The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s 55th anniversary

Familiar third-season publicity still for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Adapted and updated from a Sept. 22, 2014 post

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. debuted 55 years ago today with the telecast of The Vulcan Affair on NBC.

The series had false starts. First Ian Fleming was a participant, then after several months he wasn’t, bowing out to pressure from Bond movie producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Then there was threatened legal action from Eon Productions stemming from the show’s original title, Solo.

In turn, the series got a new title and the legal problems went away. The makers of Goldfinger did make one change in their film. A gangster named Solo died the most spectacular death among hoodlums invited to Goldfginer’s Kentucky stud farm, a change from earlier drafts and from Fleming’s original novel. (Adrian Turner’s 1998 book on Goldfinger details the changes in the movie’s script.)

Rough Start

Nor did U.N.C.L.E. get off to an easy start. Airing on Tuesday nights, it was up against The Red Skeleton Show on CBS, which nearly led to cancellation before a mid-season switch to Monday nights.

But the audience discovered the series, eventually ensuring a renewal for a second season for 1965-66, which would be its highest-rated campaign.

Executive Producer Norman Felton (1913-2012) faced other challenges.

His developer-producer Sam Rolfe (1924-1993) departed after the first season and things weren’t quite the same, certainly not as consistent.

Various other producers — David Victor, Boris Ingster and Anthony Spinner among them — put their own stamp on the show with varying degrees of success. Major contributions were made by writers such as Alan Caillou (who arguably shaped the Illya Kuryakin character), Dean Hargrove and Peter Allan Fields.

Time Takes Its Toll

Few of the creative personnel are still with us. In the five years since the show’s 50th anniversary, time has taken its toll. Frequent U.N.C.L.E. director Joseph Sargent died in December 2014, three months after the anniversary. Star Robert Vaughn died in 2016. Fred Koenekamp, who work as director of photography on U.N.C.L.E. got him movie jobs, passed away in 2017. Peter Allan Fields died earlier this year at 84.

Dean Hargrove

There are still survivors. David McCallum just celebrated his 86th birthday. Dean Hargrove, 81, in a long interview in March with the Writer’s Guild Foundation provided some insights into the show. He acknowledged it put him on the map, setting up a long and successful career as a TV writer-producer.

The franchise is in limbo. A 2015 movie based on the series wasn’t a financial success. There was talk of trying to get a sequel going but there’s no sign much is happening.

Hargrove, in the interview this year, said studio Warner Bros. may have simply waited too long to do a movie version.

All of that is a story for another day. For now, happy anniversary, U.N.C.L.E.

Dean Hargrove talks about U.N.C.L.E.

Dean Hargrove

Writer-producer Dean Hargrove gave a March interview to the Writers Guild Foundation. A chunk of it concerned The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the 1964-68 series where he was one of the main writers.

Here are some of the U.N.C.L.E.-related comments made by Hargrove, 80, during the interview.

First-season producer Sam Rolfe: “Sam Rolfe…was a superior writer and a brilliant guy to devise formats for television shows. Sam was a tough cookie. Writers were going through this show like rabbits on the run. We sort of hit it off.”

Hargrove becomes staff writer in Season Two: Rolfe departed after the first season. Hargrove wrote two Season One scripts and was hired on for Season Two.

“I sort of had a handle on the show so it came easy to me… It was considered I had the Holy Grail. I was the one who knew the show. Nobody else really kind of understood it.

“People would turn to me and ask me should it be like this or like that. I’m saying, ‘Try that, I really don’t know.’ I just knew I had a facility for writing that show. And from a career standpoint, it’s like somebody turned on the lights.

“The show I thought was a bit of a hula hoop because it wasn’t based solidly on character, you know, it was based on style and other superficial things which were very entertaining. I loved the show and really loved working on it.”

David McCallum and Robert Vaughn in The Never-Never Affair, the first U.N.C.L.E. episode written by Dean Hargrove.

Executive Producer Norman Felton: “Norman was a very nice man and a character at the same time. He was always afraid of having to pay people money. This was one of his quirks. He didn’t like giving people raises.

“At one point, because he was getting more and more successful, he moved down into a little office…when he had a big office up in the Thalberg Building (at MGM). That way, he felt people would be less entitled to come down and ask him for raises.

“He drove an old Chevrolet. The studio asked if would he please let them give him a new car because it’s embarrassing a guy who’s producing all these shows is driving this old car.

