RE-POST: A sample of Fleming’s U.N.C.L.E. correspondence

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

This month marks the 59th anniversary of the meetings Ian Fleming had with television producer Norman Felton. Those meetings led to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series that ran from 1964 to 1968. This is a re-post of a 2015 article.

A Bond collector friend let us look over his photocopies of various Ian Fleming correspondence. Much of it included the 007 author’s involvement with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series.

First, there were photocopies of 11 Western Union telegraph blanks where Fleming in October 1962 provided ideas to U.N.C.L.E. producer Norman Felton. The first blank began with “springboards,” ideas that could be the basis for episodes.

One just reads, “Motor racing, Nurburgring.” Fleming had a similar idea for a possible James Bond television series in the 1950s. This notion was included in this year’s 007 continuation novel Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horwitz, which boasts of containing original Ian Fleming content.

On the fifth telegram blank, Fleming includes this idea about Napoleon Solo: “Cooks own meals in rather coppery kitchen.”

Whether intentional or not, this idea saw the light of day in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie released in August. In an early scene in the film, Solo (Henry Cavill) is wearing a chef’s apron, having just prepared dinner for Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) after getting her across the Berlin Wall.

Fleming also made some other observations about Solo and the proposed series.

Telegraph blank No. 8: “He must not be too ‘UN’” and not be “sanctimonious, self righteous. He must be HUMAN above all else –- but slightly super human.”

Telegraph blank No. 11: “In my mind, producing scripts & camera will *make* this series. The plots will be secondary.”

On May 8, 1963, the Ashley-Steiner agency sends a letter to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which includes details about Fleming’s financial demands for being a participant in U.N.C.L.E.

“He definitely wants to be involved in the series itself if there is a sale and is asking for a mutual commitment for story lines on the basis of two out of each 13 programs at a fee of $2500.00 per story outline,” according to the letter.

Fleming also wants a fee of $25,000 to be a consultant for the series per television season. In that role, the author wants two trips per “production year” to travel to Los Angeles for at least two weeks each trip and for as long as four weeks each trip. The author wants to fly to LA first class and also wants a per diem on the trips of $50 a day.

On June 7, 1963, Felton sends Fleming a letter containing material devised by Sam Rolfe, the writer-producer commissioned to write the U.N.C.L.E. pilot.

“In the latter part of the material, which deals with the characterization of Napoleon Solo, you will discover that those elements which you set down during our New York visit have been retained,” Felton writes Fleming. “However, the concept for a base of operations consisting of a small office with more or less a couple of rooms has been changed to a more extensive setup.”

This refers to the U.N.C.L.E. organization that Rolfe has created in the months since the original Fleming-Felton meetings in New York.

“It will give us scope and variety whenever we need it, although as I have said, in many stories we may use very little of it,” Felton writes. “This is its virtue. Complex, but used sparingly.

“In my opinion almost all of our stories we will do little more than ‘touch base’ at a portion of the unusual headquarters in Manhattan, following which we will quickly move to other areas of the world.”

At the same time, Felton asks Fleming for additional input.

“I want the benefit of having your suggestions,” Felton writes Fleming. “Write them in the margin of the paper, on a telegraph blank or a paper towel and send them along. We are very excited, indeed, in terms of MR. SOLO.” (emphasis added)

However, Fleming — under pressure from 007 film producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman — soon signs away his rights to U.N.CL.E. for 1 British pound.

On July 8, 1963, Felton sends Fleming a brief letter. It reads in part:

Your new book, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, is delightful. I am hoping that things will calm down for you in the months to come so that in due time you will be able to develop another novel to give further pleasure to your many readers throughout the world.

They tell me that there are some islands in the Pacific where one can get away from it all. They are slightly radioactive, but for anyone with the spirit of adventure, this should be no problem.

Fleming responds on July 16, 1963.

Very many thanks for your letter and it was very pleasant to see you over here although briefly and so frustratingly for you.

Your Pacific islands sound very enticing, it would certainly be nice to see some sun as ever since you charming Americans started your long range weather forecasting we have had nothing but rain. You might ask them to lay off.

With best regards and I do hope Solo gets off the pad in due course.

Happy 88th birthday, David McCallum

David McCallum in a Man From U.N.C.L.E. publicity still

Today, Sept. 19, is David McCallum’s 88th birthday.

He’s almost the last man standing from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn is gone. So is Norman Felton, the producer who met with Ian Fleming in 1962. So is Sam Rolfe, who took the Felton-Fleming ideas and put them into a script. Many of the actors are gone, including Leo G. Carroll.

Earlier this year, Richard Donner, who directed the first U.N.C.L.E. episodes to prominently feature McCallum’s Illya Kuryakin character, also passed away.

There’s not a whole lot that needs saying. McCallum had a great career. He still has many fans who admire him. Happy birthday. We’ll leave it at that.

Unmade U.N.C.L.E. story emerges on eBay

Dean Hargrove

An unmade 1967 story treatment for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has emerged on eBay, with an asking price of $575.

The title is The Stolen Time Affair. It was written by Dean Hargrove (b. 1938), who was one of the main writers on the series. It was among a number of stories in the pipeline when U.N.C.L.E. was canceled in the middle of its fourth season.

Until now, the main thing known about The Stolen Time Affair was a short description on a list of unmade stories that appeared in a publication called The U.N.C.L.E. Files in the 1980s. “A provocative Thrushwoman threatens the use of a device that will stop clocks within a 10-mile area. Major cities of the world will be subject to chaos unless a blackmail sum is paid and collected” by U.N.C.L.E.

