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

Thursday, August 13, 2015


David McCallum and Robert Vaughn
THE RETURN OF THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair (1983 telefilm). Director: Ray Austin.

"THRUSH is now a nuclear power."

"Bed bugs. Bed bugs in every hotel in New York." -- Illya

Fifteen years have gone by and both Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) have left UNCLE. Solo now works in computers and Illya runs a fashion house called Vanya's. Alexander Waverly has passed on and been replaced by Sir John Raleigh (Patrick Macnee of The Avengers.) THRUSH is also back in business, and has acquired a nuclear device with which it can wipe out a large part of the country. Justine Seraphin (Anthony Zerbe), who is working for THRUSH, wants $350 million dollars to be delivered by Napoleon Solo -- or else. Can Solo importune Illya, who quit UNCLE after an assignment went bad and a young lady died, into coming out of retirement one last time? Both Vaughn and McCallum were in their early fifties but time was much kinder to McCallum, who still seems lithe and attractive. Vaughn, however, plays with his customary authority and panache, and both men give excellent performances. Gayle Hunnicutt is on the mark as a Russian woman who needs Solo's help, as are Simon Williams as the son of the man who built the bomb, John Harkins as the nasty Alexi Kemp, and Jan Triska as the gambling, icy Vaselievich. Zerbe and Geoffrey Lewis make acceptable villains, and Susan Woollen has a nice turn as Raleigh's gal Friday, who happens to be named Janice Friday. George Lazenby of On Her Majesty's Secret Service has a cameo playing "J.B." and even George Sanders [A Scandal in Paris], who appeared in more than one UNCLE episode, shows up briefly at the end as Hunnicutt's father. Tom Mason is effective enough as a comparatively crude UNCLE agent. [Amazing that no other operatives are in the league of Solo and Kuryakin!] The souped-up version of the theme music really sucks. This is basically a fair-to-middling longer episode of the UNCLE show with a suspenseful climax, and some well-done sequences. Stupid moments have Raleigh asking Solo to report to duty but not bothering to tell him that UNCLE HQ has moved!

Verdict: Seeing Napoleon Solo and John Steed playing together is not as much fun as you might imagine. **1/2.

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