Christmas themed spy-related entertainment

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service poster

The holidays are fast approaching. With that in mind, the blog is reminded of some Christmas-themed spy-related entertainment.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969): The sixth James Bond film produced by Eon Productions may not be an “official” Christmas film but it’ll do.

James Bond (George Lazenby) is hunting for Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas) while also falling in love with Tracy (Diana Rigg).

This time out, Blofeld has brainwashed his “angels of death,” who will spread “virus Omega” at the villain’s command. If that happens, that will wipe out all sorts of crops and livestock.

Bond manages to go undercover at Blofeld’s lair in Switzerland but is discovered. Blofeld sends out his latest batch of “angels” on Christmas Eve. Bond manages to escape, meets up with Tracy.

Bond proposes to Tracy, but she gets captured by Blofeld, setting up a big climatic sequence.

It was the first Bond film to end unhappily when Tracy is killed on her honeymoon with Bond. It’s arguably the most faithful adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel and an epic film in its own right. And, for what it’s worth, there are many reminders of Christmas during the Switzerland sequences.

Teaser trailer for Diamonds Are Forever: Diamonds Are Forever was released for the Christmas move season of 1971. The teaser trailer played up the Christmas angle.

The movie also marked Sean Connery’s return as Bond after a four-year absence. But the teaser trailer had a gunbarrel without Connery (but still wearing a hat).

Teaser trailer for The Man With the Golden Gun: The teaser trailer for Roger Moore’s second 007 film utilized a similar Christmas theme.

On top of that, the trailer had a scene between Bond and Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) that didn’t make it into the final film.

Chairman Koz makes a point to Solo and Illya in The Jingle Bells Affair

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Jingle Bells Affair (first broadcast Dec. 23, 1966): The story begins in New York during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (the start of the Christmas shopping season). U.N.C.L.E. agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (the latter, after all, a Russian) are acting as bodyguards for a Soviet leader, Chairman Koz (Akim Tamiroff).

Why Soviet? In one scene in Act III, Koz slams a shoe down on a desk, a la Nikita Khrushchev.

At one point, Koz gets separated from the U.N.C.L.E. agents and dresses as Santa Claus and interacts with children. Koz, dressed as Santa, helps to save the life of a sick kid. In the end, East and West call a truce and wish everyone Merry Christmas.

This was a third-season episode when the series went in a campy direction. The Spy Commander’s review on the third-season page of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode guide doesn’t give it a high grade.

The FBI: Dark Christmas (first broadcast Dec. 24, 1972): FBI Inspector (Erskine) and Special Agent Colby (William Reynolds) are on the trail of a hit man (Don Gordon). The hit man’s target is a family man who once was involved in a criminal organization but got out.

The case reaches a climax on Christmas Eve. The family man is coming home from a job but doesn’t know the hit man is waiting for him at his home. Colby and other FBI agents get the man’s children to safety. Erskine then confronts and apprehends the hit man. Until Act IV, the episode is a basic procedural show. The Christmas themes are mostly in the final act and epilogue.

While The FBI wasn’t a spy show per se, it had a lot of espionage-related stories. Also, it’s the subject of another website of the Spy Commander, The FBI episode guide. This episode gets a relatively high grade on the eight-season page.

Note: This was an early credit for Sondra Locke (1944-2018), who plays a spinster-like character who falls for Gordon’s character.

Nancy Wilson dies at 81

Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson, an accomplished singer who also was cast in dramatic parts on television, has died at 81, according to The Washington Post.

Wilson’s “beguiling expressiveness in jazz, R&B, gospel, soul and pop made her a crossover recording star for five decades,” The Post said. She died on Nov. 13.

An excerpt from The Post’s obituary:

Jazz historian and critic Will Friedwald, in his volume “A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers,” called Ms. Wilson a formidable presence in pop, jazz and blues — “the most important vocalist to come along after these three genres were codified and move freely among them.”

Wilson caught the eye of casting directors, including parts where a character was also a singer.

Among her acting credits were:

I Spy, “Lori”: Wilson played the title character in the episode written by series creators Morton Fine and David Friedkin. Wilson’s Lori was the sister of a man (Greg Morris) suspected of killing members of a team trained in detecting underground nuclear tests. But the situation isn’t as clear as it seems. Wilson was a friend of I Spy star Bill Cosby, according to The Post’s obituary.

Hawaii Five-O, “Trouble In Mind”: Wilson played Eadie Jordan, a singer addicted to heroin. She’s in Hawaii at the same time poison-laced heroin is being circulated. Five-O is trying to find the source of the deadly heroin. The cast included Morton Stevens, composer of the famous Five-O theme, as a musician who dies from poisoned heroin.