Producer turnover on U.N.C.L.E.: Three different men filled the producer’s chair in Season Two. “I don’t think it helped the show. I don’t think any of the guys who came on really had a good handle on the show…I don’t think the producers had a good handle on the material….I thought one producer in particular didn’t understand the show at all.”

Hargrove declined to name that producer. During the second season, David Victor, Mort Abrams and Boris Ingster served as producers. Ingster returned for Season Three. He was replaced in Season Four by Anthony Spinner, who brought a more serious approach.

U.N.C.L.E.’s legacy: “I don’t think there’s a real legacy. I don’t think you can point to shows on television and say this is the spiritual grandchild of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

The U.N.C.L.E. portion of the interview starts after the 35:00 mark of this first part.

Part two begins with U.N.C.L.E. and that lasts about 20 minutes.

George M. Lehr, key U.N.C.L.E. lieutenant, dies

The shadow of George M. Lehr, who at the time had the title of assistant to the producer, as part of a main title sequence during the first season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

George M. Lehr, a key lieutenant in the production of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., has died, according to family members and fans of the show posting on social media. He was 87.

Lehr’s initial title on U.N.C.L.E. was assistant to producer. In the capacity, he was a jack of all trades.

Lehr was, “for all intents and purposes, the third member of the (Norman) Felton-(Sam) Rolfe team,” Jon Heitland wrote in his 1987 book about U.N.C.L.E. “He undertook a myriad of duties on the show, including all postproduction work.”

That covers quite a bit of ground, from film editing to music scoring. That meant that Lehr touched a lot of bases with accomplished professionals.

U.N.C.L.E. was produced at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where John Dunning (1916-1991), who won an Oscar for Ben-Hur, was the supervising editor. Franklin Milton (1907-1985), another Ben-Hur Oscar winner, was the recording supervisor.

Lehr even appeared on-screen, in a fashion. Starting with the eighth episode, The Double Affair, the main titles began with the shadow of an attacker inside U.N.C.L.E. headquarters who fires a gun at Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn). This would last through the end of the first season. Lehr provided that shadow.

During the second half of the show’s second season, Lehr got a promotion to associate producer (which meant a bigger credit in the end titles), a recognition of his contributions. For the 1966-67 season, he held the same title at The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. (sharing it with Max Hodge).

After that series was canceled following its only season, he rejoined Man’s crew for its final campaign for the 1967-68 season, again with the title of associate producer. Lehr was around for the entire development of U.N.C.L.E.

“(H)e also helped to create the…”whip pan” by inserting blurred images between scenes,” Cynthia W. Walker wrote in Work/Text Investigating The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The “whip pan” was used as a transition and a key part of the show’s look.

George M. Lehr’s title card (shared with Irv Pearlberg) in a fourth-season episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Lehr’s silhouette from U.N.C.L.E.’s first season has surfaced on the cover of the Batman ’66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E. mini-series published by DC Comics. The silhouette is altered slightly to make it appear that of an U.N.C.L.E. agent.

Post-U.N.C.L.E., Lehr worked on series includes Bracken’s World (a drama about a movie studio), Police Woman and Masquerade. The latter, created by Glen Larson, combined elements of U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible.

Lehr also attended The Golden Anniversary Affair, a 2014 fan gathering in Southern California to mark U.N.C.L.E.’s 50th anniversary.

On a more personal note, Lehr sent me this 2011 note via Facebook (it was a direct message). He had seen my website, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode guide.

“Reading your site, I now recall you as the individual who established one of the original internet sites. After all these years still amazed there are UNCLE fans out there almost as old as Norman (Felton) and I are. I would guess that’s probably because fans like you are still out there “beating the bushes”! And we are all grateful.”

UPDATE (March 17): An obituary listing for George Lehr is online. You can view it by CLICKING HERE.

U.N.C.L.E script: Getting the series started Part II

Robert Vaughn in The Iowa-Scuba Affair

With authorities have suddenly solved the case of a member of the U.S. military (really a saboteur killed by Solo), the U.N.C.L.E. agent quickly flies back to Iowa from New York.

Solo resumes his cover as the man’s brother. He’s with authorities who are showing him where a bookie died, supposedly while smoking in bed, which caught on fire. The authorities are ready to declare the case solved. Solo, though, acts indignantly and comments harshly to a newspaperman witnessing the scene.

