U.N.C.L.E. script: A change in direction

Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya (David McCallum) at the climax of The Deadly Quest Affair

The fourth season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. would take a serious turn compared with the campy third season. The new tone was reflected in one of the fourth season’s early scripts.

The Deadly Quest Affair was written in May 1967. Some pages of the script by Robert E. Thompson are dated as early as May 2. Other pages are dated May 16, with some pages revised on June 5. However, the episode wouldn’t be seen until Oct. 30, the eighth episode actually broadcast.

Thompson had written one first-season episode, The Green Opal Affair. The new day-to-day producer, Anthony Spinner, sought to bring back as many first-season scribes as possible. Spinner, in fact, was one of them, penning The Secret Sceptre Affair.

The copy of the script the blog has is pretty close to the episode as aired. But, as often is the case, there are some interesting differences.

Originally, the villain was named Viktor Karnak. Spinner or someone else involved with the production may have felt the name was too close to the Johnny Carson character Carnac the Magnificent. He’d be renamed Karmak. Most of the pages of the script the blog retain the Karnak name.

Karnak/Karmak had tangled with U.N.C.L.E. agents Solo and Kuryakin (Robert Vaughn and David McCallum) two years before. It had appeared the villain perished (we’re told the agents had only recovered bones and a few remains). However, Karnak/Karmak really hadn’t died and is back to get even.

In the script, the villain is described thusly: “His blond haiar is cropped short. His eeyes, though masked now by dark glasses are a startling blue. Only a single scar gashed across one cheek mars the harsh, cold symetry of his features. He seems to project a vaguely Baltic loo. His accent is vaguely reminiscent of a foreigner’s overly precise Oxonian.”

The production team ended up casting brown-haired actor Darren McGavin in role, though he’d be made up with a scar.

In the pre-titles sequence, Illya is in the hospital, recovering from a concussion from a recent assignment. Solo is visiting and is “in black tie.” As filmed, he’d be wearing a suit, rather than a tuxedo. Two henchmen of Karnak/Karmak kidnap Illya after Solo departs.

The script has a scene not in the episode where KarnakKarmak asks, “The…message has been delivered?” The henchman dubbed “Steel Rims” in the script answers, “Exactly at nine o’clock.”

At U.N.C.L.E.’s New York headquarters, bossman Alexander Waverly (Leo G. Carroll) has called Solo in. The U.N.C.L.E. chief informs Solo that Karnak/Karmak is alive. The script describes how the villain has delivered his message.

There is a shrouded, box-like object in f.g. Waverly and Solo stand in front of it. Waverly reaches out and raises the covering on the unseen side of the shrouded object. We are aware of a very slight reaction of surprise from Solo.

It turns out to be a myna bird. “Solo…Solo: Twelve o’clock at twelve…or Illya die.”

Eventually, Solo figures out, without informing his boss, that Karnak/Karmak is hiding out in a 10-block section of Manhattan that’s been condemned for re-development. We get a variation on the plot of The Most Dangerous Game, with Karnak/Karmak hunting Solo.

Before the hunt begins, Solo meets up with the episode’s “innocent,” Shiela (Marlyn Mason), a “starving artist” who’s the daughter of a rich man. Now, she has to accompany Solo during the hunt. The only weapons Solo has are a hammer and chisel Shiela used to make sculptures.

The hunt begins at midnight. Solo has to find Illya by 6 a.m. or he dies. The Russian U.N.C.L.E. agent is in a tight spot. He’s in a gas chamber that will dispense cyanide gas at the appointed hour.

Toward the end, Karnak/Karmak corners Solo and Shiela. He sics his pet cheetah Bruno (who’d be called Ying in the episode) on Solo. As described, it’s not much of an encounter

A claw rips the chisel from Solo’s hand. He twists free of the animal…retrieves the chisel…turns back in time to meet another lunge from the cheetah — striking home this time with the chisel.

The scene was staged more elaborately by director Alf Kjellin. Of course, there was no way a live cheetah was going to get close to Robert Vaughn. So we have shots of the actor wrestling with a fake cheetah. Still, the scene comes across more dramatically than what was on the page.

