The charismatic Robert Vaughn and the cold yet charming David McCallum starred as agents Napolean Solo and Ilya Kuryakin. Originally titled ‘Solo,’ the The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) was a cult TV hit and ran from 1965-68 with a 1983 reunion TV movie and a Girl From U.N.C.L.E. spin-off as well.
Part of the ‘spy craze’ alongside James Bond, Danger Man and the like, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. saw the heroic spies look beyond national boundaries in order to unite against T.H.R.U.S.H., an evil organization bent on world domination. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was not only an entertaining program but it promoted international cooperation at a time when it seemed impossible.
Vintage promotional TV spot
Occasionally campy and sometimes an outright spoof of the genre, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. wavered in tone but remains a hallmark in TV pop culture.
Man from U.N.C.L.E. is so popular, in fact, that it has prompted a modern remake from Sherlock Holmes and Snatch director Guy Ritchie. The early look trailer features a very slick Henry Cavill as Solo (seeming far more at home in the part in comparison to his wet fish-like Superman) and Armie Hammer (from the forgettable Lone Ranger movie) as Kuryakin.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was in heavy rotation on TV during my childhood and I caught the odd episode and while the lead actors were a solid pull, I was never a huge fan. After exploring Champions, Persuaders! and The Protectors, I think I am overdue to take a closer look.
The modern movie is a period piece set during the 60’s during the heyday of the cold war and appears to be a fast-moving action picture with a smart sense of humor. I have high hopes.
Directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Alicia Vikander, Armie Hammer, Elizabeth Debicki, Guy Ritchie, Henry Cavill, and Hugh Grant, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. opens on August 14