Monday, September 12, 2011

U.N.C.L.E. Week: The Helicopter Spies

U.N.C.L.E. men Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Kuryakin (David McCallum) are sent to Iran to retrieve a fantastic death ray from the vault of evil Persian scientist Kharmusi (John Dehner). While Solo flirts with Kharmusi’s sultry wife Azalea (PETER GUNN babe Lola Albright), Kuryakin creeps into the compound with notorious safecracker Luther Sebastian (Bradford Dillman), who will receive amnesty from all 22 countries in which he’s wanted for completing the task.

Unfortunately for U.N.C.L.E., Sebastian doublecrosses the agents and plans to use the death ray to conquer the world in the name of his cult, the Third Way, which is led by a silent old man (John Carradine) who will speak only when the Third Way is in control of Earth. Joining Solo and Kuryakin’s investigation are Annie (Carol Lynley), who wants revenge against Sebastian for framing her fiancĂ© for murder, and four circus acrobats (all amusingly played by H.M. Wynant).

An improvement over the previous U.N.C.L.E. movie, THE KARATE KILLERS, THE HELICOPTER SPIES is one of the series’ best. Dean Hargrove’s exciting screenplay is packed with witty dialogue and imaginative action sequences that are staged by Boris Sagal at a brisk clip. The twist at the halfway point is a real surprise (unless you’ve already seen the film’s trailer). The film was originally “The Prince of Darkness Affair,” the next-to-last two-part episode from THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.’s truncated fourth season.

Is it ironic that the director of THE HELICOPTER SPIES was later killed in a tragic helicopter accident?

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