During the fight, Shiela followed Karnak/Karmak to Illya and the gas chamber. The villain momentarily get the drop on the U.N.C.L.E. agents. With help from Shiela, the agents get the upper hand.

Karnak/Karmak “hurtles helplessly into the gas chamber — but with his hands flailing wildly, trying vainly to catch hold of something to steady himself. In his instinctive frenzy, what he grabs hold of is the door to the chamber — dragging it shut after him as he falls into the chamber.”

Of course, it’s now 6 a.m. and the poison gas fills the chamber.

At the end, we’re back at the hospital, Illya is in black tie and Solo (him arm chewed on by the cheetah) is a patient. “Illya waves  jauntily and leaves” while a nurse tries taking Solo’s temperature.

There was more drama behind the scenes than was contained in the script. Composer Gerald Fried had emerged as the show’s go-to composer during the second and third seasons. He did a score for this episode but it was rejected, apparently because it didn’t match the more serious tone that Spinner was implementing. (This became known following the release of original U.N.C.L.E. soundtracks in the 2000s.)

First-season music composed by Jerry Goldsmith (who also wrote the U.N.C.L.E. theme) was re-recorded for use in fourth season episodes. This episode would mostly use that music, although some music by Richard Shores, the primary composer this season, would be used at the end of Act I. The credit for this episode was just, “Music by Jerry Goldsmith.”

Fried, however, got a second chance. He composed a score for The Test Tube Killer Affair that very much matched the more-serious tone of the fourth season. It would be Fried’s final work for the series, although he’d be back for the 1983 TV movie The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Less obvious ways of celebrating Global James Bond Day

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Friday is Global James Bond Day, the event that was invented six years ago for the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Dr. No.

There are obvious ways to mark the day, namely watch a Bond film or films, read a James Bond novel, etc.

What follows are some less obvious ways. They involve offerings available on home video with significant 007 connections.

–Watch selected episodes of Hawaii Five-O (1968-80): Series star Jack Lord was the original Felix Leiter in Dr. No. So any episode begins with that. But these episodes have additional Bond ties.

The Year of the Horse (11th season). George Lazenby, a decade removed from his only performance as Bond, gets “special guest star” billing. He’s actually the secondary villain. His character also is considerably scruffier than Bond. But, hey, it’s a pretty major tie to the Bond series. The episode was filmed in Singapore.

Deep Cover (10th season). Maud Adams made her Five-O appearance inbetween her two 007 films, The Man With The Golden Gun and Octopussy. Here, she’s the leader of a spy ring that’s up to no good. She’s quite convincing ordering people to die.

George Lazenby in Hawaii Five-O’s The Year of the Horse.

My Friend, the Enemy (10th season). Luciana Paluzzi plays an Italian journalist who complicates things for McGarrett (Lord) in a kidnapping case involving international intrigue. This wasn’t the first time Paluzzi was paired with Lord. They acted together more than a decade earlier in an episode of 12 O’Clock High.

Episodes with Soon-Tek Oh. The late actor was in eight episodes, including the pilot. Recommended would be The Jinn Who Clears the Way (fifth season). It’s one of the Wo Fat episodes and his character is a “young Maoist” who’s being manipulated by Wo Fat. It also has a shock ending.

–Watch selected episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The 1964-68 series also has performers who’d play major Bond roles before their 007 appearances.

To Trap a Spy/The Four-Steps Affair. Luciana Paluzzi figures in here. She plays Angela, an operative for Thrush who can be pretty cold blooded.

Luciana Paluzzi and Robert Vaughn in To Trap a Spy.

To Trap a Spy is an expanded version of the show’s pilot released as a movie. Paluzzi and star Robert Vaughn filmed additional footage after production of the pilot was completed. The thing is, Angela is a dry run for Paluzzi. The character is extremely similar to Fiona, the SPECTRE assassin she’d play in Thunderball.

The Four-Steps Affair is a first-season episode. It takes extra footage used to lengthen the running times of the first two U.N.C.L.E. movies (The Spy With My Face was the other) and combined it with with new material to make a television episode. Obvious difference: Angela sleeps with Solo (Vaughn) in Trap a Spy but doesn’t in The Four-Steps Affair.

The Five Daughters Affair/The Karate Killers (third season). The Five Daughters Affair was a two-part story that was expanded into a feature film for the international market.

