These posters were part of a lot sold in May, 2011 at Heritage Auctions. The UNCLE poster is by an artist named Allison (from the signature), and went for $84. The I Spy poster is by Gustav Rehberger, and went for $179. The Get Smart is by Mad Magazine veteran Jack Davis and went for $120. Originally, these were sold by NBC for just a few bucks, apparently. The best source I’ve seen on the posters is at the I Spy forum, where Tatia writes:
“The eleven promotional posters produced to be given to NBC’s major affiliates as decorations for parties celebrating their 1966 season premieres were Bonanza, Daniel Boone, Flipper, Get Smart, Hey Landlord, I Spy, The Monkees, Star Trek, T.H.E. Cat, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. NBC did offer the Bonanza, Get Smart and I Spy for sale for a very limited time afterwards.”
This post first appeared on the Mister 8 website in December 2011.
Today I am going to look at the work of composer Hugo Montenegro. Montenegro is probably more famous for his re-interpretation of other composer’s music. His version of Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly topped the U.S. charts (making it to #2). But Montenegro did his own tunes as well and provided the soundtracks to a few spy movies, namely The Ambushers, and The Wrecking Crew – starring Dean Martin as Matt Helm. He also composed the theme (from 2nd season) for the TV series, I Dream of Jeannie, which has got to count for something!
Montenegro’s re-versions of other composers tunes, in this day and age are a little redundant – as it is quite easy to access the originals. But that wasn’t always the case. As a lad, growing up in rural Australia, it was virtually impossible to access Morricone’s The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – whereas Montenegro’s was easy to find. I still have several western compilation L.P.s, from my childhood, with Montenegro’s version on them. On top of that, it got radio play too.
I must admit I find Montenegro’s original movie scores a bit too scattered for my liking, and don’t follow the plot. A wild swinging tune is great to listen to, while not watching the movie, but with the film, if the intent is to convey suspense – then the number fails – such as in the Frank Sinatra detective thriller, Lady in Cement.
I almost see Montenegro’s music as a toy from my youth. It was great when I was young, exposing a young fella to the wild multitude of sounds out there. But now as an adult, I think Hugo can be locked away in the cupboard, (or slipped into the bottom of the toy-box) and in its place, composers such as Morricone, Goldsmith, Bernstein, Williams et al should be sampled.
Mort Goode’s liner notes to the album, ‘Original Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ say this about Montenegro’s contribution:
‘One of the most intriguing elements that keeps “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” moving sprightly or stealthily each week is music. It sparkles or sputters. It tantalises or tickles. It relieves or revives. The variety of musical themes has been expanded for this album. This original music is fascinatingly arranged and conducted by Hugo Montenegro with a swashbuckling orchestra conjuring up images of U.N.C.L.E. escapades. Several talented and renowned composers have contributed to the music.’
My knowledge of Filipino cinema is admittedly poor. I have heard of the Tony Falcon, Agent 44 series, starring Tony Ferrer, but I have never actually seen one. At least sixteen films featuring Falcon were made (possibly more), from 1965 till 1980. As many these films were little more than imitations of Bond, very little effort was made to preserve these films for future generations. They were banged out quick, then pushed around the market, hoping to generate as much cash in as short of time as possible. The films were then neglected and left to rot. As such many of these films are lost to us forever. The prints that do survive are scratched and faded and barely resemble their former colourful and psychedelic selves.
Then there was Weng Weng, the diminutive star of For Your Height Only, The Impossible Kid and D’Wild Wild Weng. I have seen and attempted to review For Your Height Only, but apart from that, I am still rather ignorant of Weng Weng’s career.
Then there’s Dolphy. Once again, I am sad to confess that my knowledge of Dolphy is limited to a few posters from films in which he parodies James Bond. But James Bond wasn’t the only sixties spy who was parodied. Napoleon Solo and The Man From UNCLE also came under fire. Once again, the intrepid cinematic explorer, Todd from Die, Danger, Die, Die Kill, has ventured into the unknown, macheted his way through the dense Filipino jungles and dug up Napoleon Doble and the Sexy Six.
Here’s a snippet
Surviving examples of Filipino pulp cinema from the 1960s are so few and far between that it’s always exciting when one turns up — even though, admittedly, I was less excited about the prospect of actually watching Napoleon Doble and the Sexy Six than I was by the mere fact of its existence. Like the previously reviewed James Batman, Doble is one of many spy spoof/action comedies from the period that starred the (still!) massively popular comedian Dolphy, and, having seen James Batman, I felt that I had already pretty much gotten what those movies were all about… more
Napoleon Doble and the Sexy Six, is not exactly the type of tribute that UNCLE fans would want or expect, but it is out there, and a reminder of just how popular UNCLE was across the world in the 1960s.
I forget where I found these Dolphy posters on the net many months ago – but I thank the person who uploaded them – they are a great visual timecapsule of films that are almost forgotten.
