U.N.C.L.E. script: Nazis and a femme fatale Part I

Thrush operative Angelique with her Corvette supplied by first-season sponsor Chevrolet.

The Stamp Affair would mark a foray by The Man From U.N.C.L.E. into science fiction, deal with a fugitive Nazi scientist and feature a femme fatale character, Angelique.

Before broadcast, as the fifth episode shown by NBC, it would be renamed The Deadly Games Affair. But the script by Dick Nelson would be close to the version seen by audiences.

However, the script (dated July 15, 1964, with some revised pages about a week later) does contain some interesting differences compared with the broadcast version.

Nelson’s script includes act titles. But some of his have a chess theme while the final act titles played off the Deadly Games title. Only one of Nelson’s act titles would be used.

NELSON’S ACT TITLES

Act I: Queen’s Gambit Accepted
Act II: The Three Cornered Game
Act III: A King in Perpetual Check
Act IV: White Plus Black Equals Red Death

BROADCAST ACT TITLES

Act I: The Games Begin
Act II: A Game Of Hare And Hounds
Act III: The Three-Cornered Game
IV: The Game Is Up

At the start of Act I, the stage directions introduce the reader to a “small, bald clean-shaven elderly man” driving a pickup truck out in the country . He backs up the vehicle and parks it off the road near a stream.

Interestingly, the part would be cast with character actor Alexander Scourby (1913-1985), who wasn’t bald and had a beard. (In 1965, the actor would be a last-minute hire as narrator for the television special The Incredible World of James Bond.)

“Despite the old clothing he has worn for this task, he seems notably out of place here,” according to the stage directions. “He looks a good bit like a college professor, which, among other things, he is.” Eventually, the stage directions say he is known as Professor Amadeus.

An Interruption
The mysterious figure “begins to half-drag, half-roll” a drum stored in the back of the truck. “It’s a struggle — the drum must outweigh him by several pounds.” However, a group of boys emerges, firing sling shots. The man gets back in the truck and goes off with the drum rolling of the tailgate.

The drum is at the edge of the stream. By this time the boys notice it and start shooting their slingshots.

ANGLE – ON THE BOYS
They stare in open-mouthed terror at what is happening to the drum.

BACK TO THE DRUM
Its lid is being is being battered loose from within. As we watch, the lid gives way and a ghastly figure spills out into the daylight. Its form is of a man — but a man in the process of decay. His skin the color of pewter — his hair is dead white. The thing is mouthing insane gibberish that sounds somehow Germanic but is no recognizable language. The thing takes a few faltering steps up the slope of the bank, eyes rolling blankly, then with a last shriek of rage, collapses and rolls back down upon the drum. A final tremor passes through it and then it is mercifully dead.

Dead, maybe. But not without a calling card of a sort. The corpse has an SS tatoo on one of its forearms.

This leads into a scene where the pages are dated July 21, 1964. Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) is telling Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) about the incident.

Normally, you’d expect Alexander Waverly, the Number One of Section One, to be delivering the briefing. However, actor Leo G. Carroll was already in his 70s when the series began. It’s possible this is a rewrite made because Carroll wasn’t available.

Regardless, the audience is provided background for the story. The dead man was with the SS but had disappeared before the end of World War II. He was assigned to work with scientist Wolfgang Krug, described by Illya as “a brilliant medical researcher. His field was blood chemistry.”

Notes in the script indicate that Wolfgang Krug’s name was to be changed to Max Volp. However, the final version would split the difference and refer to his real name as Wolfgang Volp.

In any case, Krug (as he’s called in this script) was also a noted collector of rare stamps. One of his collection appears to be available at an auction in Manhattan.

Angelique’s Entrance
The agents show up separately. At a reception area there’s a reception table “where ILLYA KURYAKIN, in caterer’s white uniform, is dispensing punch, etc. He looks a bit sour.”

As an aside, that stage direction is written as though this was the first time Illya appears in the episode. But we’ve already seen him in the previous scene. That’s one reason why I suspect the previous scene was revised.

In any case, Illya is in a bad humor. “It is ANGELIQUE, looking ravishing.” Angelique is an operative for Thrush, the villainous organization of the series. Clearly that group is also interested in Krug.

Solo reacts with a slow smile. He’s beginning to like this assignment. At his shoulder, Illya looks more sour still.

SOLO
Angelique! Well!
(sees Illya’s look, loses smile)

ILLYA
Sometime you must tell me what’s like….romancing a woman who would kill you without a qualm, if Thrush ordered it. And knowing Thrush, that order might be given already.

SOLO
It adds spice, Illya
(about to start away)
And — I flatter myself that she might have a few qualms….just the slightest, fleeting regret.

He gives Illya a parting wink, and heads for Angelique.

As the two meet, Angelique “is all warmth and effervescence…she goes close against him, offering her cheek for a lover’s greeting kiss. Solo bestows it.”

With that established, Solo and Angelique flirt and decide to avoid getting into a bidding war for the stamp, lest they scare off Krug.

As in the final version, the opposing operatives decide to decide who buys the stamp with a coin flip. Angelique attempts to use a double-headed coin but Solo isn’t fooled. The U.N.C.L.E. agent wins “by default.”

Afterward, Solo and Angelique pay an after-hours visit to a stamp expert while Illya waits nearby. The expert verifies the stamp is genuine. He says he saw the stamp as a boy. But it was one of a pair. It also lacks the identifying mark of Krug, which is presumably on the other stamp. Thus, it’s a dead end.

Slay It With Flowers
As she gets ready to depart, Angelique takes a flower from her purse and pins it to Solo’s lapel. Angelique then leaves, making “a Loretta Young exit.” Solo is pleased with himself. As Illya enters, he’s more wary. With good reason.

INSERT – ROSE AND SPIDER

The flower, as a spider emerges and starts up Solo’s lapel.

This actually sounds more suspenseful than the final version, where the spider wasn’t terribly convincing and wasn’t moving up the lapel.

Nevertheless, in the script as in the final version, “Illya slaps the spider to the floor and steps on it. The expert is alarmed and puzzled. Solo loses his smile.”

“A poisonous spider,” Illya says in the script. “One of Angelique’s relatives, perhaps?”

TO BE CONTINUED

One Response

  1. This episode always sticks in my mind. Janine Gray as “Angelique” … outstanding! Certainly one of the creepiest episodes offered (ala the “Frankensteinian” effect!). Solo’s expression looking down on the bathing corpses, unmistakable! But the production was part of the first season’s very serious attempt to offer both in depth plots and suspense. Much was accomplished in only 50 minutes running time. No easy task … the series so easily under estimated! Solo’s romancing of “Angelique” defined another element of his character, meaning having a fearless attraction to Feme Fatales. The first season’s black & white filming focused all the attention on acting and plot! The final scene extremely grim; yet a bold effort to grab viewer’s attention in order to make the episode memorable. Just another reason why craft talent made the MFU ahead of its time, compared to the competition! Looking forward to Part 2 (thank you!).

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