Fleming and The Man from UNCLE



  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,186MI6 Agent
    It also follows the North by Northwest plot structure, in which the naive, sheltered innocent caught up in the intrigue and espionage was Roger Thornhill rather than a young woman.
    good point. And in Notorious itself, Ingrid Bergman's character is not naive or innocent, she is the daughter of a convicted Nazi, drunken and implicitly promiscuous. Very different from the types Solo ropes into into his schemes.
    I just mean the general setup of a secret agent controller persuading a civilian, usually female, to go on a secret mission, usually with incomplete information and her life put recklessly in danger. There's lots of stories that follow that plot, and I think of that as the Notorious plot though it was probably done earlier than that.
    In the 39 Steps or North by NorthWest the civilian hero stumbles into the plot by accident, rather than being deliberately recruited by official authorities.

    First two seasons of the Avengers follow the same setup, though the characters Steed recruits are not one-offs like most of the innocents Solo recruits. Steed appears positively sinister when he gets Dr Keel to do his work, Dr King is openly hostile to Steed, and Venus Smith is way too young and naive to be asked (one episode we learn she is twenty and she often acts younger). It's only after Cathy Gale becomes the regular "talented amateur" the Notorious concept disappears, because she is so ready and willing to take on the challenge, but even then she continues to recognise and resent how manipulative Steed really is. Whereas with Emma Peel there is never any question of morality in her being involved.

    What is cool, is that the more I learn about the other spy series that were contemporary to the classic Bond films, the more I understand how it all goes back to Hitchcock. The quoted material in Thunderpussy's post on page 1 proves the Man from UNCLE absolutely was inspired by North by NorthWest!
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,027MI6 Agent
    Well now, why don't we just look at all the losers on this thread dating back all the way to 2012, and who on earth started this anyway?

    What happened to them all? :#
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    2012, what a weird time. The only people wearing masks, were terrorists or Bank
    robbers. You could visit old people, and you didn't have to shake elbows with people.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,027MI6 Agent
    2012. My Mum was alive. Think we had her in a care home at that point, but it was before the big fall out when one care home nearly killed her, and I reported it to the local press, then all hell broke lose and the British State went after me. By which I mean, the local authority - Surrey County Council - and boy, did that uncover stuff. Toxic.

    Oh, she nearly copped it in March 2014, but she lived until Oct 2017.

    Funnily enough, I did take her to see The Man from Uncle film at the BFI Imax and she liked it. I mean, it's not.a great film really but it has. a great opening and some lovely shots, plus Hugh Grant pops up.
    It was a good dry run for Spectre, also at the BFI Imax, which we also took her to see, as Bond was a family favourite with us growing up. Oddly, what, five years on or so it's STILL the latest James Bond film. I can still say, hey, I took Mum to the latest Bond film.
    I do remember when I heard of some early delay to 'the next James Bond film' sort of thinking, well, much as I'd like it otherwise, I can't see Mum (who had advanced Parkinson's for years by this point) really making it to see that... Little did I know. Even now, many years on, none of us have seen it yet! No Time to Die indeed! You'd need All The Time in the World to see that one.

    Anyway, didn't mean to make it maudlin in the early hours but 2012 - that's a long way off! Brexit, Covid, Trump... nothing!
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    I have warmed to the new movie of TMFU, and was happy to get all four seasons
    of the TV series on Amazon Prime for only around a fiver a season. It's interesting
    to compare the Movies to the two part stories they were made from, as I also
    have the movie collection.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,186MI6 Agent
    edited January 10
    To Trap a Spy, the first Man from UNCLE movie

    what is general consensus about the movies? should they be watched in place of the equivalent teevee episodes? are the movies the definitive versions of those stories? is any content lost not watching the equivalent episodes? only problem is I might not be able to find most of them online, but I've found the first three.

    To Trap a Spy is actually an expanded version of the pilot, rather than the first episode per se. There's a different actor playing Mr Waverly, who was recast between the pilot and the first episode proper (The Vulcan Affair). Though otherwise most of the scenes looked the same. But with a couple lines of dialog added here and there, mostly sexual in nature, Solo's flirting with his secretary for example.

    Attached to The Vulcan Affair content is half of what would be a later episode The Four Steps Affair (actually the 21st episode), starring Luciana Paluzzi (she's one of ours). Either version, her plot seems artificially grafted onto an otherwise unrelated story. Here her scenes come in two halves: a first act preceding the introduction of Solo and the UNCLE organisation, then she reappears in the the middle of the film, stowing away in Solo's car then (following the frisking scene, which includes a few more frisks in this version) leading him back to her place. Difference here is Solo then sleeps with her while patiently awaiting the expected assassination attempt.
    Really, her whole plotline is the same as Fiona Volpe in Thunderball: she picks up our hero in a car, he sleeps with her knowing what she is up to, and ultimately...
    ...she is shot by her own men
    Since this film came out in 1964, that means Thunderball copied an UNCLE plot almost precisely, even with the same actress. Rather ironic, considering they had threatened legal action over the name Solo!