The Dead Ringer, Doppelganger, Impostor, Look-a-like, call it what you will is a commonly used device in espionage movies. The most famous stories about dead ringers in popular culture would be The Man In The Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas and The Prisoner Of Zenda by Anthony Hope. While both stories are hardly spy stories, they both contain elements of deception, quests for power, and manipulation of the masses; not dissimilar from the usual megalomaniacs we encounter in today’s modern spy stories.
Not surprisingly, with a heritage like that, the dead ringer is a staple of the espionage genre. And in spy films, the look-a-like can be substituted for anybody: heroes, or villains.
In The Double Man, agent Dan Slater (Yul Brynner) is lured to Switzerland, so he can be kidnapped and replaced with a murderous double. Similarly, one entry in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie series, The Spy With My Face, has an evil T.H.R.U.S.H. double for Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) trying to infiltrate U.N.C.L.E. The fake Solo attempts to steal the combination to a powerful weapon. In one of the later episodes of The Avengers, They Keep Killing Steed, secret agent John Steed in kidnapped and an impostor is sent to a peace conference on his behalf to wreak havoc. To complicate matters, the real Steed, also has arranged for another three clones to be at conference. That’s a total of five look-a-like Steeds to confuse viewers. In The Prisoner episode, The Schizoid Man, as if No. 6 didn’t have enough to contend with, he had a villainous double messing with his mind.
The Bond movies have had their share of doubles as well. In Thunderball, a double is substituted for Nato Officer Francois Durvall by S.P.E.C.T.R.E. to assist in the hi-jacking of two nuclear weapons. And in Diamonds Are Forever we see arch-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld creating a series of doubles of himself to throw James Bond off the scent.
The good guys can get into the act too. One of the better recent examples, was The Assignment. The story which borrowed heavily from Robert Ludlum’s novel The Bourne Identity, had Aidan Quinn as a family orientated naval officer substituting for Carlos the Jackal. In a slight variation, in the three Mission: Impossible movies starring Tom Cruise, Ethan Hunt had a selection of life like masks that made him appear as any one of a cadre of enemy agents.
And the girls aren’t immune from being cloned either. In the recent movie version of The Avengers we had an evil double of Mrs. Peel (Uma Thurman). Back in the sixties, we had the diabolical Doctor Goldfoot (Vincent Price) creating armies of sexy exploding clones.
Let’s not forget the children; in Spy Kids, evil robot versions of Carmen and Juni Cortez are created by evil-doer Fegan Floop.
A common comedic variation is where one twin brother is a secret agent, unbeknownst to his sibling. Of course, the brother agent is killed off, leaving the second inexperienced brother to finish off the mission on his brother’s behalf. It’s the ‘fish out of water’ scenario with a spy touch. Two recent examples of this are Bad Company with Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins, and the child friendly Double Agent with Michael McKean.
As you can see the genre is littered with as many dead ringers as dead bodies; some good, and some bad.
For fans of The Man From UNCLE, I have just received some great new from Wes Britton at Spy Wise. that he has added into his ‘Spies on Television & Radio’ Files, the final The Man From UNCLE novel, The Final Affair, by David McDaniel.
Wes, in his introduction says:
While a number of writers contributed to this series for Ace Books, none was as significant as David McDaniel. In fact his first, The Dagger Affair (No. 4 in the American series) contained the first use of the acronym for the evil THRUSH–the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity.
…McDaniel had written one last MFU story justly called The Final Affair which he unfortunately finished several months past its deadline, completed after the parent show’s demise. Ace Books was no longer interested in further novels beyond a handful of reprints of stories first published in England. The Final Affair would have been the 24th ACE story that would have brought the TV show to a more or less logical conclusion where the battle between U.N.C.L.E. and THRUSH finally came to an end.
To head across to Spy Wise, click here.
Most of the books published in Australia are the English editions — although some American stuff slips in. Generally though, because we use the same spelling as the English, it will be the English version that is either imported into (or even printed in) Australia.
For the series of The Man From UNCLE books, that means that only 16 of the 23 titles reached our shores. One of those ‘missing’ titles is The Rainbow Affair by David McDaniel. So I have never read The Rainbow Affair, but as we are talking Fu Manchu this week, I thought for spy fans it was a title worth mentioning.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about The Rainbow Affair.
The Rainbow Affair is notable for its thinly-disguised cameo appearances by The Saint, Miss Marple, John Steed, Emma Peel, Tommy Hambledon (at whose flat Solo and Ilya encounter Steed and Peel), Neddie Seagoon, Father Brown, a retired, elderly Sherlock Holmes, and Dr. Fu Manchu. The novel uses the same chapter title format that Leslie Charteris used in his Saint novels. (The title of one of the theatrical versions of UNCLE episodes, The Spy in the Green Hat, is very close to the title of The Man in the Green Hat, one of the “Hambledon” novels by “Manning Coles“.)
That’s a pretty impressive line up of literary heroes, and it’s another book that my life is incomplete without – so I am going to have to track it down — if not for Fu Manchu, then for The Saint, John Steed and Emma Peel.
