U.N.C.L.E. movie premieres; now comes the big test

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie had a premiere in New York on Monday night.

Now comes the hard part — how will the movie do when its opens later this week?

The day started out with the movie’s stars, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, making a live appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America show (preceded by a Warner Bros. spot for the film).

The appearance itself was what you’d expect of the light approach Good Morning America takes on entertainment topics. “You better watch out, James Bond, because there are some new agents in town!” GMA co-host Robin Roberts said.

The interview covered similar topics referenced in previous interviews about the movie, including how Hammer watched YouTube videos of Russian speakers to perfect his own Russian accent and how Cavill’s bulk changes because he plays Superman.

Later, there were photos a plenty on social media on social media of the premiere itself, both from Warner Bros. and fans. One example:

Meanwhile, Lee Pfeiffer, the publisher of Cinema Retro, published a number of photos on Facebook, SUCH AS THESE. The Henry Cavill News website PUBLISHED EVEN MORE.

The test that now comes is whether a series that last aired when Lyndon B. Johnson was president (with one attempted revival during the first term of Ronald Reagan) can resonate with the 21st century public. The answer to that question will come in a few days.

1966: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. meets The Beatles

This month marks the 45th anniversary of The Beatles’ final U.S. tour, which included a meeting the group sought with Robert Vaughn, the star of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

According to a 2004 blog post by Derek Lamar, the meeting took place on Aug. 24, 1966, at the Capitol Records building. The blog entry includes a photograph. Here’s an excerpt:

All sorts of people started showing up: both to gawk as well as to be let into the basement door in the back of the building. Robert Vaughn showed up and everyone yelled their support for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television show.

Vaughn, then 33, wasn’t there as a Beatles groupie. Instead, the Fab Four were fans of the show, which was in production for its third season. They wanted to see the actor who played Napoleon Solo. Lee Pfeiffer, publisher of Cinema Retro magazine, briefly describes how it came about around the 3:50 mark of this video related to the 2007 release of U.N.C.L.E. DVDs:

Pfeiffer also wrote about Vaughn describing the meeting in a post on Cinema Retro’s Web site. Here’s an excerpt:

(Vaughn) also recalled an ill-advised meet-up with The Beatles that turned to potential disaster when word leaked out. The crowds were so crazed, Vaughn and the Fab Four had to be rescued in an armored car.

To see another photo of the meeting, CLICK HERE.

This was just part of the ending of an era. The Beatles became strictly a studio band after this, according to Wikipedia’s entry on the group. U.N.C.L.E.’s popularity, meanwhile, had reached its peak and less than 18 months later, it would be canceled in January 1968.

The meeting, though, is significant for fans of 1960s spy entertainment. James Bond in 1964’s Goldfinger referred to drinking warm champagne as being as bad as “listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.” Ian Fleming’s other spy, Napoleon Solo (at least the actor who played him) got to hang with the band. As people might say today in the 21st Century, “Way to go, Dawg!”

(Thanks to our friend Marc for a research assist.)

Cinema Retro’s look at Robert Vaughn’s birthday bash

Over at Cinema Retro’s Web site, Lee Pfeiffer describes Robert Vaughn’s 77th birthday party.

A brief excerpt:

The black tie affair began with a cocktail hour attended by the likes of Ben Gazzara, Dick Cavett and Joe Sirola, who had played a villain in several episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. As with all Players events, the charm of the evening was enhanced by the fact that the crowd is very limited in size, giving the event a very personal aspect. Vaughn arrived looking dashing as ever in the company of his charming wife Linda. His son Cassidy (a ringer for Christopher Reeve) and fiancee Kelly also attended. Even among the sophisticates at the cocktail hour, there was quite a commotion when a surprise guest appeared: David McCallum (who was accompanied by his wife Kathy). Vaughn was pleasantly shocked.

To read the entire article and view accompanying photographs, just CLICK RIGHT HERE.

Michael G. Wilson’s latest utterings on producing 007 movies

Over at the Cinema Retro site, Lee Pfeiffer has a long article describing a recent U.K. appearance by Eon Productions bossman Michael G. Wilson. The entire story can be viewed by clicking RIGHT HERE.

A few excerpts follow:

Eon’s relations with studios

Wilson acknowledged that the production of each film is a frantic period and that Eon delivers the finished movie to the studio with relatively little wiggle room to make changes. He said this actually works in Eon’s favor because it precludes studio brass from ordering wide-ranging alterations to the films, as there simply isn’t enough time to enact them. On the other side of the coin, he expressed frustration that the tight deadlines have compromised Eon’s influence over the title song. He said that in the past, the composer of the song worked in consultation with the filmmaking team. In recent years, however, Eon had little or no say over the song, which has been delivered so late in the process that the producers have to accept whatever is delivered.

Eon’s relationships with crew members

Wilson also explained why Eon tends to use writers and technicians who are veterans of the series. He said it is very time consuming to bring on new talent and wait for them to assimilate into understanding Eon’s methods, as well as comprehend the company’s philosophies of how the Bond character should be presented. He also said that he doesn’t let fan or media bias deter his creative instincts.

Wilson answers to audience questions

One in particular hit the mark when someone asked Wilson why he allowed the action sequences in Quantum to be edited with so many fast cuts that it robbed the scenes of any suspense. Wilson acknowledged that they were attempting to please modern audiences who are used to that style of editing but did not outwardly endorse the style. He said that Eon always experiments with different filmmaking styles that the director may favor – and that by the time the first edit is done, there is precious little time to make radical changes.The only news Wilson broke about the next Bond film is that there is no news at all. He said there had been no significant work done on the next entry.