Bullitt: Movie auto history in Detroit

The original Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt, on display at Ford Motor Co.’s stand today at the North American International Auto Show.

DETROIT — A car from the past was featured today at the North American International Auto Show, which normally introduces new models.

The car was the Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in 1968’s Bullitt. It was one of two Mustangs in the film. The other was a stunt car.

One of the new models Ford Motor Co. unveiled was a 50th anniversary, 2019 “Bullitt Mustang.”

However, the new car may have been upstaged a bit by the original car, which was brought out as part of the new model’s introduction.

As part of the presentation, Ford used some of Lalo Schifrin’s score from the 1968 movie in a video promoting the new car. Also present was Molly McQueen, granddaughter of McQueen and Neile Adams. Molly McQueen was born seven years after the death of her grandfather.

In fact, you can check out the promotional video below:

UPDATE (Jan. 15): Hagerty, which insures classic cars, said in an e-mailed statement today that the 1968 Mustang from Bullitt, if it comes to auction, could fetch a price similar to the $4.1 million for the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 in 2010 and the $4.6 million for original Batmobile in 2013.

Robert Vaughn dies at 83

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

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

Robert Vaughn, star of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series, died today at 83, according to an obituary at Deadline: Hollywood.

The actor died after battle with acute leukemia, according to the entertainment news website.

Vaughn had plenty of roles over a long career, including The Magnificent Seven (1960) and Bullitt (1968). He remained active in recent years, including a U.K. stage production of 12 Angry Men.

Still, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. which ran from September 1964 to January 1968 on NBC, made Vaughn a star. He played Napoleon Solo, a character created by Norman Felton and Ian Fleming. Solo was an enforcement agent for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, an international agency. U.N.C.L.E., which was developed fully by writer-producer Sam Rolfe, was a post-Cold War series airing in the midst of the Cold War.

Vaughn’s Solo had similarities to Fleming’s James Bond. Both were womanizers and sophisticated in the ways of the world. But Solo worked with a Russian agent, Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). In the Bond film series, the notion wouldn’t occur until 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me.

Solo also had more of a moral code than Bond. Part of the format called for Solo to interact with “innocents,” ordinary people either recruited to help U.N.C.L.E. or who stumbled into the action. As a result, Solo had to look out for the innocents, which made his character different than 007.

In the final episode of the series, Vaughn had one of his best scenes as he confronted the conspirators of a plot to take over the world. That was a familiar plot of escapist 1960s spy entertainment. Yet, in that scene, Vaughn played it entirely seriously, giving the proceedings a gravitas they might ordinarily lack.

Years after the series, Vaughn had a lengthy interview with the Archive of American television. Here’s a clip where he discussed U.N.C.L.E.

In real life, Vaughn was an intellectual. He studied for his Ph.D while U.N.C.L.E. was in production. Vaughn, an opponent of the Vietnam war, debated the subject with William F. Buckley on the latter’s Firing Line series. Buckley introduced Vaughn as “a professional actor.” However, Vaughn was thoroughly prepared and the debate (on Buckley’s home turf) was judged a draw.

Post-U.N.C.L.E., Vaughn tended to play villains, such as the politician he portrayed in Bullitt. He did get to reprise the Solo role in the 1983 television movie The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. He indicated he’d be willing to play a cameo role in the 2015 film version directed by Guy Ritchie. But he was never approached.

Vaughn died 11 days short of what would have been his 84th birthday.

We’ll have a more detailed “appreciation” post tomorrow.

SPECTRE teaser poster unveiled: the McQueen look

The SPECTRE teaser poster was unveiled at 1 p.m. New York time. Star Daniel Craig’s look is similar to Steve McQueen in Bullitt — black turtleneck and shoulder holster.

Here’s the tweet from the official 007 Twitter feed

A reader reminds us that Roger Moore had a similar look in Live And Let Die when his James Bond had his final showdown with Dr. Kananga.

Bullitt was released in 1968 while Live And Let Die came out in 1973.

UPDATE: One of the Sony Pictures accounts on Twitter, in addition to tweeting a black and white version of the picture, said SPECTRE’s first trailer will be on MARCH 28.

Meanwhile, we’ve been reminded the “spy-in-a turtleneck” look was pioneered by David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

UPDATE (March 18): The Tweet from Sony giving the March 28 date for the teaser trailer was deleted sometime afterwards.

Happy 81st birthday, Robert Vaughn

Today, Nov. 22, is Robert Vaughn’s 81st birthday. He doesn’t act like a pensioner. He just continues to act, period. His latest effort is a U.K. stage production of TWELVE ANGRY MEN.

He, of course, remains tied to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series that ran from 1964-68, which had an impact on fans that continues to this day. In fact, 50 years ago today — the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated — he was working on the U.N.C.L.E. pilot. Work for the day soon ended after news of the assassination was reported.

Whether he does or doesn’t end up with a cameo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie now being filmed, he is, and will remain, the original Napoleon Solo.

Vaughn also had a long career as a character actor, something that kicked in immediately after U.N.C.L.E. when he portrayed a slimy politician in Bullitt.

So here’s a toast, Mr. Vaughn.

solonye

Earlier posts:

HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY, ROBERT VAUGHN

HAPPY 79TH BIRTHDAY, ROBERT VAUGHN

FALL 1963: NORMAN FELTON CASTS HIS SOLO

Peter Yates, ‘Bullitt’ director, dies; had earlier directed Danger Man/Secret Agent

Peter Yates, best known as the director of 1968’s “Bullitt” with Steve McQueen, has passed away at age 81, according to an obituary at The Wrap Web site. Yates, though, had experience with spy stories, including episodes of the U.K. series “Danger Man,” shown in the U.S. as “Secret Agent.”

Bullitt is most famous for its car chase and a very good, understated performance by McQueen. Before getting a chance at that film, Yates helmed a number of episodes of Danger Man, with Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake. Here are some excerpts from one of the episodes he did. The episode was edited by John Glen, who directed five James Bond films in the 1980s.

Even earlier, in 1961, Yates was assistant director on “The Guns of Navarone,” set in World War II, a combination war/spy film. This clip includes the prologue (while excluding the narration) and the main titles with Dimitri Tiomkin’s magnificent theme music. That film also included photography by Oswald Morris, who finished up work as director of photogrpahy on The Man With The Golden Gun after Ted Moore fell ill.