At the start, a fleet of mini-helicopters attack Solo and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). This was made after You Only Live Twice but before the 1967 007 film (which included mini-copter Little Nellie) arrived in theaters.

What’s more, the cast includes Telly Savalas and Curt Jurgens in supporting roles. Neither is a villain, though (as they would be in Bond films). The villain is played by Herbert Lom.

Meanwhile, I am aware of episodes of the Roger Moore version of The Saint with David Hedison and Lois Maxwell. I just don’t own copies. The Hedison episode has an especially cute ending.

UPDATE (9:30 a.m. New York time): I got “mansplained” that Danger Man/Secret Agent has Bond actors in it also. Besides the actors this reader named (Bernard Lee and Desmond Llewelyn), there’s also Earl Cameron. Also, John Glen edited a number of episodes.

You could also extend that to The Prisoner, the other major Patrick McGoohan series. Guy Doleman, who played Count Lippe in Thunderball, was Number Two in the episode titled Arrival.

And while we’re at it, I could also mention Donald Pleasance was in Part II of Hawaii Five-O’s The Ninety-Second War. He’s a German scientist who began working for the U.S. with the end of World War II who’s being blackmailed by Wo Fat.

I could also add The Avengers (Patrick Macnee, Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg, many character actors and crew members) and various Gerry Anderson shows (Derek Meddings special effects, Shane Rimmer), but I’m not. These are blog posts, not books.

Historian notes U.N.C.L.E., NxNW anniversaries

Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo

Historian Michael Beschloss used his Twitter feed to note two spy-entertainment landmarks: The first telecast of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the end of production on North by Northwest.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. debuted on Sept. 22, 1964 on NBC. The show had been in development for almost two years.

Producer Norman Felton, invited to discuss doing a TV series based on Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities book, instead pitched an adventure show.

The network said it’d commit to a series without a pilot episode if Felton could get Ian Fleming on board. The two had discussions in October 1962 in New York. In June 1963, Fleming dropped out because of pressure by 007 film producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.

Despite Fleming’s departure, the project continued, although a pilot would have to be made before NBC committed to a series. Writer Sam Rolfe did the heavy lifting on scripting the pilot and would be the day-to-day producer on the show’s first season. The series paired Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo (the character name being one of Fleming’s surviving contributions) and David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin.

North by Northwest, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by Ernest Lehman, would set the style for a lot of 1960s spy entertainment. It balanced drama and humor as Cary Grant’s Roger O. Thornhill would dodge spies, with a climax on Mount Rushmore. The film ended production in September 1958 and would be released in 1959.

Here are Beschloss’s tweets:

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UPDATE (9:30 p.m. New York time): Beschloss was busy with other 1960s TV shows, including Get Smart.

 

U.N.C.L.E. script: The show’s popularity surges Part II

Illya and Tracey, anxious for the blog to start Part II of its look at the script of Alexander the Greater Affair.

Dean Hargrove was assigned the task of writing the first two-part story for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. One question: How do you provide a recap at the start of Part II?

Instead of beginning directly with the story’s cliffhanger, Hargrove began back at U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in New York. There, U.N.C.L.E. boss Alexander Waverly wants all communications channels open should Solo and Illya report.

Agent Farrell complains to Waverly about the money Solo and Illya have been spending.

He’s interrupted by “AGENT FARRELL, a harried-looking man” who “enters with an open file.”

“When you do reach Mr. Solo and Mr. Kuryaking, Sir,” Farrell says, “I think it would be good policy to remind them that although they have unlimited expense accounts Budget Control feels this present mission is getting completely out of hand.”

The stage directions indicate Waverly’s reaction is “wry.” “Oh, really.”

Farrell then lists some of the agents’ expenses incurred during Part I. Waverly’s response, according to the script is “dry.” I’ll speak to Mr. Solo about it — as soon as I hear from him.”

FARRELL
Thank you, Sir. We have to hold the line somewhere.

WAVERLY (amused)
Yes, don’t we?

The scene was filmed and used in the TV version of Part II. However, it was clipped from the movie version, One Spy Too Many. As a result, it went unseen for almost 35 years until the TV version was shown on TNT in 2000.

