Warner Home Video presents
The Man Called Flintstone (1966)
Barney: Nice going, Fred. You nearly got me killed.
Fred: What are you complaining about? That was my best tie you ruined.
Barney: Sorry, Fred.- Mel Blanc, Alan Reed
Stars: Alan Reed, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, Gerry Johnson
Other Stars: Don Messick, Janet Waldo, Paul Frees, Harvey Korman, June Foray
Director: Joseph Barbera, William Hanna
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (cartoon violence, scenes of torture)
Run Time: 01h:28m:55s
Release Date: 2008-12-02
DVD ReviewBy 1966, the spy genre had been parodied thoroughly, with such pastiches as the Our Man Flint movies with James Coburn. But there was still room for even more ridiculous parody, which took the form of this feature-length outing for the denizens of Bedrock. While it's an unusual outing, it's a pretty entertaining one for the most part.
In the opening, we see what appears to be Fred Flintstone in a car, pursued by two bad guys, Ali and Bobo, but he's in full secret agent mode, with gadgets galore, but when he falls off a roof, we learn he's actually agent Rock Slag (Paul Frees). When the real Fred Flintstone (Alan Reed) ends up in the hospital, the chief of the secret service realizes that Fred is a double for Rock Slag and commissions Fred to go to Paris, posing as Rock, in order to capture supercriminal The Green Goose. Fred takes Wilma (Jean Vander Pyl) and pal Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc) and Betty (Gerry Johnson) along, not quite realizing what danger he's in, since Ali and Bobo won't rest until they've taken Rock Slag out of the picture.
From the start it's pretty obvious where the story is going to go, with mistaken identities everywhere and Fred getting into trouble as he tries to hide his commission from Wilma and Barney. It's a little bizarre to think of Paris and Rome as being part of the prehistoric Flintstone world (though they're on the continent of 'Eurock'). Oddly enough, the airline that they use to fly on is Qantas, which makes one wonder if Bedrock is actually located in Australia. Though it's pretty standard Flintstones silliness, there is a short sequence of Barney being tortured by The Green Goose that is a little hard to take, especially since Fred seems oblivious to his pal's plight.
The humor is fairly lame, with most of it coming from the well-established characters. Hanna and Barbera wisely keep the characters essentially intact, but using the longer format to take them to different locales and put them in strange situations, while keeping the familiar elements. As is the case with other Hanna-Barbera movies, the lame songs immediately bring things to a crashing halt, though the main title theme does have some jazzy appeal, as does a fantasy sequence as Fred imagines life as a spy type guy. But you'll want to fast forward through a pair of excruciating and pointless songs by Pebbles and Bamm Bamm.
One of the highlights here is the fluid and interesting character design; The Green Goose and his lieutenant Tanya are both fairly arresting designs, as are the creepy Ali and oafish Bobo. The songs often have very 1960s mod artwork that verges on psychedelia. The backgrounds tend to be much more elaborate than on the series, for the most part. The animation is still fairly limited, but it's active enough that one doesn't really mind.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Although it's supposedly a theatrical release, the picture is presented in 1.33:1 Academy ratio instead of widescreen. It doesn't appear to be noticeably cropped, however, so perhaps this is in fact the intended aspect ratio. The source print is in good shape overall, with a bit of speckling and cel dirt throughout, but no major damage. Colors are vivid and line work nice and strong. On occasion there is some interlace artifacting (particularly bad at the beginning of the scene where the heroes return home). The psychedelia comes across brightly and with plenty of impact.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The 1.0 mono English track is quite good, with nice clean sound. The songs have good presence, even though they're hard to stomach. Dialogue is clear throughout.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Extras Review: Other than subtitles and decently generous chaptering, there are no extras of any kind.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsIf you wanted to see the Flintstones in a very different situation and sightseeing in Eurock, here's your chance. The story is entertaining enough though the songs are mostly awful; how did Hanna-Barbera shows end up with such great theme songs? Just don't expect any extras.
Mark Zimmer 2009-01-07