Animation Cel-ebration
July 17, 2023 posted by Michael Lyons

The Spy Who “Rock”-ed Me: Celebrating “The Man Called Flintstone”

Talk about a “mash-up.” Spy Films and The Flintstones, two completely different pop-culture hallmarks of the 60s, came together over fifty-five years ago this summer for the full-length feature, The Man Called Flintstone. Hanna-Barbera’s landmark prime time animated series about the “Modern stone-age family,” which debuted in 1960, wrapped up its run in 1966 when the studio produced this theatrical feature.

Meanwhile, Sean Connery had debuted as James Bond in Dr. No in 1962, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a hit on TV since 1964, and James Coburn had just starred as Our Man Flint in early 1966, so spy-fiction was most definitely “a thing.”

Hanna-Barbera took advantage of this craze as a backdrop for a Flintstones full-length feature. In fact, Fred’s pose on the original movie poster is similar to that of Coburn’s on the poster for Our Man Flint.

The film’s one-sheet poster

The Man Called Flintstone would serve as a “series finale” of sorts, taking the Flintstones and the Rubbles out of “the town of Bedrock,” sending them on a globe-trotting adventure to Paris and Rome. It seems that Rock Slag, the world’s most extraordinary and most famous spy, looks like Fred. When Slag is injured, and the Chief discovers that Fred is identical to Slag, he sends Fred in Rock’s place.

Fred (with Wilma, Barney, Betty and kids in tow) is sent after the villainous Green Goose and devious plans involving a missile. However, the Chief leaves out such dangerous details, and Fred and the others think they’re on an all-expenses-paid vacation.

As a full-length feature, The Man Called Flintstone no doubt came with a larger budget that allowed for moments of fuller animation and lush backgrounds than usually seen in the weekly TV show.

This is evident in the opening moments of the film that include some almost dramatic prehistoric backdrops and a well-choreographed car chase between Slag and the film’s villains.

There are also some unique animation choices in the film’s musical numbers, including the psychedelic “Spy Type Guy” and in two songs from Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. One of these, “(Someday) When I’m a Grown-Up,” includes some creative images with child-like drawings.

The songs in The Man Called Flintstone came from songwriters John McCarthy and Doug Goodwin. The inclusion of them (along with the adventurous plot) definitely “lifts” the film up from the feeling of an extended episode of the show.

Goodwin’s “Pensate Amore (Think Love)” is performed by singer Louis Prima over the film’s soundtrack (a full year before he would voice King Louie in Disney’s The Jungle Book). The lovely musical moment is the framework for a clever cartoon romantic fantasy for Fred and Wilma, as they imagine themselves as Romeo and Juliet-like lovers.

The regular Flintstones cast returns for the film: Alan Reed as Fred, Mel Blanc as Barney, Jean Vander Pyl as Wilma, and Gerry Johnson as Betty, taking over for Bea Benadaret, who had voiced the character for four seasons.

Carol Burnett Show regular Harvey Korman (who would voice The Great Gazoo in the series) was the voice of the Chief, and Paul Frees, one of the hardest working animation voice legends ever, provided several voices, including Rock Slag and the villain, Green Goose. Another voice acting legend, June Foray, portrays the film’s femme fatale Tanya (a call-back to her work as Natasha on Rocky & Bullwinkle).

Interestingly, actor Henry Corden provides the singing voice for Fred in The Man Called Flintstone. Corden would go on to take over the role of Fred after Alan Reed’s death in 1977.

Debuting on August 3, 1966, The Man Called Flintstone, comes together as the characters “First Tune-Full Adventure!” (as the original poster promises). Just like the show, there is plenty of “prehistoric technology.” This is particularly fun during a sequence in which a dinosaur is creatively used to operate an elevator and in the opening scenes where spy gadgets have to be filtered through The Flintstones’ “world.”

The Man Called Flintstone is the greatest mashup up of Bedrock and Bond you’re ever likely to see.


  • There’s one thing I’ve been wondering about:
    Whatever happened to Rock Slag at the end of the movie?

    • Good question! I have wondered that myself!

