TCM has a night of spy films on Jan. 25

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Turner Classic Movies will show five spy films the evening of Jan. 25 and early-morning hours of Jan. 26.

Here’s the lineup. All times EST.

8 p.m.: Arabesque (1966), directed by Stanley Donen: Donen had a success with 1963’s Charade, a suspense film that included a bit of humor. That movie also included a score by Henry Mancini and titles by Maurice Binder.

Mancini and Binder reunited with Donen on Arabesque, with Gregory Peck as a university professor who gets involved with spies as well as a woman played by Sophia Loren.

Also present was Charade scripter Peter Stone. However, Stone took an alias (Pierre Marton) and shared the screenplay credit with Julian Mitchell and Stanley Price.

 10 p.m.: The Ipcress File (1965), directed by Sidney J. Furie: James Bond co-producer Harry Saltzman launched a second, less flamboyant, spy film series based on Len Deighton’s novels. This was a source of tension with Saltzman’s 007 partner, Albert R. Broccoli.

The name of Deighton’s spy wasn’t disclosed in the novel that’s the basis of this movie. The character, as played by Michael Caine, was christened Harry Palmer for the film.

For the first of three Palmer films, Saltzman hired a number of 007 film crew members, including composer John Barry, production designer Ken Adam and editor Peter Hunt.

12 a.m.: Our Man Flint (1966), directed by Delbert Mann: The first of two spy comedies with James Coburn as Derek Flint.

The movie takes nothing seriously, with an organization called ZOWIE (Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage). ZOWIE is headed by Kramden (Lee J. Cobb), who gets exasperated when he’s forced to recruit Flint (who wouldn’t follow orders when Kramden knew him during their military days). Kramden has no choice because ZOWIE computers have pinpointed Flint as the only man who can foil a plot by Galaxy.

The best things about the movie are Coburn’s winning performance as Flint and Jerry Goldsmith’s score. Goldsmith’s music elevates the proceedings. In terms of production values, it looks only slightly more expensive than the television series produced at the time by 20th Century Fox.

2 a.m.: Our Man in Havana (1959), directed by Carol Reed:  The director again collaborates with Graham Greene, who adapts one of his novels. Vacuum cleaaner salesman Alec Guiness is recruited by British spook Noel Coward to do some spying in Cuba before the revolution. The cast includes Maureen O’Hara, Burl Ives and Ernie Kovacks.

4 a.m.: The Prize (1963), directed by Mark Robson: A spy tale starring Paul Newman centered around the Nobel Prizes being awarded in Stockholm. The script is by Ernest Lehman, who wrote 1959’s North by Northwest. Here Lehman adapts an Irving Wallace novel. The cast includes Leo G. Carroll, who was also in North by Northwest and who would shortly take the role of Alexander Waverly in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Jerry Goldsmith provided the score.

Shoutout to Mark Henderson who brought this up on Facebook.

 

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Jon Burlingame starts a YouTube channel

Film and television music expert Jon Burlingame has started a YouTube channel called Reel Music. First up: a look at Burlingame’s picks for top 10 spy movie scores.

Burlingame has written books on television composers and James Bond music. In the initial video, launched on Aug. 11, his selections comprise a number of different composers.

Burlingame’s list is presented in chronological order and doesn’t attempt to rank the 10 selections. It begins with Bernard Herrmann’s score for 1959’s North by Northwest and ends with John Powell’s score for 2002’s The Bourne Identity.

Along the way, there are two John Barry scores (Goldfinger and The Ipcress File), three Bond films (including one not made by Eon Productions) as well as efforts by Lalo Schifrin, Quincy Jones and Dave Grusin.

You can take a look for yourself. While individual viewers might quibble with selections or argue for others, there’s no dispute that Burlingame knows the music territory.

Note: the image below shows posters for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie. Neither shows up on the list, but they present a “news peg” in journalism-speak.

John Barry’s score for The Ipcress File on sale from SAE

John Barry’s score for The Ipcress File is available for sale on the Web site of Screen Archives Entertainment.