    After the opening act introducing Paluzzi's character we get to the Vulcan Affair content, starting with the villains infiltration of UNCLE headquarters via the tailors shop. These scenes, both in teevee episode and movie, are a great way to quickly visually establish the UNCLE concept and headquarters location. Solo himself is dramatically introduced behind bullet proof glass in silhouette, a shot that would be reused in opening credits in shows to come.
    Waverly as noted is played by a different actor. Ilya, as in the teevee episode gets about two lines then disappears (ironic the main character is named Solo when most of the show's run would be a two man act).
    THRUSH for some reason is named WASP in this version, and we can even see the new name is overdubbed into existing dialog. Why did they bother to rename it if theyd already filmed scenes calling it THRUSH?

    Balance of the film is the exact same as The Vulcan Affair, with its Notorious style plot. When the second chunk of the Paluzzi plot appears (after Solo leaves Vulcan's party) it really stands out as an irrelevant digression.

    One thing I noticed this time is how much the final scenes resemble Dr No (hero and innocent female accomplice tortured in steam room, final showdown in reactor core).
    I did finally spot Richard Kiel. He is in it for literally less than a second. When Solo is being pursued by brownshirt clad security guards and Dobermans he runs up a staircase, straight into a worker who swings a huge mallet at him and misses. That's our Jaws cameo, keep your eyes peeled for that moment because our favourite seven foot henchman is easy to miss.

    In the Four Steps Affair, the Paluzzi content is also awkwardly grafted into an unrelated storyline. Halfway through that episode, Solo conspicuously combs his hair into a different style. Why? because throughout this movie, he is wearing his hair in a different style than he would ever do throughout the rest of the series, including the other material in that episode! They took the time to film a scene explaining why his hairstyle suddenly changes!
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,186MI6 Agent
    edited April 17

    open Channel D

    yes, I know I'm overdue with my report on Season 2, but the truth is, um, er, that is to say, I waited too long and forgot most of it. Generally its more silly than Season 1, especially the two part opening episode the Alexander the Greater Affair, which is much much too silly (yet got turned into one of the movies).

    There's also more Mr Waverly content, which pleases me. There begins a running gag where Waverly travels halfway round the world and shows up in the last scene just to pick up Solo's chick right in from of him, while Solo sinks in his chair and Ilya smirks at his colleague's humiliation. Waverly is now my favourite by far of all spy bosses (except for David Lynch's Gordon Cole character of course). Much more entertaining than any version of M.

    The only Bond alumni I noticed is Barbara Bouchet (Moneypenny from Casino Royale) who appears in The Project Deephole Affair. George Sanders reappears in The Yukon Affair, reprising the same character he played in Season 1. Ricardo Montalbán reappears in The King of Diamonds Affair, a different character than he played in season 1 (now he's a gentleman thief) but again is a charismatic frenemy rather than pure villain. Off the top of my head, Rip Torn, Vincent Price, and Angela Lansbury all get to chew the scenery as guest stars in this season.

    The Cherry Blossom Affair is about an evil THRUSH plan involving Japanese volcanos, two years before You Only Live Twice.

    The Moonglow Affair is most significant as it is the pilot for the Girl from UNCLE spinoff despite featuring completely different actors. Mary Ann Mobley plays April Dancer, much more competent than Solo and Ilya are ever portrayed, and Norman Fell (Mr Roper) plays her over-the-hill sidekick Mark Slate. When I saw the first season episode where Marty Balsam plays an UNCLE agent past the retirement age, I thought that was testing the waters for a spinoff, and indeed Norman Fell's character is a variation on the concept. I found some actual Girl from UNCLE episodes online, so shall hopefully file a report on those soon.

    I always like the episodes where we learn more about the UNCLE organisation. I forget the title, but there's one where we learn UNCLE owns all the buildings on the block, and rents out apartments in the other buildings as part of their cover. Waverly assigns Solo to act as building manager! in this episode, and we see THRUSH has labeled profile drawings of the entire block as they try to figure out what UNCLE is using all that space for. Wish I'd made a screenshot of that, it was almost like when the comics sometimes include a diagram of the BatCave. In another episode we clearly see the streetsigns outside UNCLE headquarters, and they seemed to be in Hells Kitchen or maybe Chelsea, on the West side at least, despite the establishing shots always showing the United Nations building next to the East River.

    Second best gag of the season: in The Birds and the Bees Affair Ilya tells Waverly and Solo about a scientific report published earlier that year, then turns to Solo and says "did you read it?", Solo gives him a silent stinkeye that says "who do you think I am, Roger Moore's version of James Bond? nerd!"

