Fans of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
felt doubly blessed in 1965. Not only did its second series debut in colour, but there was also the first of several spin-off movies. The Spy with My Face
thrilled audiences with "The August Affair", a plot to replace Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) with a look-alike. The movie's only disappointment in this golden year for the show was the inexplicable absence of its catchy theme tune.
By the third series the show had strayed too far into the campness of Batman, which also started in 1966. One Spy Too Many demonstrated the rush to cash-in on success before the bubble burst. This second theatrical release actually consists of two TV episodes, and played on US small screens first. This then became the pattern for the later movies, although what played where on international TV in episodic fashion becomes extremely complicated. The Karate Killers features Joan Crawford, Herbert Lom and Telly Savalas in a search for a secret formula (from Series 3). The Helicopter Spies pits Solo and Kuryakin (David McCallum) against two criminal masterminds (culled from Series 4). How to Steal the World is very much a finale, in that it comes from the very last episode. It rather shows, too, with only Leslie Nielsen looking serious about his art.
It's no top secret that The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'s finest hours came early; the same certainly goes for these movies. Nevertheless, the gadgets are always great, the girls easy on the eye and the two leads superb in their chemistry together.
On the DVD: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has survived pretty well for its DVD incarnation. Although there's some grain and artefacts evident in the print, colours are bright and the image is generally sharp. Some work has gone into providing fun fan material, but unfortunately it's all via DVD-ROM and in PDF format. The eight text documents cover series origins, merchandise, the fans themselves and, of course, the movies featured in this box set. --Paul Tonks
Three-disc set containing five U.N.C.L.E. movies:
The Spy with My Face
One Spy Too Many
The Karate Killers
The Helicopter Spies
How to Steal the World