Charmed & Dangerous wrote:
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.
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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!
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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.
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Just to let you know that you're not alone, cp. I'm reading and enjoying your posts.
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.
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...
Was the Ian Fleming connection to UNCLE anything to do with the Cameo of George Lazenby in The Return of The Man from UNCLE?
Open Channel D 😉
I don't believe so - it was just a well thought out and timely gag, with George appearing as 'JB' - thus avoiding naming him as Bond and potentially risking an injunction from EON.
I have watched eight episodes of spin-off series the Girl from UNCLE (what I could find on some dodgy Russian site), and my report is now ready.
The "Girl" of the title is April Dancer, and she works alongside fellow UNCLE agent Mark Slade.
The show ran September 13, 1966 - April 11, 1967. As the Man from UNCLE season 3 ran September 16, 1966 - April 14, 1967, this show was broadcast three days earlier in the weekly teevee schedule and therefor must be discussed first.
The show has 1960s sitcom style rhythms of setup, punchline, reaction shot. Or to be really generous, Hope and Crosby style. Plots are farcelike and circular with little actually developing over 60 minutes.
The visual aesthetic is characterised by a highly artificial look, emphasised for example in The Prisoner of Zalamar Affair (s1e02 September 20, 1966) which begins with the characters watching a silent movie while sitting in a set that looks no more realistic than the film within the film.
Later episodes feature silly sound effects during cartoonishly sped-up action sequences that make ...Golden Gun's slide whistle seem subtle by comparison.
The first two seasons of the Man from UNCLE were funny on several levels, but had a deadpan tone that made the absurdities seem realistic within the rules of that particular universe. This show by contrast is telegraphing the supposed humour, leaving little space for actual spy plots amidst all the jokes.
The two lead actors have been recast since the pilot.
Mark Slade is played by Noel Harrison rather than Norman Fell, and is no longer overdue for retirement, he is now young, hip and English.
Stefanie Powers is also younger than Mary Ann Mobley the actress in the pilot, and plays April Dancer with less competence: camera frequently zooms in to her repeated slackjawed expression of being shocked and overwhelmed (one of those sit-com-y elements). And despite being the title character, most episodes she ends up as damsel in distress requiring Mark to rescue her. She is at her best when doing funny voices and accents, a master of disguise.
The one absolutley essential episode is The Mother Muffin Affair (s1e03 September 27, 1966), as it guest stars Napoleon Solo, and Boris Karloff as the villain (in drag!) (recall Elsa Lanchester was a villain in season 1, though she played it straighter than Karloff here.)
Dancer diplays her funny voice superpowers with a cockney accent introduced after ten minutes of ever-mounting tension, thus saving their lives.
Waverly gets some classic dialog in this episode, e.g. "Mr Solo I have more pressing matters. Notify me after you've made your escape" and "I put Mr Solo on this particular mission as he is considered by some a top professional, obviously he's bungling the escape!", and near the climax delivers a message to his agents via crystal ball!
Other guest stars in the episodes I saw included Stan Freberg (The Carpathian Caper Affair s1e21 February 14, 1967) and Ed Asner (The Double-O-Nothing Affair s1e26 March 21, 1967). The Asner episode adds a bit to our knowledge of the THRUSH organisation, as Slade impersonates a THRUSH auditor inspecting the local franchise office. In the Freberg episode we see Waverly asleep on the couch in his office, direspected by the cleaning lady. In fact we get plenty of Waverly content this season, grouchy and condescending to his employees, reassigning either Slade or Dancer to more humiliating duties at least once nearly every episode.
We should go easy on April Dancer, as she is a Fleming creation.
But it was Barbara Feldon, who played a similar character in the first season, who had the better show.
Good stuff. Wasn't Noel Harrison, son of famous Rex, the guy who sang 'Windmills of Your Mind' the song from The Thomas Crown Affair, in that slightly fey, Peter Skellern voice?
well lookie that, so he was! I didn't even make the connection!
thats a great song. not sure the original is the definitive version, but I've heard some great covers
I am enjoying your on / off reviews of The Man / Girl from UNCLE , caractacus, I wish I had your staying power to watch all those episodes ! Good work all round.
I've been thinking of doing a special post focusing on episodes that give us more insight to how the UNCLE organisation works, or THRUSH (they have their own pension plan, but nobody lives to collect it). I love all the clues they give as to that stuff, the hint that there is a larger internally consistent world in which all this spy-ish nonsense plays out. But that seems like a bit of work when I think about it, and I haven't got round to it yet.
I wish to file my report on the third Man from Uncle film...
One Spy Too Many (1966)
Whereas the first two were single episodes padded out with additional material, this one is a two part episode edited down to fit the cinematic format. Two part episode was the Alexander the Greater Affair, which opened Season 2. I recall that episode was much too silly for my tastes, and was relieved the rest of Season 2 was not quite like that. So this would not have been my choice for the third film, but perhaps spy cinema in general was evolving in a sillier direction by 1966?
Villain is Rip Torn, underplaying it while everybody else around him is a living cartoon. Amongst the stylised setpieces is a lifesize chess match between our hero and our villain, which anticipates similar life size chess matches in both The Prisoner and Bulldog Drummond film Deadlier Than the Male. Also there is an sequence and cliffhanger in a network of underground tombs straight out of old time movie serials.
But the film is dominated by Dorothy Provine as the villain's kooky exwife, who "helps" our heroes save the world. She says things like "I'm not above blackmail, it's part of my charm!" . At the end of the film...
after her evil husband is dead, she is last seen hooking up with the military ruler of a country who her husband had just tried to kill
...meaning even in 1989 James Bond films were still borrowing ideas from Man from UNCLE plots! Provine i know as Milton Berle's wife from It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and apparently she was in another 1966 spyspoof Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die. so she's plenty kooky.
