Film Review – THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.: THE FIFTEEN YEARS LATER AFFAIR (1983)

THE RETURN OF THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.: THE FIFTEEN YEARS LATER AFFAIR (TV) (1983, USA) **½
Action, Crime, Thriller
dist. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); pr co. Richard Sloan Productions / Viacom Productions; d. Ray Austin; w. Michael Sloan (based on the TV series created by Sam Rolfe); exec pr. Michael Sloan; pr. Nigel Watts; ph. Fred J. Koenekamp (DeLuxe. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Gerald Fried; th m. Jerry Goldsmith; ed. George Jay Nicholson; ad. Herman F. Zimmerman; set d. Charles Pierce; cos. Robert B. Harris, Barbara Siebert; m/up. Mike Moschella, Jean Austin; sd. Dale Johnson, William Randall, Jim Cook (Mono (Glen Glenn Sound)); sfx. Cliff Wenger; st. Ben Jensen; rel. 5 April 1983 (USA), 21 April 1984 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 96m.

cast: Robert Vaughn (Napoleon Solo), David McCallum (Illya Kuryakin), Patrick Macnee (Sir John Raleigh), Tom Mason (Benjamin Kowalski), Gayle Hunnicutt (Andrea Markovitch), Geoffrey Lewis (Janus), Anthony Zerbe (Justin Sepheran), Keenan Wynn (Piers Castillian), Simon Williams (Nigel Pennington-Smythe), John Harkins (Alexi Kemp), Jan Tríska (Vaselievich), Susan Woollen (Janice Friday), Carolyn Seymour (Actress), George Lazenby (J.B.), Judith Chapman (Z-65), Dick Durock (Guiedo), Lois De Banzie (Delquist), Randi Brooks (The Model), Jack Somack (The Tailor), Eddie Baker (Salesman).

The criminal organization THRUSH steals the A-bomb H957 and demands $350,000,000 to be delivered within 72 hours by their former antagonist Solo. So U.N.C.L.E. has to reactivate the super agents Solo (Vaughn) and Kuryakin (McCallum) after they were 15 years out of business. Equipped in the usual 007 fashion they start to seek the villains. This is a reunion with tongue firmly placed in cheek. The movie seems to push more into James Bond territory with its references (including Lazenby’s cameo as “J.B.” driving an Aston Martin DB5) and its big finale (which is well-staged for a TV budget). Vaughn and McCallum slip back easily into their roles and although the film gets off to a fairly ropey and hammy start (notably Hunnicutt’s overly forced Russian accent), it settles down into a slick, but light entertainment. the script is a mix of awful dialogue, in-jokes and knowing winks at the audience. A true guilty pleasure.

Film Review – THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Man from U.N.C.L.E., The (2015; USA/UK; Colour; 116m) ∗∗½  d. Guy Ritchie; w. Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Jeff Kleeman, David C. Wilson; ph. John Mathieson; m. Daniel Pemberton.  Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, Christopher Sciueref, Susan Gillias, Luca Calvani, Nicon Caraman. In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons. Shallow and lightweight, but increasingly entertaining rework. Cavill is too smug and Hammer too psychotic to capture the charm of the original characters. Ritchie, however, elicits a certain kitsch feel from the derivative script. Based on the TV series that ran from 1964-8. [12]

Film Review Round-up – The first three (of eight) THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. films from the 1960s

To Trap a Spy (1964; USA; Metrocolor; 92m) ∗∗∗  d. Don Medford; w. Sam Rolfe; ph. Joseph F. Biroc; m. Jerry Goldsmith.  Cast: Robert Vaughn, Luciana Paluzzi, Pat Crowley, Fritz Weaver, William Marshall, Will Kuluva, David McCallum, Ivan Dixon, Victoria Shaw, Eric Berry, Miguel Ángel Landa. The pilot for the TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., re-edited and released to theatres as a feature. U.N.C.L.E. discovers that W.A.S.P. killer Andrew Vulcan plans to assassinate a visiting African leader, Premier Ashumen, while he’s on a tour of Vulcan’s factory. Whilst lacking the scope and grandeur of the James Bond films that inspired it, this is still a fun spy thriller. Vaughn and Crowley spark nicely off each other, but McCallum has only a background role. Followed by THE SPY WITH MY FACE (1965). [PG]

Spy with My Face, The (1965; USA; Metrocolor; 88m) ∗∗  d. John Newland; w. Joseph Calvelli, Clyde Ware; ph. Fred J. Koenekamp; m. Morton Stevens.  Cast: Robert Vaughn, Senta Berger, David McCallum, Leo G. Carroll, Michael Evans, Sharon Farrell, Fabrizio Mioni, Donald Harron, Bill Gunn, Jennifer Billingsley, Paula Raymond, Donna Michelle, Harold Gould, Nancy Hsueh, Michele Carey. THRUSH captures Napoleon Solo and replaces him with a look-alike to infiltrate U.N.C.L.E. Second feature lacks the spark of TO TRAP A SPY and after a promising start descends into lapses of logic with its muddled plot. It also lacks an effective villain with Evans lacking charisma. The movie first aired on NBC as the eighth episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964), “The Double Affair” with additional scenes filmed to expand the running time. Followed by ONE SPY TOO MANY (1966). [PG]

One Spy Too Many (1966; USA; Metrocolor; 98m) ∗∗½  d. Joseph Sargent; w. Dean Hargrove; ph. Fred J. Koenekamp; m. Gerald Fried.  Cast: Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, Rip Torn, Dorothy Provine, Leo G. Carroll, David Opatoshu, James Hong, Yvonne Craig. Megalomaniac Alexander wants to be like Alexander the Great. His plan is to commit the world’s greatest crimes to expand his industrial empire. Fairly enjoyable spy hokum, which despite low production values and a dodgy script is enlivened by well-staged action sequences, some witty lines and a winning supporting performance by Provine. Torn makes for an enigmatic villain. Expanded from the second-season opener, “The Alexander the Greater Affair” of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with additional scenes filmed for theatrical release. Based on a story by David Victor. Followed by ONE OF OUR SPIES IS MISSING (1966). [PG]