Fleming and The Man from UNCLE

Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,292MI6 Agent
I've been reading an amazing feature on Fleming's involvement in The Man from UNCLE series. He came up with the name Napoleon Solo, and was in discussion on the origins of the series from the start. However, with the success of Bond, EON tried to scupper it for fear of his lending too much involvement to it, and for similarities.

He didn't come up with the Uncle name, which was supposed to suggest ties to the United Nations. Not that they're very effective these days. :#

Nor did he devise the Russian agent played by David McCallum.

Fleming did come up with the name of April Dancer, for the short-lived Girl from UNCLE starring Stefanie Powers.

Too much humour did for the UNCLE series, as it tried to be like the Batman series, too campy etc.
"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017
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Comments

  • Q-Branch_2012Q-Branch_2012 Posts: 80MI6 Agent
    Did you ever see the first series (the black and white one?) that was less campy than the colour series. I enjoed man from uncle, always reminded me of the moore years.
    Check out all my Bond related Movie Reviews - http://www.Movie-Blogger.com/users/q-branch2012/
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,292MI6 Agent
    When I was a kid they were all in black and white; I had a black and white telly. :D

    The world seemed similar to Bond's world in Thunderball. It's amazing how much mileage everyone got out of that and GF. The first two films weren't quite the same.
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 25,375Chief of Staff
    When I was a kid they were all in black and white; I had a black and white telly. :D

    You were lucky you had a telly ! :))
    YNWA 97
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,709MI6 Agent
    I've been reading an amazing feature on Fleming's involvement in The Man from UNCLE series. He came up with the name Napoleon Solo, and was in discussion on the origins of the series from the start. However, with the success of Bond, EON tried to scupper it for fear of his lending too much involvement to it, and for similarities.

    He didn't come up with the Uncle name, which was supposed to suggest ties to the United Nations. Not that they're very effective these days. :#

    Nor did he devise the Russian agent played by David McCallum.

    Fleming did come up with the name of April Dancer, for the short-lived Girl from UNCLE starring Stefanie Powers.

    Too much humour did for the UNCLE series, as it tried to be like the Batman series, too campy etc.

    Interesting, Mr Plural. Can you link us to the article or is it a hard copy?
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,778Chief of Staff
    Sir Miles wrote:
    When I was a kid they were all in black and white; I had a black and white telly. :D

    You were lucky you had a telly ! :))

    Aye, you had it soft. We used t'live in shoebox in middle of t'road...
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,297MI6 Agent
    Interesting too that Fleming used the name Mr Solo in Goldfinger for one of the hoodlums.
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • BlackleiterBlackleiter Washington, DCPosts: 5,612MI6 Agent
    Road? You had roads?!!! :))
    Barbel wrote:
    Sir Miles wrote:
    When I was a kid they were all in black and white; I had a black and white telly. :D

    You were lucky you had a telly ! :))

    Aye, you had it soft. We used t'live in shoebox in middle of t'road...
    "Felix Leiter, a brother from Langley."
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,043MI6 Agent
    Road? You had roads?!!! :))
    Barbel wrote:
    Sir Miles wrote:

    You were lucky you had a telly ! :))

    Aye, you had it soft. We used t'live in shoebox in middle of t'road...
    We had simple paths that led to the caves we hid from the sabre-toothed tigers in.
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool. Craig is too.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.QOS 4.GF 5.DN/GE 6.SP 7.FRWL 8.TB/TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT
  • superdaddysuperdaddy englandPosts: 870MI6 Agent
    Guy Richie is making a new film version of Uncle, if it is in the same vein as his Sherlock films I think they could be good although Iam not to sure about what I read today as to Tom Cruise maybe starring in it.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,697MI6 Agent
    -{ Great news , I loved The Man from UNCLE. :D

    Pitty about Tom Cruise :#
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,778Chief of Staff
    Well, he's good casting for Napoleon. Less sure about the Solo bit.
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,292MI6 Agent
    Barbel wrote:
    Well, he's good casting for Napoleon.

    Sod off.
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,778Chief of Staff
    edited March 2013
    Barbel wrote:
    Well, he's good casting for Napoleon.

    Sod off.

