Get Smart’s 45th, 30th and 21st anniversaries

Would you believe Get Smart has three important anniversaries this year? Would you believe two significant anniversaries and a footnote? How about some minor trivia?

First, this fall is the 45th anniversary of the debut of the spy spoof created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry and starring Don Adams as the bumbling, but ever triumphant CONTROL agent Maxwell Smart.

Get Smart is often described as a James Bond parody but it also owes much to The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which featured the intrepid U.N.C.L.E. versus the mysterious Thrush. The first several episodes of Man showed agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin entering a secret headquarters and going through a series of doors. Get Smart’s title sequence seized upon that and exaggerated it.

The Brooks-Henry pilot scripted pilot established a number of bits that would be repeated throughout the series. One of the best of the best concerned the Cone of Silence:

Get Smart would run five successful seasons (four on NBC, one on CBS) and outlast other 1960s spy favorites including U.N.C.L.E. But you can’t keep a good agent down. So, in 1980, 15 years after his debut, Max made his theatrical movie debut in The Nude Bomb. Universal, which released the film, hired Arne Sultan and Leonard B. Stern, writer-producers on the original series, to help do the script. Don Adams reprised his most famous role. But the studio jettisoned Barbara Feldon as Agent 99 and other characters from the series. Don Black, a frequent 007 songwriter, collaborated with Lalo Schifrin on a title song. The results were mixed. Here are the main titles:

Despite the mixed reaction, nine years later, much of the (surviving) original cast was reunited in a 1989 television movie. This time, the producers sought to emphasize the original source material as much as possible. That’s reflected in the main titles:

A mere two years ago, Maxwell Smart returned to the big screen, courtesy of Steve Carrell. One of the tips of the hat the movie made was to the Brooks-Henry cone of silence:

U.N.C.L.E. movie may be gaining momentum, LAT Says

A Los Angeles Times blog says momentum may be gaining for a movie based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

When last we heard, back in April, Warner Bros. had a writer, Max Borenstein, on board as well as a director, David Dobkin. Steven Zeitchik, writing on the LAT’s 24 Frames blog, takes it from there:

Now, “U.N.C.L.E.” is picking up more speed — of a sort. Borenstein has turned in his script (which is said to be a commercial action thriller with some comedic touches, but not the other way around) and the studio likes it and wants to move forward, according to sources. But Dobkin, it turns out, will only produce, not direct, which has led the studio to intensify its search for a director.

Zeitchik provides some additional details and you can read the entire blog post by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

Now we’re on record as being skeptical of a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie becoming reality. But if the LAT is on to something, we may have to re-evaluate.

Time names Felix Leiter as one of the Top 10 Movie Sidekicks

Time magazine’s Web site has a list of the Top 10 Movie Sidekicks and puts Felix Leiter, James Bond’s 007 CIA pal, at NUMBER EIGHT ON THAT LIST. The short article has a photo of Leiter’s most recent incarnation, actor Jeffrey Wright from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. However, the article makes brief mentions of Leiter in other Bond movies such as Goldfinger and Licence to Kill. Bond fans may note the Time article uses the American spelling of license for the latter.

You can view the entire Time sidekick list by CLICKING RIGHT HERE. Some of Leiter’s fellow list members include A WISE INSECT AT NO. 5 and A TALL, HAIRY FELLOW in the No. 2 slot. And No. 1 is held BY ONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS OF A VERY POPULAR CURRENT MOVIE.

The Tiger Tanaka Show

You Only Live Twice, the fifth “official” James Bond film, generates mixed reaction among 007 fans. It was the first Bond “official” 007 film to completely dump an Ian Fleming plot. Still, it has its moments and actor Tetsuro Tamba, who played Tiger Tanaka, head of Japan’s Secret Service (aided by Robert Rietty doing the voiceover work), provided some of the highlights.

Well, one of our friends, James McMahon, pointed us to Key Hunter, a Japanese TV series that featured Tamba as the leader of a team of spies. It was produced around the time of You Only Live Twice. It also evokes (based on the main titles) the U.S. television series Mission: Impossible. And, another friend, chimed in that visually, Key Hunter is similar to the original Hawaii Five-O series, featuring freeze-frame shots of the leads of the series.

We’ll let you be the judge:

UPDATE: Here’s a YouTube video with some stills from the 1964 movie The 7th Dawn, directed by Lewis Gilbert, photographed by Freddie Young and with main titles by Maurice Binder, who’d perform the same tasks on You Only Live Twice. Tamba was in that movie also.

MGM watch: Spyglass Entertainment may gain control of studio, WSJ says

The Wall Street Journal, in a story by Mike Spector and Lauren A.E. Schuker, reports that Spyglass Entertainment may be the leading contender to take control of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., owner of half of the James Bond franchise.

An excerpt:

Spyglass Entertainment has emerged as the leading contender to run Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., said people familiar with the matter, as the beleaguered film studio scrambles to restructure a roughly $4 billion debt load this summer.

Spyglass co-heads Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum would run the studio as co-chief executives under a plan being discussed with MGM’s creditors, these people said.

To read the entire story, JUST CLICK HERE. Warning: The Wall Street Journal is a pay Web site and it only provides a short preview for free. (Unlike a certain prominent fan Web site, we don’t violate copyright law and do a cut-and-paste of an entire copyrighted article while claiming we wrote the entire thing.)

An I Spy that never was

Over at an Internet forum centered on I Spy, you can get an idea of what a fourth season of the show would have been like had the Robert Culp-Bill Cosby show not been abruptly canceled.

If you CLICK RIGHT HERE, you’ll see the start of a summary of an unproduced script penned by Ernest Frankel. According to the Web site, Frankel would have been a producer of a fourth-season of I Spy and he had already written a few episodes of the series.

The unproduced script title is “The Day They Gave the Bride Away” and so far the summary only extends through the teaser. But the site promises more to come.

Daniel Craig in…GoldenEye? This video game just seems wrong

Later this year, there’s a new version of the GoldenEye video game coming out. Except, instead of a James Bond resembling Pierce Brosnan (who starred in the 1995 movie that revived the 007 franchise after a six-year hiatus), it has a Daniel Craig Bond. There’s a trailer out and it looks like this:

Now, HMSS gave Craig a number of good reviews when Craig made his 007 debut in 2006’s Casino Royale. And while HMSS wasn’t as enthusiastic about 2008’s Quantum of Solace, many of our reviewers still gave Craig high marks.

Still, trying to pretend Brosnan never appeared in GoldenEye just seems wrong. In the mid-1990s, it wasn’t a cinch that Bond would ever be back. Eon Productions had been in a long legal fight related to 007 television deals struggling Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc had made. When a film finally went into production, the future of Bond was riding in the balance. When the film was successful, fans seemed to hail Brosnan as the savior of the franchise. Fifteen years later, some fans question whether Brosnan was an acceptable Bond or not.

Regardless of how one feels about Craig or Brosnan, this video game seems to go too far. What’s next? Daniel Craig in a Goldfinger video game? On Her Majesty’s Secret Service?