James Bond ventured onto the silver screen in Dr. No in 1962, during the height of the Cold War. Sean Connery’s portrayal of the British agent gave audiences an escape from the era’s harsh realities. The Bond franchise inspired an onslaught of fictional spies.
James Coburn portrayed Derek Flint in two films, Our Man Flint and In Like Flint. Dean Martin starred in the Matt Helm film series. Television producers followed suit with espionage stories, including Get Smart, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., I Spy, and The Wild, Wild West.
Often overlooked and undervalued is animation’s contribution to the 1960s spy trend. Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones borrowed elements from James Bond in the episode Dr. Sinister. Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble encounter the evil Madame Yes, but escape the judo-chop-chop-chop move they learned from their television spy hero, Jay Bondrock. In 1966, the full-length feature film The Man Called Flintstone used a spy story as its focus. Rock Slag, Super Secret Agent, is recuperating in a hospital after his latest mission when Rock’s boss notices that Fred is a lookalike. Consequently, he recruits Fred for a mission.
The Flintstones and the Rubbles soon leave for Eurock, where Fred must stop the evil Green Goose from taking over the world with the anti-missile-missile, a secret weapon. It is concealed in an amusement park ride.
Parallels to Bond films are evident. The poster for The Man Called Flintstone depicts a scene similar to the Thunderball movie poster from 1965 featuring Sean Connery in a personal jet pack. Agent Tanya provides the sex appeal familiar to Bond films.
Tom of T.H.U.M.B. protects the world from evildoers, the acronym of his organization standing for Tiny Humans Underground Military Bureau. Tom and his faithful assistant, Swinging Jack, inadvertently shrunk because of a shrinking ray at U.S. Intelligence. Tom’s villains work for M.A.D. In the episode For the last time fellers, I’m not bait, Tom describes M.A.D. as “bent on destroying the world for their own gains.”
Batman creator Bob Kane and his partner, Al Brodax, contributed Cool McCool to the spy cartoon genre. The title character sounds a bit like Jack Benny. His unseen supervisor is Number One.
Also noteworthy are two squirrels. Hanna-Barbera gave us Secret Squirrel. He enjoys state-of-the-art gadgetry along with the wisdom of his sidekick, Morocco Mole. Rocky the Squirrel and his Moose pal Bullwinkle actually debuted in 1959, but the 1960s Cold War atmosphere, spy craze, and humor boosted the character’s popularity. Rocky and Bullwinkle faced the despicable duo of Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, also known as Natasha Nogoodnik.
In the Cold War, even the Russians weren’t safe from parody!