Napoleon Solo’s blood type and continuity

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

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

In the 1960s, continuity wasn’t a high priority for the makers of television series. It turns out The Man From U.N.C.L.E. had a remarkable piece of continuity — intended or not.

In the first season, in The Deadly Games Affair, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (Robert Vaughn and David McCallum) are on the trail of a fugitive Nazi scentist, Wolfgang Volp (Alexander Scourby). It turns out Volp, who now calls himself Professor Amadeus and teaches in a New York City-area college, is selling off rare stamps.

Volp/Amadeus isn’t working on any ordinary project. It turns out he has Adolf Hitler in suspended animation. But the scientist needs “fresh, whole blood” to reanimate his former boss. He’s selling off his rare stamps to buy enough blood for the task. Solo falls into Volp’s hands. This turns out to be the answer to Volp’s “last, desperate prayers” because Solo has the same blood type as Hitler.

Needless to say, things don’t go the way Volp wants. Solo wheels Hitler into a fire. Volp, who can’t stand it anymore, throws himself into the flames as well.

To be sure, the name “Hitler” isn’t actually uttered. But in the context of the episode (particularly Solo’s look of horror when he finds Hitler in suspended animation) it can’t be anybody else.

Flash forward to the show’s final season. In The Thrush Roulette Affair, around the 38:00 mark, the viewer gets a look at a Thrush dossier of Solo. We’re told he’s 6-foot tall (taller than actor Robert Vaughn) and weights 175 pounds. It also says Solo’s blood type is A.

Well, according to the website WHAT’S MY BLOOD TYPE, the two episodes are actually consistent. Solo had type A. Hitler had type A. (So did Alan Alda, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.)

Was this actually planned? Doubtful. The Deadly Games Affair was written by Dick Nelson, who penned three first-season episodes and never worked on the show again. The Thrush Roulette Affair was written by Arthur Weingarten, who never worked on the series before its final season. Also, there’s no guarantee that Weingarten supplied the Solo dossier materials.

Anyway, given how continuity was normally an afterthought in 1960s shows, it’s remarkable the two references actually match up.

UPDATE (March 20): In case you’re wondering how common Type A is, the answer is at LIVESCIENCE.COM.

In the U.S.,34 percent of the population has A-positive and 7 percent has A-negative. The most common type is O-positive at 38 percent. The rarest is AB-negative at 1 percent.

Evolution of the spy turtleneck

David McCallum's main titles credit in the final season

David McCallum’s main titles credit in the final season

The unveiling of SPECTRE’s teaser caused a bit of stir when it was released on social media on Tuesday.

Star Daniel Craig, instead of the traditional Bond tuxedo or business suit, wore a black turtleneck as well as a shoulder holster while holding a gun. While a different look for the current 007, turtlenecks and spies have gone together for a half century. Here’s a quick look.

David McCallum, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: U.N.C.L.E. agent Illya Kuryakin had an iconic look with his black turtleneck. Ironically, he actually didn’t wear it that often in the show but it’s an image that many people remember.

As we noted IN THIS POST, Jon Heitland’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. book includes a photo of McCallum making an appearance in a parade accompanied by Boy Scout “bodyguards” wearing turtlenecks and carrying toy U.N.C.L.E. Special guns. The actor, though, was wearing a suit and tie.

Occasionally, Kuryakin might vary his wardrobe by wearing a gray turtleneck or, in a second-season episode, a white one with a red jacket when he was going undercover as a musician. Armie Hammer, who has the Kuryakin role in this year’s movie version of the series, has worn dark turtlenecks.

Dean Martin as Matt Helm with Stella Stevens in The Silencers.

Dean Martin and Stella Stevens in The Silencers.

Dean Martin, Matt Helm movies: Matt sometimes wore suits but he often favored light-colored turtlenecks, including tan and yellow ones. In the final film of the series, The Wrecking Crew, Helm donned a black turtleneck with white jacket and pants.

Sy Devore designed Dean Martin’s clothes for the 1966-68 film series. For whatever reason, turtlenecks (as well as dress cowboy boots) were a big part of the Matt Helm look. Devore had other celebrity customers, which is noted ON THE HOME PAGE of the store that bears his name.

Another moment of 007 clothing splendor

Another moment of 007 clothing splendor

Sean Connery, Diamonds Are Forever: Some fans make fun of the pink power tie that Sean Connery wore as 007 in his sixth Bond film for Eon Productions.

Yet, he had another outfit that sometimes draws comments: a brown turtleneck with a plaid sport jacket. Anthony Sinclair, it wasn’t. It’s only seen during a brief sequence where Bond accompanies Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean) to find out what Blofeld (Charles Gray) has been doing with Whyte’s business empire. Bond is back in a three-piece suit for the climax aboard an oil rig.

