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

 

 

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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.

U.N.C.L.E. music tracks surface (?)

Gerald Fred’s title card for a second season episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Some never-used music tracks from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. may have surfaced on YouTube.

A YouTube video, posted on April 2, 2017, says it is “Man From UNCLE 8467, four cues.”

The Deadly Quest Affair, the first U.N.C.L.E. episode produced in its fourth season (and the eighth broadcast by NBC) had a production number of 8467, according to Jon Heitland’s 1980s book, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. book.

The first cue in the video was Gerald Fried’s arrangement of Jerry Goldsmith’s U.N.C.L.E. theme that Fried submitted for the fourth season. It was rejected and a different arrangement by Robert Armbruster was used instead. The Fried fourth-season arrangement was included in an U.N.C.L.E. soundtrack release in the 2000s.

Gerald Fried

Fried also composed a score for The Deadly Quest Affair but that, also, was rejected, according to the U.N.C.L.E. soundtracks produced by Jon Burlingame. The soundtracks didn’t have any selections from the unused Fried score. For the final version of The Deadly Quest Affair, the production team re-recorded Jerry Goldsmith music from the show’s first season.

Fried, who was the show’s go-to composer in seasons two and three, ended up scoring one fourth-season episode, The Test Tube Killer Affair.

There are no titles (and thus no clues) for the other three tracks on the video. The video surfaced on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. — Inner Circle page on Facebook. You can listen below:

 

Our favorite stock shots of 1960s, ’70s TV shows

Television shows from 1950s through the 1970s meant doing a lot. A typical season meant 39 episodes in the 1950s into the early ’60s, 30 or more into the mid-60s and 26 or so in the 1970s.

It also required working on a leaner budget than feature films. A show may have stories around the world, but you didn’t have the resources films did.

To stretch the budget, production companies utilized “stock shots,” taken from sources available to more or less everyone. In the 1960s and ’70s, it was common to see some of the same stock shots on different shows.

With that in mind, here are some of the blog’s favorite stock shots. Note: The episodes listed are not a comprehensive list. You may remember these from other series and episodes

Stock shot of airplane exploding during a missile test, used in The Man From UNCLE and Hawaii Five-O.

Airplane/helicopter exploding in mid-air: Based on the longest clip of it the blog has seen, this appears to be some kind of U.S. Defense Department film. An airplane (presumably radio-controlled) is shot down by a missile.

Said longest version appears in The Quadripartite Affair, the third episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. You actually see the missile launched and see it hit the airplane.

Examples: The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Quadripartite Affair, The Love Affair (first season; supposedly the villain’s helicopter explodes after Solo has placed a bomb aboard), Part Two Alexander the Greater Affair (airplane exploding in mid-air).

Hawaii Five-O: Death Is a Company Policy (fifth season, supposedly a helicopter with syndicate killers is shot down by police, led by Steve McGarrett), Death Thy Name Is Sam (eighth season, villain John Colicos shoots down a helicopter piloted by undercover cop George Takei with a portable surface-to-air missile).

Frequently used stock shot of a landing aircraft

Aircraft about to land: One of the most common seen stock shots during the period was of the underside of a aircraft about to complete a landing.

It was used a number of times in Hawaii Five-O (the image at right is from the episode Three Dead Cows at Makapuu Part I), where characters were flying into Hawaii all the time.

I know it was used more frequently than that, but tracking them all down in daunting. The whole idea was to communicate movement to the audience. Sometimes, the lead character might be traveling somewhere and this shot would be used to demonstrate he or she had arrived.

Stock shot of exploding car.

Car Exploding on side of mountain: It costs money to blow up a car or truck. One way to save costs was using a stock shot of one going up in flames.

The image at right was used at least twice. In the first-season Mannix episode Deadfall Part I, an Intertect investigator (Dana Elcar) fakes his own death with his car exploding. Mannix (Mike Connors) investigates and finds out his Interect colleague was was involved in an industrial espionage operation involving a new laser.

The stock shot also was used in an episode of Ironside, Poole’s Paradise.

At the start of the series, the wheelchair-bound detective (Raymond Burr) rode in the back of a 1940 truck. Early in the third season, the truck had to be sacrificed (to throw a corrupt sheriff and his thug deputies off the trail). The stock shot was used to show that vehicle exploding.

The sleuth rode (and eventually drove) a more modern van for the rest of the series.

UPDATE: The exploding car shot also shows up in Nine Dragons, the first episode in Hawaii Five-O’s ninth season.

Arch-villain Wo Fat is at the University of Hawaii, posing as an academic who defected from China in the late 1940s. However, a university faculty member who knew the real academic confronts Wo Fat.

Bad move: Wo Fat has his goons kill the Hawaii faculty member. They put him in a Lincoln Continental, shove the car down a ravine and the car blows up.

Roger Moore part of TCM Remembers 2017

Turner Classic Movies has unveiled the 2017 edition of its TCM Remembers video, honoring actors and crew members who passed away during the year.

Roger Moore, who played James Bond in seven 007 films from 1973 to 1985, was part of the video. At around the 3:10 mark, the video includes a clip of Moore from 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me.

Other notables in the video include:

–Martin Landau, who played a henchman in 1959’s North by Northwest (used for one of two clips in the video) and gained fame in the Mission: Impossible television series.

–Veteran character actor Clifton James, whose many credits include playing redneck sheriff J.W. Pepper in Live And Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun.

–Fred Koenekamp, an Oscar-winning director of photography who had earlier honed his craft photographing 90 episodes (out of 105 total) of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series.

–Daliah Lavi, an actress whose credits included the first Matt Helm film, The Silencers, and the 1967 Casino Royale spoof.

–Bernie Casey, a busy actor who, among other things, played Felix Leiter in 1983’s Never Say Never Again, the non-Eon 007 film starring Sean Connery.

You can view the video below.

Well, you can’t say Solo isn’t a popular title

Circa 1963:

1963-64 (before being renamed The Man From U.N.C.L.E.):

2013:

2018:

Vaughn, Moore, Landau in Emmy In Memoriam

Robert Vaughn in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), Roger Moore (The Saint) and Martin Landau (Mission: Impossible) were among those included in the In Memoriam segment of the Emmy broadcast Sunday night on CBS.

Also included were Mike Connors of Mannix and Adam West of the 1966-68 Batman series. With the latter. a short clip from the show’s pilot played, with Batman doing the “Batusi” dance.

The Emmy version of In Memoriam seemed more weighted to performers compared with the Oscars telecast on ABC, which included publicists. However, some behind-the-camera professionals were included in the Emmy In Memoriam, including producer Stanley Kallis, who worked on Mission: Impossible, among other shows.

Vaughn, who had an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and Connors were not included in the Oscars In Memoriam segement earlier this year.

Others included were Mary Tyler Moore (the segment ended with her) and cartoon voice June Foray.

UPDATE (Sept. 18): You can view the In Memoriam segment for yourself.