Yabba Dabba Do! Welcome back to the Lighttrain, I am your host and conductor today. Despite what the stigma of James Bond movies will tell you, not every imitator was attempting to create their own quick-buck franchise. In fact, some were just spoofing the Bond genre, rather then boarding the band wagon. Case in point, The Man Called Flintstone from 1966. As that title would lead you to believe, yes, this was a motion picture based off of the popular Hanna-Barbara animated series The Flintstones. What in the name of Betty Rubble was this really, though? Buckle your seat belts, we’re about to find out. Let’s get this show on the road!
After a spy named Rock Slab is hospitalized, the Bedrock secret service recruits an average joe who bears a striking resemblance to the operative. Who is this fellow? Why, it’s Fred Flintstone, like you’ve never seen him before! Will he be able to dodge his family and friend’s suspicions and defeat the diabolical Green Goose? “Legionnaire” is his middle name after all. Fred Legionnaire Flintstone… has a nice ring, wouldn’t you say?
The show was meant to be a so-called swan song for the television show since shortly before the film’s release The Flintstones was cancelled for good. But… really? You want to cap off your highly influential cartoon with a James Bond parody? Well, you do you, Mr. Hanna and Barbara. From what I have gathered, the film gathered a mildly amused response, but not much else. There’s a reason you likely haven’t even heard of this. The clips are alright in my books, as is the series it’s concluding.
What’s even stranger is that The Man Called Flintstone was additionally a musical on top of the already thick secret agent homage. I have not seen the movie for myself since I don’t have the kind of spare cash to have Amazon.com send me a Flintstones box set I’ll probably never watch again, so I can’t really confirm or judge the quality of these musical interludes. But hey, that’s what the poster claims! In the opening credits as can be seen online, the film’s distributor Columbia Pictures, known for the Statue of Liberty as their studio’s logo, actually stars Wilma Flintstone as the torch lady. Somewhat a delightful tidbit, I suppose. Shame is, that intro was permanently nullified from all of the DVD prints. I’m pretty sure it’s accessible on Youtube, albeit in slipshod condition.
An added bonus for familiar fans, the film’s one-time antagonist the Green Goose has no relation with the alien Great Gazoo. The latter character does not appear, nor even worthy of a mention, in The Man Called Flintstone, having only recurred halfway through the final season of the show as to “jump the shark”. Basically the term applied when a once celebrated, later dulled TV program attempts to infuse a gimmick to bait back in audiences; funny story, the phrase was coined in 1977 after the sitcom Happy Days, struggling in the ratings, promoted how the character Fonzie was going to jump over a shark while on water-skis. You learn something new every day.
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So…what happened? Afterwards The Flintstones sort of went underground, appearing in Cartoon Network airings until 2004 and the occasional Fruity Pebbles commercial. I suppose even after retiring from Cartoon Network’s schedule it found a contemporary home in the former’s sister channel, Boomerang. Though, Boomerang had the legacy of that one network the kid with the flu watched at 2:00 in the morning since they couldn’t watch Cartoon Network because Aqua Teen Hunger Force was on. Sorta sad, but comforting enough. It may have played on a loop for a whole decade, although it still managed to introduce me to unique stuff before my time like Top Cat, Wacky Races, and those odd music videos with vintage Hanna-Barbara characters. I can totally include that Jabberjaw one on my mixtape and be fine with it.
The legacy, if that’s what one may call it, is a bit strange. Strange in the sense that it is nonexistent. Granted, it’s a very bewildering project midway through the psychadelia of the 1960s, which also explains the Great Gazoo! That little floating bulbous breath mint must’ve been the brainchild of that era, am I wrong? Even through and through, The Flinstones has definitely delved into far more peculiar territory. A Seth MacFarlane remake that never saw the light of day, The Flintstones meet WWE (whatever that is), and Viva Rock Vegas was just something else all together.
For now, it’s just another of those obscure conversation topics. Next time you message your friends you could tell them about how Fred Flintstone was a secret agent in a full-length movie before. Maybe that would crack a grin, I dunno. What I do know is that I’m likely going to forget that this ever existed, then possibly bury it back up again while procrastinating. Hey, it happens. For the second motion picture by Hanna-Barbara, this ain’t all that bad. Mainly plain vanilla, but I’m in the mood for that subtle taste every now and then. I rarely watch many animated James Bond lampoons. Like… three, that’s including this one. And even if I watched a macroscale of them instead, I would more or less review it the same way. Later.
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