Monday, October 22, 2012


"One good affair deserves another."

I watched ONE SPY TOO MANY the other day. This was the third MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. "movie" to be released in both the U.S. and overseas. After this film, all other U.N.C.L.E. "movies" were only released in foreign markets.
Like the other MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. movies, this was cobbled together from a two-part episode of the weekly television series that ran on NBC TV in the mid-'60s. For this movie, the second season premiere two-parter THE ALEXANDER THE GREATER AFFAIR was used. 
In this adventure, billionaire industrialist Alexander (played by UT alum Rip Torn), plans to conquer the world by breaking each one of the Ten Commandments in some spectacular fashion. Agents Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum) are aided in their efforts to stop Alexander by his estranged wife, Tracy (Dorothy Provine, who provides much of the humor in this outing). The film opens with the theft of a nerve gas that saps human will power but nothing is ever done with this weapon. It's a red herring/McGuffin plot device that is quickly forgotten and ignored.
Since the material was originally broadcast over two weeks, the end of the first episode ended on a cliffhanger in which Solo, strapped to a stone slab, is menaced by a slowly descending razor sharp pendulum while Ilya and Tracy hang suspended by a slowly burning rope over a bottomless pit. The cliffhanger now occurs at the mid-point of the film and is thus completely devoid of suspense.
The episodes were altered for the film. Some material was excised while new footage featuring Yvonne Craig as Mr. Waverly's niece, Maude, was shot and edited into the film. Maude carries on a sexually charged flirtation with Solo throughout the film.
There's a fairly well staged car chase through the tunnels of Bronson Canyon (a Los Angeles location that I visited with my buddy Kelly Greene back in 1994) and the film is loaded with one-liners and double entendres. By the second season, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. was already starting to include more tongue-in-cheek humor in an effort to make the series more kid friendly.
If you think about it too much, the plot really doesn't make a whole lot of sense, so I'd advise you to turn your thinking cap off while watching this one. Also, it's amazing how cheap the series was when you see several episodes back-to-back. The same sets and back lots are used repeatedly and while THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. was a globe-trotting adventure series, the entire production was filmed in probably two zip codes in the Los Angeles area.
Still, it's hard to be too critical of this movie or the series in general. It's one of my childhood favorites and I still enjoy watching Solo and Kuryakin even after all these years.

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