U.N.C.L.E. script: The show’s popularity surges Part II

Illya and Tracey, anxious for the blog to start Part II of its look at the script of Alexander the Greater Affair.

Dean Hargrove was assigned the task of writing the first two-part story for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. One question: How do you provide a recap at the start of Part II?

Instead of beginning directly with the story’s cliffhanger, Hargrove began back at U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in New York. There, U.N.C.L.E. boss Alexander Waverly wants all communications channels open should Solo and Illya report.

Agent Farrell complains to Waverly about the money Solo and Illya have been spending.

He’s interrupted by “AGENT FARRELL, a harried-looking man” who “enters with an open file.”

“When you do reach Mr. Solo and Mr. Kuryaking, Sir,” Farrell says, “I think it would be good policy to remind them that although they have unlimited expense accounts Budget Control feels this present mission is getting completely out of hand.”

The stage directions indicate Waverly’s reaction is “wry.” “Oh, really.”

Farrell then lists some of the agents’ expenses incurred during Part I. Waverly’s response, according to the script is “dry.” I’ll speak to Mr. Solo about it — as soon as I hear from him.”

FARRELL
Thank you, Sir. We have to hold the line somewhere.

WAVERLY (amused)
Yes, don’t we?

The scene was filmed and used in the TV version of Part II. However, it was clipped from the movie version, One Spy Too Many. As a result, it went unseen for almost 35 years until the TV version was shown on TNT in 2000.

Cliffhanger

Now, it’s back to the cliffhanger, with Alexander, his flunky Parviz and his advisor Mr. Kevon, who walks with a crutch. (Sorry, should have mentioned him in Part I of this post, but we were covering a lot of territory.)

Luckily, the villains have to leave to catch a flight to the United States. This enables Solo to get his legs free from his bonds. He catches the scimitar with his feet. During this maneuver, the script says Solo slices open his trousers. As filmed, that doesn’t happened.

Anyway, Solo uses the scimitar to cut his remaining bonds. As the rope holding Illya and Tracey burns through, Solo grabs it. “The weight of the two people pulls him forward.” Illya and Tracey are now down in the opening to the pit. But Solo ties the rope, preventing Illya and Tracey from descending any further.

Solo and Waverly discuss how to pick up Alexander’s trail.

At the start of Act I, the agents are back at headquarters. Their only lead to Alexander is a health club the industrialist owns in Washington.

‘Out of the Question’

Tracey is at headquarters, too. Waverly initially ponders using Tracyey as bait. “Of course, that’s out of the question,” he says. “It’s far too dangerous. We certainly couldn’t ask her to do that.”

“Solo and Illya share a glance,” according to the stage directions. “I think you’ll find her unusually cooperative,” Illya says.

The trio go to Solo’s office. Tracey latches onto Waverly.

“She stands, extends her hand,” read the stage directions. “In her own way, she takes command — which somewhat unnerves the Section One leader.” She asks to speak privately to Waverly.

SOLO (slyly)
We’ll be outside…in case you need us, Sir.

WAVERYLY (curt)
Thank you.

Naturally, Tracey suggests using herself as bait to get Alexander. And off we go.

Alexander and two generals have a pleasant chat about a planned assassination.

Next up is a “large, sedate-looking Virginia estate.” This is supposed to be at Alexandria, Virginia. Alexander is entertaining “two oriental gentlemen (more Indosesian-looking than Chinese), GENERAL BON-PHOUMA and GENERAL MAN-PHANG. Both are heavily-medaled, wear military uniforms and sunglasses.”

The generals are planning a military coup for their home nation, unaware they’re being manipulated by Alexander. The industrialist gives them the “will gas” he stole from the U.S. Army at the start of Part I.

Alexander will play a central part in the coup. “I have arranged for your Washington Embassy to hold a special party in honor of your country’s President,” Alexander says. “I will be there to make a ‘good-will’ speech. I’ll kill him immediately after my remarks.”

Bon-Phouma says, “I must admit your plan has an almost oriental subtlety.”

After sending the generals on their way home, Alexander is approached by Mr. Kavon. Alexander says the generals are “second rate intellects. I won’t have any trouble using their country as my personal power base. From there I can subvert all of Asia.”

In the course of the conversation, we now learn that Alexander is a protoge of Kavon’s. However, Kevon, is feeling alienated from Alexander. The latter has hinted (via a brochure for a retirement home) that Kevon should take it easier.

Alexander “exits,” according to the stage directions. “Kavon looks after him, a rejected man.”

