The Man From SMUT

Sylvia Kristel as Mata Hari

Warning: This post features slightly higher sexual content than usual. If you are easily offended, please skip over this one.

What is it about spy stories (and the world of James Bond) that make also make them perfect fodder for erotic lampoons? Is the the character names like Pussy Galore, Lovey Kravzit or Aureole Canasta? Or is it the womanising ways of a dashing secret agent?

Real life spy Mata Hari sets the blue print for sleeping with the enemy. Similarly, in films, one of the first spy films to be promoted as ‘sexy’ was the 1933 version of Mata Hari starring Greta Garbo. At the time, it was considered so steamy, that it was cut by the censors. I am still trying to work out what they saw?

North By Northwest
Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North By Northwest

The real shenanigans starts with Hitchcock. He starts off rather sedately. In The 39 Steps, our hero and heroine are handcuffed together. Even as they take a hotel room together, posing as man and wife, nothing happens apart from subtle innuendo. By the time we reach North By Northwest, things have changed. Eve Kendall, deliberately seduces Roger Thornhill on a train. Why, because she is working for bad guys, and what better way to keep and eye on him, and know what he is up to, than cosying up to him in bed. The scene doesn’t come off as sleazy as it sounds, as Thornhill is played by Cary Grant, and Kendall is played by Eva Marie Saint (looks count for something). And if the point is labored enough, the closing scene in the movie, as the lovers are re-united is a train rushing into a tunnel.

'Safe Sex' Bond

By sixties the swinging had really started. Into Bondage (pardon the pun). Although it hardly seems it now, the Bond films were pushing the boundaries of what could be shown sexually on the screen at the time. Strangely, they’d barely get a Parental Guidance rating today. Bond has three sexual conquests in his first adventure Dr. No. He slumps to two in From Russia With Love, but is back up to three in Goldfinger. By 1971, in Diamonds Are Forever, he has one, Tiffany Case – Plenty O’Toole doesn’t count as she was thrown out a window before Bond could complete his conquest. Why do I bore you with these numbers. Because in 1987, at the height of the media frenzy over the A.I.D.S. epidemic (the problem is worse now, but gets nowhere near the media attention it did in the mid to late 80’s) the Bond franchise introduced us to ‘Safe Sex Bond’. Or at least monogamous Bond. It was highly publicised how Bond in The Living Daylights was changing with the times. And in those uncertain times, it would be irresponsible for Bond to take multiple sexual partners throughout his mission. But of course, it was all media hype. Bond still had two sexual partners throughout the film. One in the pre-credit sequence, and one during the mission. Okay, less than Dr. No but one up on Diamonds Are Forever and still without a condom in sight.

But back to the sixties. Who else was there? Derek Flint had seven girls in his first movie, Our Man Flint. They were a little live-in, love-in family. In the next film, In Like Flint it is subtly suggested that he has cut back. Strange, given the title! Only four girls.

Dean Martin as Matt Helm, surrounded by the 'Slaygirls'

The four Matt Helm films were a festival of flesh. After all, drunken old Deano needed something to leer at. As Helm’s cover was as a photographer, the series was graced with some of the most attractive girls of the spy genre, all for Deano’s snapshots and/or lusty intentions. They even had their own Playboy Bunny rip-off called ‘The Slaygirls’ for Matt to photograph and dream about in some corny musical montages. Despite the amount of flesh that surrounded Matt Helm, his conquests were rarely fulfilled until the closing scenes.

In the 1960s there were many sleazy spy books, like the Clyde Allison’s 0008 series, and The Lady From L.U.S.T. The Baroness and The Man From O.R.G.Y. and many others too numerous to mention. By the 1970s, film censorship around the world began to ease up, and what had once been solely the domain of adult books was now available to be portrayed on the cinema screen.

Now as much as I like spy films, there are certain films that I will not be reviewing due to their explicit sexual content. But, because they borrow so heavily from the established and familiar tropes of Bond (and other) spy films, I thought that a very brief overview was in order.

It would appear that around the world, for every James Bond, there are ten raunchy Jane Bonds, and for every Agent 007, there are equally ten raunchy Agent 69s. Here’s a few of them.