The pages for this scene are dated May 29, 1964, two days later than the date on the cover page. In this scene, the name Blair (the name assumed by the saboteur as well as Solo) has been changed to Blenman instead of Blair. The broadcast version would go with Blenman.

Solo returns to the hotel. The same scrub woman who saw him earlier when the agent had been shown the saboteur’s body by authorities. She tells him she’s just turned down the bed.

After she leaves, the scrub woman goes to a pay telephone and makes a call. She tells “Hod” (presumably her supervisor in this operation) that “the little do-hickey is in the shower head.” It will make it look as if Solo died of a heart attack.

Solo, in the meantime, is radioing back to New York and gets in touch with U.N.C.L.E. chief Alexander Waverly. He provides his superior an update.

INT. RESEARCH ROOM – NIGHT
(snip)

WAVERLY
I trust you were appropriately indignant.

SOLO’S VOICE
Yes, sir. Particularly to the newspapers.

WAVERLY
Very well. I needn’t remind you that you are inviting an attempt on your life.

INT. BATHROOM – NIGHT

SOLO
Isn’t that the idea?

WAVERLY’S VOICE
Report any such attempt immediately.

SOLO
Yes, sir. Unless it’s successful.

In the final version, Waverly’s line becomes, “Report any such attempts immediately — unless they’re successful.” Solo replies, “Yes, sir,” before doing a double take at Waverly’s remark.

Shortly thereafter, Solo prepares to take a shower, wearing a robe and slippers. The “little do-hickey” in the shower head begins to emit gas. The door knob to the bathroom has been tampered with and Solo can’t get out. But using his wits, He wrap “an aerated bomb of shaving lather” in a towel. He then lights the towel and pours rubbing alcohol over it. The agent moves away as far as he can before it explodes which kicks the door open.

Having established the threat that Solo faces, Harold Jack Bloom’s script calls for Jill Denison, the episode’s “innocent” to knock on the door to Solo’s hotel room.

ANOTHER ANGLE

He opens the door to reveal Jill. She is somewhat intimidated to find him in his robe, but tries to carry it off.

JILL
Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize…

SOLO
No, no. It’s all right. Come in.

She does, delicately aware of the door closing behind her. But then she reacts to the unhinged bathroom door. He moves to her side, aware of her curiosity.

Solo talks Jill into taking her home. As they talk, Solo looks at dark windows across the alley from his hotel room. “But now a MATCH flickers there momentarily.”

The agent sends Jill to the hotel lobby while he changes. As he gets ready to leave, he turns off the light. But he gets his camera and takes an instant picture of the dark windows across the alley.

INSERT – PHOTOGRAPH

in Solo’s hands. The photograph shows a fleshy, middle-aged woman dressed in the black lace-and tiara fashion of Spanish aristocracy. And she is smoking a cigar.

What follows is mostly like the finished episode. Solo and Jill drive into the country. But Jill’s vehicle is low on gasoline — even though she filled it up that afternoon. They’re being followed by a car with its lights out.

A second car appears and cuts off Jill’s vehicle. Solo and Jill ditch her car (in the finished episode it’s a pickup truck) and they begin to flee. There are four men in pursuit of them. “They are masked by black sheer stockings pulled down over their faces, and each carries a rifle with bulky sight attachments above and below the barrel.”

Solo and Jill eventually reach a grain silo. They go in, ride up an elevator and hide in the grain. But Solo also sends the elevator back down because their pursuers will know for sure their quarries are inside if the elevator isn’t on the ground floor. Solo finally tells Jill who he really is and he’s an agent for U.N.C.L.E.

The assassins do come up the elevator but Solo and Jill successfully wait them out. After the killers leave, Jill gets another shock. The body of the real Tom Blenman/Blair is buried in the grain. Jill feints in Solo’s arms in the script, but it would be staged slightly differently by director Richard Donner in the televised version.

After Jill recovers, the pair exit the silo. Jill suggests they go to Clint Spinner’s place which isn’t far away. “He’d help us,” she says.

Suffice to say, Spinner isn’t the country bumpkin he seems. He parts of a conspiracy that intends to take over a South American country. The mysterious cigar-smoking woman has a brother who will seize power. Spinner’s well is actually a subterranean series of tunnels, some of which are underwater.

The conspirators are going to break into the Air Force chamber that houses the “catapult” plane (equipped with an H-bomb) which will be used to exterminate the current South American government.

