The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: variation on a theme

It’s a few days before The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s 45th anniversary. So here’s are variations on a theme — namely the Jerry Goldsmith-composed theme.

There were five different versions of the opening theme (two in the first season), and four different end title versions. Here’s an first-season end title, using an edited version of Goldsmith’s original. The episode is The King of Knaves Affair, the last to feature an original Goldsmith score:

For season two, Lalo Schifrin did a new arrangement. Here it is from the end titles of Alexander the Greater Affair Part II:

By season three, Gerald Fried had become the lead composer for the show and he was given the chance to do his arrangement of the Goldsmith theme. This is from The Galtea Affair, which ran early that season.

For season 4, Fried did another new arrangement that was rejected. That version turned up in one of the U.N.C.L.E. CDs produced by TV and movie music expert Jon Burlingame. Instead, MGM music boss Robert Armbruster came up with a brassy arrangement that fit in with a more serious tone that occurred with season 4 episodes. The title of this episode was The “J” For Judas Affair:

UPDATE: We were remiss in not pointing out that Sept. 19 was David McCallum’s 76th birthday. So happy birthday, DMc.

UPDATE II: The Bish’s Beat blog reminded us of something we should have linked — namely, a 2004 HMSS interview with Jon Burlingame about the U.N.C.L.E. soundtrack CDs. Better late than never, you can view it by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

Salute to Lalo Schifrin

You don’t hear a lot about Lalo Schifrin these days, and that’s too bad because he’s a tremendously talented composer. So, we thought we’d remedy that and remind readers about his contributions to spy entertainment.

One of his early contributions came during the second season (1965-66) of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He scored only one episode that season, “The Ultimate Computer Affair.” That was the first episode produced that season (and the third broadcast). But Schifrin also did a new arrangement of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme.

Goldsmith HATED Schifrin’s arrangement, according to film and TV music expert Jon Burlingame. Regardless, the 1965-66 season was also U.N.C.L.E.’s most-watched season so a lot of people sampled Schifrin’s take. Here it is:

Schifrin also was doing film scores. We’ve linked to this before but we’ll do it again, the composer’s main title theme for the second Matt Helm movie, Murderers’ Row:

This was the prelude to Schifrin’s biggest contribution to spy music, the theme to Mission: Impossible, where the composer also contributed a number of scores for individual episodes. Here’s the main title to the pilot. Trivia note: the hand holding the match that lights the fuse is that of creator Bruce Geller.

By the show’s fifth season, there was a movie to bringing in younger agents, via Lesley Warren and Sam Elliott. Schifrin obliged by providing a jazzed up arrangement of the theme.

In 1988, ABC sought to revive the show. It only last two seasons but Schifrin scored the pilot and did yet another new arrangement of his theme:

In 1996, Paramount released a Mission: Impossible movie. It took many liberties — including making Jim Phelps the villain. Schifrin got passed over in favor of Danny Elfman for scoring the movie. Still, the studio did include the theme, if not Schifrin himself:

Finally, while Schifrin never was retained to score a James Bond movie, in 2007, he provided a taste of what he could have done. Schifrin did a concert in Paris that included his own music but he also showed off his take on The James Bond Theme. (Sorry, this video isn’t complete)