I loved Austin Powers when I was little. I would watch it over and over again. I even watched the sequels a lot. But I always felt I was missing something (particularly with the first one. The sequels were just riffs on endless fart jokes) because I was too young to have watched the movies their parodying and my dad didn’t care about James Bond so they were never on when I was little. Since my obsession with Austin Powers has waned and my obsession with film history has waxed (ha! moon references! I am so intelligent, it is unbelievable.), I have decided to finally find out what made these spy films both so popular and so bad in the sixties that they produced such a great movie. (I stand by the first Austin Powers movie. You can discount all my credibility now.) I have tried to watch early James Bond movies (meh) and I have watched several other spy movies of varying integrity, but it wasn’t until I watched In Like Flint did I realize why this genre was so rich for parody.
In Like Flint is actually a sequel to a movie that I don’t think I will be watching any time soon. Both movies star James Coburn as Derek Flint. (Get what they did there?) Derek Flint is basically the most amazing person in the world. He can talk dolphin, invent a normal looking belt buckle that can perform a million different tricks, and bed any woman he comes across and winks at. Flint is tapped to help take down an all woman take over of the planet. This all-woman collective have to employ some men in order to accomplish their goal. They take an actor and give him an insane amount of plastic surgery. They then replace the president with him. But men can’t be trusted, can they? Their scheme goes wrong, with only a minimal help from Flint. This is of course interspersed with tons of sequences of women in skimpy clothing and some radical technology, man.
When I was watching this movie, I think I uttered “Wow” a million times. I can suspend my disbelief and have fun with a movie with an insane premise, but this movie was just asking too much of me. The prejudices against women was just so over the top that it made me mad. At one point Derek Flint says “Women taking over the world! Preposterous!” He along with every other male lead could never imagine a world where a woman could be in charge of anything besides the hair on her head. And the women who are in charge of this collective do not do our gender any credit. They spout out nonsensical rhetoric and fall into the arms of Flint at the drop of a hat. Literally every woman wants to get into bed with Flint. This is surprising because he has almost no charm. James Coburn does little more than stare straight into the camera and recite his lines as written. Wooden doesn’t even begin to describe it. Coburn also is not the most attractive man in the world. He can be ruggedly handsome in a cowboy hat and dirty shirt, but clean him up and he looks like just a stretched out ape. There would be no reason for anyone to be attracted to him (Except maybe the man who calls Flint back in action. He seems to have a boy crush on him). Coburn’s performance along with almost everyone else in the film besides Lee Cobb makes the film drag on for an interminable amount of time. I think I would have been more forgiving if it gave me a “Wham Bam Thank You Man” experience instead of a War and Peace experience.