Roger Moore in Live And Let Die

Roger Moore in Live And Let Die

Roger Moore, Live And Let Die: Many Bond fans reacted to the SPECTRE teaser by saying it was an homage to Roger Moore in his initial 007 film in 1973. The actor donned black turtleneck and pants along with a shoulder holster to sneak around San Monique prior to rescuing Solitaire (Jane Seymour) and taking down Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto). The outfit was also similar to an outfit Steve McQueen wore in Bullitt, which came out five years earlier.

UPDATE (March 18): Feedback here (see Orange Wetsuit’s comment below) and on social media call for mentions of:

–Jonny Quest and his trademark black turtleneck. He wasn’t a spy, of course, but Race Bannon was.

–The Saint (Roger Moore), who, while not a spy, did wear turtlenecks as part of “sneaking around” outfits.

–Derek Flint (James Coburn), who wore a white turtleneck as part of a white outfit in In Like Flint.

–The Archer spy cartoon series.

REVIEW: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. trailer

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser trailer debuted Wednesday night. There were at least a couple of surprises. And one possible James Bond homage.

To be specific:

–0:04 mark: Henry Cavill’s Napoleon Solo, in the back seat of a vintage car, asks, “Are they still following us?” He employs dramatic pauses similar to the original Solo, Robert Vaughn. Why is that surprising? Cavill has said he never watched an episode of the original 1964-68 series. Meanwhile, Brit Cavill sounds convincingly American (not surprising given how he played Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel).

–Armie Hammer, as Illya Kuryakin, has a strong Russian accent. It’s much stronger than David McCallum, the actor who originated the part, ever displayed.

–The homage? Around the 1:00 mark, CIA agent Solo and KGB operative Kuryakin fight in a rest room, demolishing it. That’s extremely similar to the pre-credits sequence of the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale, the rebooted 007 movie where the British agent records his first kill.

According to the trailer, the year is 1963. An unknown criminal organization “with ties to former Nazis” is said to have built an atomic bomb. This forces the United States and Soviet Union to cooperate — even to the point of assigning Solo and Kuryakin, shown here as being foes, to work together.

Obviously, this just a taste of the movie. It doesn’t have familiar U.N.C.L.E. memes such as the secret headquarters, because U.N.C.L.E. hasn’t been formed yet. At the very end of the trailer, we catch a glimpse of Hugh Grant as Waverly. It’s hard to evaluate anything about how the actor will do playing a role originated by Leo G. Carroll.

The trailer, in effect, was the first “official” U.N.C.L.E. production since the 1983 TV movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. It’s interesting. You can’t evaluate an entire movie based on a trailer, of course. For those who welcome a new take on U.N.C.L.E., there’s nothing to be discouraged about. For those who wanted the series left alone, they likely won’t be reassured.

GRADE: Incomplete. But we’d like to see more. You can view the trailer below:

UPDATE: Missed this the first three times, but at 1:08 mark, Kuryakin appears to be using a preliminary version of what would become the U.N.C.L.E. Special on the television series.

1:19 mark: another Vaughn like delivery by Cavill: “This could get a little messy.”

1:57 mark: possible homage to the original series and the third-season opener, The Her Master’s Voice Affair.

UPDATE II: Warner Bros. has yanked the video we embedded.

UPDATE III: This embedded video still works.

UPDATE IV: Could this be the movie’s version of the U.N.C.L.E. Special?

Armie Hammer with a weapon that looks like an U.N.C.L.E. special

Armie Hammer with a weapon that looks like an U.N.C.L.E. special

UPDATE V: The official WEBSITE FOR THE MOVIE is now up.

UPDATE VI: Daniel Pemberton, who composed music for the film, says via Twitter the trailer doesn’t contain his score.

People, Entertainment Weekly have U.N.C.L.E. peek

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)

Both People magazine and Entertainment Weekly, both part of Time Inc., have put out sneak peeks of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie hours ahead of the release of the film’s teaser trailer.

THE STORY ON PEOPLE’S WEBSITE centers on Henry Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo, the role created by Robert Vaughn in the 1964-68 series. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Henry Cavill ditches his Superman suit for a sleek tux in this summer’s silver-screen adaptation of the 1960s TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Man of Steel actor calls the film, which is directed by Guy Ritchie, “a cool, sexy and especially not heavy Cold War spy thriller.”

The story is pretty short but has new images from the movie, which had principal photography in September-December 2013.

The ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY STORY is a little bit broader (and contains additional images). It includes this quote from co-writer Lionel Wigram about how the movie came to be an origin story.

“The series hadn’t really done the origin story—U.N.C.L.E. already existed,” says producer Lionel Wigram, who also co-wrote the screenplay. “At the height of the Cold War you’ve got a Russian and an American working together. How did that come about?”

The Russian is Illya Kuryakin, played in the film by Armie Hammer and a role originated by David McCallum. The trailer is scheduled to go online at 8 p.m. today, New York time.

UPDATE: This image of a poster has shown up on Twitter. Also the movie now has A TWITTER FEED. According to one of the images on the Twitter page, the movie will be available in Imax. (Also, there is now a FACEBOOK PAGE for the movie.)