    First best gag: in The Foreign Legion Affair Ilya has gone missing and while searching Solo gets distracted by a sexy THRUSH agent. Waverly calls Solo and hearing the sexy THRUSH agent giggling, says "Your report is overdue Mr Solo! and who the deuce is that?" Bonus points for Waverly using "the deuce" in a sentence!

    and then there's this subtle one, maybe me seeing something that isn't there, but since I saw it I can't unsee it: in The Nowhere Affair Solo has been captured by THRUSH, and taken an amnesia pill so he cant spill UNCLE secrets. The THRUSH chief decides the amnesia can be broken if all Solo's physical senses are stimulated, i.e. he has to be seduced, and programs the computer to identify the THRUSH agent who would be Solo's ideal sexual partner. The computer selected candidate turns out to be a nerdy uptight blonde, which is to say she's just like a female Ilya!

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,186MI6 Agent
    edited April 17

    reopen Channel D

    the actual reason I'm Reporting today is because I just watched the second Man from UNCLE feature film...

    The Spy with My Face (1965)

    basically an expanded version of The Double Affair (s1e08 orig broadcast November 17, 1964), in which a THRUSH agent undergoes plastic surgery to look like Napoleon Solo and infiltrate UNCLE. Robert Vaughn plays both parts, so for most of the second half is playing the villain rather than the real Solo. In the first half the double is covered in bandages, and in appearance and context resembles that character at Shrublands from Thunderball, but The Double Affair came first so again Thunderball was "borrowing" ideas from this teevee series.

    Senta Berger (the school teacher from The Quiller Memorandum) plays the sexy THRUSH agent overseeing the whole operation.

    Whereas the first movie was one and a half episodes cobbled together, this one is mostly the one episode greatly expanded, with some random scenes from two other episodes. Don Harron's character from The Four Steps Affair reappears here, but the remaining plot of that episode (involving a boy king and his guardian) is left out. I'm not even sure its the exact same scenes with Harron, or if maybe they filmed a bunch of scenes with his character and split them into the movie and the teevee episode. Otherwise I cant see how his scenes could possibly have fit the other context. Wikipedia says other scenes were used in The Dippy Blonde Affair, but I didn't spot them. There is the familiar scene where Ilya encounters exploding toy robots outside the tailor shop, which episode was that from?

    but mostly the one episode was greatly expanded with more sexual content (lots of ladies in their underwear) and greater violence. Solo points his gun at most of the people he meets and in one shower scene blatantly states the gun is a phallic symbol. And he kills a lot of minions in cold blood. Also the music seems different, more suspenseful than the lighthearted music of the teevee show.

    Very stylish action scenes during the opening credits, using varying camera speeds to highlight the action as solo leads a raid. This is much more violent than anything seen on teevee.

    Ilya gets very little screentime, but does pick up a stewardess with the line "Well I'm pretending to be a travelling business man, but in reality I am an international spy".


    by the way I suggest all new posts to this thread must begin with the words "Open Channel D" or else they will be rerouted to the tailors shop, who will deny any knowledge that this thread exists.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,802Chief of Staff

    Open Channel D

    Just to let you know that you're not alone, cp. I'm reading and enjoying your posts.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 1,000MI6 Agent

    Open Channel D

    Great posts - how did I miss this thread???

    I don't have the time to catch up with TMFU. I think one of the TV channels over here (Sony Pictures?) has been showing the series from the start, but as I never drop into anything half-way, I haven't bothered.

    Anyone who reads my posts knows I have fond memories of Friday evening telly on the BBC and the eight UNCLE films drop neatly into that category. One summer in the early 1980s I am certain I saw the whole lot week after week, although the details about The Spy With My Face are completely unfamiliar to me. I have a vague memory that To Trap A Spy barely featured David McCullum and the Luciana Paluzzi scenes felt completely out of place. Reading the posts above I now understand why!

    Will look forward to reading more.

    BTW, I enjoyed the reboot movie.

  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,039MI6 Agent
    edited April 18

    Open Channel D (overseas relay?)

    I've just finished watching Season One and very much enjoyed your review, CP. I hadn't seen it before, apart from To Trap a Spy and The Spy with My Face, and I hugely enjoyed it once I got over I think being in black & white.

    Just to add a couple of things to your excellent review. Richard Kiel briefly fights Solo on a gantry at the climactic battle in The Vulcan Affair; has a much large role role in The Hong Kong Shilling Affair; and I'm sure i briefly saw in a third episode but can't remember which . Also in season one, The Shark Affair stars said the charismatic Robert Culp of I Spy fame; Quatermass and the Pit's Barbara Shelley stars in the Odd Man Affair; and the Girls of Nazarone Affair has the lovely Sharon Tate in a small role too.

    I very much look forward to watching Season Two now...

    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
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