    :))

    I think I may have been unclear (UNCLEar?)- I'm comparing Cruise with Napoleon Bonaparte (generally reckoned to be short and dark, like Cruise). Not any other Napoleons!
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,697MI6 Agent
    In 1962 producer Norman Felton was in an enviable position having been responsible for a string
    of immensely popular television programmes. His most recent offering, DR. KILDARE, was
    attracting massive audiences around the globe. Despite this latest triumph Felton forged ahead
    constantly looking for a new idea to develop into what he hoped might be his next successful
    television venture.Being an admirer of the works of Alfred Hitchcock, in particular the Cary
    Grant vehicle NORTH BY NORTHWEST, Felton began to formulate a concept using the premise of
    an unsuspecting, but resourceful, character drawn into a web of intrigue, espionage and danger.
    Although fascinated by the idea he realised that episodic television could not be sustained whilst
    chronicling the adventures of a seemingly innocent member of the public thrust constantly into
    situations of this nature on an unfeasible, weekly basis. Changing direction Felton turned to the
    literary world of espionage for further inspiration and came upon the soon to become legendary
    character of James Bond and, of course, his gifted creator. Ian Fleming, an already much lauded
    writer, was soon to enjoy a bountiful flirtation with the world of celluloid as his own famous
    creation was being launched imminently onto the cinema screen. Aside from Fleming's obvious
    skill as an imaginative writer Felton was impressed too by his incisive attention to detail.
    This skill, along with his ability to create completely believable environments through the use of
    rich descriptive pros, led Felton to view Fleming as a potential collaborator with whom he might
    develop his latest idea.
    In the autumn of 1962, after a creative meeting between the two
    talented men in New York, a name was decided upon for the lead character in the proposed
    series, Napoleon Solo. Further to this Fleming would sketch out a background to the character
    as well as a number of adventures in which Solo might possibly become embroiled. This creative
    coupling would sadly bear no further fruit as Fleming became dogged with health problems
    along with an increasingly stronger commitment to Eon Productions and their interpretation of
    his beloved James Bond.
    Following the amicable parting Felton turned to renowned television writer/producer Sam Rolfe
    to build upon the foundations which both Fleming and he had laid. Rolfe welcomed the
    challenge of adding flesh to the bones of Napoleon Solo and to the organisation under who's
    jurisdiction the character would operate. The writer did so with such aplomb that the characters
    and concepts to which television viewers were first introduced on September 22 1964 were very
    much those of the fertile mind of Sam Rolfe.
    Indeed NBC, who had begun to back away from the project following Fleming's departure, gave a
    pilot episode the green light on the strength of Sam Rolfe's outlines for the proposed series.
    After some eighteen months of development the project which had been referred to variously as
    SOLO-CITIES AROUND THE WORLD, MR. SOLO and IAN FLEMING'S SOLO finally went before the
    cameras with the shooting title of simply, SOLO. Arena Productions commenced filming on
    SOLO's pilot episode, 'The Vulcan Affair', in November 1963.
    The pilot was approved by the network and filming for the series proper began in early June
    1964 with Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Leo G. Carroll assuming the three leading roles.
    Nobody connected to the series could possibly have foreseen that within a year the World would
    experience the phenomenon that was THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E..

    Remembered this from the Special features of my The Man From UNCLE movie Box set.
    ( Strangely Five films in the set But Eight made ? ) and for some reason the Extras are PDFs
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,043MI6 Agent
    Loved the show as a kid, I saw it before I saw any James Bond...
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool. Craig is too.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.QOS 4.GF 5.DN/GE 6.SP 7.FRWL 8.TB/TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,697MI6 Agent
    BBC2 Used to show them all the Time, Watched them
    Many times, Late night after closing time. :D
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,297MI6 Agent
    More recently they turned up on TCM. Yes it annoyed me they only had 5 of the 8 in the box set, especially as the missing 3 were all excellent.
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,697MI6 Agent
    Looking at imdb for "To trap a spy", It states that Richard Kiel
    Played a Heavy but it was uncredited. :D
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,043MI6 Agent
    More recently they turned up on TCM. Yes it annoyed me they only had 5 of the 8 in the box set, especially as the missing 3 were all excellent.
    But weren't the last three sort of campy, like Batman?
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool. Craig is too.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.QOS 4.GF 5.DN/GE 6.SP 7.FRWL 8.TB/TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,709MI6 Agent
    edited May 1
    I remember seeing The Man From UNCLE on BBC2 in the 1990s too. Can all the episodes from the TV series be purchased on Region 2 DVD as of now? Or are they only on Region 1? Thanks in advance if anyone here knows the answer to this one. :)
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,297MI6 Agent
    chrisisall wrote:
    More recently they turned up on TCM. Yes it annoyed me they only had 5 of the 8 in the box set, especially as the missing 3 were all excellent.
    But weren't the last three sort of campy, like Batman?

    Originally UNCLE wasn't campy in season 1, but towards the end of season 2 it was influenced by the massive success of Batman so some episodes veered towards camp. The whole of season 3 was spectaculars campy, but they brought it back to earth for season 4 when the fans started leaving... But by then it was too late.