The two input tv episodes were edited down by leaving out a subplot involving the villain's parents. But all-new material was added, better than the film proper! in an unrelated subplot, Solo finds himself committed to a rather intimate sounding date with a coworker whose name he cannot remember (Mulva?) played by Yvonne Craig. Craig had previously appeared as a different character in the first season episode The Brain-Killer Affair. Turns out her name is...
Maude Waverly, i.e. she is the boss's niece, and Mr Waverly himself has assigned her to seduce the easily distracted Solo so he and his libido will be less of a security risk.
Note the producers were sitting on the Fleming created character concept April Dancer for two years, and they had both Barbara Feldon and Yvonne Craig on the show, either one of whom could have played a brilliant version of the character, but both ended up on better shows than what finally got made.
I'm not sure I will go to the effort to track down the remaining five films if theyre all going to be this silly, but I gether the next one also has Yvonne Craig content so may make an exception fot that one.
I'd been wondering if there's a good book on The Man from UNCLE, and this one seems to have a good reputation. I shall be looking for it when I venture into used book stores again. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Book: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of a Television Classic, Jon Heitland, 1987. It is divided into four Acts, a sure sign the author knows his stuff.
so I don't actually have a copy of the book, er, sorry sir, ahem, but the reason I'm Reporting is there is an excerpt available from it on the Amazon page, including Robert Vaughn's two page introduction, and a chunk of the first chapter dealing with how Norm Felton came up with the idea and Ian Fleming's involvement! given the title of this thread I thought it must be my duty to summarize.
that's as far as the amazon excerpt gets. I'll just have to find the book to read the rest of the exciting adventure. but we've mentioned many times Fleming's supposed involvement in the show, and this is by far the most detail I've seen on that intriguing topic.
Fleming's original concept is not really recognisable as our silly teevee series at all, but don't you wish someone could scan and publish those eleven pages of Fleming's detailed notes? I always say there oughta be a book compiling all of Fleming's unfinished Bond stories, his notebook for potential Bond plots, the various synopses for unmade Bond films and teevee series (including Commander Jamaica), and now there's this!
Thank you, CP, that was good reading. I'd think IFP would have to give the okay to publish Fleming's notes and just maybe they have an idea for them.
"Kiss The Girls..." wasn't bad for peak spy-boom stuff, but IIRC came out a year or two too late. It was available on YouTube when I last watched it a few years ago, don't know if it still is.
I've an original copy of this book and it's excellent - my 'go to' book on UNCLE. Copies come up all the time on eBay, usually only for about £8-£10 ($10-$15?). It's well worth getting hold of a copy.
I used to get £25 for this book in pre-eBay days. I sold a fair few copies in my time, but they certainly weren’t plentiful, eBay is one of the reasons for the decline in secondhand bookshops 🙁
@CoolHandBond dont worry I'll be starting with bricks-and-mortar used book stores in my city. I dont like to use my credit card online on principle, and I do like to spend money at local businesses and build that personal relationship with the proprietors, real human beings I know who obviously share my interests. There is actually a used book store in my city that specializes in books on Cinema, that will be the first place I check.
That’s good to hear, caractus, a big proportion of my clientele became more like friends than customers. I used to love telling them that a book they want has come into stock, either by phoning them or placing it before them when they next came into the shop 🙂
I imagine that EON have all of Fleming's notes for prospective or unfinished Bond stories in a basement somewhere, that said with that in mind you wonder how Fleming ever got writer's block as he seemed to do around the time of Thunderball the novel. Unused ideas for the films also show up in later movies of course and perhaps a problem with Some Kind of a Hero, the recent excellent book on the Bond series, is that it sometimes delves into action scenes that fell by the wayside, acting as spoilers for future films.
At the rate Eon are making progress, that'll be a problem for our grandchildren to worry about.
Napoleon Plural 111- I'm sure the helicopter and hot air balloon chase in Bond 31 was mentioned in "Some Kind Of A Hero".
Son Of Son Of Barbel- I think you're right.
On a similar note, I have a prophecy of Skinner and Baddiel in the nursing home being wheeled out for an England Final, with their famous song instead going 'But I don't remember that tackle by Moore...'
as I work my way through the sillier-than-normal Season 3, I have just got to the season's first two-parter, The Concrete Overcoat Affair (s3e11 & 12 - November 25 & December 2 1966), which got repackaged as the film The Spy in the Green Hat. so far I like this better than either of the two-parters in Season 2.
Villains are played by Jack Palance, stammering and sweating nervously, and Janet Leigh as his "secretary" Miss Diketon in tight slit skirt and lowcut top. She is actually a kinky assassin/torturer who starts to breathe all funny when she has the chance to kill someone. Mighty spicy stuff for mid60s primetime teevee! Reason I want to report this, is surely this character is a prototype for Xenia Onatopp?
watch this clip and see what I mean
now I've only got so far as the cliffhanger (where she has Ilya tied up for torture and is telling him how attractive she finds him) but I can see from youtube there is going to be a catfight scene with good girl character Leticia Roman to look forward to in part 2 you all probably wish to study. Nobody spoil for me what happens, but in the words of Count Floyd "this looks like its gonna be real scary, kids!"
I said I wasnt going to bother with the film versions of the remaining episodes, but since the films so far have all added additional sexy content, I think I gotta see what they could possibly do with this character in film that could not be done on teevee.
Miss Diketon - did they misspell that...?