U.N.C.L.E. script: Sam Rolfe’s Solo is ready for filming Part I

Title card for the Solo series pilot

With Ian Fleming long gone, a pilot would have to be made before Solo would become a series. So, Sam Rolfe used his Solo series presentation (originally titled Ian Fleming’s Solo) as the springboard for the script.

Rolfe’s script, dated Oct. 29, 1963, begins with a sequence based on a 12-page short story in the earlier work. The Thrush attack team is smaller (four operatives now). The tailor shop is now called Del Floria’s (replacing Giovanni in the presentation). But the general situation is the same.

A person only identified as ‘FIRST MAN” enters Del Floria’s, a shop in New York City. “The only occupant occupant of the shop is an old, wizened Italian tailor, DEL FLORIA,” according to the detailed stage directions. An “ancient television” is on a counter with a hand-written note. “No Touch — Broke!”

The First Man tosses his raincoat over the TV set. The man takes off his stained jacket and shows it to Del Floria. While the tailor inspects the jacket, the other man takes out a cigarette lighter, holding it near Del Floria’s face. “He abruptly flips the ‘striker’ on the lighter,” according to the stage directions. “There is a low hiss as a jet of grey mist spurts into Del Floria’s face.” The tailor is rendered unconscious.

Now, three more intruders enter the tailor shop. A changing cubicle operates as an opening into…what?

INT. RECEPTION ROOM – RECEPTIONIST – DAY

Reception is a gleaming, metallic room without windows. The room is Spartan in its simplicity. There are no decorations. The only furniture is a steel desk and chair in the center of the room, set to face one wall (the wall in which the door to the Tailor Shop is set.) The desk top itself contains a small TV viewer and a desk sign that reads “U.N.C.L.E.”

An Asian woman is at the desk (described here as “Oriental GIRL”) but she is overcome by the invaders before she can sound an alarm.

One of the intruders has replaced Del Floria at the pressing machine. One of the team is now at the receptionist’s desk. The Leader and one other move into the bowels of the mysterious complex.

The stage directions emphasize the unusual nature of the facility.

NOTE: THERE ARE NO WINDOWS ANYWHERE IN THIS BUILDING EXCEPT FOR ALLISON’S OFFICE. ALL AREAS ARE COMPLETELY ENCLOSED BY METALLIC WALLS AND CEILINGS. ALL LIGHTING IS IS ARTIFICIALLY INDUCED BY CONCEALED FIXTURES.

Things go well for the intruders until an alarm goes off. Despite this, the leader of the invading team manages to get deeper into the complex.

Solo stands behind a bullet-resistant screen while the leader of a Thrush invasion group opens fire.

REVERSE ANGLE – REAR OF WAITING ROOM – SOLO -DAY

A figure can seen, silhouetted against the rear of the office, standing before the closed door that leads to Allison’s office. The figure (SOLO) stands poised, hands hanging loosely at its side, one holding a gun (P-38).

INTERCUT – THE FIGHT

The Leader raises his gun and starts to fire. There is the soft “snapping” noise as the bullets spew forth. A series of striations appear before the figure of Solo, as if cracks like spider webs are renting the air before him, fragmenting his figure.

WHIRL IN ON SOLO to a CLOSEUP as he stands transfixed…the spiderweb of striations refracting light…

SUPERIMPOSE MAIN TITLE “S O L O” and –

FADE OUT.

At the start of Act I, the action resumes.

FADE IN:
INT. WAITING ROOM – FULL SHOT – SOLO – DAY

The spider webbed lines still hang in space,” the stage directions say. “The Leader’s face reflects shock and fear. He fires again. Abruptly the light in the room dims out and everything is blackness except for the light streaming in from the open doorway. The Leader spins around, looking for another opponent. Sensing movement behind him, the Leader turns and fires. There is a “sewing machine like” hum as the figure of Solo appears behind him, the P-38 (a semi-automatic pistol) unleashing a flood of bullets.

As filmed by director Don Medford, this sequence would be slightly different. For one thing, Solo (Robert Vaughn) fires a Luger pistol. However, the P-38 eventually would be the basis of the U.N.C.L.E. Special, a hand gun with attachments including a larger magazine enabling automatic fire as well as a sight.

Regardless, things proceed more or less as the version eventually broadcast by NBC. Solo inspects the body of the Leader. Illya arrives. The agents discuss what has happened.

Early Solo publicity still with (left to right) Will Kuluva as Allison, David McCallum as Illya and Robert Vaughn as Solo

This script, however, still has Mr. Allison, the U.N.C.L.E. chief referenced in the original series presentation. As in that work, Allison chides Solo for not taking the man alive. He then summons Solo for a briefing.

What follows is a scene that explains the U.N.C.L.E. security system and how the invaders had a lot of information about U.N.C.L.E. headquarters but lacked key data. Namely, the reception had chemicals on her fingers to activate the security badges. Without her doing so, the alarms still went off.

In the middle of the briefing, Illya brings in the surviving prisoners. Except — they don’t survive long. All are dead within moments.

“But they are dead!” Illya says. “But how?!!!”

In the filmed version, the sequence is slightly different. The prisoners are brought before Solo is briefed by Allison. But they end up just as dead. As in the earlier Ian Fleming’s Solo presentation, the audience is eventually told they had ingested a slow-acting poison that would kill them whether they succeeded or failed.

In both this script and the filmed version, Allison gives Solo his mission. An U.N.C.L.E. operative named Lancer had communicated with Allison that a the head of a newly independent African nation has been targeted for assassination by Thrush. The communication had been cut off before it was completed.

TO BE CONTINUED

One Response

  1. Cut off before it was completed, eh…

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