The U.N.C.L.E. movie’s Marvel-style promos

On social media, Warner Bros. has been putting out short videos of scenes from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Except, in these videos, wide lines have been inserted giving the effect of comic book panels.

For example, there’s THIS 13-SECOND VIDEO of Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin. Or there’s THIS VIEO with Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo.

It’s probably not intentional, but these videos evoke some 1960s art by Marvel Comics artist Gene Colan (1926-2011). Colan had been away from comic books for some time before rejoining Marvel in the mid-1960s.

During this period one of Colan’s favorite techniques was to present separate, but related, panels . Here’s an example from Daredevil, vol. 1, No. 21, published in the summer of 1966:

Daredevil-Owl 21

Barbara Bain to get star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Barbara Bain in Mission: Impossible

Barbara Bain in Mission: Impossible

Barbara Bain, who won three Emmys for her role in Mission: Impossible, will get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016, ACCORDING TO VARIETY.

Bain, 83, was the not the headline name in the Variety story. Bradley Cooper and Quentin Tarantino were. Also, the list of show business people getting a star also includes, among others, Kurt Russell, Kathy Bates and Michael Keaton.

Still, it’s recognition for Bain, who beat out the likes of Diana Rigg, Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell and others when she won three straight acting Emmys while a member of the cast of the original M:I series.

The actress played Cinnamon Carter, sultry femme fatale for the Impossible Missions Force. Because the IMF frequently played con games with its adversaries, Cinnamon got to take on many guises.

Her time on M:I ended abruptly. Her then-husband, Martin Landau, was also a big draw. But Landau never signed a long-term deal for the series. After the parent company of Paramount acquired Desilu, the studio didn’t like how Landau had leverage to negotiate a new deal each season.

Landau was gone going into the fourth season. So was Bain, who was under contract but in the end that didn’t matter. When she won her final Emmy for M:I, she let everyone know how she felt. Still, the actress got to play the part one last time in a 1997 episode of Diagnosis Murder, which featured other stars of 1960s spy shows (including Robert Culp and Robert Vaughn) as guest stars.

UPDATE: Martin Landau already has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on the north side of the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard, according to this PAGE ON THE LOS ANGELES TIMES website. M:I Star Peter Graves ALSO HAS A STAR on the walk of fame on the north side of the 6600 block.

U.N.C.L.E. movie co-writer talks to Collider about the film

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

Lionel Wigram, co-writer and co-producer of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, gave an extensive interview to COLLIDER.COM about the film. It was actually conducted in 2013 during filming. Here were a few things that caught our eye:

He says the relatively tight budget helped: In the summer of 2013, Variety reported the movie’s budget was reduced to $75 million after Tom Cruise opted not to play Napoleon Solo. That’s a quarter of what SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, is going to cost.

Wigram told Collider the budget made the movie better.

(T)here was certainly a moment when there was a version of the script which we budgeted was considered to be too expensive by all concerned and we had to do a job of compressing certain scenes, compressing the story to make it work [with the budget]. What I found was that creatively it worked better too, which I was surprised by, but sometimes if you’re willing and open to trying stuff, sometimes you surprise yourself and suddenly it all becomes much tighter. Where the centre of the movie was a bit flabby, suddenly the compression made everything move much quicker and gave it an energy that it hadn’t had before. It was a pleasant surprise.

How he and director Guy Ritchie and their production company got involved: Warner Bros. “brought up The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I remembered we both always wanted to do a spy movie so I said, ‘What about this?’” Wigram told Collider.

“This felt different in the sense that this was a 60’s spy movie, and it was two people instead of one. Instead of the lone spy it was two, so that was a good starting point. We thought, ‘What the hell, why not?’ It’s a good excuse to make our version of a spy movie, and it’s a good starting point of a structure.”

(SPOILER) There’s a twist: In the movie, Napoleon Solo works for the CIA and Illya Kuryakin for the KGB. Their bosses “have a little sneaky agenda, they hope to get one over on the other at the end of it, but at least for the time being there’s a temporary alliance and from that comes U.N.C.L.E.,” Wigram said.