Barry was one of several crew members of James Bond movies hired by producer Harry Saltzman, Albert R. Broccoli’s partner in making the 007 films, to work on Ipcress. Others included production designer Ken Adam, art director Peter Murton and editor Peter Hunt.

The 1965 film and its two sequels, Funeral in Berlin and Billion Dollar brain, were based on novels by Len Deighton, who also was involved for a time in scripting From Russia With Love. Michael Caine starred as Harry Palmer (whose character was unnamed in the books), a sort of anti-Bond. All three films in the series had some Bond crew members on them. Barry didn’t work on any other film in the series.

You can CLICK HERE for more information or to order. The price is $15.95.

Soderbergh says more about his U.N.C.L.E. project

Steven Soderbergh, in another interview about his film Haywire, dropped a few more hints what his now-defunct version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. would have been like.

In an interview with The Playlist Web site, the director had this to say about U.N.C.L.E.:

Yeah, with that we had a couple of sequences that I thought conceptually were interesting and weren’t necessarily…there was only one hand to hand thing and there was an element in it that made it different than what we were doing in “Haywire.” Then the other action stuff had interesting ideas in it, that were not sort of straight forward, they all had some kind of weird thing going on. But it was also, I mean it was a real spy movie. Scott [Z. Burns, the writer of this and “Contagion”] wrote it so it was dense, it was smart, it was funny. I really like the Harry Palmer films a lot, so there was a lot of that in that. “The Ipcress File,” “Funeral in Berlin” and “Billion-Dollar Brain.” “Funeral in Berlin” I really liked a lot. Scott and I talked about that a lot. We were watching those as we were working on the script.

Some intriguing comments, in particular how Soderberger was graviating to the Palmer series, based on Len Deighton’s novels, starring Michael Caine and produced by Harry Saltzman, co-founder of Eon Productions. U.N.C.L.E. was disdained by some (including Albert R. Broccoli, the other Eon co-founder) as a Bond ripoff. But with Soderbergh exiting U.N.C.L.E. last year, it’s a vision we’re not going to see.

On the other hand, U.N.C.L.E. was originally pitched as “James Bond for television,” not “Harry Palmer for television.”

UPDATE: Thinking about it further, maybe U.N.C.L.E. fans dodged a bullet thanks to Soderbergh’s departure in a disagreement with Warner Bros. over the film’s budget. Napoleon Solo, like James Bond, is a romantic hero, not an antihero.

A John Barry tribute

We could say more, but your time is better spent watching. The Barry sampler begins with You Only Live Twice:

Steven Soderbergh catches up on his U.N.C.L.E.

Director Steven Soderbergh, who has said he’s “obligated” to direct a movie based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., at least has been getting acquainted with the likes of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin.

Sodbergh kept a list, starting in February 2010 and running for a year, of the movies and TV shows he would watch. The list is online (we can’t put in a link right now, but will do so later). It includes 27 of 29 first-season episodes of Man From U.N.C.L.E., an indication Soderbergh is taking the prospective movie seriously. He also read Jon Heitland’s 1987 The Man From U.N.C.L.E. book. He watched the U.N.C.L.E.s starting in late October 2010 through mid-January 2011.

Other things of interest on his list were the three Harry Saltzman-produced Harry Palmer movies (The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin and Billion Dollar Brain) as well as movies directed by the late Sidney Lumet that starred Sean Connery (The Hill and The Anderson Files Tapes). He also watched some episodes of Mad Men, the acclaimed drama that’s set in the 1960s and Soderbergh reportedly wants his U.N.C.L.E. movie to be set in the ’60s. Coincidence? Probably (he watched the Mad Men episodes in the summer of 2010). But who knows?

More interesting? No James Bond movies. Perhaps that’s a sign Soderbergh won’t try to make an U.N.C.L.E. movie into a warmed over 007 film, similar to the 1983 television movie, The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.

UPDATE: To view Soderbergh’s list of movies and TV shows he watched for a year, JUST CLICK HERE. Warning: it’s a PDF file. The existance of the list was first disclosed by the Vulture Web site in a post IN A POST YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE. The Vulure site, in turn, is part of New York Magazine’s Web site. You can view the main page of the magazine’s Web site BY CLICKING HERE.