The FBI, “The Confession”: Wilson was Darlene Clark, a diva singer. Her manager Abel Norton (Hal Linden) blames her for the death of his son. Norton then kidnaps her daughter. The idea is to force Darlene to publicly confess to a hit-and-run accident years earlier. The cast also included a mustache-less Tom Selleck as an FBI agent.

John D.F. Black, Star Trek, Five-O writer, dies

McGarrett thinks he has Wo Fat in custody but a U.S. spymaster is about to spring a surprise in The Jinn Who Clears the Way, written by John D.F. Black

John D.F. Black, a writer whose credits included the original Star Trek and Hawaii Five-O series, has died at 85, according to the Star Trek.com and Jacobs Brown Press websites

The writer died on Nov. 29, the websites said. Jacobs Brown said it had been informed by Black’s widow.

Black wrote for various television series including Mission: Impossible, The FBI and Mannix. He submitted a script (The Charge d’Affair) during the fourth season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. But it went unproduced after the series was canceled in midseason.

The scribe was versatile, writing for various genres, including westerns (Laredo, The High Virginian) and comedies (The Mary Tyler Moore Show). Besides his television work, he also co-scripted the original 1971 Shaft movie, starring Richard Roundtree and directed by Gordon Parks.

Black had the title of associate producer during part of Star Trek’s first season. He acted as story editor, helping secure and revise scripts. He wrote The Naked Time, where the Enterprise crew suddenly lose their inhibitions. Black also received two “story by” credits (one under the pen name Ralph Wills) on the Star Trek: The Next Generation series. One was a sequel to The Naked Time.

On Five-O, Black penned 10 episodes, including five in the first season. On some he received solo credit, on others his scripts based on plots from the show’s creator and executive producer, Leonard Freeman.

Black also wrote three episodes featuring arch-villain Wo Fat: A two-parter in the fourth season (The Ninety-Second War) and a single-part story (The Jinn Who Clears the Way) in the fifth.

The latter was Black’s finale for the show and he went out with a bang. McGarrett (Jack Lord) finally has Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) in custody. But before McGarrett can savor the triumph, U.S. official Jonathan Kaye (Joseph Sirola) arrives. He lets Wo Fat go because the mastermind is to be exchanged for a U.S. spy plane pilot.

The episode ends with McGarrett slamming Wo Fat’s phony U.S. passport an object on the lawman’s desk. It was one of the highlights of the entire series. (I have been advised by those who’ve reviewed the sequence in slow motion it wasn’t Wo Fat’s phony U.S. passport.)

Michele Carey dies at 75

Michele Carey in an episode of The Wild Wild West

Michele Carey, an actress active from the 1960s into the 1980s, has died at 75, according to an announcement on her Facebook page.

Carey died on Nov. 21. The announcement described her death as a ” sudden and unexpected passing.”

One of her most prominent roles was in the Howard Hawks-directed western El Dorado, starring John Wayne and Robert Mitchum.

She played Josephine “Joey” MacDonald, a tomboy-like character. She shoots Wayne’s Cole Thornton early in the film. While the wound isn’t fatal, it causes plot complications because Thornton becomes impaired later in the story.

Carey was active in spy-related television shows. Among them: a small role on The Double Affair episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.; three episodes of The Wild Wild West, including the only two-part story of the series; as well as episodes of It Takes a Thief, Mission: Impossible and Amos Burke, Secret Agent.

The actress was also the voice of Effie the computer in the short-lived 1979 series A Man Called Sloane starring Robert Conrad.

While not a spy story, Carey also was a guest star in a 1969 episode of The FBI titled Tug-Of-War. One of her co-stars was Barry Nelson, the first actor to play James Bond. The episode was plotted by Anthony Spinner, who was the fourth-season producer of U.N.C.L.E.

U.N.C.L.E. breaks the fourth wall

The original U.N.C.L.E.s, Robert Vaughn and David McCallum

In the early days, The Man From U.N.C.L.E’s production team had a notion of its characters breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience.

It began with the pilot. A black and white version with the original title of Solo includes a short segment after the end titles. It wasn’t intended for broadcast. It was aimed at network executives and would-be advertisers.

“My name is Robert Vaughn,” the series star begins, looking into the camera, “but when that camera rolls, well, Napoleon Solo is the name and espionage is the game.”