Here’s what Dr. Lawrence Knapp’s website had to say about David McDaniel’s The Rainbow Affair:
A “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” (#13) novel in which Thrush courts Fu Manchu.
“… a tall, thin Chinese, wearing robes of silk which shimmered in the candlelight. His face was unlined, but his eyes were old with ancient wisdom, and seemed oddly veiled, like those of a drowsing cat. Above an imposing brow, he wore a black skullcap with a single coral bead which indicated the rank of Mandarin. A marmoset perched on his shoulder, occasionally nuzzling his ear.”
At a later meeting, the offer of alliance is rejected:
” ‘I know what you desire from me, and perhaps someday you may find something for which I would exchange it. I will know when you do.’ ” The man in the gray suit felt a touch on his arm, and turned to find two great, bare-chested, turbaned guards. He accompanied them out, pausing a moment at the door to look back into the hazed interior of that enigmatic room, where an old Chinese with a brow like Shakespeare, a face like Satan, and eyes of the true tiger green, lay dreaming.”
You can read a few excerpts from The Rainbow Affair at the Westray Avengers Site.
I am running behind on getting the usual Monday Morning Movie Review together (or the 3MR as we say in the trade). In the meantime, here are some bookcover scans from the Man From UNCLE series. These may be of interest to American readers as they differ from the ACE Books versions.
Music: Gerald Fried
The Man From UNCLE theme by Jerry Goldsmith
The film opens with – not one, but three autogyros flying over head – autogyros? Think ‘Little Nellie’ from You Only Live Twice. Down below on a winding mountain road in a sporty blue car are Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). From above the autogyros start peppering our intrepid UNCLE agents with rockets. Due to there choice of car, it appears that the UNCLE boys can’t just roll down the windows and shoot back, they have to open the doors, and these are top opening doors, so Napoleon’s view of his overhead attackers is impeded. So how do they get out of this tricky situation? Illya drives the car into a tunnel. That’s it! I guess they waited the for the autogyros to run low on petrol and go home.
Now as you have no doubt guessed, the guys in the autogyros were THRUSH agents and they were trying to stop Illya and Napoleon from visiting Dr. Simon True who is a scientist who has been working on a vital desalinisation project. During the experiment, as Napoleon and Illya watch, Professor True has a heart attack. Just before he dies, he whispers that his ‘formula’ for the experiment has been passed to the ‘four winds’.
Meanwhile, Professor True’s widow, Amanda (Joan Crawford) is being consoled by her lover, Randolph (Herbert Lom). But Randolph’s care and affection only stretches so far when he can’t find a copy of the Professor’s formula – as that is all he was after. He only had an affair with Amanda so he could get the formula. He questions her and she refuses to co-operate. This is where Randolph starts getting rough – he calls in a band of THRUSH agents in red skivvies with black leather vests and gloves. These guys are the ‘Karate Killers’ from the title and they tear the place a part, and kill Amanda.
The men from UNCLE turn up too late with the Professor’s youngest daughter, Sandra True (Kim Darby). She surmises that the ‘four winds’ that the formula has been scattered to, are in fact Professor True’s four errant step daughters. The first of these daughters, Margo (Diane McBain) is now living in Italy – married to Count Valeriano De Fanzini (Telly Savalas). The Count is an unstable and jealous man and keeps Margo locked up, naked, in an attic. When Napoleon and Illya turn up with Sandra in tow, they don’t quite receive the welcome they expected. The situation gets worse when Randolph turns up the his squad of Karate Killers.
After a slap stick fight sequence, Margo gives the men from UNCLE a photo that her step father had sent to her. In the background of the photo, on a chalk board is part of a formula. On it’s own it doesn’t mean too much, but all of the step daughters have a piece of the formula, and once they have all the pieces they can work out Professor True’s plan for desalinisation.
The next daughter, Imogene (Jill Ireland) is in London, and all parties head across to the UK for the next part of the story. When we first meet Imogene, she has just been arrested – by Terry-Thomas – for indecent exposure. Of course Randolph turns up.
After that we head to the Swiss Alps and the Daughter is Yvonne (Danielle De Metz). She is entangled in a relationship with wealthy gigolo, Carl Von Kesser (Curt Jurgens). And once again Randolph turns up. As I mentioned at the opening, the story is rather repetitive, with our men from UNCLE traipsing across the globe tracking down one step daughter after another – and always Randolph and his cronies are on hand to throw a spanner in the works. But the repetition is not really a hurdle because each episode is fun, and has a great cast.
It’s probably not logical, but I rate this Man From UNCLE movie pretty highly. It is perfect lightweight spy entertainment with plenty of cliff hanger moments, which the boys have to extricate themselves from. This is also one of the more tongue-in-cheek movies of the series. The Man From UNCLE always had a healthy does of comedy thrown into the mix, but this is just swinging sixties excess at its best!