The script, however, gives the principals more lines than the final TV version. Spinner, in particular, gets to be more evil than he’d appear on television.

SPINNER
Yes. Some friends of mine are standing ready to take over a particular government. I call them friends because once the present government is blown out of existence, my friends and I will merely walk in and take over.

SOLO
While the rest of the world watches?

SPINNER
“The rest of the world” has developed a talent for just watching. Once the strong and the smart take what they want, the “rest of the world” says that was naughty, but we won’t make a fuss if you promise not to do it again.

SOLO
And your phony promise is your talent.

SPINNER
No…your weakness…sentimental faith…
(exposed viciousness)
I clawed my way up from a dirt farm learning that human nature is fear and greed, not the milk of human kindness. A powerful lesson, and a lesson in power.

Solo foils the plot, saves Jill and personnel from the Air Force base help clean things up.

At the end of Act IV, Solo is with Jill at the farm house where she lives. She says she may visit Solo in New York. They nearly kiss when Aunt Martha “stands in an open doorway, watching with a jaundiced eye.” Solo merely kisses Jill on the top of her nose and leaves.

MARTHA
You should have slapped his face!

JILL
Why? He only kissed me on the tip of my nose.

MARTHA
Call that a kiss? I certainly hope he can do better than that when you visit him in New York.

Aunt Martha goes about her business. HOLD on Jill’s reaction.

FADE OUT:

THE END

NOT QUITE THE END: In a Nov. 24 post, the blog wrote about early U.N.C.L.E. scripts had introductions where Solo broke the fourth wall. The Iowa-Scuba Affair was one of those episodes. The script also had an epilogue/next week previews that also broke the fourth wall.

SAME SCENE AS TEASER…

SOLO
Well, we made it this time, didn’t we?
(a beat)
But next week…well…here’s a taste of what we’ll encounter:

WHIP PAN TO A SERIES OF TRAILER CUTS FROM THE FOLLOWING WEEK:

THEN, BACK TO SCENE.

SOLO
Look interesting? It will be. See you next week.
(a smile and a wave)

THE END

We wish to thank the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement without whose assistance this blog post would not be possible.

U.N.C.L.E. script: Getting the series started Part I

Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo in the early moments of Act I of The Iowa-Scuba Affair.

Having sold Solo (now-renamed The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) as a series, it was now up to executive producer Norman Felton to get the series underway.

In place as day-to-day producer was Sam Rolfe, who wrote the series proposal for “Ian Fleming’s Solo” as well as the pilot script and its expanded movie version To Trap a Spy.

The critical first post-pilot script would be penned by Harold Jack Bloom. Rolfe and Bloom co-wrote the 1953 western film The Naked Spur. They were nominated for an Oscar for their efforts on that movie.

Bloom would also be the first writer employed on the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. He’d receive an “additional story material” credit for the 007 movie.

The copy the blog has of the script is dated May 27, 1964, just a few days before filming would begin on June 1, with Richard Donner directing. Some pages are dated as late as June 4, after filming had begun.

FADE IN:
INT. FARMHOUSE NIGHT
Just inside the door JILL DENNISON, nineteen, eyes closed dreamily, is wrapped in the arms of TOMMY BLAIR, twenty-seven, a uniformed non-com in the Air Force. But then her defenses become alerted to his rising passion.

JILL
Tommy…?

He stops, moving his head back to meet her eyes. A heavy sigh seems to restore his self-control.

TOMMY
Tomorrow night?

She nods. He gives up and grins. This wins him a final peck before he exits.

However, after the final “peck,” things are about to take a bad turn for Tommy. He drives off on a motorcycle.

ANOTHER ANGLE
As Tommy comes out of the turn, he reacts to something he sees ahead, o.s.

SUBJECTIVE FROM HIS POV

CAMERA MOVES ALONG ROAD APPROACHING the silhouette of a man who stands in the center of the road. The cycle’s headlights stop short of the man’s legs.

REVERSE

Tommy has stopped. Bends forward to raise his headlight.

HIS POV

The light picks up Solo standing in the road, his gun held, assembled for automatic fire. He holds his free hand up in a gesture of “halt”. ZOOM INTO CLOSE.

INTERCUT
Tommy reacts. His boyishness is gone now, replaced by an ugly intent. He kicks the motorcycle into full speed and it jerks forward. Solo FIRES. The shots go through the cycle’s plastic windshield behind which Tommy is crouched. Solo somersaults at the last moment to avoid the swerving machine. The cycle swerves past, skidding over on one side to dig its own halt.