      Since it took Rock Slag two-thirds of the movie to recover from his fall from a building followed by getting beaten up by Ali and Bobo, it probably took him the rest of the movie to recover from being whacked by Wilma and Betty and smacked on the head by a flower pot from Barney. Even more sobering is the consideration that without the Green Goose, Tanya, and the Goon Twins, he is probably out of a job!

      • There is also the very pressing question of who Roberta is going to marry!

        Probably “Rockello” since Fred is already married? Zoom! Zoom!

  • I had to wait 18 years to see this film. It only played in suburban areas, not in the city proper, and though we were all diehard Flintstones fans, my parents couldn’t afford to drive that far out of the city. I think they also felt that since we could watch the Flintstones on television for free, that it was not a wise expenditure to pay for tour tickets to see them on the big screen. Whatever the reasoning, I never got the chance to see it until Thanksgiving Day 1984 when it was run on TBS.

    When I did see it, the Bond craze was still as big a deal as ever, with Roger Moore lighting up the screens in films such as “For Your Eyes Only” and “Octopussy” (with “A View to a Kill” slated to be released the following spring). So it was still very timely. I often have wished for a theatrical double bill of a Bond film paired with “The Man Called Flintstone.”

    The rumor is that “TMCF” did not fare well at the box office (probably because the public was not yet used to feature film versions of hit television shows). The problem with films that underperform is that critics and audiences tend to write them off as poor films just because they did not win the popularity contest. This is very unfortunate and very shallow thinking. There are many reasons why a film might not sell well, and not all of them have to do with the film’s quality being lackluster.

    For any Flintstones fan there is much to admire here. One of my favorite bits is the elaborate airport sequence which shows a very large stone age aircraft that is very different from the usual TV versions that generally depict a large bird or pterodactyl with a cabin strapped to its back. The plane in the film is a great wooden contraption that is lifted into the air by four giant birds. There are also some great gags parodying the difference between First Class and Tourist Class (to this day, there is still a huge disparity in how folks are treated according to how much they pay). There are also wonderful set pieces featuring Paris and Rome. And I love Fred’s scene with the Tape Recorder Bird–as on TV the characters rarely if ever interacted with the creatures they used as appliances.

    There are a few quibbles. On the plane, one of the Goon Twins throws a knife that passes through Fred’s hair and leaves him bald, but then seconds later his hair is completely restored. And later on when captured by the bad guys, Fred and Barney destroy Fred’s tie in an escape attempt. Yet once they have left their confinement, Fred’s tie is suddenly and magically back in place. And why does Rock Slag wear the same leopard skin suit and tie that Fred always wears? Also, how does Dr. Moonstone fail to notice the resemblance between Fred and Rock–or does this have to do with doctor-patient confidentiality?

    Despite these anomalies, this is a brilliant parody of the spy film genre and a very worthy translation from TV to cinema for our favorite stone-age family. If you ain’t seen it yet, or in a while, I recommend it heartily!

  • Calling TMCF a “rush job” is an understatement–The trades announced the start of production at the end of January ’66, and seven months later, the film was unspooling in theaters. That is simply not enough time to craft a quality animated feature, and the haste shows in every frame.

    I haven’t watched this film in several years, but I recall many incongruities that bugged me–The grim-looking environs of the pre-credits opening sequence look more suitable for “The Herculoids” or “Dino Boy” rather than the lighthearted tone of “The Flintstones”. If Rock looks exactly like Fred and is swarmed by women, why aren’t they attracted to Fred? And the “Green Goose”? Really? Couldn’t a moniker more “Flintstone-y” be concocted?

    All in all, pretty lame IMO, even by mid-Sixties H-B standards. Bill & Joe did the franchise no favors with this weak effort

    • Honestly, I thought it was okay for what it is and was anything BUT weak. Granted, I didn’t like the Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm dream song, but the film was good enough otherwise.

      • Remind me to tell you the parody lyrics to the Pebbles and Bamm Bamm song sometime. Oh, well, here’s one verse:
        Someday I’m gonna be a neurotic
        And spend every day with my shrink
        That’s what I think
        I’ll talk of nothing but my therapy
        When I am grown up, you’ll see

        The next one starts
        Someday I’m gonna be a hot porn star…

        • That was a bit too TMI.

