Separated at birth? U.N.C.L.E. and 007 guns

Albert R. Broccoli, from the available evidence, couldn’t stand The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In his autobiography, the 007 film producer called the 1964-68 television show “a straight steal from (Ian) Fleming’s use of acronyms like SMERSH and SPECTRE.” (Page 199, When the Snow Melts).

The U.N.C.L.E. Special in its fully assembled glory


For a short time, Bond creator Ian Fleming was involved in development, his main contribution was the hero’s name of Napoleon Solo. Of course, there was a gangster called Mr. Solo in Goldfinger, so Eon Productions attempted to prevent the show (originally titled Solo) from going into production. The whole matter was settled out of court, though Cubby may have gotten a bit of revenge. Goldfinger’s script was changed in its latter drafts so that Mr. Solo was crushed in a Lincoln Continental after not wanting to participate in Goldfinger’s scheme.

Still, Broccoli’s animosity might not have prevented Eon from, eh, borrowing from U.N.C.L.E.

One of the iconic props of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was the U.N.C.L.E. Special, a Walther P38 (initially a Mauser) handgun with a sight, shoulder stock, barrel attachments and an extended magazine. People who barely watched an episode still came away impressed by the U.N.C.L.E. Special.

Mr. Bond, we think we've seen that gun somewhere before...


Flash forward a quarter-century to 1989’s Licence to Kill. One of its signature gadgets was a “signature gun,” supplied by Q to a 007-gone-rogue (Timothy Dalton). It consisted of a gun disguised as a camera which was added a sight, a shoulder stock and gunbarrel attachments. It didn’t have an extended magazine but it had a “palm reader” that ensured nobody other than Bond fired it.

And it looked….an awfully lot like a fully assembled U.N.C.L.E. Special.

Now, to be fair, a long time had passed since The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was first on the air (although the 1983 television film The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. included a Robert Short-designed new U.N.C.L.E. Special). And Cubby Broccoli, in what would be his last 007 film as a credited producer (he would “present” 1995’s GoldenEye but not have a producer credit) had a lot on his mind beyond what the art department was cooking up for props. Still, the resemblance is there regardless. (CLICK HERE to see a larger photo of the Licence to Kill signature gun.)

5 Responses

  1. Eh, the notion of a gun that breaks down and/or can be reconfigured has become a staple of action/adventure films, espionage in particular. Plus, while the UNCLE pistols were personalized, they did not actually “recognize” the user nor were they disguised as anything other than guns.

  2. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

  3. Yes, I thought of the U.N.C.L.E. gun as soon as he assembled it.
    All the outer trimmings are U.N.C.L.E., and the inner part, the ‘camera’, is a direct steal from that crappy Multiple toy from the 60’s: BOND-X SHOOTING CAMERA.

  4. Fleming contributed much more to TMFU than just the name Napoléon Solo. He also created April Dancer and suggestif many elements later incorporation in the show. But then he had already write a handful of scripts for the failed ‘ James Gunn ‘ TV series concept as well…

  5. @Collette: Fleming created *a character* named April Dancer who was more like a Moneypenny type. Dean Hargrove was assigned the task of writing a woman UNCLE agent. Hargrove took the April Dancer name for that character. The notion of a woman UNCLE agent was pushed by the wife of an NBC executive. Her idea was the agent be known as “Cookie” Fortune. Essentially, Hargrove created the character while substituting the Fleming name for “Cookie” Fortune.

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