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  Man Called Flintstone, The Yabba Dabba Do
Year: 1966
Director: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera
Stars: Alan Reed, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, Gerry Johnson, Don Messick, Janet Waldo, Paul Frees, Harvey Korman, John Stephenson, June Foray, Louis Prima
Genre: Musical, Animated, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A man who looks remarkably like Fred Flintstone (voiced by Alan Reed) is getting up to some unmistakably un-Fred-like business as he drives a car at high speed around the mountain roads near the town of Bedrock, with two goons in hot pursuit. His car is tricked out with an array of gadgets which he employs to shake them off, but to no avail and he ends up crashing the vehicle in one of the town's sidestreets, then fleeing up a fire escape to the roof of a tall building. The goons follow, one thing leads to another and they see the Fred-alike take a fall - satisfied he is dead, they return to their boss, but he has actually survived, being as he is a secret agent...

Were you fooled? That lengthy action sequence heralds the beginning of the Flintstones movie, no, not the one from the nineties that cost so much money, but the original effort which marked the end of the cartoon series on television with an outing for the characters on the silver screens of the world. It was a rare foray into movies for the type of animated personalities dreamed up by producers (and directors, here) William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, as a kind of tribute to the series which had been such a success for them, although you might have been forgiven for thinking you were watching a feature length episode.

There isn't much difference between the styles of the series and the movie, except that the story is more cinematic, concerning that most popular of targets for sixties spoofs, the James Bond spy yarn. Here Fred is recruited as a stand in for his double, as even falling off a roof is something such a man of action has to recover from, and the Chief (Harvey Korman) tells Fred that if he carries out agent Rock Slag's mission then he'll not only save the world from the dastardly Green Goose (also Korman, just to confuse things), but get a holiday for his family into the bargain. Their destination? Eurock, of course.

Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc) also tags along with his family, having to ride on the plane in budget class, i.e. on the wing (!) while Fred, Wilma (Jean Vander Pyl) and daughter Pebbles get to travel first class. Meanwhile, the two goons are on Fred's tail, believing him to be Rock, and in a Wile E. Coyote style are constantly foiled in their attempts to bump him off. A strange aspect of this is that Rock has been quite the ladies' man, and had women throwing themselves at him; now, there is a certain type of person who will admit to finding Betty Rubble attractive, but is there really anyone who would swallow the concept of Fred being irresistable to the opposite sex? All part and parcel of the Bond parody, one supposes.

This is a musical as well, as if Hanna Barbera looked to Disney, who still ruled the movie side of animation just as they ruled television side, so every so often one of the characters either breaks out into song - Fred and Barney get a duet about how close their friendship is - or has someone else sing about them. This results in a nice Romeo and Juliet interlude once the characters reach Italy, where Louis Prima, soon to be King Louie in The Jungle Book, serenades Fred and Wilma. Even Pebbles and Bam-Bam (who doesn't get to utter his catchphrase) have an opportunity to sing, even though they're babies, and not once but twice. As the Cuban Missile Crisis was evidently still in the minds of the writers, it all ends with a race against time to stop a nuclear rocket hitting its target (they were very advanced in the Stone Age, evidently), and if there are not as many laughs as you would like (nothing to rival the classic dentist episode, anyway) it was undemanding and pleasing entertainment. Music by Ted Nichols and Marty Paich.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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