    • @ Top Cat James:

      “The trades announced the start of production at the end of January ’66, and seven months later, the film was unspooling in theaters. That is simply not enough time to craft a quality animated feature, and the haste shows in every frame.”

      You’d THINK that would be universally true. Common sense would tell you it is. But somehow, Hayao Miyazaki and a crew of overworked, underpaid wage stiffs at Tokyo Movie Shinsha managed to create one of the greatest animated feature films ever in even less time than that.
      “Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro” (1979) was somehow created in just five and a half months. Every time I think about that, I can’t process how that could even be possible. It would be remarkable enough if the film were simple, sparse and filled with shortcuts, but it’s the opposite. While clearly more rushed and lower budgeted than Miyazaki’s later Studio Ghibli output, the film is nonetheless packed with elaborate detail and exquisitely rendered sequences, all in the service of an intricate, well thought-out and tightly plotted story.
      I can’t even understand how this was PHYSICALLY achievable. There are only so many hours in a day, and only so much drawing, painting and photographing that human beings can achieve in those hours, but somehow this happened.

  • Like Frederick, I first became acquainted with this film as a young adult. What stands out in my mind is the extraordinary amount of prehistoric cheesecake — perfectly in keeping with a Bond film, of course, but hardly typical of a Hanna-Barbera production. There were sexy nurses, sexy stewardesses, and sexy femmes fatales, all hurling themselves at Fred and/or Rock Slag with wild abandon. One of the musical numbers even had Wilma and Betty in cheerleader costumes. Go team.

    I didn’t realise that Doug Goodwin wrote some of the songs; I only know of his prolific work for DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. The film’s musical score has a distinct late-sixties vibe, with lots of tambourine, electric piano and fluegelhorn, simultaneously reminiscent of the Monkees, Barbarella, and Henry Mancini. One can easily imagine Dean Martin or Tony Bennett singing “Pensate Amore”. I wonder if Louis Prima was Joe Barbera’s first choice.

    If we’re airing quibbles, I don’t think enough was done to reconcile the hip contemporary milieu of the spy film with the Stone Age setting of the Flintstones. Paris and Rome are just Paris and Rome, ancient cities full of sidewalk cafés and trattorias; they didn’t even bother to call them Plaster-of-Paris and, oh, I don’t know, maybe they could have gone to Rockholm or Barcel-stone-a? The laziness is even more apparent when Fred compliments the master of disguise on his “Frankenrock” costume. Frankenrock? What’s the matter with Frankenstone? And then giving the beautiful enemy spy a generic name like Tanya when, this being a late-sixties film, she should have been called… Rockquel!

    • I don’t know if Prima was their first choice, but since he was already an HBR recording artist, I imagine he was an obvious choice for them.

  • My older brother took me to see this. It must have been a reissue, because this was in the late 70s. Still liked it a lot. I was excited when, a few years ago, I found it in the discount dollar bin on DVD… I might have to pull it out and watch it tonight.

  • I really hope that someday, “The Man Called Flintstone” will get a Blu-Ray release from Warner Archive Collection with references to Columbia Pictures restored! I loved the “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear!” Blu-Ray release from Warner Archive, that film received such a beautiful restoration, and I really hope that someday, “The Man Called Flintstone” will get that same Blu-Ray treatment!

  • All I remember from the time period is thinking “Flintstones? Spies? Didn’t they do this on a TV episode?”

    • Yeah, they did in one episode, where Fred and Barney get mixed up in a mission while shopping for ice cream. The mission turned out to be made-up for a ‘Candid Camera” show.

    • They did: “The Stonefinger Caper”, although in that episode Barney’s the one with a double for whom he’s mistaken by the bad guys.

  • Was like an extension of “Dr.Sinister”. With that, Stonefinger Caper and a few others, the Flintstones really were capitalizing on the spy craze.

  • The best gag in the movie is at the very beginning where Wilma is the Columbia Goddess.

