Who’s in, and out, of the U.N.C.L.E. movie poster credits

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

We decided to take a look at THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. OFFICIAL WEBSITE and examined the credits that go with the teaser poster. If you go to the page, you can view them, but you have to put your cursor on the lower left where it says “Legal.”

A reminder before we go further. Credits in a poster sometimes vary from the film. With 2012’s Skyfall, for example, the poster only listed one editor, but the movie’s credits listed two, the second being listed in small type. With that in mind:

Who’s not there: The credits simply say, “Based on the Television Series The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” No mention of developer Sam Rolfe, nor of Norman Felton and Ian Fleming, who came up with the character Napoleon Solo.

Vanity credits: We’re told it’s “A Witchie/Wigram Production,” “A Davis Entertainment Production,” and “A Guy Ritchie Film.”

Who gets the “p.g.a.” mark: Since mid-2013, most movies include “p.g.a.” after those considered the primary producers of the film by the Producers Guild of America.

The movie lists four producers, with John Davis (who has been involved trying to develop an U.N.C.L.E. movie since the early 1990s), Lionel Wigram and Guy Richie getting the p.g.a. mark. (It’s in lower case letters with periods to avoid confusion with the Professional Golfers’ Association, or PGA.)

Steve Clark-Hall, listed second among the four, doesn’t get the mark. David Dobkin gets an executive producer credit. In television, executive producer is supposed to be the big boss. That’s not true for movies. Regardless, Dobkin’s name was associated with the project, circa 2010.

Writing credit: “Story by Jeff Kleeman & David Campbell Wilson and Lionel Wigram & Guy Ritchie, Screenplay by Lionel Wigram & Guy Ritchie.” This was included in the teaser trailer but it goes by very quickly.

Others jobs that get credits: Composer, costume designer, editor, production designer and director of photography.

Other tidbits: According to this, the soundtrack will be available on Watertower Music.

Literary 007 location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Cover to a U.S. paperback edition of LIve And Let Die

Cover to a U.S. paperback edition of LIve And Let Die

In the novel Live And Let Die (1954), St. Petersburg, Florida, wasn’t exactly James Bond’s type of town.

In Chapter 13, “Death of a Pelican,” at one point “Bond caught a whiff of the atmosphere that makes the town the ‘Old Folks Home’ of America. Everyone on the sidewalks had white hair, white or blue, and the famous Sidewalk Davenports that Solitaire had described were thick with oldsters sitting in rows like the starlings in Trafalgar Square.”

Author Ian Fleming goes on to describe “the stringy, collapsed chests and arms of the men displayed to the sunshine in Truman shirts.” Women had “fluffy, sparse balls of hair” while the men had “bony bald heads.”

As Bond takes all this in, American agent Felix Leiter says, “It makes you want to climb right into the tomb and pull the lid down.”

By the late 1980s, Pinellas County, Florida, part of the Tampa Bay metro area which includes St. Petersburg, was bustling with development. Downtown St. Petersburg, however, wasn’t seeing as much of that development.

In 2015, it’s doubtful Fleming would recognize the place.

On March 7, there were several weddings taking place in downtown St. Petersburg, including an outdoor ceremony. Not a strand of blue hair to be seen. The downtown area now is jammed with with various new restaurants.

It’s also awash in money. There’s a large sign promoting a condo project for units priced from $500,000 to more than $1 million. A major St. Petersburg pier project is planned. It’s a long way from what Leiter described to Bond as “pawnshops stuffed with gold watches and masonic rings.”

For more information about St. Petersburg, CLICK HERE for Wikipedia’s entry about the city.

Canada may change copyright laws

"I may not be in the public domain in Canada afterall?"

“I may not be in the public domain in Canada afterall?”

Canada may change its copyright laws as part of trade negotiations, which could squelch publication of new, unauthorized James Bond stories.

Here’s an excerpt from a Feb. 7 story in THE HUFFINGTON POST.

The U.S.’s controversial “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” — the name given by critics to a particularly strong copyright term law — may be coming to Canada thanks to a new trade deal.

There’s plenty we don’t know about what’s been agreed to in the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, largely because of a monolithic veil of secrecy surrounding the talks (although many of Canada’s lobbyists have reportedly been given access).