The scene in the final version wasn’t quite as dramatic (Robert Vaughn’s Solo didn’t somersault) but it’s pretty much what Bloom wrote.

Solo inspects the body. He also sees that the dead man was carrying scuba diving equipment. The stage directions state that Solo holsters his gun. That would be difficult with all the attachments of what would become known as the U.N.C.L.E. Special. “A final look at Tommy, then MOVE INTO CLOSE OF SOLO.”

In the next scene, Solo poses as the dead man’s brother. He acts outraged when the local authorities have no clues who killed him. The only lead Solo has is Jill, the young woman that Tommy was with just before Solo killed him.

As the agent leaves, he passes “an elderly SCRUBWOMAN” who radios the information to someone named “Hod.” She indicates no harm should come to the stranger yet.

Solo then visits Jill. They’re being observed by “AUNT MARTHA, a hawk-faced spinster in her mid-forties.” She is “doing needlepoint with quick, angry thrusts.” Jill, meanwhile, is telling Solo that she and Tommy “weren’t in love or anything.” It quickly becomes clear Aunt Martha wasn’t happy with Jill dating Tommy.

During the conversation, there’s another visitor: “CLINT SPINNER, a tall, raw-boned man in his early fifties.” It turns out Spinner’s father was a “sharecropper” in the area. He’s purchased land nearby after being a successful oil man. Spinner has dug a deep well to benefit his new farm.

The scene becomes a way for writer Bloom to provide information to the audience. A secret U.S. Army base has built in the area. Spinner says the base houses the SX-9 “catapult plane” which in “case of war” can be hurled “into the air going better’n three thousand miles an hour.”

“They make such a big deal about military secrets,” Solo responds. “I bet everyone around here knows what you just told me.”

“They know what I know,” Spinner says. “We was all right here when they built it.”

As the scene concludes, Solo asks Jill about why Tommy would have scuba gear. The question surprises Jill. Tommy said he couldn’t swim.

It turns out the entire scene has been observed at a distance by three people in scuba outfits including “an exotic Spanish woman.” The other two are men who hold “strange looking rifles.” One begins to aim his weapon but the woman “gently” pushes the barrel of the rifle down.

Solo then returns to New York and U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. He confers with Alexander Waverly. It turns out Tommy was really Eric Freedlander, a saboteur. Solo had been on his trail. Freedlander slipped away in Berlin but then showed up in Iowa, the site of the secret base. There was a real Tommy Blair but he is missing.

What follows is a briefing scene which provides more details for the audience. We’re told more about the plane and its capabilities. In the middle of the briefing, Waverly is told that the authorities in Iowa have released a statement they’ve found the murderer of Thomas Blair.

They react.

WAVERLY (looking at Solo as he answers)
Isn’t that interesting…?

TO BE CONTINUED

U.N.C.L.E.: Sam Rolfe’s Solo is ready for filming Part III

Luciana Paluzzi and Robert Vaughn in To Trap a Spy, the first U.N.C.L.E. movie.

The Solo pilot was filmed in late 1963. The only significant delay was the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. What started out as a light day (star Robert Vaughn’s 31st birthday) turned solemn and the production shut down for a few days.

Despite the conclusion of filming, writer Sam Rolfe wasn’t done. In early 1964, producer Norman Felton commissioned the scribe to write addditional scenes. Solo would be expanded into a feature film.

Initially, it would be distributed in international markets. But when The Man From U.N.C.L.E. became popular, the film version, To Trap a Spy, would get a U.S. release.

Rolfe turned it a number of pages dated Feb. 26, 1964, with some dated later.

The first scene involved U.N.C.L.E. agent Lancer. In the original pilot, U.N.C.L.E. official Allison tells Solo that Lancer had gotten a job at the company headed by Thrush official Andrew Vulcan. Lancer had tried to communicate information to Allison but was cut off.

In the new scene we’re introduced to Lancer “about forty-five years old, dressed in laborer’s clothing.” He’s driving a car that hits a post box with the address of 112 Old Post Road in Alexandria Virginia.

Lancer is wounded. “One hand is clutched against his side, blood staining through his fingers,” according to the stage directions. Another car is coming up from behind. “Lancer, frantic, scurries ahead.”

Lancer reaches a nearby house and calls out to Angela. She doesn’t answer. He reaches a fireplace where a small fire burns. He rips out the label from his jacket and puts in the fireplace. Lancer picks up a telephone.