Vaughn mentions cast members, including Will Kuluva as “my boss, Mr. Allison,” and David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin. Illya, Vaughn says, “is an interesting young man — you’ll see him often.” That would certainly turn out to be the case.

The actor says U.N.C.L.E. is located in “the East Fifties” of New York City rather than the East Forties. He also says the organization has nothing to do with the United Nations. “It’s merely a code. We call it UNCLE.”

Meanwhile, Vaughn says  “the viewers of television” will be part of the series, just like Patricia Crowley’s “innocent” character in the pilot. “So what do you have to lose, except your boredom?” Vaughn says, smiling. “Or your lives?”

Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo in the early moments of Act I of The Iowa-Scuba Affair

The Iowa-Scuba Affair: This was was the first episode to be produced after the pilot. An opening was scripted, but apparently not shot, of Robert Vaughn as Solo talking to the audience.

It’s very much in the same spirit as the segment attached to the end of the pilot.

INT. THE CAVE – FULL SHOT – NIGHT

SOLO is kneeling on the ground between the Pressure Suit and the Scuba Suit. He is examining the suits. A pretty girl is wearing each suit, striking a modeling pose. Solo ignores the girls throughout. He glances around, looks directly INTO THE CAMERA. He swings around, sitting amiably between the two suits.

SOLO
Good evening. My name is Napoleon Solo…or have we met? Here we are, tonight, in Iowa…
(indicates cave)
…land of corn and hogs…
(points downward)
underwater scuba suits…
(points upwards)
high altitude pressure suits for up in the stratosphere…
(does a small take at the suits)
Oh, aren’t these on your list of clothing to take along on a trip to Iowa? You’ll need them tonight.
(rises, brushing himself clean as he talks)
In a minute you’ll meet what seems to be a nice, bright young American soldier. Don’t get to know him too well…he won’t be staying around long. There’ll be a wealthy oilman with suspicions about me. A young lady’s maidenly aunt who views me with suspicion for…uh…other reasons. There’s a lovely lady from the continent to the south. A little old scrubwoman…with some unique ideas how to scrub me out.
(indicates suits)
There’ll be the men who wear these suits…and the bizarre reasons they have for wearing them. I hope you’re in good shape. We’ll have to run for our lives, hunted through the woods by strange men with strange weapons.
(sudden thought)
Oh…and since this is farming country we’re in, we’ll need a young, fairly attractive farm girl. One that smells of country soap…
(looking over the audience)
…one of you will be fine. Do hear any volunteers?

As he smiles:

WHIP PAN TO:

Hit with TITLES

Captain Shark (Robert Culp) during a dramatic moment with Solo in The Shark Affair

The Shark Affair: The episode concerns an antagonist (Captain Shark, played by Robert Culp) who is convinced the world will soon go down in flames from nuclear war. He’s abducting people of special skills from ships so mankind can go on after the war comes.

The unused scripted introduction has Solo on a raft with a parakeet in a cage. He again introduces himself and mentions elements of the upcoming story.

“A mystery ship, naturally. A rather odd-ball Captain aboard the mystery ship? Of course — Some strange characters in the crew? You bet — And — let’s see — what else have I forgotten.”

Just then, a woman in a bikini comes out of the water and boards the raft.

SOLO
Ah yes —
(indicates parakeet)
Sam, here — a parakeet from the Bronx.

Fugitive Nazi scientist Volp is about to drain Napoleon Solo of his blood in The Deadly Games Affair.

The Deadly Games Affair: Originally titled The Stamp Affair, U.N.C.L.E. is seeking Volp, a fugitive Nazi scientist. Volp had a collection of very rare, very valuable stamps. Those stamps are showing up at auction. Apparently, Volp is selling them off to finance…what? The villainous organization Thrush also is on Volp’s trail.

The unused introduction has Solo inside a coffin with a plexiglass top. A woman opens the coffin and Solo steps out.

“This one seems to fit,” he tells the woman. “I’ll take it. Have ‘Napoleon Solo’ inscribed upon it.”

The woman moves off “to take some notations in an order book.” Solo finds the camera and begins addressing the audience.

“I thought I’d make my selection now since I might an abrupt need for one. My work, you know.”

Solo notes he’s an agent for U.N.C.L.E.

“My organization is involved with all sorts of evil all over the world. Sometimes we encounter an outfit named Thrush…they rate number one on our ‘evil outfits’ list. I’m going to meet one of their more attractive members tonight. Along with some free-lance evil types. Some history is involved in this escapade. So I think I’ll take along a couple of college students. Are you ready?”