But according to a news brief from Japan’s NHK, negotiators working on the 12-country TPP trade area have come to an agreement on the copyright chapter of the trade deal. Under the agreement, copyright terms would be extended to the life of the creator plus 70 years.

You can view view the NHK item BY CLICKING HERE. It’s short and vague, referring to how trade negotiators “are a step closer” to change.

The literary 007 is controlled by Ian Fleming Publications, managed by the heirs of James Bond creator Ian Fleming.

In Canada, the literary Bond entered public domain on Jan. 1. Under copyright law there, protection lasts 50 years after the author’s death. That prompted the announcement of AN UNAUTHORIZED ANTHOLOGY OF JAMES BOND STORIES CALLED LICENCE EXPIRED to be published in that country. The copyright law may endanger that project. For more, you can view THIS STORY on the MI6 James Bond website.

A couple of questions, though, to keep in mind: If Canada changes its copyright laws, when would it take effect? (Immediately? Some future date?) Depending on that answer, is still possible the unauthorized Bond stories could see print before the law changes? If the answer to that question is yes, the anthology could become a bit of a Bond collector’s item.

James Bond and Cuba

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

James Bond novels are many things. But they weren’t necessarily the best predictor of some geopolitical events.

The United States said Dec. 17 it will re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. (CLICK HERE to read The New York Times story.)

The news reminded us of a passage in Ian Fleming’s last 007 novel, The Man With the Golden Gun. In Chapter 4, “The Stars Foretell,” Bond and his former secretary, Mary Goodnight, are in Jamaica and end up discussing recent news in the Caribbean.

Goodnight brings up sugar futures. “Washington’s trying to keep the price down, to upset Cuba’s economy, and (Fidel) Castro’s out to keep the world price up so that he can bargain with Russia.”

She adds the following prediction: “Pretty daft business, isn’t it? I don’t think Castro can hold out much longer. The missile business in Cuba must have cost Russia about a billion pounds…I can’t help thinking they’ll pull out soon and leave Castro to go the way Batista went.”

The novel’s Mary Goodnight seems more with it than her cinematic counterpart. Bond compliments her in the novel. “Goodnight, you’re a treasure. You’ve certainly been doing your homework.”

Ian Fleming wrote the novel in early 1964, more than a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. More than a half-century after Fleming wrote the novel, Castro’s brother is running the country even after the end of the Soviet Union. You can’t win them all.

The evolution of James Bond movies

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

An exchange with a former colleague prompted us to look back at how James Bond films have evolved the past decade.

Paul Baack, co-founder of the former Her Majesty’s Secret Servant website (and originator of this blog), made the following observation via social media. His quote is presented here with his permission.

“At their best, James Bond movies are factory-made ‘B’ pictures with…’A movie’ polish.”

Ian Fleming’s original novels had a lot of influences. Some of his novels come across as fancier versions of pulp adventure stories. At one time, pulp-like stories were “B” movie fodder while “A” films were more prestigious, adult fare.

The early Bond movies were, indeed, like “B” movies with “A” movie gloss. Even the modestly budgeted Dr. No had Ken Adam-designed sets that made it look more expensive than it really was. Back in September, we posed the questions whether Goldfinger could be considered the first “A-movie” comic book film.

And, whether you consider them a factory product, the movies were controlled by producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and later Broccoli solo. Directors had impact, but Bond films weren’t part of the auteur school of movie making.

Since 2005, when actor Daniel Craig was cast for Casino Royale, the formula changed. The Bond series, in some respects, became “A-movie” dramas with genre-movie action sequences and special effects.

Directors began to exhibit auteur tendencies. Marc Forster had scripts reshaped to fit his “classical four elements” theme of fire, water, earth and air (see HAPHAZARD STUFF’s four-part video review of the film for details). Sam Mendes, with Skyfall, emphasized drama. Example: near the end of the pre-credits sequence, when it appears Bond has been killed, it starts raining outside M’s office. Also, M (Judi Dench) gets to read a poem in a dramatic moment.

Bond directors have yet to get a vanity credit — “A Sam Mendes Film” or “A Film by Sam Mendes”. Still, they do seem to have more control than under the Brocccoli-Saltzman days. With Mendes aboard once more for SPECTRE, that doesn’t look to change.

