Speculation: could U.N.C.L.E. and Holmes be tied together?

David McDaniel's The Dagger Affair

David McDaniel’s The Dagger Affair


A response to a recent post has a reminder there’s a sort-of Sherlock Holmes tie to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Could director Guy Ritchie, who’s helming a movie version of the 1964-68 series, seize upon that?

Background: The original show generated 23 paperback novels based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Author David McDaniel penned many of the best. His first effort, The Dagger Affair, suggested that the villainous organization Thrush was a remnant of the group started by Professor Moriarty, the arch-nemesis of Sherlock Holmes.

McDaniel also devised that Thrush was really an acronym standing for the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity.

The series had its own origin for Thrush, in the second-season episode The Adriatic Express Affair, written by Robert Hill, in which Thrush chieftain Madame Nemirovitch (Jesse Royce Landis) claims she founded the organization. The McDaniel version isn’t canon but many fans of the original show perfer it to the Nemirovitch version.

Ritchie’s second Holmes film, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, featured a showdown between Robert Downey Jr.’s Holmes and Jared Harris’s Moriarty. So for director Ritchie and his U.N.C.L.E. producer Lionel Wigram (who worked on the Holmes movies) this is familiar territory.

The new movie, scheduled to start filming on Sept. 7, is to depict the first mission where Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin are paired. Whether it also has an origin for Thrush (or THRUSH, if you prefer) remains to be seen.

RELATED PAGE: BOOKS FROM U.N.C.L.E.

NY Daily News offers U.N.C.L.E. paperbacks as contest prize

The Daily News, the New York tabloid newspaper, is offering 1960s Man From U.N.C.L.E. paperbacks as the prize for a contest.

For the full story, CLICK HERE. Or you can check out this excerpt:

Yes, dear reader, write the winning entry and you’ll receive eight vintage “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” novels, plus a bonus: a “Girl From U.N.C.L.E.” novel by the legendary Michael Avallone, a writer described by novelist Bill Pronzini as “of all the bad writers of the century, pre- eminently top of the heap – the Big Guy.”
(snip)
Which brings us back to “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” A child of the kiss-kiss-bang-bang years of James Bond, I adored all matters cloak-and-dagger, including the adventures of Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum—yes, Dr. “Ducky” Mallard on “NCIS”) that aired on NBC from September 1964 to January 1968. With the initial success of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” came the inevitable novelizations, packaged by Ace Books.

The article by Vince Gosgrove discusses novelizations of movies and television shows more broadly. Michael Avallone wrote the initial U.N.C.L.E. Ace novel and was followed by various authors, including David McDaniel, an U.N.C.L.E. fan favorite. The Ace books weren’t actually novelizations of televiswion episodes but original stories. Anyway, for the contest, entrants have 250 words to explain why they should get the books being offered. The Deadline is April 11 and entries should be e-mailed to manfromuncle@nydailynews.com

The Avengers: a half century of John Steed & Co.

Better late than never, we felt we should note this was the 50th anniversary of The Avengers, in which the English gentleman agent John Steed and his various associates battled forces that threatened the U.K.

Actually, when the show began in January 1961, Patrick Macnee, who played Steed, had second billing and Steed wasn’t yet in gentleman agent mode. Receiving top billing was Ian Hendry as Dr. David Keel. The show began with Keel’s financee being murdered. The mysterious Steed pops up and two proceed to avenge the death of the financee.

For the second season, Dr. Keel was gone and Macnee was now the clear star. Eventually, he’d partner with Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), who favored leather clothing and was skilled at judo. Blackman went off to play Pussy Galore in 1964′s Goldfinger. Below, Cathy Gale tells Steed goodbye and the dialogue provides a hint of Blackman’s upcoming 007 role:

Diana Rigg took Blackman’s place as yet another “talented amateur,” Emma Peel. At this point, the U.S. television network ABC to import the U.K. series and the Steed-Peel combo clicked with American audiences. Also, the show apparently got a bigger budget. Production switched from videotape to film, freeing up the crew to shoot sequences outdoors and not just be confined to a studio. The original John Danworkth theme was discarded and a snappier theme, composed by Laurie Johnson, was recorded.

Macnee and Rigg had an appealing chemistry, helped along by scripts from the likes of Brian Clemens and Philip Levene. David McDaniel, who penned some of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. tie-in paperback novels worked Steed and Mrs. Peel into The Rainbow Affair, though the duo aren’t named.

However, after a couple of seasons, bigger things beckoned for Rigg. She, like her predecessor, would be the female lead in a James Bond movie, 1969′s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Another replacement, Tara King (Linda Thorson) rounded out the original show.

It’s hard to keep a good agent down. Macnee’s Steed had a return engagement in the 1970s in The New Avengers, this time with two partners, Gareth Hunt’s Mike Gambit (to take over some of the rough stuff from Steed) and Joanna Lumley as Purdey. The show was overseen by Clemens and Albert Fennell, who had produced the last few seasons of the original show. Laurie Johnson returned, composing a new theme. The New Avengers was shown by CBS in the U.S. as part of The CBS Late Movie. The New Avengers only lasted two seasons, though Diana Rigg did make a cameo as Mrs. Peel.

The Avengers was also something of a farm team for Eon Productions. Besides Blackman and Rigg, various character actors from the show got cast in Bond movies, such as Philip Locke (Vargas in Thunderball), Julian Glover (Kristatos in For Your Eyes Only) and James Villiers (Bill Tanner in For Your Eyes Only). And members of The Avengers crew, such as director of photography Alan Hume and art director Harry Pottle would get hired to work on Bond movies. Thus, it was appropriate that Macnee finally be cast in a 007 film, 1985′s A View To a Kill.

Inevitably, The Avengers would be considered for a feature film. The result was the uneven 1998 namesake film with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman facing off against a villain played by Sean Connery. Macnee got a small voice-only cameo. Today, the original series remains fondly remembered while the film….well, the less said, the better.

Happy 50th, Mr. Steed. Here’s a look at the different main titles of The Avengers and The New Avengers:

The Final Affair

Back in the ’60s, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. spawned a series of popular paperback novels based on the television. Perhaps the most favorite among fans were the ones done by David McDaniel, which included an origin of Thrush (it was he, and not the show’s writers who decided it should be an acronym, the Technologial Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity).

One of his U.N.C.L.E. novels that was never published was The Final Affair, intended to wrap things up, including a final battle with Thrush, the death of U.N.C.L.E. chief Alexander Waverly and the return of agent Illya Kuryakin to Russia. However, with the series canceled in January 1968, there was no market for the book. Still, copies of the manuscript circulate among fans.

Blogger Randy Johnson (who is quick to remind readers he’s not the baseball pitcher who just retired), who writes about forgotten books, has done a post. You can READ IT BY CLICKING HERE. The post also includes a photo of the late author, taken shortly before his death.

We’ll also tip our cap once more to the Bish’s Beat blog, where we spotted the item.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 125 other followers