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'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' Is Heading to the Big Screen

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 14th 2010 6:08PM
the_man_from_uncle_robert_vaughn_david_mccallumThey're at it again. Another popular television series from yesteryear, in this case 1964-68, is being remade, reworked and revamped into a big screen movie. 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E,' one of the iconic spy shows spawned by the James Bond craze, has been tapped by Warner Brothers as a theatrical. The Hollywood Reporter reports that David Dobkins, best known for 'Wedding Crashers,' will direct 'The Man from UNCLE' and Max Borenstein is writing the script.

The big question now is not when or why, but who. Who will Warners choose to play Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, the two super secret agents of United Network Command for Law Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.), and even if the casting is perfect, as a follow up, how will they inevitably screw it up? The track record for well-loved TV shows being rejiggered for the silver screen is awful.

Therefore, let's eliminate some of the likely suspects who would be sure to flop in either role. Will Smith? He was miscast in the film version of 'The Wild, Wild West.' Owen Wilson? He may have the David McCallum look -- blonde and cute -- but he was sleepwalking in both 'I Spy' and 'Starsky and Hutch.' He's a no all the way.

Tom Cruise? Well, 'Mission: Impossible' was a hit three times over in theaters, but it had nothing to do with the original and even went so far as to destroy the Jim Phelps character by making him a traitor!

Two remakes that weren't too bad were 'Maverick' and 'Get Smart,' and in the former case the director -- Richard Donner -- was wise to include James Garner in the picture. Which is what David Dobkin should do immediately. Robert Vaughn and David McCallum should be filming some kind of cameo to lend credibility to the project. They were the men in 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' Use them while you can!

Still, it's hard to get overly enthused for the feature, which may not be on screen for a year or more. So many of these films just don't capture the thing that made the original a success. 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E' had a good balance of spy thrills with comic invention.

The early black and white years, the better episodes, were marked by good writing and great chemistry between the stars. That extended to Leo G. Carroll as their boss, Mr. Waverly. It was a fun show, and in the same era when 'Star Trek' was on NBC, too, both shows had a great fan following among kids. The stars were all over the teen magazines, even if the Nielsen numbers weren't registering how popular they really were.

For now, it's probably best to follow Mel Brooks' musical advice -- from 'The Twelve Chairs' -- "Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst."

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Noel Fernandez

Remakes are a good thing as long as they are well-written. Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a very popular T.V. series, so they need popular actors to portray Napoleon and Illya...How about Nicolas Cage as Napoleon and Liam Neeson(Taken) as Illya. That would be a hit in the big screen!!!

July 26 2011 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Have Robert Vaughn and David McCallum if they're available, that is, play the Waverly role (Solo could be the head of UNCLE, Illya an assistant or as a department head as suggested by Walter.) Then cast a couple of younger, possibly less well-known actors as the 2 agents who would be handling the missions. I was thinking maybe one black and one female, but, then that would be too much like "I Spy"! Of course, find some older, perhaps fading star to play the "heavy" with a couple of B-list "guest stars" like the old shows!

May 15 2011 at 9:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Solo should be the new head with Illya as head of a technical dept. New agents should be introduced , including a new female agent, all under the tutorage of the experienced Solo & Illya.

April 07 2011 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff McBride

A lot of shows have remakes with new people BUT " THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. "is the only one that NEEDS the originals : ROBERT VAUGHN - DAVID McCALLUM !!! IT JUST DOES !!

February 04 2011 at 7:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not long ago I worked out an UNCLE "update" where Illya had been promoted into Waverly's position and Solo had gone missing several years previously while on a mission against THRUSH. I simply created two new agents who were more geared to our present times - Alexander Blake, a Canadian and Ali Mendani, Palastinian ex-Mossad/Al qada mole.

May 01 2010 at 1:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

GREAT SHOW!! had all there toys as a kid Im glad they are doing it! Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise would be great as the kids if they keep there egos in check! You have to have Robert and David in there as the fathers of the two.And please keep it in the style of the 60s.

April 25 2010 at 7:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You know, if they do this movie right, update it so it's relevant for our time, and give it the right balance of drama, humor, and adventure, they could have a huge hit and a bonafide franchise on their hand. If George Clooney was about 15 years younger, he would be perfect for Napoleon Solo.

April 24 2010 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I vote for Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks from Stargate to play the leads--their onscreen chemistry is legendary and both are capable active actors.

April 24 2010 at 8:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved the Man from Uncle. I had recorded every episode that I could although now they are to old to use. But I still have the paperback books that they sold at that time also. The personalities of Illya and Napoleon were wonderful and left you wondering what they were really like off the set. A remake would be wonderful, but I know it would not be as good as the original !!!!!

April 18 2010 at 8:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David S.

Why isn't this show ever shown in reruns? I was a kid when this was on, and it was a very unique TV show. Don't worry -- Hollywood will screw up the movie version, just like they do the others.

April 16 2010 at 4:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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