Blu-ray Round-up: James Coburn is 'Our Man Flint,' the grooviest of the James Bond spoofs
Plus 'Experiment in Terror,' two with Jackie Chan, and more
"Our Man Flint" (Twilight Time), one of the best of the spy spoofs made in the wake of the James Bond movies, stars James Coburn as Derek Flint: renaissance man, sensitive new age playboy, and freelance secret agent. Called upon by ZOWIE (a sort of covert United Nations) to save the world, the notorious maverick and nonchalant genius tracks down the secret organization that holds the world hostage with its weather control device, armed with only a gadget-filled cigarette lighter with 82 functions (“83 if you want to light a cigarette”). Of course there are stunning women (including former Miss Israel Gila Golan as the head villainess and a lovely rainbow coalition of adoring assistants), a curmudgeon of a boss (Lee J. Cobb), international locations, and a spectacular finale. Though hampered by an obviously restricted budget and helmed by the game but decidedly unhip Daniel Mann, it’s a swinging spy spoof with great decor, an incoherent plot full of crazy twists, and a meaty performance by Coburn, whose blinding grin and matter-of-fact authority give the spoof a strong, manly center. These groovy details are the primary inspiration for the "Austin Powers" movies.
This is the rare Twilight Time release packed with supplements. The commentary by film historians Eddie Friedfeld and Lee Pfeiffer was previously available on DVD, but the rest of the supplements are new to disc, notably the 24-minute making-of retrospective "Derek Flint: A Spy is Born," the 11-minute tribute "Directing Flint: Daniel Mann," and the brief "Flint vs. Kael," all presented in 1080p HD. The rest of the featurettes and the two screen tests are in standard definition. Also includes Twilight Time's trademark isolated musical score and an eight-page booklet with an essay by Julie Kirgo. Limited to 3000 copies, available exclusively from Screen Archives.
"Experiment in Terror" (Twilight Time) is a lean, taut thriller from Black Edwards, whose talents as a crime movie director have always been overshadowed by his success in comedies. This sleek, shadowy post-noir film stars Glenn Ford as an FBI agent who engages in a battle of wits with an asthmatic extortionist who kidnaps the younger sister of a bank teller (Lee Remick) to force her to rob her own bank. Features an isolated audio track with the musical score and an eight-page booklet with an essay by Julie Kirgo. Limited to 3000 copies, available exclusively from Screen Archives.
"Jackie Chan Double Feature: Crime Story / The Protector" (Shout Factory) – "Crime Story" (1993) offers Jackie Chan in the most serious, least gimmick-laden role of his career. It's a sober cop thriller inspired by the real-life events surrounding a 1990 kidnapping in Hong Kong. Chan plays a dedicated, rather humorless cop whose daredevil tactics put him under psychiatric review, an odd little plot thread left to dangle while he tackles international drug smuggling, kidnapping, and police corruption. Jackie pitches in on the classic police procedural elements but the highlights are still the stunts and the scraps, especially a messy finale in a burning tenement building.
It's paired up with the 1985 "The Protector," a Hong Kong/U.S. co-production that misused Jackie's talents, casting him as a maverick New York cop working with partner Danny Aeillo. Chan reshot scenes and re-edited it for his Hong Kong fans, and both the American and Hong Kong versions are presented here. All on a single disc with bonus interviews, but beware: these are not restored and the Hong Kong masters are sloppy by American standards.
"Lightning Bug" (Image) stars Bret Harrison as a talented teenager who aspires to become a special effects artist for Hollywood horror movies and hopes to show off his work in his small southern town’s annual Halloween haunted house. The monsters he creates are nothing compared to his abusive stepfather or the people in the community who attack his work. The directorial debut by real-life special effects artist Robert Hall is inspired by his own story. Laura Prepon, Kevin Gage, and Ashley Laurence co-star. Features an extended cut of the film, two commentary tracks (one by writer/director Robert Hall, the other by Hall with producer Lisa Waugh and actors Ashley Laurence and Laura Prepon), deleted scenes with commentary, and featurettes among the supplements.