Tuesday, October 30, 2012


"You wouldn't put a bullet in your own head, would you?"

I watched THE SPY WITH MY FACE yesterday. It's yet another MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. "movie" but this one's a bit different. Instead of pasting together a two-part episode, SPY is actually a first season episode, THE DOUBLE AFFAIR, with some new footage edited in to expand it to feature length.
How do you get a guest villain for an episode of U.N.C.L.E. without paying for a guest actor (or actress?) Simple. You use one of the oldest narrative gambits in the book: the evil twin (or bad double, in this case). Yes, it's two, two Napoleon Solos for the price of one (both played by Robert Vaughn). It's cheap but effective as Vaughn displays a talent for playing a bad guy.
The plot deals with the replacement of Solo with a THRUSH double in order to gain access to a super-secret weapon. The exact nature of this wonder weapon is never fully explained, despite a lot of gobbledy gook tech speak in the script. The one thing we know for sure: when the vault containing the weapon is open, you don't want to be looking at it.
There's plenty of eye candy in this one. Sexy Senta Berger plays Serena, a THRUSH agent good/bad girl who seduces the real Solo (in semi-nude footage shot for the film). At the end of the affair, Solo allows her to escape despite the fact that she tried to murder his best friend, Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). Also on hand is the lovely Sharon Farrell as Sandy, an airline hostess romantically involved with Solo (the real one) who is unrecognized and snubbed by the bad double. 
Highlights include an attack on Illya by two Robot Commando toys outside of U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. These robot warriors were manufactured by Ideal in 1961 and they received a nice bit of product placement in this 1964 episode. Oh, and the real Solo is held captive in an observatory in the Swiss Alps. The observatory is the iconic Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and it has served as a setting for numerous motion picture productions including the classic REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and THE ROCKETEER. My buddy Kelly Greene and I visited the Griffith Observatory grounds during our trip to LA in 1994.
THE SPY WITH MY FACE is fast paced fun. Since the source episode is from the first season of the series, the tongue in cheek humor is kept to a minimum with the emphasis on plot, action, intrigue and gorgeous women. I can't complain.

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