Breaking a Commandment

It turns out that Alexander drives into Washington. He pays a call to Princess Nicole and breaks the Seventh Commandment with her. Her husband, Prince Phanong arrives.

PHANONG
I’ll kill you.

ALEXANDER
No, you won’t. You’re not suited for it. But don’t worry. I’ll see to it that no one knows you’re not ‘Prince’ enough to keep your own wife. I’m very reasonable.

Phanong knows it’s all too true.

Alexander is doing this to ensure Phanong will support “the junta that will overthrow you new government.” He hangs a framed number 7.

Elsewhere in Washington, Tracey goes into Alexander’s health club. She’s detained by the club staff, who are being supervised by Parviz. Eventually, Solo follows. He gets captured also and is left to the mercies of “INGO, a huge, blond man in a sweatsuit.” In the final version, Ingo would be played by Cal Bolder, who shaved his head and didn’t wear a sweatsuit.

Parviz takes Tracey to Alexander’s health farm. Illya follows but checks in with Solo first via their communicators.

“I’m going to be busy for awhile,” Solo said.

“Solo has his communicator out, backing away from Ingo,” according to the stage directions. “I’m going to be busy for awhile,” Solo tells Illya. “You go ahead.”

Naturally, Solo comes out on top but not without some effort. Illya, after arriving at the farm, walks on the property, where he’s menaced by Alexander’s men operating a variety of farm equipment.

The Russian U.N.C.L.E. agent escapes (thought not after being buried in mud).

Skipping ahead, Alexander plans to take Tracey to the dinner honoring Sing-Mok. He’s the leader of the Asian nation Alexander plans to assassinate. Kevon, who top of anything belongs to an ancient cult (the Sons of Medea), is going to use Illya as the guinea pig in a mummification experience.

Solo arrives but is discovered by Kevon. The latter has a metal blade in his crutch, pointing it at Solo. Illya, bound up like a mummy, falls on top of Kevon.

Eventually, Solo and Illya are following Alexander and Tracey. Alexander loses them, and takes Tracey to the dinner. Solo and Illya have to deal with Parviz and another thug.

Oops for Alexander

By now, U.N.C.L.E. is on alert. But Alexander still has time to try to kill Sing-Mok. However, the coup has failed (apparently without any assistance from U.N.C.L.E.) Sing-Mok is wearing a “protective vest” made by one of Alexander’s own companies.

Alexander makes a run for his farm, where a plane (which we saw earlier when Illya was roaming the grounds) is waiting for him. Solo and Illya give chase. Solo gets in through an open rear aircraft door.

The fight in the script is a bit more involved than the final version.

INT. COCKPIT
Kevon is at the controls. He removes his head-set, picks up his metal crutch and goes back to the passenger cabin. WE HEAR the O.S. SOUNDS of a terrific struggle.

INT. PASSENGER CABIN
Alexander has Solo by the door — choking him. Solo is in danger of falling out of the plane. Kevon moves over to them. Solo shoves Alexander back, Alexander inadvertently runs into Kavon –knocking him down.

Solo is back on his feet. He hits Alexander, knocking him back towards the cockpit. Kavon reaches over, trips Solo with his crutch. Solo falls to the door. Alexander picks up a parachute, throws it at Solo.

ANGLE – SOLO
The parachute hits him chest high — and Solo is knocked out of the plane.

Solo, however, manages to get the parachute on, open it and land safely. Back on the plane. The script description is again more elaborate than the final version.

Kevon tries to kill Alexander with the blade in his crutch. “Alexander deftly ducks aside,” according to the screen directions. Kevon, though, lunges and the crutch “jams into the instrument panel. Sparks. Smoke.”

CLOSE -ALEXANDER
Terror.

LONG SHOT – PLANE
It EXPLODES.

Back at the embassy, it’s a festive mood. Tracey gives Solo and Illya a kiss on the cheek. In the final version, she appears to give Illya a kiss full on the lips.

Tracey now is flirting with Sing-Mok. Director Joseph Sargent would stage the ending differently. Solo and Illya would each offer Waverly a glass of champagne. Waverly would take both. But here’s how Dean Hargrove wrote it.

ANGLE – TRACEY AND SING-MOK

She’s on his arm, talking animatedly.

WAVERLY
Sing-Mok is a single man, you know.

RESUME-GROUP

SOLO
I think she’ll do very well.

They smile, lift their glasses in agreement as we…

FADE OUT

THE END

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U.N.C.L.E. script: The show’s popularity surges Part I

Lobby card for One Spy Too Many, the movie edited from Alexander the Greater Affair

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. had escaped cancellation in its first season. At the start of its second, the show’s popularity was surging.

