In Like Flint marked the return of the ultra-cool super spy Derek Flint. The Flint movies were, along with the Matt Helm movies, the most successful of the American attempts at spoofing the 007 series. Made by 20th Century-Fox in 1967, the movie’s biggest asset is star James Coburn.
This time around Derek Flint (Coburn) is called in by his old boss Lloyd Cramden (Lee J. Cobb) at the intelligence agency Z.O.W.I.E. (Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage). Cramden was playing golf with the president who had asked him to time his swing. It turned out to take three minutes which is clearly ridiculous. Somehow Lloyd Cramden had lost three minutes. He has no idea what this could mean but since it involves the President it obviously has sinister implications. What he doesn’t know is that during those three minutes the president was kidnapped and replaced by an imposter.
Cramden has stumbled upon a plot to take over the world by a group of women led by Elisabeth (Anna Lee). The women want to establish a matriarchy, and the first step is to gain control of a US space facility in the Virgin Islands. Elisabeth has established a beauty farm there as a cover.
Cramden has other problems. Someone within Z.O.W.I.E. is trying to discredit him by setting him up in a compromising situation with a woman. Only Derek Flint can save both Cramden’s job and the world.
Flint as usual has retired from the world of espionage to devote himself to compiling an English-dolphin dictionary, but he temporarily puts this project on hold to help his own boss. He even temporarily abandons his harem (which now comprises only three women - he’s trying to cut down).
In fact there are actually two conspiracies, one by Elisabeth’s all-female gang and another by a high functionary within Z.O.W.I.E. who is double-crossing the women. The plots also involve female Russian cosmonauts as well as a cryo-chamber in which Flint’s harem gets imprisoned. There’s a very amusing scene on a Cuban airliner which has fun with the idea of how an airline would be run in the Caribbean socialist paradise.
The visual set-pieces are less spectacular than you might expect but there are the expected hordes of bikini-clad girls. The beauty farm is fun. The plot gets more than a little confusing but then it is a spy movie and that pretty much goes with the territory.
Coburn is in sparkling form which is just as well since the rather threadbare script and Gordon Douglas’s rather limp efforts as director will mean that he has to largely carry the movie. Which he manages to do with his customary style. We also get to see Derek Flint as a ballet star.
Anna Lee has fun as the would-be ruler of a global female empire. Lee J. Cobb relishes the opportunity to ham it up as Cramden.
Fox have done a splendid job with the 16x9 enhanced transfers of the two Flint movies. They both look terrific and the set is very reasonably priced.
In Like Flint is a little disappointing compared to the first Derek Flint movie but Coburn’s performance still makes it a must-see for 60s spy spoof fans.