U.N.C.L.E. movie resumes filming after big U.K. storm

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Despite a major storm that affected southern England, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie resumed filming on Oct. 28, according to a post on the HENRY CAVILL NEWS fan website.

The production is using the U.K. as a stand-in for East Germany. The sequence being shot involves a car chase with early 1960s era cars. CLICK HERE and you can see a series of photos on the Henry Cavill News site.

Production of the movie has been underway for a little more than seven weeks and is probably past the halfway mark.

Henry Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo, the role originated by Robert Vaughn in the 1964-68 series, needs to begin filming on the Superman-Batman film sometime in early 2014. That movie is a sequel to this year’s Man of Steel film with Cavill as Superman. The U.N.C.L.E. movie also stars Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin, who was played by David McCallum in the series.

There are still some major questions about the U.N.C.L.E. project, which is being directed by Guy Ritchie. Warner Bros. hasn’t publicly disclosed if it has a release date. Also unknown is when the first teaser trailer might come out. If a composer has been hired, Warner Bros. is keeping it a secret.

The FBI season 6: Erskine takes on the ’70s

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

The sixth season of The FBI is now available on DVD. The sales pitch from Warner Archive, which markets manufactured-on-demand home video products for Warner Bros., reflects the changing era for the show.

At the dawn of the Seventies the Culture War captured as much attention as the Cold War, and the storylines seen in this sixth season of The FBI (drawn from real Bureau files) reflected this. While still on the watch for saboteurs and spies acting as agents for foreign powers, the dedicated crimebusters of the Bureau, as personified by Inspector Erskine (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.), Special Agent Colby (William Reynolds), and Assistant Director Ward (Philip Abbott) were just as likely to be tasked with tracking down psychotic Vietnam veterans or stopping college kids with a terrorist bent.

The series still was coming up with some espionage stories such as The Target, an episode featuring one-time James Bond actress Karin Dor.

The sixth season also has a mix of actors who’d gain fame later, including Martin Sheen (who had already done a guest shot back in the third season), Michael Douglas (shortly before being employed by producer Quinn Martin) and Diane Keaton (a year before doing The Godfather). Also, the roster of guest stars includes William Shatner being, well, William Shatner.

For Quinn Martin, The FBI was now his flagship show. The creative team led by producer Philip Saltzman remained in tact from the previous season. For QM Productions, it was steady as she goes amid the changes in society that were affecting storylines.

For information about ordering the season 6 set, you can CLICK HERE. There’s a sample clip from The Condemned, the first episode of the season.

UPDATE (Oct. 18): Here’s the preview clip from The Condemned:

Funeral in Berlin gets new U.S. DVD release

Len Deighton and Michael Caine

Len Deighton and Michael Caine

Funeral in Berlin, the second Harry Saltzman-produced film based on Len Deighton’s spy novels and starring Michael Caine, is now available in a new DVD release in the U.S. through Warner Bros.’s Warner Archives.

Saltzman, co-founder of Eon Productions, producer of the James Bond film series, had ambitions beyond the 007 movies. At the same time, Saltzman summoned 007 film veterans to work on his Deighton-based films.

With 1966’s Funeral in Berlin, Saltzman hired Guy Hamilton, who helmed Goldfinger, as director. Also on board was Ken Adam as production designer and Peter Murton as art director. Other films in the series employed John Barry, Peter Hunt and Maurice Binder.

Warner Archive specializes in “manufactured on demand” (or MOD); the DVDs are made as they’re ordered and the sets aren’t available in stores. Warner Bros. has used Warner Archive for home video releases of properties in the vast WB library, including THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E. and THE FBI television series.

The price for Funeral in Berlin is $18.95 plus shipping and handling. For more information on ordering, CLICK HERE.

For more information, you can view the IMDB.COM pages for:

1965’S THE IPCRESS FILES

1966’s FUNERAL IN BERLIN

1967’s BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN

U.N.C.L.E. movie shifts to Italy; 2nd unit gets busy

U.N.C.L.E. movie action

U.N.C.L.E. movie action in photo on Henry Cavill News site

Filming on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie has shifted to Italy. It appears the second, or action, unit is getting in some work.