Major changes were underway. Sam Rolfe, who had written the show’s pilot and produced its first season, had departed. Executive producer Norman Felton, who had co-created Napoleon Solo with Ian Fleming, moved over David Victor, producer of Felton’s Dr. Kildare series, to the same post at U.N.C..L.E.

Dean Hargrove, who had scripted two U.N.C.L.E. episodes late in the first season, was hired as “staff writer.” At least that’s how he described it in a 2007 interview that was part of an U.N.C.L.E. home video release.

Hargrove Takes Charge

Hargrove wrote a two-part story, Alexander the Greater Affair, early in pre-production for the second season. It would not be the first story filmed. But NBC would lead off the second season of U.N.C.L.E. with Alexander in September 1965.

NBC would air the two-parter only once After that, it’d be an MGM movie, One Spy Too Many. As it turned out, the TV version wouldn’t be seen (officially, anyway) until July 4, 2000, the final U.N.C.L.E. telecast on cable network TNT.

Hargrove’s script, though, has been available for years. I’ve had one since the 1990s. Re-reading it, you get the sense that U.N.C.L.E. was mostly a smooth-running machine by this point.

The script is pretty close to what NBC viewers saw in 1965. A few scenes are longer, but that’s not unusual. The script’s title page is dated June 14, 1965. Some pages are dated as early as June 1. Some pages are dated as late as July 1965.

We wish to thank the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement without whose assistance this blog post would not be possible.

The Ten Commandments

The plot concerns the mysterious industrialist Alexander (Rip Torn), whose real name is Baxter. Alexander is described in the script as “tall, intelligent-looking, enigmatic” and 32 years old. The part was cast with Rip Torn, 34 at the time the episode was broadcast.

Alexander intends to implement a coup at an unnamed Asian country. That will be part of his plan to eventually rule the world.

Alexander wants to do this with flair. He will have broken every one of the Ten Commandments by the time the coup takes effect.

The industrialist’s activities have come to the attention of U.N.C.L.E. after he has stolen “will gas” from the U.S. Army. One of Alexander’s companies was an Army supplier. So he was invited to a demonstration.

Alexander Waverly, the Number One of U.N.C.L.E.’s Section One gives Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) their respective assignments.

SOLO
Which leaves me with…

WAVERLY
Mr. Alexander. It’s most important to recover this gas, Mr. Solo, there was enough of it stole to cause considerable difficult if used improperly. Also, its composition is top secret.

(snip)

SOLO
I’ll find Mr. Aleander and if has the gas…
(wry smile)
I’ll ask him to return it.

Alexander’s primary lackey is Parviz, “a mustachioed Turk.” The part would be cast with character actor David Sheiner. He played an almost identical part in the I Spy episode Carry Me Back to Old Tsing Tao. His appearance and accent in both series is virtually identical.

However, when Sheiner was called back for extra scenes for One Spy Too Many, he’s wearing a bald cap. Sheiner also appeared in a later second-season U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Nowhere Affair. There, he’s wearing a hairpiece.

Meet Tracey

Along the way, Alexander’s ex-wife, Tracey (Dorothy Provine) shows up. She was rich when she married Alexander. She wants the million dollars she had Skipping ahead,

Tracey is the “innocent” for this story. However, I suspect this isn’t exactly what Norman Felton and Sam Rolfe had in mind when devising the show. Originally, the “innocent” was supposed to be a surrogate for the audience, someone who was “ordinary.” Tracey isn’t exactly “ordinary.” But, hey, that’s how things go.

Chess Game 

Skipping ahead, Solo and Illya crash a party Alexander is throwing. Alexander has already abducted Tracey, so she’s there also.

Solo has been investigating, but he’s getting some heat from Parviz. Thankfully (from Solo’s perspective), Alexander likes to play chess with human chess pieces (in this case the party guests). So Solo takes Alexander up on his challenge and avoids problems with Parviz.

The party is part of Alexander’s plans. Alexander explains it to Tracey.

ALEXANDER
The party that I’m holding this evening to honor Prince and Princess Phanong has a special significance. The Princess is an admirer of mine. Her husband, however, is an obsessively jealous man. He misinterprets the Princess’ appreciation for me.

TRACEY
Just how much does she appreciate you? If you don’t mind my asking.

ALEXANDER
(matter of fact)
She worships me. I allow it because I think it’s healthy for a young woman to have an idol.

