New U.N.C.L.E. book coming out in 2015

The original U.N.C.L.E.s

The original U.N.C.L.E.s

A new book about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series is due out next year.

“Solo and Illya: The Secret History of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” by Craig Henderson is to be published by Bear Manor Publishers, according to the Facebook page of THE GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY AFFAIR, the two-day event held in the Los Angeles area last month in connection with the show’s 50th anniversary.

Henderson created the File Forty fanzine in 1970, according to a Jon Burlingame response to the post. Henderson also assisted Burlingame when the latter produced a series of U.N.C.L.E. soundtracks in the 2000s.

“He’s uncovered a lot of information about the show no one else has,” Burlingame wrote.

Finally, Henderson produced A CENTURY OF U.N.C.L.E., which details how the worlds of U.N.C.L.E. and James Bond intersected for more than a century, beginning with the birth of Ian Fleming in 1908 until the death of U.N.C.L.E. executive producer Norman Felton in 2012. It’s a resource this blog has cited numerous times.

U.N.C.L.E. ‘teaser’ shown in Australia

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill

A Twitter user in Australia, @aaronkaj, posted that he’s seen a trailer for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

The original post went out on Oct. 14. @aaronkaj was then peppered with questions seeking details. “It was more of a teaser,” @aaronkaj responded. “Showing Henry & Arnie trying to work together as a team.”

That was a reference to actors Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, who have the roles of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, portrayed by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in the original 1964-68 television series.

The rest of the exchange (which contains minor spoilers): can be viewed BY CLICKING HERE.

Another spoiler, based on the description from @aaronkaj, it sounds a bit like a scene in the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, where Bond (Roger Moore) works with a Russian agent (Barbara Bach). Specifically, it sounds like an exchange during the underwater car sequence of the 10th 007 movie.

In any case, the original Oct. 14 posting (re-Tweeted by Laney Boggs on Twitter, who has followed developments concerning the movie closely) looks like this:

UPDATE: Can Henry Cavill do U.N.C.L.E. sequels?

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Adapted and updated from a June post.

File this under “getting ahead of yourself.” Still, at major companies, people are paid to think about various future scenarios. So…

Back in June we posed the question if The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie is a success, will the lead actor be able to do any sequels?

Warner Bros. IN AN OCT. 15 PRESS RELEASE said it plans on keeping Henry Cavill busy playing Superman.

In addition to the current Batman-Superman movie now in production, Warners said it plans a two-part Justice League movie with Cavill as Superman as well as another Superman solo film the actor.

The studio also controls U.N.C.L.E. and has a movie in post-production which will be released in August 2015.

As we stated a few months ago, you have to wonder if Cavill will have enough time to do future U.N.C.L.E. films. He played Napoleon Solo in the U.N.C.L.E. movie.

The Batman-Superman movie, which amounts to a preview of the Justice League, is scheduled to be released in March 2016. Warner Bros. says Justice League Part one will be released in 2017 and Justice League Part Two will be out in 2019. The studio didn’t disclose a planned release date for Cavill’s second solo Superman movie. The actor first played the character in 2013’s Man of Steel.

Superhero movies involve a lot of special effects and long shooting schedules. Even if Cavill signed an U.N.C.L.E. contract that secured his services for sequels, you have to wonder if he’ll have any time to squeeze future Solo adventures into his schedule.

The U.N.C.L.E. movie was shot over three months. Compare that to Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie, that had a seven-month shooting schedule.

Again, this is looking way ahead. The U.N.C.L.E. movie hardly is assured of being a hit. It doesn’t have the name recognition of the comic book characters from Marvel and DC that are populating movies.

Still, it is something to keep in mind as events unfold in the months ahead. Whatever contracts Cavill has signed, Superman-Justice League movies are a top priority for Warner Bros. U.N.C.L.E., even if the movie is a financial success, is a secondary priority.

1974: The FBI’s ‘backdoor pilot’?

Mary Frann

Mary Frann

As The FBI concluded its ninth, and final, season, it appears QM Productions attempted a “backdoor pilot,” where an episode is intended to be the start of a new series.

The episode in question was the next-to-last new episode aired for the 1973-74 season, Confessions Of a Madman. Star Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and sidekick Shelly Novack are joined by a woman FBI agent played by Mary Frann, who years later would be Bob Newhart’s co-star on his Newhart series.

Background: The FBI didn’t include women agents until the ninth season, which was the second season made after the death of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Until the last season, women were depicted as FBI employees, occasionally venturing into the field to assist agents. But there weren’t actual women agents until the final season.

In the episode, three women students at an unnamed college at a Maryland college have been brutally attacked. Two have been killed but the most recent victim survived. Frann’s character was a student at the same college and, more importantly, was a member of the same sorority as the three earlier victims.

During much the episode, Frann has as much screen time as either Efrem Zimbalist Jr. or Shelly Novack. At the very least, the episode is a major departure for the series. Three suspects emerge. This being 1970s television, care is made to ensure the least obvious of the three candidates (Elliot Street, Daniel J. Travanti and Robert Pine) is the killer.