Cliffhanger

Now, it’s back to the cliffhanger, with Alexander, his flunky Parviz and his advisor Mr. Kevon, who walks with a crutch. (Sorry, should have mentioned him in Part I of this post, but we were covering a lot of territory.)

Luckily, the villains have to leave to catch a flight to the United States. This enables Solo to get his legs free from his bonds. He catches the scimitar with his feet. During this maneuver, the script says Solo slices open his trousers. As filmed, that doesn’t happened.

Anyway, Solo uses the scimitar to cut his remaining bonds. As the rope holding Illya and Tracey burns through, Solo grabs it. “The weight of the two people pulls him forward.” Illya and Tracey are now down in the opening to the pit. But Solo ties the rope, preventing Illya and Tracey from descending any further.

Solo and Waverly discuss how to pick up Alexander’s trail.

At the start of Act I, the agents are back at headquarters. Their only lead to Alexander is a health club the industrialist owns in Washington.

‘Out of the Question’

Tracey is at headquarters, too. Waverly initially ponders using Tracyey as bait. “Of course, that’s out of the question,” he says. “It’s far too dangerous. We certainly couldn’t ask her to do that.”

“Solo and Illya share a glance,” according to the stage directions. “I think you’ll find her unusually cooperative,” Illya says.

The trio go to Solo’s office. Tracey latches onto Waverly.

“She stands, extends her hand,” read the stage directions. “In her own way, she takes command — which somewhat unnerves the Section One leader.” She asks to speak privately to Waverly.

SOLO (slyly)
We’ll be outside…in case you need us, Sir.

WAVERYLY (curt)
Thank you.

Naturally, Tracey suggests using herself as bait to get Alexander. And off we go.

Alexander and two generals have a pleasant chat about a planned assassination.

Next up is a “large, sedate-looking Virginia estate.” This is supposed to be at Alexandria, Virginia. Alexander is entertaining “two oriental gentlemen (more Indosesian-looking than Chinese), GENERAL BON-PHOUMA and GENERAL MAN-PHANG. Both are heavily-medaled, wear military uniforms and sunglasses.”

The generals are planning a military coup for their home nation, unaware they’re being manipulated by Alexander. The industrialist gives them the “will gas” he stole from the U.S. Army at the start of Part I.

Alexander will play a central part in the coup. “I have arranged for your Washington Embassy to hold a special party in honor of your country’s President,” Alexander says. “I will be there to make a ‘good-will’ speech. I’ll kill him immediately after my remarks.”

Bon-Phouma says, “I must admit your plan has an almost oriental subtlety.”

After sending the generals on their way home, Alexander is approached by Mr. Kavon. Alexander says the generals are “second rate intellects. I won’t have any trouble using their country as my personal power base. From there I can subvert all of Asia.”

In the course of the conversation, we now learn that Alexander is a protoge of Kavon’s. However, Kevon, is feeling alienated from Alexander. The latter has hinted (via a brochure for a retirement home) that Kevon should take it easier.

Alexander “exits,” according to the stage directions. “Kavon looks after him, a rejected man.”

Breaking a Commandment

It turns out that Alexander drives into Washington. He pays a call to Princess Nicole and breaks the Seventh Commandment with her. Her husband, Prince Phanong arrives.

PHANONG
I’ll kill you.

ALEXANDER
No, you won’t. You’re not suited for it. But don’t worry. I’ll see to it that no one knows you’re not ‘Prince’ enough to keep your own wife. I’m very reasonable.

Phanong knows it’s all too true.

Alexander is doing this to ensure Phanong will support “the junta that will overthrow you new government.” He hangs a framed number 7.

Elsewhere in Washington, Tracey goes into Alexander’s health club. She’s detained by the club staff, who are being supervised by Parviz. Eventually, Solo follows. He gets captured also and is left to the mercies of “INGO, a huge, blond man in a sweatsuit.” In the final version, Ingo would be played by Cal Bolder, who shaved his head and didn’t wear a sweatsuit.

Parviz takes Tracey to Alexander’s health farm. Illya follows but checks in with Solo first via their communicators.

“I’m going to be busy for awhile,” Solo said.