Tracy knows better than to laugh, so she tries to appear very sincere.

The Princess is described as “a beautiful French girl in her middle twenties.” The part was cast with Donna Michelle, a one-time Playboy playmate. The prince was cast with veteran character actor James Hong.

Anyway, when we get to the chess game, there are some details that didn’t make the final version.

ALEXANDER
It’s a shame your husband was detained. A major disappointment.
(smiles)
Now when do you suppose he will arrive?

PRINCESS
(smiles knowingly)
The Prince received an emergency call to go and see his mother. I suspect she’ll keep keep him occupied for some time. They’re very close.

ALEXANDER
Well then, let’s begin the entertainment.

Solo prepares to play chess with Alexander. There’s another exchange that wouldn’t make the final version.

WOMAN – SOLO’S POV

A matronly woman standing on one of his square.

WOMAN (smiles)
I’m your queen.

RESUME – SOLO

SOLO (smiles wryly)
I’ll try very hard not to lose you.

The game unfolds. The script refers different diagrams that weren’t part of the script I have. After a few moves, Alexander makes a comment that doesn’t appear in the show.

ALEXANDER
I see. The Vienna gabmit. Rather pedestrian, Mr. Solo. Pawn takes pawn.

The script moves the game ahead. Solo sacrifices his Queen. “The matronly woman looks over at Solo, somewhat hurt,” according to the stage directions. But Solo puts Alexander into checkmate. Solo celebrates his win by dancing with the princess. What follows pretty much follows the final version.

“It’s lucky for you I’m a busy man,” Solo says while not drawing a revolver.

Suddenly, Solo is confronted by PRINCE PHANONG. The Prince slaps Solo.

PHANONG
I will kill any man who makes indecent advances to my wife. Let this be a warning to you.

The people around them are shocked. Even more so when Solo draws his revolver. (emphasis added.)

SOLO
It’s lucky for you I’m a busy man.

The problem: Solo never carried a revolver unless he relieved one off a thug. The U.N.C.L.E. Special was a semi-automatic pistol. The main version was based on the Walther P-38. Evidently, despite having written two U.N.C.L.E. episodes prior to this, Hargrove didn’t know much about firearms.

Later, Solo, Illya and Tracey check out a rock quarry owned by Alexander. They encounter his parents, Harry and Miriam Baxter, who are kept prisoners.

Middle-aged HARRY BAXTER, dressed in tattered evening clothes and middle-aged MIRIAM BAXTER, dressed in the ragged remains of a formal gown stand at the bottom of the pit. The Man holds a pick-axe in his hand, the woman lowers a wheelbarrow full of rocks to the ground as they look thi way. Their feet are chained.

The scene was only shown in the TV version. It would edited out of One Spy Too Many. In the TV version, David McCallum’s Illya has a line not in the script. “Let’s get those chains off!” It’s a great moment. Was it a last-minute revision in the script? Or a McCallum ad-lib? I don’t know.

Suffice to say, the U.N.C.L.E. agents rescue Alexander’s parents after a chase sequence. The agents also head to an ancient Greek temple where Alexander is running things.

Solo in a tight spot at the end of Part I.

Tables Are Turned

Solo gets to explain how he figured out the Ten Commandments angle and how this was all a trap. Nevertheless, Alexander gets the upper hand.

ALEXANDER
You see, Mr. Solo, you’ve only scratched the surface. I am breaking the universal law of morality — call them the Ten Commandments if you like — but for a special reason.

The script (as in the TV version) ends with a cliffhanger. Solo is tied up, a scimitar swinging ever closer to him. Illya and Tracey are tied together, held above a bottomless pit, with a candle burning the rope.

ANGLE – ILLYA AND TRACEY

TRACEY
Now what are we going to do?

ANGLE – SOLO AND THE SCIMTAR

The huge blade swings down, getting closer and close.

SOLO
The best we can.

FADE OUT

END OF PART i

Hawaii Five-0 to remake original show’s pilot

Khigh Dhiegh, Soon Tek-Oh, Andrew Duggan and Jack Lord in a scene from the original Hawaii Five-O pilot in 1968.

Hawaii Five-0 is doing a remake of the original Hawaii Five-O pilot, Cocoon, the current show’s executive producer said on Twitter and Instagram.

“For those who guessed it… we’re redoing the 1968 pilot “Cocoon” for our season 9 premiere of #h50 – best way to celebrate our 50th anniversary- honoring the original and creator Leonard Freeman,” Peter Lenkov wrote on Instagram.

