I’ll admit, my interest in James Coburn stems from my husband’s near obsession over him and the many hours we have been spent discussing the man, the legend, the movies. I can’t disagree with the amazing movies he’s starred in and how amazing Coburn is in these roles so, in honor of James Coburn and my husband and our upcoming Country Brunchin’ screening of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid this weekend, here are my 5 favorite films that are graced with his presence…
OUR MAN FLINT (1966) / IN LIKE FLINT (1967)
Ok, so this is technically two films but they both center around the top agent spy, Derek Flint (James Coburn). A more sarcastic and lanky version of James Bond, Flint is tasked to save the world from evil scientists who manipulate the weather for world domination in Our Man Flint. I believe we call it now “eco terrorism.” Flint is terribly rich (those suits!) and a ladies man (ladies love DF!) and he comes out of life of leisure to to the one thing he does well, and with style…being a super spy. Of course, In Like Flint is the sequel parody to its original. This originality (and true hilarity) only makes us love the films and Coburn more.
James Coburn won an Oscar for his role as the trouble, alcoholic, terror of a father in Afflication. We chose it because, well, this…
THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST (1967)
What starts out as the coolest gig ever for leading psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Schaefer (who wouldn’t want to hear the secrets and concerns of the most important man in the world?) turns out to be an overwhelming burden that drives him into his own stress pool. Add to that the paranoid spy who start coming at him, Coburn has to fight for his body and sanity! The President’s Analyst is a super 1960s stylized affair and Coburn, tall, handsome, and in suits once again, manages to make international stresses look really, really good.
DUCK YOU SUCKER (1971)
Perhaps the weirdest role castings in which James Coburn plays a former IRA bomber and Rod Steiger plays a Mexican, Duck You Sucker, is a beloved western by Leone. We’ll forgive Coburn for the fact that his accent dips in and out throughout the flick because this Sergio Leone film is FANTASTIC! You have all the stuff you love about Leone plus bombs and the Mexican revolution; not to mention the antagonistic yet bonded friendship between the two salty fellows is a joy to watch. Duck You Sucker (aka A Fist Full of Dynamite) is a Coburn spaghetti western classic with one of the best soundtracks around. Wah, Wah.
THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979)
Coburn isn’t in the ever-class and star-studded The Muppet Movie for long (Kermit is the star here after all) but he is the “El Sleezo Café Owner” and we love him for that. And apparently, Coburn loved the Muppets. Here, he and Animal meditate.
PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID (1973)
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is set at the tail-end of the 1880s in New Mexico where greed over cattle and land territory not only cause a riff between two old friends but also has repercussions involving the New West. Pat Garrett (played by the ever cool James Coburn) catches Billy the Kid (singer Kris Kristopherson) over an old murder and sentences him to hang. Of course Billy escapes by blowing up the jail and the manhunt ensues. Rife with production problems, the film alone has a whopping six editors attached, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is ultimately about male bonding during a time of a nation’s development. Full of shoot-outs and sexual-encounters, it’s a downright good time. Perhaps Peckinpah’s best.