Sunday, 27 July 2014

Man from Uncle: One spy too many (3½ Stars)

This is one of the Man from Uncle films that was made my editing two episodes into a single story. Rather than just putting together two episodes, new scenes were filmed, such as the appearance of Yvonne Craig as Maude Waverly, the niece of Uncle's boss, Alexander Waverly.

"The Man from Uncle", more correctly spelt "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.", was one of the great spy series of the 1960's. It was devised as a television equivalent of the James Bond films. In fact, Ian Fleming was hired to lay out the original concept of the series. Originally the series was intended to be about one spy, Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn), but a guest star in some of the early episodes, the Russian agent Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum), became so popular with fans that it was decided to make him a regular and give him equal billing as the series' top star.

This film, edited from the first two episodes of the second season, is about a man called Mr. Alexander -- we never find out his first name -- who sees himself as a successor to Alexander the Great. He intends to conquer the world with the help of a powerful new poison gas that he has stolen, but he believes that before he can achieve his destiny he has to break each one of the Biblical Ten Commandments. I fail to see the connection between a Greek leader and the Jewish law, but this is typical for the eccentric plots in the TV series.

A Man from Uncle film is planned for next year, directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Henry Cavill and David Beckham. David Beckham? That sounds like a recipe for disaster. I hope Guy Ritchie knows what he's doing. Whether the film is good or bad, it should lead to a reasonably priced TV series box set being released, maybe even remastered for Blu-ray. Let's wait and see.

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