    The missing three films then were "To Trap a Spy" - the first film in the series, an excellent spy adventure; "One of our Spies is Missing" which was a little, umm, flamboyant being from I think the third season; and "the Spy in the Green Hat" from the excellent fourth season.
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,297MI6 Agent
    I remember seeing The Man From UNCLE on BBC2 in the 1990s too. Can all the episodes from the TV series be purchasede on Region 2 DVD as of now? Or are they only on Region 1? Thanks in advance if anyone here knows the answer to this one. :)

    Sadly not. - you can onl get the 5 double-length tv episodes which were theatrically released as movies, on R2 DVD... Plus the 'return of the Man from UNCLE' TV movie.
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,043MI6 Agent
    Sadly not. - you can onl get the 5 double-length tv episodes which were theatrically released as movies, on R2 DVD... Plus the 'return of the Man from UNCLE' TV movie.
    ALERT! You can get all 8 R1 here http://www.amazon.com/Man-From-U-N-C-L-E-The-Collection/dp/B005JJCMNU

    Now to save up!
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool. Craig is too.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.QOS 4.GF 5.DN/GE 6.SP 7.FRWL 8.TB/TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT
  • Moore ThanMoore Than EnglandPosts: 3,173MI6 Agent
    Deadline is reporting that Armie Hammer is set to star with Tom Cruise in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. remake. Hammer will play a version of Illya Kuryakin, the role played by David McCallum in the 1960's TV spy series.

    'Lone Ranger' Armie Hammer To Star With Tom Cruise In 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.'
    http://www.deadline.com/2013/04/lone-ranger-armie-hammer-to-star-with-tom-cruise-in-man-from-u-n-c-l-e/
    Moore Not Less 4371 posts (2002 - 2007) Moore Than (2012 - 2016)
  • StrangewaysStrangeways London, UKPosts: 1,432MI6 Agent
    Trailer for the film is now available and looks rather good!

    http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/wb/themanfromuncle/
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,573MI6 Agent
    I'm excited to watch this. I like how they retained the original period of the TV series. Hammer seems versatile considering the two roles I've seen him in, Lone Ranger and J. Edgar. Cavill seems dashing enough for the role, but maybe too young? Nonetheless, he looks good in the trailer.

    Where I live, during the late 80's and early 90's reruns of the show were broadcast in the wee early hours and though I could have taped it on the VCR, I sometimes stayed awake from the night before, or got up early before dawn just to watch it. Interestingly enough, The Saint was also shown during the same pre-dawn time slots but on a different channel and for some fortunate happenstance, the two shows were not broadcast on the same days so I never experienced a viewing conflict!
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,776MI6 Agent
    The Man from UNCLE is one of my favorite shows, with the black and white first season (when Sam Rolfe was more heavily involved with the show) being the best of any of them. Much of the second season is good -- and in beautiful 1960s color -- but as has been ably noted, veers toward camp, with the third season being mostly dreck, and the fourth season pulling back too much toward "serious" spy stories that the fun left the show.

    I have mixed feelings about the upcoming film. I'm not a huge fan of Henry Cavill, who always looks like he's sneering to me and should be the guy kicking sand in the face of the 98-pound weakling in comic book advertisements, and I don't really know who Armie Hammer is except he seems to be an albatross for big budget movies succeeding. Robert Vaughn and David McCallum were so wonderfully cast and gave the show a combination of panache and intelligence that I can't see these other two doing justice to the roles. However, with Guy Ritchie directing and the film being set in the 1960s, the production itself may take on enough of a life that who is playing the roles is really no big deal. I will say, though, that publicity for this movie has been very tightlipped . . . and that doesn't always suggest a studio thinks it has a hit.
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,474MI6 Agent
    edited December 2020
    ______________________________________________
    I just completed season 1 of the Man from UNCLE.

    I know season 3 is supposed to be the campy one, but this first season was pretty silly too, with Solo continuously smirking and winking while Ilya plays it deadpan but very witty. They seem to mess up their missions as often as they succeed, and often rely on luck, so its hard to say this show is that much more serious than Get Smart, which it resembles except without the catchphrases.

    The secret entrance to UNCLE headquarters through the tailor shop was a concept recycled in Kingsmen. But is UNCLE headquarters actually the U.N. building itself or another building on a nearby block? Establishing shots frequently show the U.N. building, and the episode Mad Mad Tea Party Affair establishes their headquarters is a midrise building with access to the roof, not all underground as I had been assuming up til that point.

    Episodes heavily featuring UNCLE boss Mr Waverly are good because they tend to give us more inside info on the UNCLE organisation. Waverly is played by Leo G. Carroll, a veteran of several Hitchcock films, including North by Northwest where he also played the head of a spy organisation. In The Bow Wow Affair, Carroll also plays the part of Mr Waverly's cousin.

    the Man from UNCLE tends to feature a whole different galaxy of guest stars than the ITV adventure series, thus not so many faces familiar from our Bond films. Richard Kiel (The Hong Kong Shilling Affair) and Luciana Paluzzi (The Four Steps Affair) were the only Bond veterans I spotted.

