flint is still fits into the retro-spy and action-adventure genres. It also has a fair amount of comedic elements. In terms of specific tonal themes, In Like Flint’s tone is immersed in a gender war that features both misogynistic and misandristic arguments that fuel the narrative. This is likely indicative of the film’s original release window in the late 1960s during the social revolution in the United States. Today, however, it feels a rather tired. The film may have had longer legs in the 1960s and 1970s, but that does not excuse its blatant sexist attitudes reflected by both male and female characters in the movie.

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

            The movie features the similar the motif of social engineering. Unlike its predecessor, this element fits the actual narrative and tone of the movie, making for a respectable improvement on the first installment.

            James Coburn provides a great performance in this reprisal as Derek Flint. As with his acting in Our Man Flint, Coburn really blends with Flint and while watching, you see Flint for Flint, not Coburn. He also does a solid job of projecting Flint’s self-awareness. Flint realizes this time around, that the mission and situation are far-fetched. When learning about the name of the operation coined by the evil organization, Flint states, “Operation what?!” Coburn’s dolphin calls are also entertaining. All-in-all, Flint and Coburn’s acting are my favorite parts of the movie.

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

            Lee J. Cobb’s Lloyd C. Cramden, the head of Z.O.W.I.E., is well acted. It seems like director Gordon Douglas wanted to approach the story differently than the previous film in the series. I respect that attempt, but the way in which it was executed created some pacing problems and issues in that Flint, the titular character, had a paltry amount of screen time in the first act. Cobb’s performance and trials he endures in this film, and his reactions are good, however.

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

            Both Jean Hale’s Lisa, the most active agent of the organization, and Anna Lee’s Elisabeth, the leader of the misandrist group, provide fair performances, but are overall rather forgettable. This may be indicative of the writing and its issues and are not solely reflective of the acting abilities of Hale and Lee.  

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

            The cinematography and production design are decent. In Like Flint boasts pretty good combat sequences, but they are few in number. It also has notable use of various library shots; I noticed these and did not see any production dioramas and models as in Our Man Flint.

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

            In terms of production design, the gadgets and tech are strong and entertaining to watch. Some of the gadgetry is a bit overused and could have been more diverse, but what they had is still great. The headquarters of the secret organization and Flint’s penthouse are well constructed and are outfitted with great props and creatively reflect the characters and the film’s predominant aesthetic.  

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox | Saul David Productions

            Gordon Douglas’ direction of In Like Flint is fair. I appreciate that the social engineering aspect worked better in this film than Our Man Flint, but that does not excuse In Like Flint of its own problems. Douglas should have definitely fixed the third act and climactic sequence. Because of this, the film’s conclusion leaves a rather unpleasant taste in viewers’ mouths, not unlike Our Man Flint. The first act could have used more refinement, but it thankfully got better when Flint became fully involved.

            In the end, I do not recommend seeing In Like Flint unless you liked Our Man Flint and really want to see its sequel. Otherwise, I recommend watching Our Man Flint instead, though that film is not without its own problems and poor conclusion. Generally, the acting is good and the production design entertaining, but the narrative and pacing elements prevent In Like Flint from being a film that should be viewed.

Back Matter:[1]

Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox

Production: Twentieth Century Fox

Director: Gordon Douglas

Producer: Saul David

Screenwriter: Hal Fimberg

Director of Photography: William Daniels

Editor: Hugh S. Fowler

Set Decoration: James W. Payne; Walter M. Scott

Music: Jerry Goldsmith

Costume Design: Ray Aghayan

Budget: ca. $3,775,000

Release Date: March 15, 1967 (USA)

Cinematographic Process: CinemaScope

Laboratory: DeLuxe

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Copyright Holder: Saul David Productions

Cast: James Coburn; Lee J. Cobb; Jean Hale; Andrew Duggan; Anna Lee; Hanna Hertelendyhttps://youtu.be/0AJFgoyLo28 Totty Ames; Steve Ihnat; Mary Michael; Diane Bond; Jacqueline Ray; Yvonne Craig

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Rating: Not Rated

Running Time: 1 hours and 54 minutes (114 mins.)

Bibliography: 

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061810/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt.