DOC BECOMES AN UNCLE TO BATTLE THRUSH: A look back at the original Man From U.N.C.L.E. films


Watching the so-so recent film The Man From U.N.C.L.E. made me want to revisit the eight original features from the 1960’s, partly because I remember them to be rather better and have fond memories of watching them on TV when I was young [they used to show them very often back then], though of course nostalgia can be a double edged sword; one can sometimes be hugely disappointed by watching something you used to love. The films weren’t even ‘proper’ films as such but were actually re-edited versions of episodes from the hugely popular [it ran for almost three and a half seasons from 1964 to 1968] TV series. At the time spies were as popular as superheroes are now [something initiated of course by the James Bond films], so for a while audiences were even willing to go and see material which they had already seen on TV!


An agent of U.N.C.L.E. [an acronym for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement] is shot just after he informs the organisation that Prime Minister Ashumen, of the newly independent African nation of Western Natumba, is going to be assassinated while he’s on a tour of a factory belonging to U.S. industrialist and tycoon Andrew Vulcan. U.N.C.L.E. head Mr Allison thinks that Vulcan may work for the worldwide criminal organisation WASP and sends his top agent Napoleon Solo to investigate. Solo enlists the help of suburban housewife Elaine May Donaldson, once a girlfriend of Vulcan’s and possibly the only person who can get close to him….

Fifteen minutes into To Trap A Spy and I was hooked! My expectations weren’t too high in the hours leading up to my viewing of what perhaps rightfully shouldn’t really be that good at all. The film is basically the pilot episode for the TV series, which was called Solo, with an added subplot featuring Luciano Paluzzi, playing pretty much the same role she would go on to play in Thunderball, as deadly WASP agent Angela with whom Solo dallies. The first episode of the series, entitled The Vulcan Affair, was a mostly reshot version of Solo, while the Paluzzi scenes ended up in another TV episode, The Four-Steps Affair, albeit toned down. The name of THRUSH was changed to WASP [cue some obvious dubbing] because it supposedly sounded similar to SMERSH but afterwards changed back because Stingray used the name. Confusing yes, and I missed certain other elements which I recalled fondly from the series, such as Leo G. Carroll [basically rehashing his role from North By Northwest] as an ‘M’-like spymaster, while Ilya Kuryakin, the Russian agent paired with Solo in most of the adventures, is barely in it, David McCallum only later promoted to co-star status because of his popularity. This makes To Trap A Spy seem even more like a cheapie Bond imitation, but as long as you’re aware of this [no money for big action set pieces or exotic locations] there is a fair bit of fun to be had and overall the film holds up surprisingly well.

One thing I’d forgotten about these films are the odd opening sequences, with the credits appearing over slowed down film footage, but I immediately recognised Jerry Goldsmith’s catchy main theme, though it sounded a bit different from how I remembered it; an early version I guess. To Trap A Spy gets into the action immediately with the killing of the agent [the build-up to this is very tense] and two WASP agents trying to infiltrate the U.N.C.L.E. lair. While the pace then slackens for a while, the Solo/Angela scenes are surprisingly risque, and we do soon get a great little gunfight with Solo running all over the house, two near death escapes from an exploding car and a gas pipe respectively, and some rather rushed chasing around in a factory by which time the film really has become like Dr No but remains very likeable, in part due to its subplot of the housewife, formerly trapped in a mundane existence, discovering glamour and adventure, which is handled with a kind of bittersweet charm. Meanwhile Robert Vaughn is very cool and seems to be even more of a lady’s man than 007. Overall To Trap A Spy is a lot of fun. I hope the other films are as good as this.


Mr. Waverly gives U.N.C.L.E. agents Solo, Kuryakin, Arsene Coria from Italy, and Namana from Liberia their next assignment: they are to take a top secret code to a hidden location. As added protection, Waverly sends another agent, Australian Kitt Kittridge, to follow them without their knowledge. However, THRUSH has gotten wind of the plan though they know little more than the name of the operation. They send Serena to entice Solo to her apartment, where he is gassed into unconsciousness and a THRUSH agent, surgically altered to look and sound like Solo, takes his place and joins the other agents….

What with Waverly as chief, Kuryakin as partner and THRUSH as the enemy, this really is the U.N.C.L.E. I remember, though it’s slightly inferior to To Trap A Spy, if still thoroughly enjoyable in its own right. It’s an expansion of the TV episode The Double Affair, with the added footage [which later turned up, re-edited, in The Dippy Blonde Affair] consisting of Solo cavorting with Senta Berger and Sharon Farrell and an exciting opening scene of Solo and Kuryakin scene [oddly similar to the beginning of Never Say Never Again attacking THRUSH’s Australian headquarters]. One thing that struck me very early on is how much more humorous this one is compared to the first one – To Trap A Spy had some laughs revolving around the Elaine character, but this one is far more chucklesome, the height or depth [depending on your taste] of the film’s comedy being a scene where Solo’s latest girlfriend Sandy Wister has to make do with a blow-up doll in Solo’s absence! Harron’s Australian agent Kitt Kittridge also provides some good laughs. There’s a very well thought-through set piece on a plane, suspenseful but with a few well placed laughs, with theft, mistaken identity, and murder all going on as the fake Solo carries out his mission, though the story suffers from having the real Solo locked up for much of the time. This still doesn’t stop Solo from seducing a jailor in just a few seconds just as she’s about to torture him, though Kuryakin, who from what I remembered rarely got any love interests, also gets a girl here.

Leisurely paced for its first half but pretty swift for its second, The Spy With My Face’s ‘Bond-on-a-budget’ vibe doesn’t quite come off quite so well what with the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles doubling for a villainous lair in the Swiss Alps and poor paintings comprising much of the underground lair. Serena’s defection to the ‘good’ one seems very sudden, there’s an absurdly easy escape from a prison cell, and the tale’s super weapon [built to defend against aliens?!] is rather vague, but we get a solid road chase, a surprisingly convincing fight between the two Solos where the quick [and very modern] editing makes it almost impossible to see the joins, and another cool near-death escape, this time from  a sauna. Meanwhile Kuryakin is attacked by two missile-firing robots! Vaughn pulls off his dual role with aplomb though the nature of the story means that we don’t get much of that Vaughn/McCallum chemistry. Despite Morton Steven’s sometimes jarringly comical score which only occasionally alludes to Goldsmith’s theme and a story that, partly because it was for a TV episode, doesn’t quite fulfil its potential, The Spy With My Face is cool, breezy entertainment. Two films in and, so far, so good!


11224131_oriONE SPY TOO MANY
The military create a chemical weapon which can cause an enemy’s troops to lose the will to fight, but it is stolen by Alexander, a mad industrialist whose twin goals are to conquer the world in the manner of Alexander the Great and to break each of the major moral codes in doing so. Solo and Kuryakin are assigned to go to Greece and investigate Alexander, but also looking for him is his estranged wife Tracey, although her motive is to serve him with divorce papers that will allow her to get back the money she put into the marriage. Through a series of coincidences and Tracey’s focused efforts to trail the U.N.C.L.E agents to find Alexander, the three join forces….

The last U.N.C.L.E. film to be theatrically released in the US, though they would continue to come out in cinemas in the UK and other territories which were behind in showing the TV series, One Spy Top Many is closer in tone to the first movie than the second, with the few humorous bits coming across as a bit intrusive. This more action heavy adventure is, like all the U.N.C.L.E. films to follow, a re-edited two part TV episode, The Alexander The Greater Affair, rather than a single episode bumped up to feature film length. They removed a great deal of footage involving the villainous Alexander, notably him involving breaking the fifth moral code [these are basically the ten commandments, so why didn’t they call them that?] by dishonouring his parents and making them work in a mine as slaves, and added footage of Napoleon constantly flirting with an U.N.C.L.E. operative known only as Control [Yvonne Craig, later to be Batgirl], the revelation of her identity and role being an amusing jab at Napoleon’s womanising ways. Like To Trap A Spy, we have an ordinary person becoming involved in espionage, though this one is rather annoying, poorly played by Dorothy Provine and inconsistently written [is she a dumb blonde or not?], but at least we have Rip Torn in fine form as the best villain yet, so entertainingly arrogant and nasty, even though his plans aren’t always very clear [at least in this movie version].

This one is crammed full of incident, often quite inventive, like a human chess game, Napoleon battling a tall goon in an exercise room which makes good use of props, and a series of traps in Greek underground ruins climaxing in a variation on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit And The Pendulum. Ilya is attacked by farm vehicles in a swamp and is almost turned into a mummy in the film’s daftest moment, though generally silliness, aside from some early comedy concerning Tracey’s klutziness, is kept at bay aside from the fairly fantastical nature of the whole story. Sadly the budget doesn’t stretch to making the 007-style climax of Napoleon climbing into a speeding plane and fighting Alexander inside it at all convincing, the scene even finishing with a stock footage black and white [yes, black and white] explosion. Such shoddy moments – a caption saying ‘A Greek Island’ being another- are a great shame because these movies are generally a very pleasant watch, even if it’s obvious that, despite the supposed globetrotting, we never actually leave the US. This one is a bit disjointed but still constantly entertains, and Vaughn and McCallum have their characters and their chemistry now down to a tee.


While Kuryakin is investigating the mass theft of cats in London’s Soho, Solo is sent to investigate the disappearance of genetic scientist Benjamin Lancer, whose last photograph shows him as forty years younger than he is meant to be. Solo heads to Paris to talk to Lancer’s daughter Lorelei, a fashion model, but Lorelei’s employer, Madame Raine De Sala, wants him out of the way because a scientist now in her employment, Prof. Alexander Gritskya, has found a means to make people younger. She now wants to rejuvenate the politician Sir Norman Swickert, whom she has loved since childhood. At the same time, T.H.R.U.S.H. agent Jordin is determined to get his hands on the rejuvenation process….

The fourth movie is definitely the silliest yet, playing for much of its length like a spoof and with a ludicrous plot that lurches all over the place and barely hangs together as well as taking the series into full blown science fiction. They took The Bridge of Lions Affair, cut a few scenes, mostly involving THRUSH agent Jordin, and moved other scenes around, but in doing so created an extremely disjointed end product. They also added a new character, Do Do, reshot a murder so you saw the body, reshot scenes involving an U.N.C.L.E. communications technician named Wanda with a different actress [Yvonne Craig, who was in the previous film in a similar part] and more flirtatious dialogue, and got a new score from Gerald Fried. The music for this film hardly ever goes away and often seems to be trying too hard to tell you that you’re watching a comedy, but is a fun listen anyway. Cetain aspects of the convoluted story are handled seriously, notably Raine’s lifelong love for the elderly Norman which is rather touching, but by the time our two heroes get into a fight with villains in a salon with some guy accidently punching a manikin, you half expect ‘POWS’ and the like to appear onscreen because you’re watching something not that far removed from the old Batman TV series.

Many of the intended laughs do work, my favourite being when tall henchman Fleeton lifts up the front of Napoleon’s car and turns it round, only for Napoleon to drive it into the grounds of the house he’s trying to get to in reverse. Unfortunately the action, aside from a good shootout in a deserted theatre, is generally either minimal or rushed [Ilya’s brawl with Fleeton being especially disappointing] while the misshapen storyline introduces one group of villains before throwing them aside in favour of another. At least Mr Waverley not only gets out and about in this one but gets involved with the action – Leo G. Carroll enjoying the opportunity to deliver some really droll lines – Bernard Fox’s Jordin amuses with his ‘proper’ English behaviour, and Janet Leigh and James Doohan are also in there somewhere in a movie with a confusing array of main characters. Sadly Kuryakin is relegated to looking for cats [apparently, and I quote: “cats have the closest ageing process to humans”] for half of the film, while Solo doesn’t even have much to do with the climactic events. This one also looks a lot cheaper than the previous ones, with sets that look like they’re about to fall over at any minute, but you can’t really say that this severely weakens the film. One Of Our Spies Is Missing is a bit of a mess and pretty daft throughout but very hard to actually dislike.


h0oSFWzNdWk.movieposter_maxresTHE SPY IN THE GREEN HAT
Solo and Kuryakin are assigned to infiltrate a THRUSH secret base run by Louis Strago located in a Sicillian winery, not knowing that Strago, in conjunction with Nazi Dr. von Kronen, plans to detonate atomic bombs in the Atlantic Ocean, causing the Gulf Stream to divert, wreaking havoc in Europe and the United States and warming Greenland sufficiently for it to become a new home for THRUSH [“THRUSHland”]. When the agents are split up after an encounter with THRUSH men, Solo hides overnight in the house of Pia Monteri. Pia’s grandmother considers this a disgrace and insists at the end of a shotgun that Solo marry Pia. Solo escapes, but grandmother enlists the aid of Pia’s uncles, aging Prohibition-era gangsters the Stilleto brothers, to find him and return him for marriage….

The Spy With The Green Hat is as light hearted as the previous film but doesn’t come of so well, the earlier film being consistently entertaining at least, but this one falling rather flat and to my mind the weakest U.N.C.L.E. movie so far. This time the ‘cinema only’ footage was shot at the same time as the TV episode [The Concrete Overcoat Affair], though it only consisted of two more violent death scenes, some ‘from the back’ nudity, and an enhancement in the character of Miss Diketon, who now gets a sexual thrill from both inflicting and receiving pain, Janet Leigh’s THRUSH killer being one of the most memorable parts of the film with her totally bizarre [though not very good and in no way giving the similar scene in From Russia With Love a run for its money] cat fight with Leticia Roman. The largest budget to be given an U.N.C.L.E film allowed them to also get a totally over the top Jack Palance to play the main bad guy and give the film a more cinematic look than most of the others, with a Sicilian town set that is surprisingly convincing, but the film constantly stalls. While it opens with our heroes fighting and pursing THRUSH agents, has a final third set on Strago’s cheapie Bond villain lair island,and contains a bit more fighting than normal, there’s little pace and the whole thing threatens to be, dare I say it, a little dull.

More fun than the main story is the subplot of Solo [who for once doesn’t actually have sex with the lady in question; in fact come to think of it he hasn’t been as ‘active’ in that respect in the last two or three movies ] being hunted by old gangsters who miss the “good old days”. Eduardo Cianelli, Allen Jenkins and Jack La Rue, one of whom gets to shove a grapefruit in a woman’s face like in The Public Enemy, have a lot of fun in the roles and the set piece where the old codgers try to get Solo in a warehouse is hilarious, though Pia and her grandmother rather overdo the “mamma mia”s and the “si”s. The titles of these films make me chuckle, as they have little or nothing to do with the actual films and just seem to have been created to insert the word “spy” or “spies”. This one does have a spy, or rather a spymaster, arrive wearing a green hat near the end, played by Will Kuluva who was the head of U.N.C.L.E in To Trap A Spy. Nelson Riddle took over scoring for this one and does a reasonably good job. This film does have its pleasures, but overall doesn’t come off as well as the other movies. Though I have yet to make my way through the TV series, my feeling is that it was losing its way somewhat around this time.


Dr. Simon True has discovered a process to extract gold from sea water. He tells Solo and Kuryakin that he hid the formula, saying someone would have to “hunt down the four winds” to find it, before being murdered by THRUSH agent Randolph, who was having an affair with Dr. True’s wife. His dying words are that his daughter is the key to finding the formula. It seems that Dr. True sent each of his four step-daughters something that, when assembled, will mean something to Sandy and from which the formula can be discovered. After Dr. True’s wife is killed by Randolph’s assistants the Karate Killers, Solo and Kuryakin recruit his biological daughter Sandy to help them find the four stepdaughter who live all over the world….

The Karate Killers is perhaps the film in the series which I recall enjoying the most when I was young. On viewing it again, that’s hardly surprising, because it has a headlong pace and more action the any previous film in the series, though the flaws are more evident as an adult. A perhaps overly condensed version of The Five Daughters Affair with a new title sequence featuring not slowed down action this time but the song seen being played later on a nightclub scene being performed in what looks like the same place, and some shots being replaced by slightly more violent [a guy hit bloodily in the face with a guitar!] and sexual images, the movie basically just repeats itself as our heroes fly to some exotic destination to encounter a guest star, then Randolph and his goons the Karate Killers, before they go off somewhere else to do exactly the same. Vaughn and McCallum are often sidelined so Joan Crawford, Terry Thomas, Telly Savalas and Kurt Jurgens [yep that’s two future Bond bad guys in this one] can take centre stage in their sections of the film, leaving our two heroes to spend almost the entire time fighting off the title characters, though they do also wind up in a Tokyo geisha house [don’t ask] where Solo says that they’ve never been in a geisha house before and Kuryakin replies: “Speak for yourself”.

Despite the title, there’s lots of so-so fighting but little actual karate. Still, what with Solo and Kuryakin encountering our bad guys in the snow, on the road, in the air in a fun pre-credits scene where our heroes’ car is attacked by autogyros just like the one in You Only Live Twice [this was released before the 007 film, though it’s possible they took the idea from it as it would have been far quicker to make], in a nightclub etc, along with the two tied up in a plummeting plane and Kuryakin almost cut to bits by an ice shredder, The Karate Killers is never dull for a moment. As is now almost customary, there are bits that are just random, like the fire brigade showing up to save the day when our heroes are in Italy, or in London when Terry-Thomas’s cop character is being pursued by one of the stepdaughters who likes to parade around in a bikini. They also go to Rio De Janeiro, Austria and Tokyo, but the matching of stock shots with studio work rarely convinces, and sometimes spills over into the action scenes too. The plot is a mess, with the formula easily falling into the hands of the fifth daughter by mistake in most sections, while, out of the cast, Savalas overacts amusingly, Crawford sends herself up in one two loud rows people have in the film, and Herbert Lom is quite menacing. Gerard Fried returns to contribute one of his catchiest scores. A muddled, ridiculous movie, but such fun!