Jane Bond

Jane Bond meets the Man with the Golden Rod
Amber Lynn as Jane Bond

Not to be confused with the Cantonese caper, masked crusader, crime films films from Hong Kong the Jane Bond films, put simply, are pornographic parodies of the James Bond series. There have been so many over the years, made in various countries over the world, that I would suggest that the are impossible to catalogue, but titles amongst the multitude include Jane Bond (1975) AKA: The Girl From AUNTIE which featured Joan Devlon as the titular Jane; A License to Thrill (1985) with Heather Wayne as Jane and characters such as Pussyfinger and Dr. Yes. Then there is Jane Bond Meets Thunderballs (1985) starring Stacey Donovan. Amber Lynn starred in two flicks as Secret Agent 0069, Jane Bond Meets Octopussy (1986) and Jane Bond Meets the Man with the Golden Rod (1987). From Germany there was 00Sex, es ist niemals zu spät! (1998) – AKA: A Female James Bond in Action and 00Sex im Auge des Orkans (1999) – AKA: 00Sex 2: Eye of the Hurricane which both featured Kelly Trump as Jane Bond.

'Octopussy' was always a title ripe for parody

Moving on from Jane Bond, there is the similarly titled Jane Bomb (2004) from Sweden, which stars an actress called Linda Lust in the role of Jane Bomb, and features character names such as Ivana Blofeldt, Miss Moneypussy, Silverfinger, Agent 0069, and Blowjob. Enough said, really.

Mata Hari

Due to the fact that Mata Hari was an exotic dancer has made her a prime candidate to be sexualised in films. The most famous was Sylvia Kristel’s turn as Mata Hari in the 1985 film, but at the hardcore end of the spectrum, there is Code Name Mata-Hari – The Fountain of Youth (2006) and Code Name Mata-Hari 2 – Sex is not Enough (2006) featuring Katy Caro as character named Greta (a nod to Greta Garbo), codenamed Mata Hari.

Agent 69

Next we have Agent 69, as featured in Agent 69 Jensen i Skorpionens tegn (1977) – AKA: Agent 69 in the Sign of Scorpio, followed by Agent 69 Jensen i Skyttens tegn (1978) – AKA: Agent 69 Jensen in the Sign of Sagittarius – which featured Ole Søltoft as the bumbling Agent 69.

It’s getting rather sleazy. But really, I am pointing out the extreme’s of one of the genre’s conventions. SEX and SPIES have always had a connection. Sex is always rearing it’s ugly little head somewhere, but as you can see, the amount and the way that it is portrayed vary from era to era, and film to film. Even in the children’s films like Spy Kids 2: Island Of Dreams, and Agent Cody Banks there is a clumsy childlike attraction between the boys and the girls (though not taken to mattress levels). So from kids films to hard-core porn, spy films certainly have a very healthy love life.

The Man From SMUT

Dig that Crazy Scene, Man!

One of the fascinating things about watching spy films from the 1960s is the layering of psychedelic elements into the plot, and their presentation on screen. Psychedelia is one element that truly separates a spy film from 1960s from those of the preceding decades, and those after it (although I am sure some throwback psychedelia filtered through to the ’70s and beyond – such as the Michael Caine film Blue Ice, but the tripping torture sequence in that film, I would suggest was meant to evoke the torture scene in Caine’s The IPCRESS File which was made in 1965).

The psychedelic elements in spy movies came out of several factors. Firstly, and most obviously, LSD. LSD was invented in the 1940s, but the C.I.A. started experimenting with the drug in the 1950s.

From Wikipedia:

Beginning in the 1950s the US Central Intelligence Agency began a research program code named Project MKULTRA. Experiments included administering LSD to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, prostitutes, mentally ill patients, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions, usually without the subject’s knowledge. The project was revealed in the US congressional Rockefeller Commission report in 1975.

As the C.I.A.s experiments weren’t public knowledge until the 1970s they can’t really be held accountable for the profusion of psychedelic elements in spy films throughout the ’60s. However the rise in the use of LSD as a recreational drug, coincided with stories about ‘truth serums’ emanating from Russia, and ‘brain washing’ emanating from China. One of the first stories to capture the public’s imagination about ‘brain washing’ was Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate.

Once again, a snippet from the knowledgeable contributors at Wikipedia:

The Oxford English Dictionary records its earliest known English-language usage of “brainwashing” in an article by Edward Hunter in New Leader published on 7 October 1950. During the Korean War, Hunter, who worked at the time both as a journalist and as a US intelligence agent, wrote a series of books and articles on the theme of Chinese brainwashing.

[Also, brain washing…]

… originally referred to methodologies of coercive persuasion used under the Maoist regime in China, which aimed to transform individuals with a reactionary imperialist mindset into “right-thinking” members of the new Chinese social system. To that end the regime developed techniques that would break down the psychic integrity of the individual with regard to information processing, information retained in the mind and individual values.

To listen to a radio broadcast of Edward Hunter talking about Brainwashing, visit WFMU’s Beware of the Blog – Radio Site. Here you can also download an MP3 of the interview.