Instead of these scripted openings, the production crew filmed a sequence that would be used to introduce the second through seventh episodes. Solo and Illya enter U.N.C.L.E. headquarters through the security entrance at Del Floria’s. They reach Waverly’s office. Each talks to the audience.

Staring with the eighth episode, The Double Affair, the series shifted to an “action introduction” based on the pilot. We see the shawdow of a mysterious intruder (in real life assistant to producer George M. Lehr) at U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. He fires at Solo standing behind the bullet-resistant screen.

Solo about to address the audience at the start of The Deadly Decoy Affair.

This would be used for the rest of the first season. However, there was one episode with one key change.

The Deadly Decoy Affair was the first episode aired in a new time slot, 8 p.m. eastern time on Monday. The “action introduction” proceeds as normal until Solo comes out from behind the screen with the “spider web” pattern after being struck by bullets.

“Good evening,” Solo says into the camera. “Tonight, we of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement have an affair involving Thrush. Now of course you remember Thrush…that nasty international band of renegades. Well, let’s see how nasty they’re going to be tonight, hmm?”

Expanded TWINE soundtrack coming Nov. 27

Cover to the original soundtrack release of The World Is Not Enough

An expanded two-disc soundtrack to 1999’s The World Is Not Enough will be available Nov. 27, La-La Land Records announced on Twitter and Facebook.

La-La Land’s Facebook post has a track list. The first disc has almost 74 minutes of material, while the second dis has more than 67 minutes.

The World Is Not Enough was the second of five 007 scores composed by David Arnold. La-La Land previously released an expanded soundtrack for 2002’s Die Another Day, also featuring an Arnold score.

The company also has released limited-edition soundtracks for the Mission: Impossible television series, Jonny Quest and The Wild Wild West.

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

Luciana Paluzzi and Robert Vaughn in To Trap a Spy, the first U.N.C.L.E. movie.

The Solo pilot was filmed in late 1963. The only significant delay was the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. What started out as a light day (star Robert Vaughn’s 31st birthday) turned solemn and the production shut down for a few days.

Despite the conclusion of filming, writer Sam Rolfe wasn’t done. In early 1964, producer Norman Felton commissioned the scribe to write addditional scenes. Solo would be expanded into a feature film.

Initially, it would be distributed in international markets. But when The Man From U.N.C.L.E. became popular, the film version, To Trap a Spy, would get a U.S. release.

Rolfe turned it a number of pages dated Feb. 26, 1964, with some dated later.

The first scene involved U.N.C.L.E. agent Lancer. In the original pilot, U.N.C.L.E. official Allison tells Solo that Lancer had gotten a job at the company headed by Thrush official Andrew Vulcan. Lancer had tried to communicate information to Allison but was cut off.

In the new scene we’re introduced to Lancer “about forty-five years old, dressed in laborer’s clothing.” He’s driving a car that hits a post box with the address of 112 Old Post Road in Alexandria Virginia.

Lancer is wounded. “One hand is clutched against his side, blood staining through his fingers,” according to the stage directions. Another car is coming up from behind. “Lancer, frantic, scurries ahead.”

Lancer reaches a nearby house and calls out to Angela. She doesn’t answer. He reaches a fireplace where a small fire burns. He rips out the label from his jacket and puts in the fireplace. Lancer picks up a telephone.

LANCER (into phone, quickly)
Operator, get me Plaza 3-6098 in New York City.
(pause)
Yes, I’m calling from Arlington, Virginia
(pause)
Lancer here. Channel D inoperative. Direct report. When the premier of Western Natumba visits the plant, they’re going to assassinate…

He breaks off as there is a sharp silence that indicates the line has been cut. Lancer CLICKS the phone frantically.

Before Lancer can do anything else, Angela makes her appearance.

ANGELA is an attractive girl, with short, cropped hair. She is wearing a negligee and carrying a hairbrush. The feeling is that she has just come from a bath and was brushing out her hair when she encountered Lancer. Her eyes reflect surprise. As Lancer spins around she sees the blood on his shirt and she gasps.

Lancer tells Angela he didn’t want to involve her. Angela says they need to get Lancer to a doctor. However, Angela is really working for Thrush and lures Lancer to a window. “She shows no emotion as she watches Lancer,” according to the stage directions. Lancer opens the window and bright lights shine on him. That enables a gunman outside  to kill the operative.

Two men, including one identified as “the Leader” come into the room. He asks Angela if the dead agent had made contact before she could break the connection.

“Too bad,” the Leader replies. “We’ll have to make some immediate arrangements there.” This sequence now sets up the raid on U.N.C.L.E. headquarters that began the original Solo pilot.