thumbs_plakat_size200_0000024552THE HELICOPTER SPIES
Solo and Kuryakin witness the aerial destruction wrought on an African village by Dr. Kharmusi using his newly developed “thermal prism”. They then recruit notorious safe cracker [and former thermal prism researcher himself] Luther Sebastian to help them obtain the device from Dr. Kharmusi. Sebastian is on an island among a religious group called “The Third Way”, who all, except for Sebastian, have white hair. Solo and Kuryakin makes their separate way to Dr. Kharmusi’s fortress near Tehran, but Solo is delayed by Annie and her friend Aksoy, who want her fiancé and Aksoy’s brother, who were unjustly imprisoned because of Sebastian,freed. Then there’s Dr. Kharmusi’s wife who seems to want to help Solo but could have an agenda of her own….

After some very daft entries, The Helicopter Spies returns to the more serious – though not too serious – tone of the earlier films, especially One Spy Too Many, and for me it ties with that film as being the best in the series [okay, there’s one more – actually two movies – to come, though I don’t recall them being nearly as good as this one]. The plot is as ridiculous as ever but is reasonably well structured [if maybe packed with a few too many characters] and even has something of a twist in the middle, the action rarely slows, and the whole thing has a decent movie look, with only some obvious studio work and stock shots revealing its TV origins. The Prince Of Darkness Affair wasn’t much altered for its movie incarnation, the changes being just minor, like a topless man being seen twice in a character’s bed when she was originally alone [a pointless alteration really]. This one really does feel like a Bond movie though, with lots of things either previously seen in 007 pics or things that would later turn up, like a woman scaring Solo by driving really fast [Thunderball] a circus knife thrower [Octopussy] or our heroes tied up and about to be hit by a missile [Goldeneye], while some of the story anticipates Diamonds Are Forever.

Solo and Kuryakin get attacked by a helicopter, chased by cars and bikes [with less back projection than in The Karate Killers], and Solo is trapped in a room with rising sand and has to descend a rope ladder dangling from a helicopter onto a moving train to disconnect the freight car holding a rocket in probably the film’s action highlight. There’s not too much campery here, though still some laughs here and there, like the elderly guru of The Third Way group [nice little appearance by John Carradine] who excites everyone whenever it seems like he’s about to speak but when all is lost just shrugs his shoulders and dies [“I wonder what he would have said”? says Solo with a straight face”], or another villain who tenderly tells his mother, working behind a bar: “Soon I’ll be able to take you away from all this”. “But I like it here” is the reply. Acting is still rather mixed; Carol Lynley, as the obligatory innocent who becomes a spy, is terrible, and John Dehner frankly bizarre as the first of the film’s two megalomaniacs [in this world, you kill one and another pops up almost immediately], but H.M.Wynant is strong as four circus brothers. Richard Shore’s scoring sounds more obviously TV-like than previous scores but helps drive the pace of the movie forward. Overall though they did really well with this one. Ironically, Boris Sagal, the director of The Helicopter Spies, was later killed in a tragic helicopter accident.


HowtostealtheworldHOW TO STEAL THE WORLD
Solo and Kuryakin investigate when fellow U.N.C.L.E. agent Robert Kingsley and military general Maximilian Harmon disappears. Shortly afterwards, five of the world’s top scientists are mysteriously abducted. The trail leads to the Himalayas, where Kingsley has set himself up as potential world dictator, hoping to use the combined talents of the scientists to build a device that will spread mind-controlling gas throughout the planet, but his wife Margitta Kingsley, who is involved with THRUSH agent Webb, has different plans for the gas….

This rather tired final film was originally a TV episode, The Seven Wonders Of The World Affair, that was held off for broadcasting because of its low quality, but, when it was decided to cancel the series, was resurrected, broadcast, and expanded for theatrical release. This one really does feel padded, with far too much footage devoted to the villains planning their plot and Solo and Kuryakin being mostly sidelined throughout, not even given the chance to spend much time with the ladies in the film, while there are several scenes showing Webb and Margitta about to have sex several times when one scene would have been perfectly adequate. It seems more hastily assembled than any of the other films, with some of the scratchiest stock footage you’ve probably seen in some time, and bits of dialogue delivered from off-screen to help clarify the plot, which is still somewhat confused, though it’s nice to have two villains who differ somewhat in their motives for wanting to control humanity, and some of their scenes throw up some thought provoking ideas. It’s also the most serious of the films, but is also actually unintentionally funny quite often, such as the Himalayan base [actually Los Angeles International Airport] which is surrounded by desert [actually Vasques Rocks, Los Angeles], something the script hilariously attempts to explain away in two lines of dialogue!