The original Hawaii Five-O was a police drama that often had espionage story lines. That was established with the two-hour TV movie pilot, written and produced by Freeman and which aired in September 1968.

In the pilot, Chinese agents are abducting U.S. intelligence agents and subjecting them to a new form of torture, dubbed the cocoon. They’re suspended in a pool, wearing a mask (with a tube supplying oxygen) with their ears, nose and eyes covered.

The lack of sensory impulses eventually breaks them and they provide crucial intelligence information. They are then killed, with their deaths made to look like an accident.

Lawman Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) gets involved when Hennessey, a friend of his and an intelligence agent, turns up dead, apparently the result of a drowning. McGarrett doesn’t buy it. Hennessey never learned to swim because he sunburned too easily.

The pilot also introduced Wo Fat (Khigh Dheigh), who’d be McGarrett’s arch foe during the series.

The remake is going to have to make one major change. The Wo Fat of the current show (Mark Dacascos) was killed off in a 2014 installment that was also the 100th episode.

The current series debuted in 2010 and, as Lenkov noted, will begin its ninth season this fall. In 2013, the show also did a remake of an episode of the original series, Hookman, about a killer with no hands.

UPDATE (3:30 p.m.): Lenkov posted a photograph on Instagram from the remake. McGarrett 2.0 (Alex O’Loughlin) is undercover doing repair work inside a ship, the same way Jack Lord’s McGarrett did in the 1968 pilot.

Five-0 Cocoon remake

U.N.C.L.E. script: The early days

Poster for The Spy With My Face, the movie version of The Double Affair, featuring Robert Vaughn as Solo, Senta Berger as Serena and David McCallum (in that order). Based on the “colour” spelling, it’s probably from the U.K. release.

May 1964 was the early days of production of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The pilot had resulted in a sale to NBC. But the first regular episode woudn’t go into production until June 1 of that year.

As a result, the first draft of The Double Affair, dated May 12, 1964, was written as the show was getting up to speed. The draft, written by Clyde Ware, is significantly different than the episode that would air on Nov. 17 1964.

Among other things, the U.N.C.L.E. chief in this draft is Mr. Allison, the character played by Will Kuluva in the pilot. The part would be renamed Alexander Waverly and recast with Leo G. Carroll.

Also, in this script, the villainous organization is referred to as MAGGOTT, spelled with all capital letters but no sign if it’s actually an acronym.

When the pilot (The Vulcan Affair) was filmed, the organization was called Thrush. But there was a debate among Arena Productions (the production company that made U.N.C.L.E.), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and NBC whether that was a good name.

One alternative was “Wasp.” That was eventually rejected, although the movie version of The Vulcan Affair saw “Wasp” dubbed for “Thrush.” MAGGOTT also (thankfully) went by the wayside. Still, it makes for amusing reading when looking at this script. Eventually, Arena/MGM/NBC agreed on Thrush for the series.

Project EarthSave

The story concerns an attempt by the villains to steal Project EarthSave. As described in this script it’s the “final weapon,” originally developed by scientists of multiple nations. The director of the underground facility in Switzerland that houses Project EarthSave provides U.N.C.L.E. agents some background in Act III.

DIRECTOR
The choice was dictated by the possibility of attack by a hostile force…Oh, not of this planet — the use of Project EarthSave might very well destroy the earth itself! But our scientists have picked up strange fragments of radio waves — from beyond our galaxy! If the world should be attacked from beyond the stars — imagine the power such an attack force would possess! Project EarthSave might wellbe our last line of defense. Our only chance.

To get at Project EarthSave, MAGGOTT has used plastic surgery to make one of its operatives the twin of U.N.C.L.E.’s Napoleon Solo. That’s because Solo iss part of a team of U.N.C.L.E. agents who every August deliver the new combination for the vault that contains Project EarthSave. For this run, Russian U.N.C.L.E. Illya Kuryakin is participating for the first time.

The head of the MAGGOTT operation is Mars Two, who’d be renamed Darius Two in the episode. His team includes femme fatale Serena, who’d be played by Senta Berger. In the episode, Berger’s title care would appear after Robert Vaughn’s but before David McCallum’s.

She meets up with Solo at a restaurant, interrupting his date with a girlfriend named Sandy. He goes to answer a telephone call. “His senses highly developed, Solo immediately realizes there is no one on the end end of the phone,” according to the state directions. “And he becomes aware of something else — somebody is behind him.”