MeTV’s spectacular Dec. 7 spy TV double feature

Madlyn Rhue, David McCallum and Robert Vaughn in The Terbuf Affair

Madlyn Rhue, David McCallum and Robert Vaughn in The Terbuf Affair

MeTV, the U.S. channel devoted to classic television series, is scheduled to telecast one of the best episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. followed by one of the best Mission: Impossible outings on the night of Dec. 7.

At 10 p.m. New York Time, is The Terbuf Affair, the 14th episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. It was the fourth, and final, episode directed by future A-list movie director Richard Donner.

Alan Caillou, the episode’s writer, developed the character of Illya Kuryakin played by David McCallum. But Caillou also provides one of the few episodes to provide some of the back story for Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughn.

In Terbuf, a woman from Solo’s past (Madlyn Rhue) seeks help from the U.N.C.L.E. agent. Solo and Kuryakin are due back at U.N.C.L.E. HQs shortly but Kuryakin isn’t going to let Solo venture into this personal mission alone.

Caillou, besides scripting this particular adventure, also gets to play a villain. From this point forward, U.N.C.L.E. fans wouldn’t get much in the way of Solo’s background. Menawhile, Caillou’s script builds upon what he established with previous episodes he wrote. All in all, a favorite for U.N.C.L.E. fans.

A classic M:I con in Operation: Rogosh

A classic M:I con in Operation: Rogosh

At 11 p.m., MeTV is scheduled to show the third episode of Mission: Impossible, Operation: Rogosh.

The original leader of the Impossible Missions Force, Dan Briggs (Steven Hill), has a doozy of an assignment. Rogosh, an operative of an unfriendly foreign power, has been in Los Angeles for a week. Rogosh typically leaves mass destruction in his wake.

Moreover, Rogosh (Fritz Weaver) is not know to break through “conventional means.” Briggs has a limited time to make the unbreakable Rogosh spill his guts.

The episode has many great moments. Rogosh (Fritz Weaver) is no one’s fool, so the IMF won’t have an easy time. Briggs’ plan calls to con Rogosh to believing it’s three years later and he’s being tried for his life in his native country. At the same time, Rogosh’s confederates are trying to find him to silence him permanently.

This episode would become the template for future M:I adventures. It’s greatly enchanced by a Lalo Schifrin score.

Jared Harris says U.N.C.L.E. movie is ‘very stylish’

Jared Harris, who has a supporting role in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, described the film as “very stylish” in an interview posted on YouTube on Nov. 12.

“First of all, it’s Guy Ritchie,” Harris said, referring to the movie’s director. “His films always have really good, clever plotting, that funny, great action sequences….It’s a buddy movie, you know, with two huge, fantastic actors in the main roles…I think it has that lovely feel to it because it’s set in the ’60s.”

“It’s going to be very stylish,” Harris also said. “Guy is very stylish.” Harris played Professor Moriarty in one of the Ritchie-directed Sherlock Holmes movies.

Harris plays Sanders in the U.N.C.L.E. movie, who is the CIA controller for Napoleon Solo. Harris said he mostly acted opposite Henry Cavill, playing Solo, the role originated by Robert Vaughn in the 1964-68 television series. Armie Hammer plays Illya Kuryakin, the Russian orignally portrayed by David McCallum.

Overall, not a lot of detail. The movie is scheduled for release in the U.S. in mid-August 2015. Separately (via @laneyboggs2001 on Twitter), Cavill did some U.N.C.L.E. post-production work at BAM Studios in Chicago while filming Batman v. Superman. You can CLICK HERE for details.

You can see the Harris interview for yourself here:

The U.N.C.L.E. movie: Easter eggs? What Easter eggs?

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)

We have no idea how The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie will turn out. But we know this much: Don’t expect a movie version of the original 1964-68 television series.

Movie makers want to put their own spin on things. It happened with the 1999 Wild Wild West movie. It happened with the 1993 The Fugitive movie. It happens with the Mission: Impossible movies that began in 1996 (which made Jim Phelps a villain before killing him off) and whose fifth installment is in production.

The U.N.C.L.E. movie has thrown a few bones out. Or, to use a popular term, “Easter eggs” — little items for hard-core fans. The name of the film’s villain is the same as a villain in the television series. But that’s superficial. They’re different characters. The clapperboards of the movie used the same font as the main titles of the television show. But, when push comes to shove, Warner Bros. during test screenings of the movie, made sure than older fans wouldn’t be admitted to those showings.

At this point, there’s no way to know whether the Jerry Goldsmith theme music for the series will even be used in Daniel Pemberton’s score. Then again, Wild Wild West in 1999 included Richard Markowitz’s theme from the 1965-69 television series (though not in the film’s main titles). That didn’t make the movie — which many fans thought too goofy — any more like the show.

All of this doesn’t mean the movie, due for release in August 2015, won’t be good. It may be. But there’s enough circumstantial evidence to suggest it will be a completely different take than that of executive producer Norman Felton and developer-producer Sam Rolfe as well as stars Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. Henry Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo, the role that Vaughn made famous, has already said he never saw an episode.

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