    Earliest episodes follow a Notorious plot structure with Solo recruiting various naïve sheltered innocent women to infiltrate the villains operation. This formula starts to vary towards the middle of the season, but there is almost always an innocent for a guest star to play, as well as the villain. in some episodes Solo and Ilya are relegated to supporting roles themselves as the guest stars are getting so many lines!

    Many of the earliest episodes are directed by Richard Donner, who later made the first Superman film.


    Listing some memorable episodes with guest stars who were notable to me:
    (I expect somebody who watched this show in real time in the 1960s would recognise a lot more of these actors than I could)

    -second episode The Iowa Scuba Affair stars Slim Pickens (Dr Strangelove, Blazing Saddles, 1941), playing it relatively straight.
    -The Shark Affair features James Doohan (Scotty from Star Trek) but I think he's only in the opening scene. Not surprised I didn't recognise him, as Doohan has the reputation as a chameleon-like voice actor.
    -The Green Opal Affair stars an unrecognisable Carroll O'Connor as the villain. This performance really increased my respect for his acting chops!
    -The Giuoco Piano Affair is notable for a party scene where four of the partiers doing silly things are the behind-the-scenes creators of the show.
    -The Project Strigas Affair is perhaps most significant for guest stars of any episode as it features both William Shatner as the innocent, and Leonard Nimoy as the villains underling, two years before Star Trek!
    -The Finny Foot Affair has thirteen year old Kurt Russell as the innocent, and Tura Satana (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) as the evil henchwoman
    -The Dove Affair Ricardo Montalbán plays a rival spychief in an unnamed east European country, and is excellent in this one. He and Solo have a great rapport as they stab each other in the back yet are repeatedly stuck together, and the episode in general has a more serious cold war vibe.
    -The Four Steps Affair as noted features Luciana Paluzzi (Fiona Volpe) as the bad girl, Solo has to frisk her for weapons and she loves it. Also Don Harron as a fellow UNCLE agent. Harron was a Canadian comedian best known for his character Charlie Farquarson, who appeared regularly both on HeeHaw as well as doing satirical editorials Canadian radio throughout the 1970s.
    -The Brain-Killer Affair has Yvonne Craig (Batgirl) as the innocent and Elsa Lanchester (the Bride of Frankenstein herself) as a Mengele type villain.
    -The Hong Kong Shilling Affair as noted above has Richard Kiel (Jaws) as a villain, and he gets more to do than both his Bond films combined. Also Gavin Mcleod (Murray Slaughter from Mary Tyler Moore, Captain Stubing from the Love Boat) as the big baddy.
    Kiel is also supposed to be somewhere in the very first episode The Vulcan Affair, but he must have been crouching because I didn't spot him.
    -The Never-Never Affair is even better, with Barbara Feldon (Agent 99) as an aspiring UNCLE agent a year before Get Smart . It could almost be Agent 99's origin story, damn is she a charmer. And... Cesar Romero (the Joker) as the villain. These two are so good, and get so much screen time, Solo and Ilya are relegated to bit parts in their own show.
    -The Gazebo in the Maze Affair features George Sanders (a onetime Saint as well as appearing in many other great movies) playing the charming villain.
    -The Odd Man Affair features Marty Balsam (Psycho, Catch-22) as a retired UNCLE agent, another episode where Solo and Ilya are relegated to bit parts. This is the season closer, and almost seems to be setting up Balsam's character for his own series.


    As I watched this show, I found the blog Preppies Of The Apocalypse to be a most useful fan site. Blogger Morgan Richter is a screenwriter who understands how teevee shows are made, and makes lots of hilarious observations as well as giving us trivia and context. She repeatedly points out that Solo and Ilya are terrible spies, but also argues they share a homoerotic bromance: constantly flirting with each other, then Ilya pouting every time Solo finds a new ladyfriend.
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,297MI6 Agent
    ... Waverly is played by Leo G. Carroll, a veteran of several Hitchcock films, including North by Northwest where he also played the head of a spy organisation...

    Earliest episodes follow a Notorious plot structure with Solo recruiting various naïve sheltered innocent women to infiltrate the villains operation. This formula starts to vary towards the middle of the season, but there is almost always an innocent for a guest star to play, as well as the villain.

    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. There are many similarities between them as you admirably point out, CP! -{
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,278MI6 Agent
    Interesting too that Fleming used the name Mr Solo in Goldfinger for one of the hoodlums.

    I did think it was quite a good idea to call one of the continuation novels 'Solo' as it's obviously a word Fleming was keen on, although it perhaps needed a little bit more.

    He must've had some more thoughts beyond just the character's name though?
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