For stories about ‘truth serums’ we turn to the USSR – from Wikipedia:

A defector from the biological weapons department 12 of the KGB “illegals” (S) directorate (presently a part of Russian SVR service) claimed that a truth drug codenamed SP-117 was highly effective and has been widely used. According to him, “The ‘remedy which loosens the tongue’ has no taste, no smell, no color, and no immediate side effects. And, most important, a person has no recollection of having the ‘heart-to-heart talk'” and felt afterwards as if they suddenly fell asleep. Officers of the S directorate used the drug primarily to check the trustworthiness of their own illegal agents who operated overseas…

So combining drugs and brainwashing which had already crept into the arena of espionage, and adding the increasing public awareness of mind altering substances such as LSD eventually paved the way for film-makers to portray lurid and fanciful tales of espionage littered with psychedelic elements.

Our Man Flint - Japanese Record Sleeve

But these ‘real-life’ elements were not the only reason for ‘psychedelic spy stories’. During the mid to late sixties, there was a massive spy boom brought on by the success of the James Bond movies. Films and television shows emerged seemingly overnight, each of them eager to capture their own slice of the lucrative spy market. But how did these imitators separate themselves from just being pale imitations? The first thing they did was get away from the stiff authoritarianism of the Bond series. Bond was a suit with a gun. The imitators adopted more casual heroes: heroes who were hipper and more with the times. Derek Flint the hero of Our Man Flint and In Like Flint does work for a government agency, he works alone. But he can go-go with the best of them. Matt Helm as played by Dean Martin is The Silencers, Murderers’ Row, The Ambushers and The Wrecking Crew was perpetually inebriated and never in a suit. So in line with the loose heroes of these movies, the film makers adopted a modern approach in the presentation of their movies. Weird camera angles, shots through coloured glass and fish-tanks, psychedelic wallpaper and colour schemes were all adopted to in an attempt to present their movies as hipper and more in keeping with the times than the staid old Bond movies.

Youth gone wild in Hammerhead

On of the more interesting opening scenes, happens in the film Hammerhead, where secret agent Charles Hood attends a piece of performance art, clearly based on the Theatre of the Absurd. During the opening, manikins are being shot and dismembered, while a food fight happens around them. One girl gets covered in tomato sauce and placed inside a giant bread roll, while nude violinists and accordion players serenade her out of key. It’s a very surreal sequence.

David Niven and Joanna Pettet in Casino Royale (1967)

Slightly ironic, is the fact that Charles K. Feldman’s 1967 version of Casino Royale, itself a James Bond film, also tried to distance itself from the official Bond series by adding generous helping of psychedelia.

Monica Vitti as Modesty Blaise

But for psychedelic excess, Joseph Losey’s film version of Modesty Blaise must take the cake. In the film we are treated to a swirling kaleidoscope of colours, and twisted imagery. One of the many stylised highlights of excess is when the villain, Dirk Bogarde, drinks from an over sized wine glass, which not only contains an electric blue beverage, but features goldfish swimming around inside as well.

Dig that Crazy Scene, Man!

Get Flint: at Spy Vibe

Jason at Spy Vibe is running a competition for one DVD copy each of Our Man Flint and In Like Flint, two of the most GROOVY 60s spy films of all time. For Spy Vibers who need to add Flint to their collection, send an email to jason@spyvibe.com with IN LIKE FLINT or OUR MAN FLINT as the subject heading by Sept 20th. One DVD per winner. Increase your chances by putting your name in for both random drawings. DVDs are NTSC region 1 (anamorphic widescreen, 2002, optional subtitles). Winners will be announced Sept 20th.

All I can say is, if you don’t have these movies, what are you waiting for?

To read more, click here.

Get Flint: at Spy Vibe

Our Man Flint: Dead On Target

Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan
Ray Danton, Sharon Acker, Lawrence Dane, Donnelly Rhodes, Gay Rowan, Franz Russell, Linda Sorensen.
Music is uncredited.

Apparently Our Man Flint: Dead On Target hasn’t been shown for 27 years. The rumours are that it was buried because it was such a stinker. It isn’t quite as bad as people make out. The problem with it though is the writer Norman Klenman (and the director for that matter) don’t appear to have watched a Coburn Flint movie – or at the very least have little respect for the source material. For example: Coburn Flint would never carry a gun – he’d consider it crude. But Danton Flint kicks down doors armed with a cannon even Dirty Harry would be proud of.

What I don’t understand is why you would take the character of ‘Derek Flint’ and take away all the attributes and trappings that make Flint, Flint. (I am talking about the globe hopping high living, gourmet dining, pursuit of arts, surrounded by a bevy of beautiful girls etc…) Danton’s lifestyle seems to be very much within the grasp of you or me. Whereas Coburn Flint lived a life that I for one envied.