Throughout the past few days, fan sites including Henry Cavill News and Henry Cavill.Org plus the Henry Cavill Fanpage and its U.N.C.L.E. movie Facebook page and @laneyboggs2001 on Twitter have provided various updates about the film. Henry Cavill News had THIS POST. Here’s an excerpt:

La Repubblica is reporting that filming has begun on The Man from UNCLE in Italy. So far it seems it’s the second unit doing all of the work. Apparently they are shooting at Castel dell ‘Ovo, which we told you more about in this post. The newspaper says the castle has been off limits throughout the day, but only in the areas occupied by the crew.

They are reportedly filming an action scene that we had heard about before, in which a group of special forces conducts a raid of the fortress, battling it out with gunmen there to protect the mysterious criminal who is hiding inside. Guy Ritchie was spotted earlier in the day, enjoying a day off with his family. And Armie Hammer’s wife shared this great picture of their family, including their cute dog as they explored Pompeii.

On Twitter there were photos such as THIS ONE and THIS ONE of the area where the movie is being filmed.

The $75 million Warner Bros. film so far hasn’t had a big public profile. That may come later. The movie will wrap up production by the end of the year so that Henry Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo, can start work on a Superman-Batman film in early 2014. Cavill has the role originated by Robert Vaughn in the 1964-68 television series. Armie Hammer plays Illya Kuryakin, the role originally played by David McCallum.

UPDATE: The DAILYCAVILL.COM site has a post. Here’s an excerpt:

THE LOCATION – In the film, the Castel dell ‘Ovo become the Castle of Baia, part of Bacoli where they will hold most of the filming. The set, in fact, will move to the beach of Villa Ferretti in Bacoli, building sites Fiart Bay, moored at Pier Caligula and the fishmongers of Pozzuoli where you will run tomorrow. Other locations will be Rome and England. [ Campaniasuweb ]

UPDATE (Sept. 25): Here’s a video of the area it Italy where filming is occurring this week:

Jared Harris’s role in the U.N.C.L.E. movie

Jared Harris

Jared Harris

So what will Jared Harris be doing in the U.N.C.L.E. movie?

The Sept. 3 WARNER BROS. PRESS RELEASE doesn’t mention the name of the character Harris will play, much less whether he’ll be the film’s villain.

However, the DEADLINE entertainment news Web site, SLASHFILM.COM and WE GOT THIS COVERED all said the character’s name is Sanders.

In the original show, veteran actor George Sanders (1906-72) played G. Emory Partridge, one of the few villains to make a return engagement. Slashfilm.com even posed the question whether the character name is a nod to George Sanders, whose Partridge character appeared in first- and second-season episodes of the 1964-68 TV show.

Neither of the Web sites identifying the character’s name as Sanders say how they obtained the information.

Harris also played Professor Moriarty in 2011’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which was helmed by Guy Ritchie, who’s directing the U.N.C.L.E. film.

Some fans have already speculated whether the U.N.C.L.E. film, which features “a mysterious international criminal organization” might be tied into Moriarty.

As previously noted, ONE OF THE ACE U.N.C.L.E. NOVELS of the 1960s provided an origin for Thrush (the name of the villainous organization in the television show) just such a backstory. Warner Bros. also released the two Ritchie-directed Holmes movies, so such a move could be a possibility.

Or, of course, all of this could be a string of coincidences that will bear little resemblance to the eventual finished film.

Here’s a shoutout to @laneyboggs2001 on Twitter who pointed this blog to the Slashfilm.com post.

U.N.C.L.E. movie to start filming Sept. 9, Warner Bros. says

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Warner Bros. said today that a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will begin on Monday, Sept. 9. The primary bit of news: Hugh Grant will play U.N.C.L.E. chief Alexander Waverly, the role originated by Leo G. Carroll in the 1964-68 series.

An excerpt of THE PRESS RELEASE:

BURBANK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Principal photography will begin on September 9 on Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” The film is the first to be made under filmmaker Guy Ritchie’s and producer Lionel Wigram’s new production shingle, Ritchie/Wigram Productions, which has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. Having successfully re-imagined the classic detective Sherlock Holmes in two hit films, the pair now bring their fresh take on the hugely popular 1960s television series by bringing super spies Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin to the big screen.

Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel”) stars as Napoleon Solo opposite Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”) as Illya Kuryakin, alongside stars Alicia Vikander (“Anna Karenina”), Elizabeth Debicki (“The Great Gatsby”), Jared Harris (“Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows”), and Hugh Grant (“Cloud Atlas”) as Waverly.
(snip)
Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” centers on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin. Forced to put aside longstanding hostilities, the two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization, which is bent on destabilizing the fragile balance of power through the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology. The duo’s only lead is the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization, and they must race against time to find him and prevent a worldwide catastrophe.

The screenplay is written by Ritchie and Wigram, who also serve as producers. John Davis (“Chronicle”) and Steve Clark-Hall (“RocknRolla,” the “Sherlock Holmes” films) are also producing. David Dobkin is executive producer.

Grant, who turns 53 on Sept. 9, is more than 20 years younger than Carroll was when the series started production. The pilot episode originally had an U.N.C.L.E. chief named Mr. Allison played by Will Kuluva. Executive producer Norman Felton opted to recast and rename the role. For the broadcast version of the pilot, Carroll re-filmed a series originally done by Kuluva. The movie version of the pilot, To Trap a Spy, uses the Kuluva footage.

Besides specifying that Grant has the Waverly role is that Jared Harris, who played Professor Moriarty in one of Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films is also in the cast.

A number of crew members were also listed, including director of photography John Mathieson and editor James Herbert. Not mentioned is who will be the movie’s composer.

Also, the press release confirms that this is will be an “origin” story. In the original series, a few hints of the background of Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Kuryakin (David McCallum) were provided but not many.

U.N.C.L.E. movie cast member sends out some Tweets

"Illya, I'm not sure what to make of all these Tweets about the U.N.C.L.E. movie."

“Illya, what do you make of all this?”

UPDATE (6:10 p.m.): The Instagram photo referred to below has been removed.

ORIGINAL POST: A member of the cast of The Man From U.N.C.L.E movie. scheduled to start filming this month, has sent out a few Tweets about the project. There’s nothing startling and certainly no spoilers. But the posts have been re-Tweeted by fans of Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, the leads in the film.

Peter Stark, whose TWITTER PROFILE lists him as an “Actor, Model & Voice Over Artist” SAID AUG. 23 ON TWITTER:

Costume Fitting for my part on The Man from UNCLE (@ Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden)

On Sept. 3, he again AGAIN TWEETED ABOUT GOING TO AN U.N.C.L.E. COSTUME FITTING at Warner Bros.’s Leavesden studio in the U.K.

In ANOTHER SEPT. 3 TWEET he included a link to an Instagram photo of his copy of the script. Here’s the text:

My script! #UNCLE @ Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden http://instagram.com/p/dytpaMBb1v/

The photo merely consists of part of a cover with the word U.N.C.L.E. and his name on it. U.N.C.L.E. is in the original font used in the titles of the 1964-68 television series. That would be significant if (and this is a very big if) the original U.N.C.L.E. logo would be incorporated in the movie. It’s obviously way too early to tell.

There is a Peter Stark with an IMDB.COM entry. His acting credits include parts such as “German Officer” in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, one of two Holmes films directed by Guy Ritchie. Ritchie is also directing the U.N.C.L.E. movie. Stark is also listed as doing voice work for video games, including 2012’s 007 Legends. The IMDB.com entry, however, doesn’t have a photograph that would confirm it’s the same Peter Stark.

More questions about the U.N.C.L.E. movie

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)

Gradually, details are emerging about the movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that’s scheduled to start filming next month. But there are still plenty of unanswered questions about director Guy Ritchie’s project. Here are a few.

Who will be playing some key roles? The leads have been cast, with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer playing Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, the U.N.C.L.E. operatives played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in the 1964-68 television series. Three other actors, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant, are slated for other roles.

There’s still no word on who will play Alexander Waverly, the U.N.C.L.E. leader played by Leo G. Carroll in the series. If a primary villain has been cast, it hasn’t been announced. Perhaps there will be some answers as filming begins.

Who will be the composer? Key crew members have emerged, according to the movie’s IMDB.COM ENTRY. John Mathieson, who has photographed films such as Gladiator, The Phantom of the Opera and X-Men: First Class, is listed as director of photography. James Herbert, who edited both of Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes movies, will perform the same task here.

