Thursday, September 08, 2011

U.N.C.L.E. Week: One Spy Too Many

MGM chose wisely in expanding one of its best MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. episodes into a feature film. Taken from the second-season opener, “Alexander the Greater Affair,” ONE SPY TOO MANY was the biggest U.N.C.L.E. hit, particularly in London, where 007-mania was at its apex.

It was also the last U.N.C.L.E. film to receive a major American release, as MGM was beginning to draw criticism for charging money to see something already aired on free TV. As a bonus to ticket buyers, ONE SPY TOO MANY offers new footage of a bikini-clad Yvonne Craig (BATMAN) as an U.N.C.L.E. agent.

The first beneficiary of executive producer Norman Felton’s idea to pump up the budgets and star power on two-part episodes intended for later theatrical release, ONE SPY TOO MANY features a terrific turn by Rip Torn (THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW) as Alexander, a megalomaniac with an Alexander the Great complex who wants to rule the world. Based on producer David Victor’s clever story, Dean Hargrove’s razor-sharp screenplay sketches Alexander as a fascinating villain—a man so fantastically self-absorbed that his plan for world domination involves facing down God Himself.

He finances his scheme by committing crimes based on the Ten Commandments and leaving behind a stone tablet with a numeral inscribed on it. He also has a yen for colorful deathtraps, including one based on “The Pit and the Pendulum” that threatens to turn one U.N.C.L.E. agent into two. Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) pursue Alexander to Greece, where they reluctantly team up with their prey’s ex-wife, Tracey (Dorothy Provine), who’s after the alimony owed to her. Superbly directed by Joseph Sargent (THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE), ONE SPY TOO MANY is exciting and humorous without descending into the deadly camp that would eventually infect THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

1 comment:

Brian Drake said...

These reviews are great! I first watched the UNCLE movies when TNT ran them around 15 years ago, but they never showed all of them. I picked up the DVD set this week so I'm looking forward to seeing them all.