The treatment being sold is 25 pages. The seller provides photos of sample pages. The treatment breaks down events by acts (teaser, Act I, etc.). There’s no dialogue. The names of executive producer Norman Felton and producer Anthony Spinner are on the title page and it has a production number of 8461.

According to the seller’s description, the main character (presumably the provocative Thrushwoman) is named Alexis Nadir.

U.N.C.L.E. script: The Cut and Paste Affair Part I

Luciana Paluzzi’s title card for The Four-Steps Affair

Television producer Norman Felton was many things. The list would include efficient and thrifty.

During the first year of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., extra scenes were filmed so two episodes, The Vulcan Affair and The Double Affair, could be turned into films for the international market. The show would be so popular the resulting films, To Trap a Spy and and The Spy With My Face, were released in the U.S. as a double feature in 1966.

But what if even more use could be had from those extra scenes? Felton and his Arena Productions did just that, writing a new story to incorporate those scenes in an episode titled The Four-Steps Affair, airing on NBC on Feb. 22, 1965.

A script dated Dec. 30, 1964 has the original title, The Himalayan Affair. One of the villains for Thrush, the evil organization, is named Walchek, but the name would be changed later to Rudnick.

The script opens with a sequence copied from Sam Rolfe’s extra scenes for The Vulcan Affair/To Trap a Spy. An U.N.C.L.E. operative is on the run from Thrush agents trying to kill him. Here, he’s named Dancer. In Rolfe’s original, he was Lancer.

Regardless, the sequence plays out as Rolfe wrote it. Dancer seeks refuge at the home of Angela, a woman he knows. The stage directions describing Angela are the same.

ANGELA is an attractive girl, with short, cropped hair. She is wearing a negligee and carrying a hairbrush. Her eyes reflect surprise at encountering Dancer. Apparently she was in another part of the house when he entered. As Dancer spins around she sees the blood on his shirt and she gasps.

What Dancer is unaware of is that Angela works for Thrush. She double-crosses him and Dancer is killed amid machine-gun fire.

Perhaps the most significant change is that Dancer first manages to call Alexander Waverly (Leo G. Carroll), the chief of U.N.C.L.E.’s New York headquarters, to deliver a vague warning. “The bird is on the wing.”

The part of Angela was cast with Italian actress Luciana Paluzzi. When this episode aired, Paluzzi was filming Thunderball, playing SPECTRE agent Fiona Volpe. Both Angela and Fiona were femme fatales.

After Dancer’s death, we meet Walchek. In Rolfe’s original, he was simply referred to as the Leader. He is a “well-dressed man in his early forties, that part of him which isn’t nasty is just plain grim.” The new script adds having Walchek saying the late Dancer’s car will be “excellent bait” to trap other U.N.C.L.E. agents.

What follows is a new scene at U.N.C.L.E. headquarters, setting up the plot for the television episode. A formerly violent country in the Himalayas has been tamed by Miki, a 10-year-old “boy lama” who has unified his nation. He is believed to be the reincarnation of “their ancient Supreme Lama.”

Miki has been in the U.S. for dental surgery but now appears to be the target for Thrush.

Illya Kuryakin and an Australian agent, Kitt Kittridge, are assigned to bring Miki and his group to safety. Waverly also wonders where Napoleon Solo is.

FLASH PAN TO:

EXT. BEHIND HOME — TWO SHOT NIGHT — NIGHT

of SOLO and an anonymous GRADE AA YOUNG LADY, as they recline in each other’s arms on a double chaise lounge.

Solo, however, has to answer a call on his communications device to go look for Dancer. This script has a bit that wouldn’t be in the episode.

Solo rises quickly, puts his radio away, leans over, KISSES Grade AA on the forehead, SALUTES, and MOVES OUT OF FRAME briskly, without explanation. She growls after him.

TO BE CONTINUED

Looking for a suit? Here’s an U.N.C.L.E. version for $735

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo in 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) wasn’t a big box office hit. But that hasn’t stopped the marketing of a suit based on the film.

Magnoli Clothiers is offering a three-piece suit based on the movie for $735. Here’s a description.

This retro three-piece suit features a three-button single-breasted jacket with cloth-covered buttons, three flapped pockets and a square-cut bottom. The six-button waistcoat has matching buttons and two welted pockets. The pleated trousers have angled side pockets and plain bottoms with no cuffs.

Shown in a premium wool blend, dark blue with double window-pane and hand-stitched detailing

Henry Cavill wore a variety of three-piece suits in the 2015 film. Cavill, a one-time contender to play James Bond, portrayed Napoleon Solo in the U.N.C.L.E. film.

Solo was the role originated by Robert Vaughn in the 1964-68 television series. The Solo character was created by television producer Norman Felton and James Bond author Ian Fleming. The bulk of the series was created by writer-producer Sam Rolfe.

When the U.N.C.L.E. movie came out, some who didn’t like the movie (done as a period piece set in 1963) commented about the costumes, including Solo’s suits.

High-end merchandise related to James Bond is old hat. Currently, you can buy a $6,000 backgammon set, a $3.5 million replica Aston Martin DB5 with gadgets (but not street legal so you can’t drive it on the open road) and another Aston Martin model for $700,007.

Also, clothier N. Peal has come out with a line of James Bond-related clothing such as sweaters.

h/t Robert Short of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. — Inner Circle page on Facebook.

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