The episode was directed by Philip Abbott, who played Erskine’s boss, Assistant Director Arthur Ward, throughout the series. Abbott also played a mentally disturbed killer in a 1964 episode of Kraft Suspense Theater, Once Upon a Savage Night, that was directed by Robert Altman. Just speculation, but perhaps Abbott drew upon that earlier television show while directing The FBI episode.

Happy 87th birthday, Sir Roger Moore

Oct. 14 is the 87th birthday of Roger Moore, who played James Bond in seven movies produced by Eon Productions from 1973 through 1985. Happy birthday, Sir Roger.

This year was the 35th anniversary of Moonraker, one of the actor’s biggest box office successes. It’s not that popular among dedicated Bond fans who feel it’s too light and takes too many liberties. But the movie has its supporters. The Bond series hasn’t attempted a spectacle since — and it did generate some interesting poster art.

goozee_teaser

U.N.C.L.E. music future and past

Composer Daniel Pemberton took to Twitter to say the recording of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie score was wrapping up on Oct. 12.

Not many details beyond that, but Pemberton has been Tweeting pictures from the recording session. The Tweets included a short video of the orchestra warming up. In response to one of Pemberton’s Tweets, musician Grant Olding responded, “it’s quite a messy theme.”

Perhaps it’s a reference to Jerry Goldsmith’s original theme for the 1964-68 television series. We’ll see. The movie won’t be released until August 2015.

Meanwhile, a highlight of last month’s Golden Anniversary Affair that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original show was a live performance of U.N.C.L.E. music.

Some highlights were uploaded to YouTube by Arthur Greenwald, who was there:

Casino Royale (1954), a reappraisal

Barry Nelson in 1954's Casino Royale

Barry Nelson in 1954’s Casino Royale

If there’s a red-headed stepchild in the world of James Bond, the 1954 CBS production of Casino Royale would be it.

The television Bond is mostly ignored. When it does come up in fan conversation, it’s the subject of derision.

An American as James Bond? Outrageous — although Eon Productions, which makes James Bond movies, seriously considered the notion twice, for Diamonds Are Forever (John Gavin was signed before Sean Connery was enticed back) and again for Octopussy (James Brolin was screen tested before Roger Moore was enticed back).

And he’s called Jimmy Bond! Outrageous — although Bond never calls himself Jimmy, other characters do. The only time he refers to his own name, he is making a telephone call and says, “This is James Bond.” Actor Barry Nelson also is clearly billed as playing James Bond in the end titles.

The television production, part of CBS’s Climax! anthology series and airing live on Oct. 21, 1954, is more like a televised play. While Ian Fleming’s first novel was short, it still covered too much ground to be covered in a 60-minute time slot. Excluding commercials and titles, only about 50 minutes was available to tell the story.

Antony Ellis and Charles Bennett, who adapted the novel for television, certainly took plenty of liberties with the source material.

Two Fleming characters, Vesper Lynd and French agent Rene Mathis, are merged into one character, Valerie Mathis (Linda Christian), a woman from Bond’s past who is working for French intelligence. Meanwhile, Bond is changed from being a British agent to an American one. Felix Leiter is changed to a British agent and his name is now Clarence Leiter (Michael Pate).

Presumably, the idea of an American Bond stemmed from how this was airing on U.S. television. At this point, Fleming and Bond weren’t huge names among the American public.

Anyway, to get things going, Act I opens with Bond being shot at outside a casino. It’s not terribly convincing, mostly because of the limited resources of the production, which was broadcast live. Bond ducks behind a column and the audience can see squibs going off to simulate gun fire.

Shortly thereafter, Bond makes contact with Leiter, who explains to Bond (and the audience) how the agent’s mission to bankrupt Le Chiffre (Peter Lorre) in a high stakes game of baccarat. No M, no briefing from M.

At one point, Leiter says Bond’s nickname is “card sense Jimmy Bond,” while Valerie calls Bond “Jimmy.” However, she also calls him “James Bond” when introducing the agent to Le Chiffre ahead of the big baccarat game.

Peter Lorre is the first actor to play a Bond villain referring to the agent constantly as “Mr. Bond,” something that would be repeated throughout the Eon films.

There are some bits from Fleming’s novel, particularly during Bond’s card game with Le Chiffre. Even here, Ellis and Bennett do some tinkering. After Bond is cleaned out, he gets additional funds not from Leiter, as in the novel, but from Valerie. What’s more, Bond’s torture is considerable milder than the novel or 2006 feature film. The ending from Fleming’s novel isn’t used and things end happily.

This version of Casino Royale’s main value is that of a time capsule, a reminder of when television was mostly done live. Lorre is suitably villainous. If you find him fun to watch on movies and other television shows, nothing here will change your mind.

Barry Nelson’s Bond won’t make anyone forget the screen 007s. Still, Nelson was a pro who had a long career. He does the best he can with the material and production limitations. He even gets to deliver the occasional witticism. (“Are you the fellow who was shot?” Leiter asks. Bond replies, “No I was the fellow who was missed.”)

UPDATE: Casino Royale was the third broadcast of the Climax! series. The first was an adaptation of The Long Goodbye, with Dick Powell reprising the role of Philip Marlowe. So in two of the first three broadcasts, Climax! tackled novels by Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming.

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