LANCER (into phone, quickly)
Operator, get me Plaza 3-6098 in New York City.
(pause)
Yes, I’m calling from Arlington, Virginia
(pause)
Lancer here. Channel D inoperative. Direct report. When the premier of Western Natumba visits the plant, they’re going to assassinate…

He breaks off as there is a sharp silence that indicates the line has been cut. Lancer CLICKS the phone frantically.

Before Lancer can do anything else, Angela makes her appearance.

ANGELA is an attractive girl, with short, cropped hair. She is wearing a negligee and carrying a hairbrush. The feeling is that she has just come from a bath and was brushing out her hair when she encountered Lancer. Her eyes reflect surprise. As Lancer spins around she sees the blood on his shirt and she gasps.

Lancer tells Angela he didn’t want to involve her. Angela says they need to get Lancer to a doctor. However, Angela is really working for Thrush and lures Lancer to a window. “She shows no emotion as she watches Lancer,” according to the stage directions. Lancer opens the window and bright lights shine on him. That enables a gunman outside  to kill the operative.

Two men, including one identified as “the Leader” come into the room. He asks Angela if the dead agent had made contact before she could break the connection.

“Too bad,” the Leader replies. “We’ll have to make some immediate arrangements there.” This sequence now sets up the raid on U.N.C.L.E. headquarters that began the original Solo pilot.

Much later, after Solo has been assigned to investigate Andrew Vulcan, he’s driving his car when he smells perfume. “For a moment, he hesitates, ‘tasting’ the scent. He likes it, but not enough to stop being alert. His casualness is studied.”

Solo pulls the car over to the side of the road. He holds both a gun and a pack of cigarettes. Angela is in the back seat. Also, Solo is about to get his first name restored after it was stripped out of the Solo script.

SOLO
My name’s Napoleon Solo. I hope you don’t mind filters.

Angela tells Solo that Lancer is still alive but wounded. She claims that Lancer’s communicator can receive but not send.

“Her voice has been extremely sincere,” according to the state directions. “I’ll have to find out…won’t I?” Solo responds.

The couple go to Angela’s house. Solo is on guard, moving defensively.

ANGELA
You move beautifully. If this were a trap, you’d undoubtedly be able to kill me before you went down.

SOLO (smiles in return)
No question about it.

This cat and mouse game goes on for several pages. The banter includes claiming to have a nervous grandmother “back home in Topeka, Kansas. I’m afraid I inherited her genes.”

“Oh…are you from Kansas?” Angela asks.

“Of course,” Solo replies. “In’t everyone?”

This being a sequence intended for a movie, Solo and Angela make love. The banter continues afterward, but Solo hasn’t forgotten about Lancer. He finds the label to Lancer’s jacket in the fireplace. The conversation takes on a serious tone.

ANGELA (voice cooling in turn)
You weren’t rude just a short while ago. You gave much pleasure.

SOLO
And I enjoyed you in return. That makes us even. We don’t owe each other anything.

Just then, Lancer supposedly arrives outside. It’s actually his corpse popped up in position. Behind him is “SHOTGUN-MAN,” his weapon ready to fire.

Meanwhile, Solo (wisely) hesitates calling out to Lancer. The agent finally opens the window but swiftly moves to the side. The lights that helped get Lancer killed are activated. But with no one standing in front of the window, there isn’t any fire yet.

“Angela abruptly attempts to shove Solo back in front of the window…He spins away from her shove, as Angela now off-balance lands right in the line of fire…the Machine-Gun spray slams Angela’s body across the room,” according to the stage directions. ”

Solo fights his way out of the house and gets away. He chased by two thugs. But as Solo drives off, one of the thugs says he tampered with Solo’s car just in case. This sets up the scene in the Solo pilot where the agent’s car is booby trapped.

Luciana Paluzzi would be cast as Angela. To Trap a Spy would be, in effect, a dry run for her performance in 1965’s Thunderball as femme fatale Fiona Volpe.

Recasting a Major Part

There was one more writing task. Solo was picked up as a series by NBC. It would be renamed The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

David McCallum, Leo G. Carroll and Robert Vaughn in a scene written in August 1964, a little more than a month before it’d be included in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. first broadcast.