  • Tanya was a redo of Madame Yes in the Season 5,1964 DR.SINISTER. I remember it apearig in the theatres in 1966 and in tv in 1974. Since like Fredrick says, it aired in early 80s as well when there was still a Bond Craze (just like more recently), it’s no surprise a lot of more audiences who probaly didn’t see it earlier first were now seeing it. The spy craze continues with Bond (though falling off with the latest “woke” flick), but the TMCF is still gaining a lot of fans. So I’d say restore it.BTW final;ly,two things./Korman uses his Gazoo voice for the Goose and this was an early use of Ted Nichols music..that gotre-used into the nexxt five years or so.SC

  • Miscellany…
    My mom had to tell me that Ali and Bobo were based on Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.
    TMCF has an Italian love song, as did “Hey There! It’s Yogi Bear!” Someone at HB had “Lady and the Tramp” envy…
    As to the “Green Goose,” in my never-written fanfic I postulated that there was an actual Green Goose who was a Robin Hood-type outlaw and this version was trying to claim some cachet.
    No one’s yet remarked it’s much the same plot as “Cars 2.” (Which I liked. Sue me.)

    • “Someone” is Sicilian born Joe Barbera, who was very proud of his heritage. There is a lot more if Bill and Joe in their films than one night realize.

    • If I’m able to sidetrack my critical thinking enough, I can enjoy Cars 2 myself, but it’s still not a good movie. Not as bad as many of its most vocal critics say, but not good either.

  • I love that album cover!

  • What’s really a shame is that this film is readily available and accessible, while H-B’s Alice in Wonderland TV special from the same year remains MIA for home viewing in any format. And whatever your opinion of that project, I believe it’s obvious that more care and attention was lavished upon it than this quickly churned-out drivel.

    • It’s hasn’t been released on video/ DVD due to right’s issue from Sammy Davis Jr.’s estate.

  • I remember seeing this with my younger brother and some cousins at a drive-in. Also remember that the Flintstone comic strip did a series of Sunday gags in which Fred was in Hollyrock making a spy movie (the Yogi Bear strip did a similar stunt preceding his movie).

    On revisiting the DVD, after the opening chase it felt like the movie was taking a long time to get back to the spy plot. Late padding to reach feature length?

    It should be noted there were a fair number of movies based on TV shows (and before that, on radio shows). The 60s saw “Munsters Go Home” and two “McHale’s Navy” features, all with the TV casts and budgets, and the somewhat more lavish “Batman”.

  • “THE MAN CALLED FLINTSTONE” was the second animated movie that Hanna-Barbera Productions produced, and was released on August 3, 1966, by Columbia Pictures Corporation, following “HEY THERE-IT’S YOGI BEAR!” in 1964, and since Hanna-Barbera was sold to Turner in 1992, they totally screwed up the movie with that piss poor editing job that excludes the Columbia Pictures logo with “Wilma Flintstone” holding the Columbia torch, and that signified the successful history between Hanna-Barbera and Screen Gems in the 1960s decades before the SONY purchase of Columbia/TriStar in 1989, so I’m not happy with Warners or Turner, who did that horribly revised edit in the credit opening!

  • I do like this; I liked this a kid, and I still like it today. It’s like a long, very special final episode of “The Flintstones”; oh, they’d later get the band back together again, do more episodes and sketches, but it would never quite be the same again. I like the color styling and design, and that it’s slightly more elaborate than a typical episode of the show.

    There’s just enough story to make its length work. The gaudy “(Someday) When I Grow Up” sequence has been criticized as somewhat sappy, but the scene is in a way integral to the story. Fred isn’t the bravest guy in the world (hey, he’s Fred Flintstone!), and this dream/reverie of Fred’s helps him realize the importance of his having to risk his life to foil the Green Goose’s scheme.

    The picture is unpretentious and it isn’t over-produced; it is what it is. A nice job. It’s too bad they couldn’t have made a similar “Jetsons” movie back in the day.

    I would like to see that opening with Wilma as the Columbia Torch-Lady again some time…

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