“Solo has his communicator out, backing away from Ingo,” according to the stage directions. “I’m going to be busy for awhile,” Solo tells Illya. “You go ahead.”

Naturally, Solo comes out on top but not without some effort. Illya, after arriving at the farm, walks on the property, where he’s menaced by Alexander’s men operating a variety of farm equipment.

The Russian U.N.C.L.E. agent escapes (thought not after being buried in mud).

Skipping ahead, Alexander plans to take Tracey to the dinner honoring Sing-Mok. He’s the leader of the Asian nation Alexander plans to assassinate. Kevon, who top of anything belongs to an ancient cult (the Sons of Medea), is going to use Illya as the guinea pig in a mummification experience.

Solo arrives but is discovered by Kevon. The latter has a metal blade in his crutch, pointing it at Solo. Illya, bound up like a mummy, falls on top of Kevon.

Eventually, Solo and Illya are following Alexander and Tracey. Alexander loses them, and takes Tracey to the dinner. Solo and Illya have to deal with Parviz and another thug.

Oops for Alexander

By now, U.N.C.L.E. is on alert. But Alexander still has time to try to kill Sing-Mok. However, the coup has failed (apparently without any assistance from U.N.C.L.E.) Sing-Mok is wearing a “protective vest” made by one of Alexander’s own companies.

Alexander makes a run for his farm, where a plane (which we saw earlier when Illya was roaming the grounds) is waiting for him. Solo and Illya give chase. Solo gets in through an open rear aircraft door.

The fight in the script is a bit more involved than the final version.

INT. COCKPIT
Kevon is at the controls. He removes his head-set, picks up his metal crutch and goes back to the passenger cabin. WE HEAR the O.S. SOUNDS of a terrific struggle.

INT. PASSENGER CABIN
Alexander has Solo by the door — choking him. Solo is in danger of falling out of the plane. Kevon moves over to them. Solo shoves Alexander back, Alexander inadvertently runs into Kavon –knocking him down.

Solo is back on his feet. He hits Alexander, knocking him back towards the cockpit. Kavon reaches over, trips Solo with his crutch. Solo falls to the door. Alexander picks up a parachute, throws it at Solo.

ANGLE – SOLO
The parachute hits him chest high — and Solo is knocked out of the plane.

Solo, however, manages to get the parachute on, open it and land safely. Back on the plane. The script description is again more elaborate than the final version.

Kevon tries to kill Alexander with the blade in his crutch. “Alexander deftly ducks aside,” according to the screen directions. Kevon, though, lunges and the crutch “jams into the instrument panel. Sparks. Smoke.”

CLOSE -ALEXANDER
Terror.

LONG SHOT – PLANE
It EXPLODES.

Back at the embassy, it’s a festive mood. Tracey gives Solo and Illya a kiss on the cheek. In the final version, she appears to give Illya a kiss full on the lips.

Tracey now is flirting with Sing-Mok. Director Joseph Sargent would stage the ending differently. Solo and Illya would each offer Waverly a glass of champagne. Waverly would take both. But here’s how Dean Hargrove wrote it.

ANGLE – TRACEY AND SING-MOK

She’s on his arm, talking animatedly.

WAVERLY
Sing-Mok is a single man, you know.

RESUME-GROUP

SOLO
I think she’ll do very well.

They smile, lift their glasses in agreement as we…

FADE OUT

THE END

U.N.C.L.E. script: The early days

Poster for The Spy With My Face, the movie version of The Double Affair, featuring Robert Vaughn as Solo, Senta Berger as Serena and David McCallum (in that order). Based on the “colour” spelling, it’s probably from the U.K. release.

May 1964 was the early days of production of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The pilot had resulted in a sale to NBC. But the first regular episode woudn’t go into production until June 1 of that year.

As a result, the first draft of The Double Affair, dated May 12, 1964, was written as the show was getting up to speed. The draft, written by Clyde Ware, is significantly different than the episode that would air on Nov. 17 1964.

Among other things, the U.N.C.L.E. chief in this draft is Mr. Allison, the character played by Will Kuluva in the pilot. The part would be renamed Alexander Waverly and recast with Leo G. Carroll.

Also, in this script, the villainous organization is referred to as MAGGOTT, spelled with all capital letters but no sign if it’s actually an acronym.