Rolfe became the day-to-day producer for the show’s first season. Between the pilot and the start of series production, the production staff opted to fire actor Will Kuluva who played U.N.C.L.E. chief Allison. In his place was veteran actor Leo G. Carroll as Alexander Waverly.

This meant refilming scenes in the pilot, scheduled for broadcast on Sept. 22, 1964.

Thus, on pages dated August 18, 1964, came Waverly’s introduction. Immediately after Solo has killed the Leader of the Thrush attack on U.N.C.L.E. headquarters, Waverly appears.

Waverly has come out of his office and is standing besides one of the posts in the room. He holds the folder with Vulcan’s picture on the cover.

WAVERLY
Quite right, Mr. Solo. Their idea was to prevent me from acting on some new information we’ve received.
(holds out folder)
Here…you may have the information, and Thrush can try to kill you for a while.

Waverly proceeds to tell both Solo and Illya about Andrew Vulcan and his place in Thrush. The name of Vulcan’s company has been changed to the United Global Chemical Corporation.

The mission is so urgent Waverly conducts the briefing in the same room with the body of the Leader of the Thrush raid on the floor. Meanwhile, the new pages don’t reference how the other members of the Thrush raiding party died after being poised by their own organization.

There is one more change. There is a brief scene where Illya gives Solo the college yearbook and says it was Waverly’s idea. Illya tells Solo about Andrew Vulcan having a girlfriend in college. That of course will be Elaine, the episode’s innocent.

It’s still a small role for Illya but he ends up taking a slightly bigger role helping Solo on the assignment. Illya would soon have a bigger presence.

U.N.C.L.E. was now on its way.

THE END

U.N.C.L.E.: Sam Rolfe’s Solo is ready for filming Part II

Title card for the Solo series pilot

When Sam Rolfe wrote up a series proposal titled Ian Fleming’s Solo, the concepts of the villainous organization Thrush and the “innocents” who would interact with U.N.C.L.E. agents were teased. In his 103-page script, Rolfe would flesh out both.

Thrush is so vast that the prominent Vulcan Chemicals company, headed by Andrew Vulcan, is part of Thrush. Solo remarks that Vulcan’s company is “the third largest plastics company in the country.” Allison, his superior, says it’s “the eastern seaboard cover of Thrush.”

Clearly, the stakes are enormous.

There is a silent reaction from Solo. Allison pushes the file across his desk. Solo takes it and looks at the photo stapled to the outer cover.

INSERT – THE FILE – PHOTO OF VULCAN

The photo shows a man in his mid thirties…

ALLISON’S VOICE
A few months ago we discovered that the president of the firm, Mr. Andrew Vulcan himself, is an officer of Thrush.

Lancer, another U.N.C.L.E. agent had gone undercover as an employee for Vulcan’s company. He tried to communicate with Allison but was cut cut off and is presumed dead.

That precipitated the raid on U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in New York at the beginning of the script. All U.N.C.L.E. knows is there will be some kind of assassination attempt planned for the three leaders of a newly independent African nation who are guests of Vulcan.

Solo gets a second, more detailed, briefing from a “young attractive woman (MARGARET OBERON)” who has been designated as Channel D and assigned to Solo on a “twenty-four hour until mission complete basis.” In the series, Channel D would simply be a communications channel, rather than an individual.

Oberon provides more details about Andrew Vulcan and his company as well as the contingent from Western Guiana (renamed Western Natumba when filmed). The three men led the guerilla war that led to their nation’s independence. They are led by Ashumen, the premier of the country.

The innocent of the script comes up because Andrew Vulcan once had a girlfriend in college.

Illya visits Solo at his apartment with a yearbook from Ruttenberg College. As typed in the script, it’s from 1942. The copy of the script the blog has shows that’s crossed out and 1949 substituted instead.

The agents also have a clipping from the college newspaper which has a picture of a young Vulcan with “his arm around a pretty young girl (ELAINE MAY BENDER).”

Solo says since college that Vulcan “has wrapped himself in a protective cocoon. No friends, no women that mean anything to him.” As a result, he opts to see if Elaine, now a married housewife, can be enlisted to help — to try to get through Vulcan’s cocoon.

Fritz Weaver’s title card for the pilot for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Solo meets the now Elaine May Donaldson at her home. Her reverend has arranged an introduction but he’s nervous. He did it under duress from his bishop. Nevertheless, after initially refusing, Elaine agrees to help.

