Luciana Paluzzi: Angela vs. Fiona

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

Today, June 10, is the 80th birthday of Luciana Paluzzi. She’s perhaps best known for Thunderball.

But her character in the 1965 James Bond movie is more than a little similar to another femme fatale she played in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

How similar? Let’s take a look.

Quick explanation: Paluzzi did U.N.C.L.E. first. She and Robert Vaughn shot extra footage after production of the pilot so it could be a movie for international audiences. That extra footage (although some times a tamer version) was used in an episode called The Four-Steps Affair

To Trap a Spy/The Four-Steps Affair: Angela pretends to be the girlfriend of an U.N.C.L.E. agent (named Lancer in one version, Dancer in the other)

Thunderball: Fiona pretends to be the girlfriend/”social secretary” of a NATO pilot.

Luciana Paluzzi and Sean Connery during the filming of Thunderball

U.N.C.L.E.: Angela is really an operative of Thrush (called Wasp in To Trap a Spy, but it’s dubbed — the actors are saying “Thrush”).

Thunderball: Fiona is really an operative of SPECTRE.

U.N.C.L.E.: Angela sets up Lancer/Dancer to be killed by a machine gun.

Thunderball: Fiona sets up the pilot to be poisoned to death by an agent who has underwent plastic surgery to be the pilot’s double.

U.N.C.L.E.: Angela goes to bed with Napoleon Solo (To Trap a Spy only; in the Four-Steps Affair they just do a lot of heavy flirting.)

Thunderball: Fiona goes to bed with James Bond (Sean Connery).

U.N.C.L.E.: Angela tries to push Solo so he’ll be shot with a machine gun. He ducks and she gets shot instead. In To Trap a Spy, it’s pretty clear she’s dead. In The Four-Steps Affair, it’s stated she’s unconscious.

Thunderball: Bond is dancing with Fiona, turns so she is hit by a shot fired by a SPECTRE thug.

 

Red 2 utilizes a familiar meme

Luciana Paluzzi and Sean Connery during the filming of Thunderball

Luciana Paluzzi and Sean Connery on the set of Thunderball

This weekend’s release of Red 2 includes one of the most dependable memes of spy fiction: the hero and the femme fatale who have been more than friendly.

In the new movie, Catherine Zeta-Jones’s Katja is described as “Kryptonite” for Bruce Willis’s Frank Moses. Often the femme fatales are enemies but at times reach an uneasy alliance with the hero — at least until she starts trying to kill him again.

James Bond-Fiona Volpe (Thunderball): In Goldfinger, Sean Connery’s James Bond “recruited” Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore to the side of right. In Thunderball, Connery’s Bond tries it again, albeit unsuccessfully, with Fiona Volpe (Luciana Volpe), the chief executioner for SPECTRE. “What a blow it must have been — you having a failure,” Fiona says. “Well, you can’t win them all,” Bond replies.

Fiona doesn’t survive long after that. But Paluzzi made such an impact that in the next 007 film, You Only Live Twice, Karin Dor’s Helga seems to be a knockoff of Fiona.

Napoleon Solo/Angela-Angelique-Serena Luciana Paluzzi had a dry run before her Thunderball role. When The Man From U.N.C.L.E. pilot was in production, producer Norman Felton had additional footage shot for a movie version for international audiences. Paluzzi’s Angela lures an U.N.C.L.E. agent to his death and tries to do the same with Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo. The extra footage for the movie version as used, yet again, in a first-season episode of the series called The Four-Steps Affair.

Other Thrush femme fatale operatives showed up in Man’s first season, Serena (Senta Berger) and Angelique (Janine Gray). Solo has had a history with both but the viewer isn’t provided many details. Serena helps abduct Solo for a double can take his place. But at the story’s climax (the TV version was called The Double Affair, the movie version The Spy With My Face), Serena ends up shooting the double.

Matt Helm/Vadya: In the third Matt Helm novel by Donald Hamilton, The Removers, Helm goes to the “recognition room” to review dossiers of Soviet-bloc assassins. One of the dossiers concerns the mysterious “Vadya.” Helm readers don’t meet Vadya until Hamilton’s sixth Helm novel, The Ambushers. The encounter ends in a draw. Helm meets Vadya twice more in the novels The Devastators and The Menacers. She’s killed off early in The Menacers, but her death is a key part of the novel’s plot.

Meanwhile, the 1967 adaption of The Ambushers, starring Dean Martin, includes Vadya (Senta Berger again), except the character has been renamed. The character is killed before the end of the movie.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movies available on DVD tomorrow

We overlooked this, but the eight movies re-edited from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. are available starting tomorrow, Aug. 23, from Warner Bros.

The movies were comprised of television episode footage plus additional scenes of sex and violence for the paying customer. The pilot episode was filmed in color, but broadcast in black-and-white. Extra scenes were shot to ensure enough running time as a film. A first-season epsiode, The Double Affair, was likewise shot in color to provide the basis of a movie, with extra footage. The series was popular enough that the first few films, primarily intended for the international market, were released in the U.S.

Then, the ever-thrifty Norman Felton, U.N.C.L.E.’s executive producer, took some of the extra footage from the first two films, had a script written to incorporate it with an entirely different story. The result was the 21st episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,The Four-Steps Affair. There was one problem. In some of the footage, Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) had his hair parted one way while having his hair parted the opposite way during the rest of the footage. So, there’s an insert shot of Solo combing his hair to change his part. Ain’t Hollywood great?

For the remaining films, Felton & Co. had two-part episodes produced for the series that could more easily be turned into films for the international market. For more information, including how to order, JUST CLICK HERE. There was a previous release by Warners of five of the eight movies outside the U.S.

Instead of relying on “Affair” for titles (as with episodes of the television series), the films relied on using “Spy” for six of the eight titles: To Trap a Spy, The Spy With My Face, One Spy Too Many, One of Our Spies Is Missing; The Spy In the Green Hat; The Karate Killers, The Helicopter Spies and How To Steal the World. All eight were shown in one day on TCM in late 2008. The Helicopter Spies is of note because it fixes a number of bad editing mistakes in the second part of the fourth-season story The Prince of Darkness Affair.

Here are a few of the trailers for the U.N.C.L.E. movies:

Luciana Paluzzi’s moments of deju vu

Luciana Paluzzi, whose acting career included stints on Thunderball, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Hawaii Five-O, might very well have felt a little deju vu.

Gong to extreme lengths to follow a hero:

In To Trap A Spy and The Four-Steps Affair episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Luciana plays Angela, an operative for WASP or Thrush (depending which version you watch). To entice Napoleon Solo into a trap, she hides in the back of the U.N.C.L.E. agent’s car. Solo detects her presence and pulls over to the side of the road before she’s ready and invites here to come out.

In My Friend, The Enemy, a 1978 episode of Hawaii Five-O, Luciana plays Liana Libella, an Italian journalist who, while trying to get a story, hides in the back of the car Five-O Officer Dan Williams. Williams detects her presence and lets her sit back there until he’s ready to park the car at the Honolulu airport.

Sudden death:

To Trap A Spy: Angela tries to set up Solo to get killed but the U.N.C.L.E. agent pulls a switch and she perishes in the death trap. In the TV version, we see the same footage but are told she survives in the hospital.

Thunderball: Luciana plays Fiona Volpe, a SPECTRE operative who tries to set up James Bond but is killed when 007 pulls a switch and she perishes in the death trap.