When the pilot (The Vulcan Affair) was filmed, the organization was called Thrush. But there was a debate among Arena Productions (the production company that made U.N.C.L.E.), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and NBC whether that was a good name.

One alternative was “Wasp.” That was eventually rejected, although the movie version of The Vulcan Affair saw “Wasp” dubbed for “Thrush.” MAGGOTT also (thankfully) went by the wayside. Still, it makes for amusing reading when looking at this script. Eventually, Arena/MGM/NBC agreed on Thrush for the series.

Project EarthSave

The story concerns an attempt by the villains to steal Project EarthSave. As described in this script it’s the “final weapon,” originally developed by scientists of multiple nations. The director of the underground facility in Switzerland that houses Project EarthSave provides U.N.C.L.E. agents some background in Act III.

DIRECTOR
The choice was dictated by the possibility of attack by a hostile force…Oh, not of this planet — the use of Project EarthSave might very well destroy the earth itself! But our scientists have picked up strange fragments of radio waves — from beyond our galaxy! If the world should be attacked from beyond the stars — imagine the power such an attack force would possess! Project EarthSave might wellbe our last line of defense. Our only chance.

To get at Project EarthSave, MAGGOTT has used plastic surgery to make one of its operatives the twin of U.N.C.L.E.’s Napoleon Solo. That’s because Solo iss part of a team of U.N.C.L.E. agents who every August deliver the new combination for the vault that contains Project EarthSave. For this run, Russian U.N.C.L.E. Illya Kuryakin is participating for the first time.

The head of the MAGGOTT operation is Mars Two, who’d be renamed Darius Two in the episode. His team includes femme fatale Serena, who’d be played by Senta Berger. In the episode, Berger’s title care would appear after Robert Vaughn’s but before David McCallum’s.

She meets up with Solo at a restaurant, interrupting his date with a girlfriend named Sandy. He goes to answer a telephone call. “His senses highly developed, Solo immediately realizes there is no one on the end end of the phone,” according to the state directions. “And he becomes aware of something else — somebody is behind him.”

Meeting Serena

It’s Serena, of course. From the stage directions written by Ware:

As Solo turns — gun leveled — to face one of the most attractive women he’s ever seen. If Sophia Loren had a sister with a bit more of the sinister about her, Solo would be pressing his pistol almost into her rib cage. It’s fortunate he hasn’t raised the gun any higher…

MAGGOTT eventually captures Solo and substitutes its man. From that point onward in the script, the double is referred to as “Solo” (with quotation marks around the name) to distinguish him from the real Solo.

As you might surmise, MAGGOTT doesn’t succeed in getting Project EarthSave. However, there are still more differences in this script compared with the final episode, or, for that matter, The Spy With My Face,. The latter was the movie version of the episode, which included extra footage. It was released in the U.K. in August 1965. But U.N.C.L.E. was so popular, it got a U.S. release in 1966.

In any case, here are some aspects of the script that would be changed in the final version.

–A line by Mars Two, “And then UNCLE — and the rest of the world — will listen to MAGGOTT’s terms!” doesn’t make the episode. Imagine you’re an actor saying that line.

–We’re told that Solo’s mother lived in Wisconsin but she died in 1956 of natural causes. This occurs early in the script when MAGGOTT is assessing whether Solo’s double needs any last minute work to perfect the masquerade.

— One of the U.N.C.L.E. agents involved in the Project EarthSave mission is named Cluade Chanso. “Claude is tall, dark, suave — and as attractive as all Frenchmen would like the world to believe they are,” according to the stage directions. The character would become Arsene Coria, an Italian agent, in the finished episode.

–The script includes Namana, an African agent who would be in the final episode. Namana is alive at the end of this script. In the episode, he’s killed by Solo’s double after the vault to Project EarthSave is open.

Clyde Ware remained the only credited writer when The Double Affair aired. However, when the movie came out, the credit was altered to: “Screenplay by Clyde Ware and Joseph Cavelli, Story by Clyde Ware.”

Calvelli was associate produce for roughly the first half of U.N.C.L.E. first season. My guess he did the bulk of the revising from the May 1964 script.