Why do an “origin” story: “There’s no backstory in the TV show,” Wigram said. “Let’s give them interesting backstories. How can we give a context to this story, as I said, that’s interesting and has got some meat on it? And this was the best that I could come up with anyway.”

Casting of Henry Cavill as Solo: Wigram told Collider all involved considered an older Solo to entice an established star. “(B)ecause of Man Of Steel, Henry had become that much more of a bankable entity, so the studio was more confident about the idea of us doing it with two young guys.” Cavill was 30 during production and Armie Hammer, who plays Kuryakin, was 27.

There’s a lot more from Wigram. To read the entire interview, CLICK HERE. Also, here’s a shoutout to Henry Cavill News, which spotted the interview earlier and published THIS POST.

One U.N.C.L.E. composer wishes another happy birthday

Composer Lalo Schifrin celebrates his 83rd birthday today. One up-and-coming composer, Daniel Pemberton, took to Twitter to send a birthday greeting:

Schifrin is best known for composing the theme for Mission: Impossible as well as scores for such movies as Bullitt.

However, he also composed scores for two episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and his arrangment of Jerry Goldsmith’s U.N.C.L.E. theme was used for that show’s second season (1965-66). Pemberton — born in 1978, a decade after the series went off the air — composed the score for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie that’s coming out in mid-August.

Separately, Amazon.com has started taking pre-orders FOR THE U.N.C.L.E. MOVIE SOUNDTRACK, to be released on Aug. 7. It’s listed as “various artists.” However, Pemberton sent A TWEET EARLIER THIS MONTH that he was involved with production of the soundtrack album.

M:I Rogue Nation apparently ends post production

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation's teaser poster

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation’s teaser poster

Christoper McQuarrie, director of Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, went to Twitter to signal that the post-production of the fifth M:I film has finished post production.

The director gave periodic updates on the production, starring and produced by Tom Cruise, on Twitter. The film originally was scheduled for a Dec. 25 release. But Paramount moved up the movie to July 31.

In early 2013, Cruise had been approached to play Napoleon Solo for a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Cruise, though, exited that project by May 2013 after Paramount secured his services for the new M:I project. Cruise’s exit paved the way for actor Henry Cavill to play Solo. The U.N.C.L.E movie debuts Aug. 14, two weeks after Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation.

Anyway, take a look for yourself at the director’s tweet. Mission: Impossible is the next major release in 2015’s Year of the Spy:

Fact checking TCM’s To Trap a Spy presentation

Luciana Paluzzi and Robert Vaughn in To Trap  a Spy

Luciana Paluzzi and Robert Vaughn in To Trap a Spy

TCM on July June 13 showed To Trap a Spy, the movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. pilot during prime time, part of a evening featuring films with actor Robert Vaughn, the original Napoleon Solo.

The cable channel has showed the film before but usually in off hours. The 10:15 p.m. eastern time presentation meant it’d get an introduction from TCM host Robert Osborne, a one-time actor (he makes a brief appearance in the pilot for The Beverly Hillbillies) who has written extensively about movies for decades.

However, there were a few errors. Most of these are old hat to long-time U.N.C.L.E. fans. But with a new U.N.C.L.E. movie coming out in August, potential new fans may have watched. With that in mind here’s some fact checking.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was an immediate hit. No. It originally aired on NBC on Tuesday nights against The Red Skelton Show on CBS. U.N.C.L.E.’s ratings struggled, but rallied after a mid-season change to Monday nights. The show’s best season for ratings was the 1965-66 season when it aired at 10 p.m. eastern time on Fridays.

The show was “created by producer Norman Felton.” The situation is a bit more complicated. Felton definitely initiated the project. He consulted Ian Fleming, who contributed ideas but the one that stuck was naming an agent Napoleon Solo.

The vast bulk of U.N.C.L.E. was created by Sam Rolfe (who wrote the pilot and gets the “written by” credit on To Trap a Spy), including the character of Illya Kuryakin. The show had no creator credit and Rolfe had a “developed by” credit.

