1966: Time reviews the other spies

By early 1966, there were several movies hoping to get a piece of the spy action started by Bondomania. So Time magazine did a review summarizing what was in theaters at the time, including the film debut of Matt Helm and movie versions of episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. with Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.
First, the magazine gave its view of the genre as a whole:

Movie moguls have long sought the perfect pop-art hero, the infallible magnetic moneymaker with equal pull for kids under twelve and adolescents up to and beyond retirement age. Tarzan, a perennial favorite, still takes to the trees occasionally to fight for right, but with obsolete weapons. The Wild West gunfighter endures, though an hombre who traditionally hates kissin’ and gets his kicks by digging spurs into horseflesh seems equally ill-adapted to the times. The exquisitely contemporary hero is girl-happy, gadget-minded James Bond, whose legend has already tempted a host of imitators to bland larceny. Now five new spy spoofs reverently ape Bond, with more a-making to catch the rich financial fallout from Goldfinger and Thunderball.

The magzine then got down to cases. First off, it examined Matt Helm.
The biggest, noisiest and naughtiest contender in the new spystakes is The Silencers, with Crooner Dean Martin playing Matt Helm, a secret agent for ICE (Intelligence Counter Espionage)….The striptease fun, with Cyd Charisse as team captain, begins during the opening credits, then gets right down to business in Martin’s circular bed, which turns, travels, tilts, finally plunges him naked into a swimming pool with a naiad identified as Lovey Kravezit….Innuendo roars through Silencers, with nothing omitted save scrawling feelthy pictures on the screen. Now and then, Martin sleepily warbles a song parody, his way of adding sauce to all the gleeful violence, drunken driving and self-conscious smut.

As Jack Benny used to say, “Wellllllll….” Next up, a look at U.N.C.L.E.’s screen debut (kind of) in the double feature which added footage to two television episodes (plus alternative versions of some scenes intended for the screen rather than TV audiences).

Intelligence men’s intrigues wash cleaner in To Trap a Spy and The Spy with My Face. Originally designed for home use, these television retreads are expanded versions of two episodes from MGM’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series (the seams still show).

Time didn’t seem all that impressed with the others.

The man least likely to threaten Bond’s supremacy is That Man in Istanbul, with Horst Bucholz battling a one-armed villain atop a minaret and performing other improbable feats to rescue a kidnaped scientist. …Another elusive scientist is the excuse given for The 2nd Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World, the most flagrantly imitative spoof of the lot. Its second-best agent is played with studied respect by one Tom Adams, who vaguely resembles Sean Connery.

The magzine also said this era of spy movies couldn’t last.
A craze occurs when an acquired taste unaccountably becomes an addiction. Without ever believing in it, audiences find the spoofery easy to swallow. But mock espionage may be hard put to survive a throng of second-string undercover men who seem badly in need of vocational guidance.

To read the entire article, JUST CLICK HERE.

Salute to Luciana Paluzzi

One of our favorite 007 femme fatales, Luciana Paluzzi, turned 72 last month. So we figured that was as good an excuse to honor her here.

Of course, most Bond fans remember her as Fiona, member of SPECTRE’s execution branch, in Thunderball. Here’s the trailer:

Here she is in a similar role in To Trap a Spy, the theatrical movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. pilot. This is extra footage used to extend the story to movie length. A toned down version of this footage would appear in the episode The Four-Steps Affair.

A few years later, she re-teamed with Robert Vaughn in The Venetian Affair (based on a Helen MacInnes novel and had nothing to do with U.N.C.L.E.). Here’s that trailer:

And, finally, here’s the trailer for one of her lesser credits, The Green Slime.

007’s intersections with U.N.C.L.E.

We were watching some DVDs and kept getting reminded about how the world of James Bond intersects with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Those intersections go beyond the basic category of spy-related entertainment.

A few examples:

Luciana Paluzzi. The Italian actress was hired to pad out the pilot of U.N.C.L.E. in case the series didn’t sell and a “movie” could be salvaged. As it turned out, the Paluzzi footage showed up in both formats: on TV as The Four-Steps Affair and in the “movie” To Trap A Spy, where she was billed as “special guest star.” The TV version was shown while Thunderball, the fourth 007 film where she appears as the femme fatale, was still in production.

“Bon appetit.” U.N.C.L.E. agent Illya Kuryakin utters this line in The Gazebo in the Maze Affair, a first-season episode that aired in the spring of 1965. The impetus was outsmarting a thug so a wolf was devouring him. James Bond (Sean Connery) utters the same line in You Only Live Twice after tossing Blofeld’s thug Hans into a pool of man-eating fish.

The Incredible World of James Bond was a 1965 special that aired on NBC and was produced to promote the upcoming Thunderball. It aired in U.N.C.L.E.’s time slot in the 1965-66 television season. Evidently, NBC figured there was what executives would not call “synergy.”

Solo: The hero on U.N.C.L.E. was originally to be called Edgar Solo. The show’s producer, Norman Felton, wanted to get Ian Fleming on board and the author suggest Napoleon was a much better first name. So it came to be. Solo also happened to be one of the gangster names in Goldfinger (and had appeared in Fleming’s 1959 novel). This coincidence became Eon Productions’ main point in trying to stop U.N.C.L.E. (which was to originally have been called Solo). Eon didn’t have much of a case to actually halt the series but Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer agreed to shelve the Solo title to settle the case. Eon got its revenge (possibly unintentionally) by having the gangster Solo killed in spectacular fashion and in a way not used in Fleming’s original novel.

There are, actually, lots more. Just click RIGHT HERE.