Still no word on a composer. Hans Zimmer worked on Ritchie’s Holmes films and has composed music for various action movies. Thus, Zimmer would seem to be a candidates. But he’s already scheduled to do other 2014 films, according to his IMDB.com entry. Michael Giacchino and David Arnold, the five-time 007 composer, would seem to be among suitable choices. Giacchino also has a busy plate with films scheduled to be released next year.

The U.N.C.L.E. Special

The U.N.C.L.E. Special

Will there be new versions of key U.N.C.L.E. props? The U.N.C.L.E. Special, a handgun with attachments, was one of the distinctive props on the original show. The Special is even the subject of a Web site, THEUNCLEGUN.COM. Also, the U.N.C.L.E. agents used communicators initially disguised as a pack of cigarettes, later as a pen.

Presumably, Ritchie & Co. will want their own versions of such key props. The movie is to be a period piece so it’ll be interesting to see if revamped U.N.C.L.E. Specials and communicators will be based on what was available in the 1960s.

Will there be a new U.N.C.L.E. logo? Again, assuming Ritchie & Co. want their own look, a revised U.N.C.L.E. insignia would be a possibility. The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. had its own insignia when it came out in 1983.

Is it going to be any good? That’s the biggest question of all.

Warner Bros. and its priorities

Ben Affleck in 2003's Daredevile

Ben Affleck in 2003’s Daredevil

It doesn’t appear that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is at the top of priority list for Warner Bros’s publicity department.

The studio put out a press release that Ben Affleck will play Batman opposite Henry Cavill’s Superman in a movie with a July 17, 2015 release date. Affleck played Daredevil in a 2003 20th Century Fox movie based on a Marvel Comics character who made his debut in 1964, the same year The Man From U.N.C.L.E. premiered.

Cavill played Superman in this year’s Man of Steel movie. Cavill is also the studio’s choice to play Napoleon Solo in a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that is scheduled to start filming next month. Warner Bros. has yet to make an official announcement about that movie, even though Cavill and Armie Hammer, slated to play Illya Kuryakin, have said that will be their nest project. Robert Vaughn and David McCallum played Solo and Kuryakin in the 1964-68 television series.

"Mr. Warner, when do I rate a press release?"

“Mr. Warner, when do I rate a press release?”

Batman and Superman are two of the most lucrative characters controlled by Time Warner, the parent company of Warner Bros. Author Bruce Scivally wrote a book called Billion Dollar Batman tracing the history of that character from the comics through movies directed by Christopher Nolan.

It would appear Warner Bros.’s U.N.C.L.E. project isn’t at the top of its list while the Batman-Superman project for 2015 is. Such is life. Variety has reported the U.N.C.L.E. movie’s budget was reduced to $75 million after Tom Cruise departed the project, paving the way for Cavill to get the Solo role.

EPILOGUE: The U.N.C.L.E. movie that wasn’t

A sample of The End of the World Affair

Solo and Kuryakin in peril in The End Of The World Affair

The other day, this blog published a POST about the storyline for a late 1970s-early 1980s movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that was never produced. It turns out that wasn’t the entire story.

About 20 years ago, the Robert Short-Danny Biederman story was almost adapted into a comic book — except it wasn’t published. Deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra might say.

Background: In 1993, Millenium Publications, an independent publisher of comic books, came out with a two-part comic book based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. called The Birds of Prey Affair.

Millenium planned a second U.N.C.L.E. foray, to be based on the aborted Short-Biederman movie, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Feature Film. The title would have been The End Of The World Affair.

The project ran into problems. There were management changes at Millenium while the project was underway. Eventually, the art was completed. However, the studio that controlled U.N.C.L.E., which would have been Turner Entertainment at the time, wanted an increase in the licensing fee. (Turner was acquired by Time Warner, the parent company of Warner Bros., in 1996). As a result, nothing was published.

Thus, the imaginative story line again was denied an audience. The tale involved an all-out assault on U.N.C.L.E. by Thrush, the villainous organization of the original 1964-68 series. Also, the story revealed that Thrush already exerted control over the world through economic means, including controlling ownership of multi-national conglomerates.

Two decades later, a new U.N.C.L.E. movie is scheduled to begin production in September. This one will be a 1960s period piece, with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer as U.N.C.L.E. agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. It remains to be seen what the new film, to be directed by Guy Ritchie, has in store or whether it can match the scope of the Short-Biederman story.

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