Meanwhile, the new Bond dramas aren’t inexpensive. Documents hacked from Sony Pictures indicate the new movie’s budget may exceed $300 million, which would make it one of the most expensive movies of all time. That’s not just “A-movie” polish, that’s a warehouse full of “A-movie” polish.

The main difference between Fleming’s two spy heroes

"I would have thought the difference was obvious," Solo said.

“The difference is obvious,” Solo said.

In 2015, there will be two movies featuring two spy characters Ian Fleming helped to create. The one with the most publicity is SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film. The other is The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a movie adaptation of the television series, coming to theaters a few months before the 007 film.

With U.N.C.L.E., Fleming’s involvement was limited (lasting from October 1962 until June 1963) and he exited the project after being bullied by 007 film producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman (whose film series was in its earliest stages) to quit.

There are some basic similarities. Both Bond and Napoleon Solo, the lead character in U.N.C.L.E., are womanizers. Both deal in espionage and death. But Solo has one major difference with Bond: The U.N.C.L.E. agent has a moral core than Bond doesn’t appear to possess.

Eon Productions co-boss Michael G. Wilson has called Bond an “antihero,” defined as “a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.” His stepfather, Eon co-founder Broccoli, used the same terms in his autobiography.

In Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale, Bond describes how he got his 00-designation, which involved killing two people. In Fleming’s fifth Bond novel, From Russia With Love it’s stated that Bond had never killed in cold blood. (Collector Gary Firuta pointed this out and we looked up our copies of the novels to verify.) But fans say Casino Royale cancels that out. Dissenting fans say in Casino Royale the two kills were described by Bond (who may or may not have been lying) while the From Russia With Love reference is in the “voice of God” (i.e. Fleming’s “narrator” description).

Napoleon Solo, meanwhile, demonstrates a moral streak periodically throughout the 1964-68 series.

In the first-season episode The Finny Foot Affair, the “innocent” is a young boy played by Kurt Russell. Russell’s character has a rough time. He witnesses an U.N.C.L.E. agent fight to the death. The agent, with his dying breath, entrusts the boy with an object that may be of assistance to Solo.

Later, on a flight to Norway, the boy describes what he saw to Solo. The U.N.C.L.E. agent attempts to deceive the boy that what he saw wasn’t as serious as it seems.

Later, the boy witnesses Solo kill some of his opponents. “Chris,” Solo tells the boy at one point, “you know now this is for real.” At the end of the episode, the Russell character decides Solo may not be the best potential mate for his “beautiful widowed mother.”

The best example of Solo’s moral streak occurs during the last episode of the series, broadcast by NBC on Jan. 15, 1968. Its one of the best scenes in the entire show for star Robert Vaughn. Solo confronts a group that plans to bring the entire world under its control, ending the “fight between good and evil” once and for all. The leader of this scheme is named Kingsley (Barry Sullivan), a former top U.N.C.L.E. official.

SOLO: You intend — you seriously intend — to make the world world act and think like you want it to?
(snip)
It’s a blasphemy. Your plan denies humanity its freedom to find its own way to better times.

At the end of the episode, there’s this exchange between Solo and his boss, Alexander Waverly.

WAVERLY: Good job, gentlemen.

SOLO: Kingsley sincerely believed history would have said the same of him, sir.”

That’s not the kind of thing that Bond stops to reflect about.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode guide returns

"Yes, the website is back up, sir."

“Yes, the website is back up, sir.”

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. EPISODE GUIDE, one of the first U.N.C.L.E. fan sites, is back online.

The site, which debuted on Dec. 1, 1996 and provides detailed reviews of all 105 episodes of the 1964-68 series, originally had a home at AOL. When AOL ceased providing that service in 2008, the episode guide moved to the now-defunct Her Majesty’s Secret Servant website. But that website ceased operations earlier this year.

The U.N.C.L.E. episode guide went back online on Oct. 18. It’s now housed at WordPress.com, which also hosts this blog. The site is still being reconstructed but all of the episode reviews are online, as are reviews for The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. and The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The site also includes an updated page for major connections between U.N.C.L.E. and James Bond, running from Ian Fleming to Henry Cavill.

There’s additional work to be done, including trying to recover other pages on the episode guide site. Still, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode guide is back.

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