Meeting Serena

It’s Serena, of course. From the stage directions written by Ware:

As Solo turns — gun leveled — to face one of the most attractive women he’s ever seen. If Sophia Loren had a sister with a bit more of the sinister about her, Solo would be pressing his pistol almost into her rib cage. It’s fortunate he hasn’t raised the gun any higher…

MAGGOTT eventually captures Solo and substitutes its man. From that point onward in the script, the double is referred to as “Solo” (with quotation marks around the name) to distinguish him from the real Solo.

As you might surmise, MAGGOTT doesn’t succeed in getting Project EarthSave. However, there are still more differences in this script compared with the final episode, or, for that matter, The Spy With My Face,. The latter was the movie version of the episode, which included extra footage. It was released in the U.K. in August 1965. But U.N.C.L.E. was so popular, it got a U.S. release in 1966.

In any case, here are some aspects of the script that would be changed in the final version.

–A line by Mars Two, “And then UNCLE — and the rest of the world — will listen to MAGGOTT’s terms!” doesn’t make the episode. Imagine you’re an actor saying that line.

–We’re told that Solo’s mother lived in Wisconsin but she died in 1956 of natural causes. This occurs early in the script when MAGGOTT is assessing whether Solo’s double needs any last minute work to perfect the masquerade.

— One of the U.N.C.L.E. agents involved in the Project EarthSave mission is named Cluade Chanso. “Claude is tall, dark, suave — and as attractive as all Frenchmen would like the world to believe they are,” according to the stage directions. The character would become Arsene Coria, an Italian agent, in the finished episode.

–The script includes Namana, an African agent who would be in the final episode. Namana is alive at the end of this script. In the episode, he’s killed by Solo’s double after the vault to Project EarthSave is open.

Clyde Ware remained the only credited writer when The Double Affair aired. However, when the movie came out, the credit was altered to: “Screenplay by Clyde Ware and Joseph Cavelli, Story by Clyde Ware.”

Calvelli was associate produce for roughly the first half of U.N.C.L.E. first season. My guess he did the bulk of the revising from the May 1964 script.

‘Hunt’ for Bond Revisited: More M:I Connections to 007

Mission: Impossible-Fallout poster

By the by, there are spoilers if you haven’t seen Mission: Impossible-Fallout. For that matter, there are spoilers if you’ve never seen the 007 films cited.

By Nicolas Suszczyk, Guest Writer

Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt has returned in Mission: Impossible – Fallout while 007’s next film is scheduled for a 2019 release.

Taking advantage of  Bond’s absence in theaters, many reviewers said Hunt has taken the place of Bond and criticized 2015’s SPECTRE.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation adapted Bond-like settings and scenes in the story. But  Mission: Impossible – Fallout is even more Bond inspired. It has, the escapist tone of the days of Pierce Brosnan, just with a little more grit.

Tom Cruise and director-screenwriter Christopher MacQuarrie redoubled their efforts and made a more spectacular film than its predecessors. The last two M:I films are similar to how Thunderball and You Only Live Twice compared with the three first Eon 007 movies, Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger.

In M:I-Fallout, Hunt again faces off against Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), who — like Blofeld’s SPECTRE — is the author of his pain. Lane was the main antagonist of M:I – Rogue Nation.

‘The Girl or the Mission’

The film’s starts in Berlin, where Hunt and Benji (Simon Pegg) pose as buyers of three atomic warheads. Their cover is blown and Luther (Ving Rhames) is captured. Hunt makes a risky decision: to save his friend. That leaves the case with the plutonium unattended and stolen.

This is similar to GoldenEye, where Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) asks Bond to choose between “the girl or the mission” while General Ourumov (Gottfried John) held Natalya (Izabella Scorupco) at gunpoint. Finally, Bond saved Natalya by gunning the Russian general down.

It’s also similar to Skyfall. M orders Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) to shoot Patrice (who stole a hard drive with data of infiltrated agents). Hunt makes a “judgment call” by shooting Luther to distract the man holding him at gunpoint and save his life. The “fallout” of M’s and Hunt’s action determines the principal threat of both films.

Also in the Berlin scene. we have another familiar Bond meme: a remote controlled car, a function available in the cars driven by Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.

HALO Jump

Coming next a HALO jump as featured in Tomorrow Never Dies. Although this time, it’s a much riskier scene when Hunt and his teammate August Walker (Henry Cavill) face a storm during the operation and Walker is hit by lightning, losing consciousness.

In a similar situation to Moonraker and Quantum of Solace, Hunt has to do a little skydiving to reach Walker, reconnect his oxygen and deploy Walker’s parachute, as well as his own.

Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson, from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation) returns and saves Hunt’s life after a cruel bathroom fight with one John Lark, the man he had to impersonate, warning him not to complete his mission of meeting the “White Widow” (Vanessa Kirby) to exchange the missing plutonium.

They walk across a mirrored and red-lighted room that reminds us to Die Another Day’s Álvarez Clinic in Cuba. Ilsa tells him that he’ll be a dead man if he meets the woman because Lark has a contract on him. It’s known he’s meeting the White Widow that night, so they’ll kill him on sight. In a similar context in which Bond met Severine in Skyfall, both heroes manage to beat all the assailants and escape alive.

In exchange of the plutonium spheres, the White Widow and her accomplices want Solomon Lane, who’s been transferred to a prison to another in France. Hunt forgoes the originally conceived plan (which dealt with killing every witness) and pushes the prison van into the Seine, having Luther and Benji extract Lane trough the water, the same method in which Franz Sánchez escaped in 1989’s Licence to Kill.

The breakout of Lane pits the French police against Hunt and a chase ensues through the streets of Paris, on motorbike and then on a small BMW, as he is chased by Ilsa who has been given orders from MI6 to terminate Lane.

Not only there’s a particular shot as the BMW makes a backwards spin above some steps which is very reminiscent to A View to A Kill, where Bond (Roger Moore) chased a parachuting May Day (Grace Jones) in a Renault 14, but we have Ilsa trying to do the job of any 00 agent: terminate someone who is a threat for national security.

Mole Revealed

Hunt and his team –- and the captive Lane — reunite with IMF Secretary Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) in a safe house, much as Bond did at the beginning of Quantum of Solace with Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) in Siena.

Stunt teased by Tom Cruise on Instagram earlier this year.

Walker is revealed as a mole and a shootout ensues, breaking Lane free again. As a result of this confrontation, Hunley is badly hurt by Walker and dies showing his trust to Hunt, much like M at the end of Skyfall.

Just like in the 23rd Bond movie, in pursuit of Walker, Hunt also holds from a scaffold in the bottom of the elevator his enemy is taking, as Bond did in Shanghai when chasing Patrice.

The film’s climax takes place in Kashmir, where Lane and Walker attempt to detonate a nuclear bomb using the plutonium spheres that have fallen into their hands. Ilsa and Benji fight Lane, Hunt goes for Walker.

A long helicopter chase ensues and that includes a few references to SPECTRE’s helicopter fight in Mexico, with Bond fighting Marco Sciarra and the pilot, pushing them away and taking control of the vehicle.

Just like Blofeld at the end of the same film, Hunt and Walker both survive the helicopter crash.

Showdown

This takes us to the final showdown between Hunt and Walker atop the cliff of a mountain, as the remains of the one of the helicopter’s cockpit hang loosely of a wire.

A shot of ice caps falling close to both men looks greatly inspired by Die Another Day, in the scene where a clinging Bond faced the power of the Icarus satellite beam in Iceland.

While this scene overall may be reminiscent of the confrontation between Hunt and rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) in Mission: Impossible II, but there are some links to the antenna fight between 007 and Trevelyan in GoldenEye.

In the beginning of 1995 film, Trevelyan gets half of his face burned by a chemical explosion in Arkhangelsk. In a similar way, Walker gets an acid fluid from the helicopter straight into his face, leaving him badly scarred side. At the end of GoldenEye, Bond and his former friend fight in a small platform at high altitude as both attempt to make each other fall to the vacuum.

A clapperboard from Mission: Impossible-Fallout

Finally, Bond lets Trevelyan fall and the villain, agonizing, is finally terminated when the whole antenna structure crushes him. In Walker’s case, as he’s about to get Hunt, the IMF agent forces the wire over him and the hook gets impaled into his face, making him fall to his death.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is, of all the M:I movies, the closest to a James Bond film. While some people may feel offended for the way they ripped the Bond archive in more than a way this time, I’ll recognize the great taste Mr. Cruise has and the respect he had for 007’s legacy during his interviews promoting the movie.

The man who helped establish the Hitchcock persona

Alfred Hitchcock in the James Allardice-scripted introduction for The Jar, an episode on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Another in a series about unsung figures of television.

Alfred Hitchcock was long known as the “master of suspense.” But it was writer James Allardice who helped mold the director’s image with the public.

Allardice (1919-1966) wrote all of the introductions and epilogues performed by Hitchcock on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Each week, audiences witnessed Hitchcock making droll remarks, including jibes at his unnamed sponsors. (“And speaking of business,” he says with disdain, “we come to this item.”)

