Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Monday, December 31, 2007

THE SPY WITH MY FACE


THE SPY WITH MY FACE (1965). Director: John Newland.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was such a successful program that the producers decided to try to make even more money by expanding certain episodes and turning them into movies. (Later on they only did this with two-part episodes, which generally needed no extra material.) This was fine for the foreign market, but a bit of a rip-off for Americans who had to pay to see what they'd already seen for free on TV. The Spy with My Face began life as "The Double Affair," a first season episode of the show in which THRUSH replaces Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) with a surgically-altered lookalike. Senta Berger is the sexy THRUSH villainess who dallies with both the original Solo and the copy, and Sharon Farrell is the perky stewardess who falls for Solo. The plot has to do with Project Earthsave, which will employ a unique and deadly force developed by scientists in the event Earth were to be attacked from space. Naturally THRUSH wants to get its hands on this energy for its own purposes. The best scene has several agents approaching the underground vault that holds the mysterious force as the director (an effective Paula Raymond of Beast from 20,000 Fathoms fame) warns them not to look into the vault without goggles once it's opened -- for some reason you could be sucked inside the vault and killed. The Solo-double murders someone who's on to him by "accidentally" knocking off his goggles. Strangely, no one even makes an attempt to rescue the poor guy as, mesmerized, he walks into the vault and the director intones "we can't save a man who no longer exists." Scenes added to the telecast include an opening raid on a THRUSH HQ, and some sexier bedroom and shower scenes with Vaughn, Berger, and Farrell. This may be basically minor-league all the way, but it's still fun if you're an U.N.C.L.E. fan. Still at its shorter length as a TV episode it probably worked much better. (The TV episode was shown in black and white; the movie version is in color.)
Verdict: Fun for Man from U.N.C.L.E. maniacs. **1/2.

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