Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Yeah, Vaughn Rules

Here's a neat little 30-second clip. THE PROTECTORS is out on DVD and is worth checking out, at least a handful of episodes. Long before the current HUSTLE, Robert Vaughn went to England to star in a television series, and one not far removed from THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., in which he played his signature role of secret agent Napoleon Solo. In THE PROTECTORS, which premiered in Great Britain in 1972, Vaughn played Harry Rule, an American sleuth based in London who frequently solved tough cases with the aid of an Italian contessa (Nyree Dawn Porter) and a Parisian police detective (Tony Anholt).

With each episode running a mere half-hour, THE PROTECTORS moves along at a very fast clip, jumping from one location and one action sequence to the next with wild abandon, often to the detriment of its characters. Vaughn later expressed displeasure with the series, although it holds up pretty well today. I suspect that the formula might eventually run dry if you watch the entire run; I've only seen four or five episodes, but enjoyed them quite a bit.

THE PROTECTORS ran for two seasons and 52 episodes on ATV. It also aired in the U.S. in syndication beginning in 1974. It's barely remembered today, at least here in America, and would probably surprise unsuspecting audiences giving it a whirl on DVD. The rapidly paced adventures were frequently helmed by successful action/suspense/horror movie directors like John Hough (DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY), Roy Ward Baker (QUATERMASS AND THE PIT) and Don Chaffey (ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.). Star Vaughn even helmed an episode or two, likely a bone tossed his way to keep him from bitching about scripts.

Here's the short but snappy opening titles to THE PROTECTORS. Some things to notice:
  • That yellow car crashing was an accident that occurred when a stunt went wrong. No one was injured, and the director (Hough, I think) decided to use the take.
  • I don't believe that bridge explosion ever appeared in an episode. It wasn't that unusual for producers to insert gratuitous action into a title sequence to perk up audiences' eyeballs.
  • I think Vaughn's dog appeared only in the pilot. With less than a half-hour to present each adventure, there was little time for lounging around the house, and with many episodes being shot on location all over Europe, the characters' home lives were rarely touched upon.
  • Tony Anholt gets no respect, does he?


The brassy theme is by, I believe, John Cameron.

1 comment:

Jim K said...

Marty,
I'm not sure where the bridge is from but the helicopter shot is definitely from FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE! (I believe Hough mentioned that in his commentary as well, assuming you watched the first disc).

I own both volumes, and while it's not a great show, I enjoy em, keeping in mind they were never meant to be watched in a two-day period! I'm pretty much watching one a week, and its a nice, old-fashioned diversion...still, a half-an-hour is pretty damn short for such an action-drenched show...