It was with huge excitement that I saw the first trailer for Guy Ritchie’s 1960s spy caper “The Man from UNCLE” released this week. In the early 1980s, this then 12 year old was fascinated by a TV show that had been off the air for over 15 years. It was kitschy by today’s standards, and ironically I only realised much later that I’d never even seen the first season which is hailed by fans as the best one, but rarely repeated because it’s in black and white. Although TG4 did, a few years ago, curiously enough.
What was it about the adventures of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin that caught my imagination so much? Certainly the international locations (actually all filmed in California. Every airport looked the same, save for a policeman in a different uniform and different tourist posters on the walls!), the derring-do, the wise-cracking of the two agents, and the beautiful yet sophisticated girls all played a part. But also, I was fascinated that UNCLE was international, the Russians and the Americans cooperating together against Nazis and megalomaniacs and of course the evil THRUSH organisation. It’s a concept that shaped my politics even now.
So, here’s hoping the new movie, out in August and starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Hugh Grant as their boss tips the hat a few times at their predecessor.
*”Open Channel D” was the standard UNCLE greeting when communicating with their New York headquarters.