Norman Lloyd, still with us at 103, discussed Allardice in a 2000 interview for the Archive of American Television. Lloyd worked at a producer on Hitchcock’s television shows after being an actor in the director’s Saboteur (1942) as the villain who fell from the Statue of Liberty.

Allardice “was a little fella, he looked not unlike Woody Allen,” Lloyd said. “Actually a little better looking. But…same height, the glasses and everything.”

The writer “had an absolute genius for creating this character Hitchcock played every time the show went on the air,” Lloyd added. “Hitchcock said every word this man wrote. Never changed a comma…What he was doing was precious in regard to the success of the show.”

Hitchcock’s creative team would send summaries of several episodes for Allardice. According to the Lloyd interview, Allardice sometimes didn’t even begin writing until a few days before the deadline but always delivered his work in on time.

To be sure, Hitchcock already was famous when Alfred Hitchcock Presents debuted in 1955. The director’s name had long been attached to the titles of his films (“Alfred Hitcock’s To Catch a Thief,” “Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window” and so on.)

However, now Hitchcock himself was coming into millions of homes via television. No silent, momentary cameos like in his films. The director was now truly a performer. Because the two shows were anthologies, Hitchcock was the only face the audience could count on seeing every week.

And it was Allardice who was feeding him his lines and establishing the settings.

What settings they were. Hitchcock in a giant bottle. Hitchcock holding a ticking bomb, describing it as a dynamite-powered clock. Hitchcock’s brother “George” manipulating Hitchcock like a marionette (a dual role, of course).

Allardice spent a full decade working for Hitchcock on the two television series. (Alfred Hitchcock Presents ran seven seasons, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour ran three.)

“Jimmy had a voice, so to speak that he used Hitchcock for,” Lloyd said in the 2000 interview. “It became the Hitchcock persona but it was Jimmy saying a lot of things about the world through these mad introductions and conclusions.”

You can view an excerpt from Lloyd’s interview where he discusses Allardice below.

Mission: Impossible-Fallout: A film Bruce Geller might love

Mission: Impossible-Fallout poster

As I watched Mission: Impossible-Fallout, I kept wondering what M:I creator Bruce Geller would think. My guess: I think he would approve.

The best episodes of the original 1966-73 series featured slick plans devised by Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) and Jim Phelps (Peter Graves). While the plans were brilliantly devised, the Impossible Missions Force would be forced to improvise when things went wrong or surprises occurred.

Previous Mission: Impossible films, which debuted in 1996, have this same feature. But in the newest installment, IMF leader Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has to improvise more often, more quickly than ever before.

The new film also has a personal angle (an apsect Geller wouldn’t have been fond of) — something the 007 film series has featured constantly since 1989. But for M:I-Fallout, the personal angle doesn’t overwhelm the proceedings.

As a result, Hunt isn’t out for revenge (a la Licence to Kill, GoldenEye, Die Another Day and other 007 films). No readings of poems (a la M in Skyfall). No villain with a “personal” connection to the hero (SPECTRE’s new version of Blofeld).

The trailers for Mission: Impossible-Fallout have emphasized that evoke set pieces from 007 movies (Licence to Kill and Tomorrow Never Dies). Some fans complain that’s ripping off Bond.

But, in the end, they’re only set pieces and don’t take up that much screen time. What’s more, there are twists involved that weren’t shown in the trailers.

Mission: Impossible-Fallout still is mostly its own thing. It tips its hat to the original show via a Lalo Schifrin-inspired score by Lorne Balfe. It’s not the first time the movie series has embraced Schifrin. Joe Kreamer, composer for 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, also weaved Schifrin into his score. Balfe does it his own way. (CLICK HERE for a feature story Jon Burlingame did for Variety about Balfe’s work.)

Meanwhile, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, who also worked on M:I Rogue Nation, keeps things at a frantic pace. The movie has a 147-minute running time. That’s almost as long as SPECTRE’s 148 minutes. But M:I-Fallout, overall, moves more quickly. At the same time, McQuarrie’s movie isn’t just set pieces strung together.

As a fan of the original TV show, I still don’t care for how the first movie in the Cruise series made Jim Phelps into a traitor. At this point, I just have to rationalize the film series is an alternate universe.

At 56, you’ve got to wonder how much longer Cruise can keep the Mission: Impossible film franchise going. But that’s something most viewers won’t think about until after they’re headed home from Mission: Impossible-Fallout. GRADE: A-Minus.