Harlan Ellison, passionate writer, dies at 84

Title card to “The City on the Edge of Forever, the first-season Star Trek episode written by Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison, a writer who was passionate about his work and was willing to fight for it, has died at 84, according to an obituary published by Variety.

Ellison was normally described as a science fiction writer. That was understandable. His output of science fiction was large and took the form of television stories, novels and short stories.

Ellison’s production included the Star Trek episode The City on the Edge of Forever.

In the episode, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock must travel back in time to Earth in the Great Depression and fix history. In doing so, Kirk has to let a woman he’s fall in love with (Joan Collins) die.

Ellison also penned episodes of the original Outer Limits series, including Demon With a Glass Hand starring Robert Culp. Culp’s Trent has no memory but must fight off attacks from mysterious enemies from the future.

However, Ellison could easily tackle other genres.

Cyborgs menace Solo and Illya in The Sort of Do It Yourself Dreadful Affair, written by Harlan Ellison

He penned two episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. They were highlights of the show’s third season, where humor overwhelmed the proceedings. One of episodes, The Sort of Do It Yourself Dreadful Affair, added science fiction with cyborgs as part of the plot. The special effects were lacking (even by 1966 standards) but Ellison’s script was funny where it was supposed to be (not always the case with U.N.C.L.E.’s third season).

The writer also tackled the western series Cimarron Strip. Ellison’s twist was that Jack the Ripper, on the run from his murder spree in London, was stalking victims in 1888 Oklahoma. Making the episode even more memorable was a score by Bernard Herrmann.

Ellison also wrote essays about television. The books The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat collected such essays. The author was brutally honest and critical of U.S. television.

The writer was known for advocating strongly for his work, fighting (verbally) against changes by producers and story editors. The City on the Edge of Forever was revised so it wouldn’t bust Star Trek’s budget. Ellison was not happy.

When Ellison was really displeased, he took his name off the writing credit and substituted Cord Wainer Bird or Cordwainer Bird.

According to a review in The New York Review of Science Fiction concerning a book about Ellison’s career, the fighting got physical on one occasion. Ellison got into a fight with ABC executive Adrian Samish over a script for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

The book, A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison, says as a result of the fight, a model of the Seaview submarine dropped onto Samish. The executive suffered a broken pelvis.

It was a story Ellison told himself, though the review raises some questions. “How did Harlan avoid an arrest for assault or at least a whopping big lawsuit, or did ABC just hush it all up and pay Samish’s medical costs? How did Harlan ever find work in the TV industry after that?”

If the story is true, the answer probably is Ellison’s enormous talent. On social media, there were tributes to Ellison. Here’s one from Jon Burlingame, an author and academic about film and television music:

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UPDATE (June 29): Harlan Ellison also did some uncredited rewrites of other U.N.C.L.E. episodes. The one I’ve always seen identified is The Virtue Affair in Season Two.

Anyway, according to movie industry professional Robert Short, who also runs an U.N.C.L.E. page on Facebook, Ellison also designed a special bow used by Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) in The Virtue Affair.

Here Illya demonstrates his prowess with the bow while a villain played by Frank Marth looks on.

UNCLE Illya bow Virtue Affair

 

 

Bradford Dillman dies at 87

Bradford Dillman in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Prince of Darkness Affair Part I

Bradford Dillman, a busy actor who often played villains, died this week at age 87, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Dillman’s career began in the 1950s. His work that decade included the 1959 film Compulsion, loosely based on the Leopold-Loeb murder case of the 1920s. He also appeared in movies such as The Way We Were, The Enforcer and Sudden Impact.

Dillman was kept busy on television. He was part of the informal group known as “the QM Players,” who frequently appeared on television shows produced by Quinn Martin.

For Dillman, that included multiple appearances on The FBI, Barnaby Jones (starting with that show’s pilot, as the man who kills Barnaby’s grown son) and Cannon. He also had appearances on short-lived QM shows such as Dan August and The Manhunter.

The actor was in demand elsewhere. He was the namesake character in the two-part The Prince of Darkness Affair on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which aired during that show’s fourth season. Dillman also made appearances on series such as Mission: Impossible,  The Wild Wild West and The Name of the Game.

Here are the opening and end titles of the Barnaby Jones pilot.