Felton’s “inspired idea.” Osborne said Felton always intended to turn some of the episodes into feature films released internationally (true). He then said the films were actually two episodes of the series edited together along with extra footage. (Not 100 percent true).

The first two movies, To Trap a Spy and The Spy With My Face, were based on first season single episodes: the pilot, The Vulcan Affair, and The Double Affair, with additional footage.

Starting with the second season, the show did two-part episodes that were edited, with some additional footage, into movies for the international market. That was the case for the rest of the series, including the two parter, The Seven Wonders of the World Affair, that ended the series in January 1968.

Osborne also made it sound as if all of the first season were filmed in color, even though it was broadcast in black and white on NBC. Not true.

Both The Vulcan Affair and The Double Affair were filmed in color, as was the extra film footage with each. The rest of the season, however, was filmed in black and white.

One oddity is the first season episode The Four-Steps Affair. Ever efficient, Felton took some of the extra footage from the first two U.N.C.L.E. movies (including Luciana Paluzzi in To Trap a Spy) and had a new story written to incorporate it. Sexy scenes for To Trap a Spy between Vaughn and Paluzzi were toned down for Four Steps.

Some of Four Steps is a black and white print from a color negative. The same applies to the broadcast versions of Vulcan and Double. But the new material for Four Steps was filmed in black and white, like most of the first season. There’s a slight change in contrast as the story goes back and forth between the two sources of footage.

Meanwhile, in Osborne’s closing remarks after the movie, he worked in a plug for the Guy Ritchie-directed U.N.C.L.E. movie coming out in August. TCM is owned by Time Warner, also the parent company of Warner Bros., the studio releasing the August film.

U.N.C.L.E.: what’s same, what’s different

Image that accompanied Guy Ritchie post

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

The principals of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie have spelled out in a bit more detail about what’s the same (or at least similar) and what’s different from the original 1964-68 series.

IGN.com on June 11 ran an interview originally conducted last year with co-writers/co-producers Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram as well stars Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. The story apparently was online for a time the day before because the Henry Cavill News site quoted IGN in a JUNE 10 POST.

Regardless, what follows is information in the interview that caught our eye.

SAME/SIMILAR: The lead characters of Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Hammer).

A quote from Wigram: “The personalities of Solo and Kuryakin are inspired by the show, clearly.”

DIFFERENT: Solo’s background. It was already known that Solo is a CIA agent in the film and he had history as an art thief. Cavill expanded on that to IGN:

“My character is not a born CIA man,” the actor said. “He was very much into the black market before that and got blackmailed into the CIA… he has learned some skills, but he’s not sort of born and bred by any means.”

Meanwhile, Kuryakin’s loyalty to the Soviet Union — something the show mostly avoided addressing — is made clear in the film. Kuryakin is “a hardcore red communist, you know?” Hammer said in the interview.

SAME/SIMILAR: An attempt at a drama-humor balance. The original series itself varied, with the first two seasons mostly balancing the two, the third going overly light and the final going very serious for the most part.

” This is a piece of entertainment,” Wigram told IGN. “We’re not trying to say anything important about the meaning of life or politics or anything like that. We’re trying to have fun, without insulting anyone’s intelligence, kind of like the show.” At the same time, Wigram cited not only early James Bond films as influences but Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer movies and John Le Carre.

DIFFERENT: U.N.C.L.E.’s timeline. In the show, U.N.C.L.E. has been established for some time (Solo and Kuryakin joined it in the 1950s). The organization doesn’t exist at the start of the movie.

Wigram commented to IGN on why the filmmakers went with an origin story.

“(T)his is really the story of how the U.N.C.L.E. organisation came together,” the co-writer/co-producer said. “The television story has not told that. U.N.C.L.E. is simply a sort of United Nations of spies. You have a Russian and American working together at the height of the Cold War, but it’s never explained why, so I thought, it could be really interesting if you actually start with Napolean Solo a CIA agent and Illya Kuryakin as a KGB agent who are on opposite sides.”

To read the entire interview, CLICK HERE.

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