Thus, Rolfe establishes one of the aspects that would make U.N.C.L.E. different than other 1960s spy shows. In this case, there’s a firm reason why Solo seeks her help. In the series, over 105 episodes, there wouldn’t always be such strong connections. More often, innocents would stumble into the middle of the action. Still, Solo (and later Illya) would need to watch out for the welfare of the innocents as well as trying to accomplish their assignments.

What follows is a bit of spy vs. spy. Vulcan and the other Thrush operatives know who Solo is. At one point, Solo radios into Channel D.

SOLO
Thrush has me spotted. Also…it’s possible…correction probable that a member of the Western Guiana delegation is with Thrush.

The agent averts one attempt on his life when one of Vulcan’s engineers booby traps Solo’s car.

Meanwhile, Elaine does get through Vulcan’s protective cocoon — sometimes more successfully than she imagined. U.N.C.L.E. has established a cover story for Elaine (she’s supposed to be the widow of a Oklahoma oilman). For a time, Elaine has doubts whether Vulcan is really part of Thrush.

Despite that, Solo convinces Elaine to ask Vulcan to show her the industrialist’s plastics plant. The delegation from the African nation is scheduled to visit the facility the next day.

Solo investigates the plant while Elaine and Vulcan are walking the grounds. He’s eventually discovered. Solo is in peril and appears about to be captured when Elaine makes her choice and helps him get away momentarily.

The pair sees a car and intend to use it to leave the grounds. However, Ashumen, the African premier, is in the car. He turns out to be the member of the delegation who’s part of Thrush. Solo and Elaine are captured at the end of Act III.

Things aren’t looking good at the beginning of Act IV. “Solo’s wrists are encase in manacles linked together by a foot long chain,” according to the stage directions. Vulcan is more than displeased with Elaine.

He has dropped all pretenses. He starts a backhanded slap at Elaine. Solo quickly steps in the way, taking the blow across his own shoulder. Solo clasps his wrists and swings back, the loose swinging chain lashing across Vulcan’s face.

As filmed, Solo would simply punch Vulcan before he could strike Elaine.

A dire moment for Elaine (Patricia Crowley) and Solo (Robert Vaughn).

Vulcan and Ashumen plan to stage an “accident” during a demonstration of a reactor at the plant used to make new plastics. The other two leaders of the African nation will die and become martyrs. Ashumen will “rule in their names” — and provide Thrush with diplomatic immunity and other benefits of nationhood. Solo and Elaine will be killed by steam and their bodies will be found after the explosion.

Solo and Elaine have other ideas. The U.N.C.L.E. agent figures a way out of the fix they’re in.

He foils the assassination attempt while Vulcan and Ashumen die in the explosion instead. The script is a bit more elaborate than what was filmed. For example, the script has Solo donning an asbestos suit before going to the reactor. In the final version, he didn’t bother and is still in his tuxedo.

The script also has Nobuk, one of the surviving African leaders, telling his colleague, Conuellen, “You and I…we must continue in his name. His dreams were the dreams of our people. For him, we must go on. We must build.” This wouldn’t be part of the final product. Conuellen would renamed Soumarin in the final version.

The next evening, Solo and Elaine fly back to her home. She’s ready to disembark while Solo will fly on to New York.

She leans forward and kisses him on the cheek. Then she hurries down the aisle towards the exit. For a moment Solo stands rubbing his cheek perhaps ruefully, a lonely figure.

Not necessarily for long. A flight attendant, seeing Solo sitting by himself, asks if there’s anything she can do for him.

“…for we FREEZE FRAME…”

The last line has been delivered in the earnest manner of the young stewardess, trying hard to do her job. Solo turns to the stewardess and beckons for her to lean down towards him.

SOLO
Well…as a matter of fact….

But that is all we hear for we FREEZE FRAME and THE CAMERA MOVES IN TO HOLD ON A CLOSEUP of Solo and the stewardess as we:

FADE OUT.

The script is missing one thing — Solo’s first name. He is only called “Solo” or “Mr. Solo” during the story. In the end titles of the pilot shown to NBC executives, it simply reads, “Starring Robert Vaughn as Solo.”

However, the Napoleon Solo name devised by Ian Fleming would return. This would occur after Sam Rolfe was enlisted to write additional scenes to make Solo into the film To Trap a Spy.

Also, there was the matter of some revised scenes before the show, now called The Man From U.N.C.L.E. would air on NBC in September 1964. An important part would be recast, necessitating the change.

TO BE CONTINUED