More rumour mongering (cos I don’t know if it is true), but it is said that a third Flint film was in the works in the late sixties, called ‘Flintlock’ and a script had been prepared by Hal Fimberg, writer of the first two films. If this is true, why wouldn’t you recycle or adapt that script for Danton? The script that was used, shows nothing but contempt for the fans of the original films. Here’s a bit of a rundown.

The film opens with a small cow-catcher set in San Francisco, and in particular, the offices of Southern Hemisphere Oilco. Wendle Runsler, the President of the company is handed a cup of coffee by his assistant, Ms. Carter. The cup doesn’t only hold coffee, Carter has also thrown a tablet into the mix. Runsler passes out and is spirited away in a filing cabinet by two burly goons.

Then we have the title sequence. The credits run over a colourful animated background – I use the word ‘animated’ loosely because there is not much movement. Gone too is the Jerry Goldsmith score. In its place is a fat chunk of 70’s funk. To be honest the music in general isn’t too bad, but it doesn’t replace Goldsmith’s original title tune which you expect to hear.

Southern Hemisphere Oilco isn’t happy about the kidnapping of their President and acquire the services of Derek Flint as an intermediary for the release. The villains of the piece are a shady outfit called B.E.S.L.A. (Ba-El-Sol Liberation Army). Ba-El-Sol is a fictitious Arabian country that has a wealth of oil. Guess which company has the oil concessions? Anyway B.E.S.L.A. has kidnapped Runsler. They want the usual type of political demands met: leader released from captivity, corrupt political leaders to resign, and two million dollars.

Flint receives his instructions and returns to his home. He heads home because an alarm has gone off on his watch. As I hinted at earlier, it is far from the stylish pad that Coburn had. Apart from some garish plum coloured carpet, his home seems rather normal. Back to the break-in. It is not Flint’s enemies who have perpetrated this home invasion, but a young woman named Benita Rogers. She wants to work for Flint – be his apprentice. Without giving away the highlights of the film, as they are few and far between, what follows is a mildly amusing scene, featuring a pair of handcuffs. For a brief second it appears that Mr. Flint’s charm and style have returned, but no – it’s an anomaly.

Soon after Flint is clubbed unconscious and taken to B.E.S.L.A. They re-iterate their demands and Flint is allowed to see that Runsler is still alive. Flint is knocked out once more and returned home.

Next Benita contacts B.E.S.L.A. saying she wants to join their movement. A meeting is arranged and she is taken away. Flint tails her. The tracking device in his car is a particularly noisy orange light that flickers on and off. Flint loses the signal and Benita becomes another hostage.

That’s all I am going to outline. I am sure you have the gist of it all, and I think you can guess the twists that come up (they are not too shocking – they are not in Columbo’s league). But the films does feature some archery, remote control planes making money drops, and one masseuse, and a corpse burnt beyond recognition (and we all know what that means?)

Time has been kind to this film. In the mid 70’s when it was released it may have been seen as a sloppy TV movie (which it is). But now 30 years later, it is a time capsule. It’s fun to watch the giant box like cars, listen the funky sounds and ogle at the goofy fashions…speaking of which, in Australia we have a group of children’s entertainers called The Wiggles. Apparently they are a world-wide success these days, so if you have kids, you probably know who I am talking about. For the rest of you, The Wiggles are four male singers/dancers who are coded with bright candy coloured skivvies. There is a Blue, Red, Purple and a Yellow Wiggle. Unfortunately, Ray Danton gets lumbered with a yellow skivvy for the last third of the movie – and sorry I cannot take any hero seriously who just may burst into song with Dorothy The Dinosaur at any moment.


Before I sign off, I suppose a word or two about Danton is in order. He is a little more paunchy than in his Eurospy efforts (but maybe forgivable as 10 years had passed), but he does seem decidedly uncomfortable in this role. He doesn’t seem to know how to play it. I guess times had changed. In the mid 70’s ‘camp’ was out and the quasi futurism of The Six Million Dollar Man was in. And maybe that explains the whole tone of the film. So Danton walks through the role, not sure of whether to smile or scowl.

Of the Danton spy films I have looked at, this is easily the weakest, but as a curio for the Flint fans it probably is a must-see. Burying it for nearly 30 years has probably only increased it’s status as desirable viewing. (I felt that I ‘had’ to watch it!) So if you’re one of them, whatever I say will have no effect – you’ll have to watch it. Others with little or no allegiance to the Coburn Flint films can safely skip this item.

Our Man Flint: Dead On Target