What with a [highly unconvincing] escape from an exploding airplane, a fair bit of gunplay, a deadly encounter with a wrecking hook and quite a clever pursuit through an airport, there’s still a reasonable amount of action, but suspense is mostly lacking despite the grandiose plot, while Vaughn and McCallum seem a little bored and Leo G. Carroll looks positively ill in the final scene. However, it’s not all bad of course. Leslie Nielsen is on fine hammy form as Maximilan Harmon, the female are less glamorous than usual but quite interesting – Inger Stratton does well in an underwritten part of a girl who switches sides – the direction by Sutton Roley and cinematography by Robert B. Hauser are surprisingly stylish with some interesting camera shots [like one of two people photographed through a glass table] throughout, and the film remains patchily entertaining even if much of the old panache is missing. You don’t even hear a single bar of Goldsmith’s theme, the main theme for the film being an expansion of a piece composer Richard Shores used in The Helicopter Spies. Overall, I think I slightly preferred How To Steal The World to The Spy With The Green Hat, even if it needed a bit more work before it should have been released.



THRUSH steals the bomb H975 and demands $350,000,000, to be delivered within 72 hours by their former antagonist, Napoleon Solo. Meanwhile ex-THRUSH agent Tom Mason,who has a past with Solo, escapes from a high security prison. This forces U.N.C.L.E. to reactivate the two top agents of its Section II, Solo and Illya Kuryakin, both of whom had left its ranks 15 years before and are now pursuing other lines of civilian work – Kuryakin as a fashion designer whose resignation was acrimonious and precipitated by a professional disaster, Solo as a marketer of computers and independent businessman. Solo is keen but Kuryakin not so sure….

One more U.N.C.L.E film? Well yes, kind of. This effort was a TV movie, never shown theatrically so prints contain obvious fade-outs where adverts would have occurred. Both made and set fifteen years after How To Steal The World, it was hoped that it would lead to another series, but it didn’t happen, which is not very surprising because The Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. doesn’t really come off, lacking much of the feel of the old movies and looking to 007 again for the main source of inspiration, from the Thunderball-esque plot, to the tall henchman to the climactic battle between two armies, to a cameo by George Lazenby [after Sean Connery and Roger Moore had turned it down] as a character called J.B. who comes along in a gadget-laden Aston Martin to help Solo out. The scene is initially amusing, and this Bond fan almost felt like cheering at seeing Lazenby in the role again, but it gets out of hand when it goes so far as to name check On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Until the final section it’s the only real action scene in the film, which would be fine if the old panache was there generally, but it isn’t really, while the villains, both of them being from the pasts of Solo and Kuryakin but the script only bothering to explain the linkage with one of them, are dull, the women forgettable and thin on the ground, and there’s little imagination at play – instead of a typically deviously clever trap for one or more of our heroes, the most this one can manage is Kuryakin and a pal hanging with their hands chained together.

Still, despite many of the elements missing like the distinctive U.N.C.L.E. headquarters behind a tailor’s shop and Mr. Waverley [Patrick Macnee playing the new boss], this must still have been a bit of a nostalgia trip for fans. Though it seems to take forever to get its heroes back into action, Vaughn and Kuryakin still that have chemistry and sheer coolness, while the script nicely makes Solo, who seems to be bested throughout [and even wears jungle camouflage in the desert],  seem just a bit “past it”, a theme of bland modernity replacing the more fun and colourful ways of doing things running through the whole piece and providing much of the humour [which elsewhere doesn’t really work too well], notably the classic groaner from Solo when his pen communicator suddenly bleeps in a casino, he says: “Excuse me, my pacemaker needs a new battery!” Some of the old crew were re-hired for this one, though even Gerald Fried’s music is uninspired and barely audible at times too, while Ray Austin’s direction is just bland. There is undoubtedly a modicum of fun to be had here, but all in all I feel they should have left it alone. Still, overall I had a good time watching these.

Dr Lenera
About Dr Lenera 2231 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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