Guy Ritchie’s movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is scheduled to start filming next month. While there’s a lot that isn’t known, here are a few predictions about the film that may emerge.
No dancing gorillas (or other third-season silliness from the original series): The movie probably will be similar in tone to the director’s two Sherlock Holmes movies.
Based on the early information available in the film’s IMDB.COM ENTRY, much of the crew worked on Ritchie’s two Holmes films. There will be some humor, but there will be much serious adventure also.
That wouldn’t be a bad thing. The original show’s FOURTH AND FINAL SEASON perhaps over-corrected the silly THIRD SEASON. Both seasons have good episodes but the drama-humor balance was out of whack compared with the first two seasons. The third season was like an U.N.C.L.E. version of the Adam West Batman series. The fourth seemed as if it were produced by Quinn Martin; the final season was produced by Anthony Spinner, a QM veteran.
U.N.C.L.E.’s wheelhouse lies somewhere inbetween those extremes. Whether Ritchie & Co. can achieve that remains to be seen. But the guess from here is that’s the goal. The two Ritchie-directed Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law were in that same general area. The question is whether Ritchie can achieve that with U.N.C.L.E.
It won’t be exactly like the television show because it will be done as a period piece. The television series was a product of its time. It was a post-Cold War series (an American and a Russian working together to deal with the greater evil) taking place in the middle of the Cold War (producer Norman Felton and author Ian Fleming had their first meetings a few weeks after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962).
But when you do a story as a period piece, everything changes. The movies Murder, My Sweet (1942) and Farewell My Lovely (1975) are based on the same Raymond Chandler Philip Marlowe novel. They’re both good, but the latter, starring Robert Mitchum, emphasizes its 1940s settings in ways the earlier Dick Powell film didn’t.
The movie’s success will depend on the chemistry of the lead actors: The original show was intended to center around Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo. But David McCallum’s Illya Kuryakin made such an impression, the two emerged as equals. The Vaughn-McCallum pairing ensured that, in the fall of 1965, that The Wild, Wild West (with Robert Conrad and Ross Martin) and I Spy (with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby) had the same dynamic.
For the new U.N.C.L.E. movie to work, Henry Cavill (as Solo) and Armie Hammer (as Kuryakin) have to display at least similar chemistry. Cavill was a late casting as Solo after Tom Cruise exited the project.
Still, late castings can work. Jack Lord was cast as Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O just *five days* before the pilot to that 1968-80 series started production. Cavill got the U.N.C.L.E. job about three months ahead of production. Compared with Jack Lord and Five-O, that’s a breeze.
Filed under: The Other Spies Tagged: | A movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.?, Anthony Spinner, Armie Hammer, David McCallum, Dick Powell, Farewell My Lovely, Guy Ritchie, Henry Cavill, Ian Fleming, IMDB.com, Murder My Sweet, Norman Felton, Quinn Martin, Robert Mitchum, Robert Vaughn, Sam Rolfe, The Other Spies