Our (modest) proposal for a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

The recent news that yet another possible movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has surfaced has gotten the attention of fans.

There has always been a segment of the fan base that has felt nobody other than Robert Vaughn and David McCallum should ever play Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. The actors are now 77 and 76 years old respectively. That means they’re even older than Leo G. Carroll, who played U.N.C.L.E. bossman Alexander Waverly, was when the series ended its run in January 1968.

On the other hand, another segment of the fan base doesn’t really want to follow the adventures of new U.N.C.L.E. agents. They want Solo and Kuryakin and are willing to sample the work of new actors as long as it’s entertaining and they don’t do something wildly out of character.

That’s a wide gap to try to bridge. But we think we’ve done it. Here’s our modest proposal:

CONCEPT: The men from U.N.C.L.E. are back! We witness the tension and excitement as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin carry out their duties as the co-chief executives of U.N.C.L.E.! Meetings! Budget reports! Executive appointments! Mission assignments!

Sample scene:

SOLO and ILLYA are in their office, sitting at a conference table they share.

That brings us to the vacancy for head of the lab section. I think Larry should get the job.

I disagree. Dimitri is far more qualified.

I think you’re underestimating Larry.

Perhaps. But I am unswayed by your point.

SOLO (a pause)
You won’t change your mind?

Would you if you were in my position?

I suppose not. There’s only one way to settle this.

SOLO and ILLYA each form a fist with their right hand. They position their open left hand underneath. Each man’s fist comes down on the open left hand, once, then again and finally a third time. Then, SOLO extends the INDEX and MIDDLE FINGER. ILLYA’S RIGHT HAND comes up flat.

SOLO (wryly)
Scissors cuts paper. Next item…

WARNING: Do not take this post seriously.

UPDATE: We corrected the end date of the original series to January 1968.

Handicapping Bond 23, other spy movie projects

There are so many potential movie projects going on right now, it’s hard to keep track of them all — not only the number of potentials but the various roadblocks that may prevent them from becoming reality.

So, here’s a tentative look at the projects for various spies, including James Bond, the Impossible Missions Force, the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement and others:

Mission: Impossible 4: At one point, star Tom Cruise and studio Paramount Pictures had a falling out. Now, things have been supposedly patched up. J.J. Abrams was supposed to come back to direct, but then he wasn’t. In recent news, Brad Bird of The Incredibles supposedly was in final negotiations to direct M:I 4.

There has been one consistent point in various reports. Paramount reportedly wants the movie out in time for Memorial Day 2011. Also Paramount is on sound financial footing, at least compared to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio. ODDS: 2-1.

Bond 23: Daniel Craig is seen as reinvigorating the 007 franchise so you’d think a third movie featuring Craig as Bond would be a natural. Ah, but, MGM, which controls half the franchise, is in financial trouble. Eon Productions apparently has Sam Mendes onboard as director. But Eon isn’t going to finance any movie and the production company, at least for now, is held hostage by MGM’s wheeling and dealing. ODDS: 4-1.

UPDATED: With the announcement that Eon has suspended development of Bond 23 because of uncertainty related to MGM, we have to revise this outlook.


New (serious) Matt Helm movie: This has been kicking around for awhile. Steven Spielberg reportedly was interested in directing, then he wasn’t. It’s a great idea, but there hasn’t a Matt Helm novel published since 1993 and his creator, Donald Hamilton, died in 2006, with an unpublished final novel on the shelf. We’ll believe it when we see it. ODDS: 10-1.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The Movie: There have been a ton of attempts to revive the 1960s television show that paired an American (Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughn) and a Russian (Illya Kuryakin, played by David McCallum) as part of a multi-national security organization. This week word of another surfaced in The Hollywood Reporter and entertainment Web sites. We posted about this yesterday but it escaped our notice that the director mentioned with this project is David Dobkin, who directed the 2005 comedy “Wedding Crashers.”

As Peter Parker used to say, “My Spider Sense is tingling!” ODDS: 100-1.