Much later, after Solo has been assigned to investigate Andrew Vulcan, he’s driving his car when he smells perfume. “For a moment, he hesitates, ‘tasting’ the scent. He likes it, but not enough to stop being alert. His casualness is studied.”

Solo pulls the car over to the side of the road. He holds both a gun and a pack of cigarettes. Angela is in the back seat. Also, Solo is about to get his first name restored after it was stripped out of the Solo script.

SOLO
My name’s Napoleon Solo. I hope you don’t mind filters.

Angela tells Solo that Lancer is still alive but wounded. She claims that Lancer’s communicator can receive but not send.

“Her voice has been extremely sincere,” according to the state directions. “I’ll have to find out…won’t I?” Solo responds.

The couple go to Angela’s house. Solo is on guard, moving defensively.

ANGELA
You move beautifully. If this were a trap, you’d undoubtedly be able to kill me before you went down.

SOLO (smiles in return)
No question about it.

This cat and mouse game goes on for several pages. The banter includes claiming to have a nervous grandmother “back home in Topeka, Kansas. I’m afraid I inherited her genes.”

“Oh…are you from Kansas?” Angela asks.

“Of course,” Solo replies. “In’t everyone?”

This being a sequence intended for a movie, Solo and Angela make love. The banter continues afterward, but Solo hasn’t forgotten about Lancer. He finds the label to Lancer’s jacket in the fireplace. The conversation takes on a serious tone.

ANGELA (voice cooling in turn)
You weren’t rude just a short while ago. You gave much pleasure.

SOLO
And I enjoyed you in return. That makes us even. We don’t owe each other anything.

Just then, Lancer supposedly arrives outside. It’s actually his corpse popped up in position. Behind him is “SHOTGUN-MAN,” his weapon ready to fire.

Meanwhile, Solo (wisely) hesitates calling out to Lancer. The agent finally opens the window but swiftly moves to the side. The lights that helped get Lancer killed are activated. But with no one standing in front of the window, there isn’t any fire yet.

“Angela abruptly attempts to shove Solo back in front of the window…He spins away from her shove, as Angela now off-balance lands right in the line of fire…the Machine-Gun spray slams Angela’s body across the room,” according to the stage directions. ”

Solo fights his way out of the house and gets away. He chased by two thugs. But as Solo drives off, one of the thugs says he tampered with Solo’s car just in case. This sets up the scene in the Solo pilot where the agent’s car is booby trapped.

Luciana Paluzzi would be cast as Angela. To Trap a Spy would be, in effect, a dry run for her performance in 1965’s Thunderball as femme fatale Fiona Volpe.

Recasting a Major Part

There was one more writing task. Solo was picked up as a series by NBC. It would be renamed The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

David McCallum, Leo G. Carroll and Robert Vaughn in a scene written in August 1964, a little more than a month before it’d be included in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. first broadcast.

Rolfe became the day-to-day producer for the show’s first season. Between the pilot and the start of series production, the production staff opted to fire actor Will Kuluva who played U.N.C.L.E. chief Allison. In his place was veteran actor Leo G. Carroll as Alexander Waverly.

This meant refilming scenes in the pilot, scheduled for broadcast on Sept. 22, 1964.

Thus, on pages dated August 18, 1964, came Waverly’s introduction. Immediately after Solo has killed the Leader of the Thrush attack on U.N.C.L.E. headquarters, Waverly appears.

Waverly has come out of his office and is standing besides one of the posts in the room. He holds the folder with Vulcan’s picture on the cover.

WAVERLY
Quite right, Mr. Solo. Their idea was to prevent me from acting on some new information we’ve received.
(holds out folder)
Here…you may have the information, and Thrush can try to kill you for a while.

Waverly proceeds to tell both Solo and Illya about Andrew Vulcan and his place in Thrush. The name of Vulcan’s company has been changed to the United Global Chemical Corporation.

The mission is so urgent Waverly conducts the briefing in the same room with the body of the Leader of the Thrush raid on the floor. Meanwhile, the new pages don’t reference how the other members of the Thrush raiding party died after being poised by their own organization.

There is one more change. There is a brief scene where Illya gives Solo the college yearbook and says it was Waverly’s idea. Illya tells Solo about Andrew Vulcan having a girlfriend in college. That of course will be Elaine, the episode’s innocent.

It’s still a small role for Illya but he ends up taking a slightly bigger role helping Solo on the assignment. Illya would soon have a bigger presence.

U.N.C.L.E. was now on its way.

THE END