The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1983)
Cast & Characters
U.N.C.L.E's top two enforcers have been out of the spy business
for fifteen years. Now their old agency desperately needs
their help. At stake: millions of innocent lives. When
a terrorist organization hijacks a dangerous warhead,
the group transmits its ransom demand to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters,
insisting that former agent Napoleon Solo deliver the
money in person. Called in from the cold, Solo recruits
the assistance of his former partner Illya Kuryakin Together,
they must race the clock to stop an old enemy from triggering
a nuclear catastrophe. This globetrotting thriller reunites
television's greatest spy team in a witty, action-packed
Running Time: 96 minutes
Release Date: 5th April 5th 1983
Box-Office (Domestic): N/A
|| David McCallum
Sir John Raleigh
Los Angeles, CA, USA; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The criminal organization THRUSH steals the A-bomb H975 and demands
$300,000 to be delivered within 72 hours by their former antagonist
Solo. So U.N.C.L.E. has to reactivate the super agents Solo
and Kuryakin after they were 15 years out of business. Equipped
in the usual 007 fashion they start to seek the villains.
Almost twenty years after "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." series
debuted on NBC in America, the show's stars Robert Vaughn
and David McCallum were reunited
for a TV movie on CBS.
As the original show ran from 1964 to 1968, "The
Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E." was subtitles "The Fifteen Years
Later Affair". It was broadcast on April 5th, 1983.
Whilst Vaughn and McCallum reprised their roles (American
Napoleon Solo and Russian Illya Kuryakin respectively),
former 'Avenger' Patrick Macnee replaced Leo G. Carroll,
who had passed away in 1972, as the head of U.N.C.L.E.
Rather than recasting the role, Macnee played a new head
of U.N.C.L.E., Sir John Raleigh. A framed picture of Carroll
appeared on his desk.
Right: McCallum and Vaughn pose for CBS publicity shots
on the set.
Although some personnel from the original series
were involved (like composer Gerald Fried and director of photography
Fred Koenekamp), the movie was not produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
but by Michael Sloan Productions in association with Viacom Productions
- Sloan, Vaughn and McCallum are pictured in the Michael Sloan
Productions logo at the end of the movie.
The movie, written by Michael
Sloan and directed by Ray Austin, briefly filled in the
missing years. THRUSH has been put out of business, and
the remaining leader was in prison - his escape begins
Illya has quit
U.N.C.L.E. after a mission went sour and an innocent
woman was killed, and now designs women's clothing at Vanya's
in New York.
Napoleon has been pushed out of U.N.C.L.E.
and now sells computers, though he still carries his
pen radio for sentimental reasons (which is how the
organization is able to contact him after so many years).
to fan lore, the script originally had the backstory
roles reversed but McCallum thought it would be interesting
switch them so that the viewers would be surprised.
Solo and Kuryakin are recalled to recapture
the escapee and defeat THRUSH once and for all, but the movie
misfired on a key point: instead of reuniting the agents on the
mission - and showcasing their witty interaction - the
agents were separated and paired with younger agents. Like most
similar reunion films, this production was considered a trial
balloon for a possible new series. while
the ratings were satisfactory, CBS was not interested and a series
Above: George Lazenby as 'J.B.'
The Bond Connection
The movie's most blatant nod to 007 was a to cameo appearance
by an unidentified secret agent with the licence plate "J.B." The
part was played by one-time James Bond George
Lazenby who was shown driving
Martin DB5. One female character, identifying him, says that it is "just
like On Her Majesty's Secret Service". Legal concerns resulted in explicit
references to Bond being dropped, though
there was little doubt who the character was supposed to be.
The new THRUSH is headed up by future Bond villain
Anthony Zerbe, whilst Geoffrey
Lewis plays the villainous mastermind Janus
- the two-faced Roman god that would be later used as the name
of Alec Trevelyan's criminal
organisation in "GoldenEye".
Patrick Macnee would later play Bond's ally Tibbett in
View To A Kill".
due to the striking similarities
to the plot, "Return" was
marketed as "Solo für Onkel: Thunderball" in West Germany.
Furthermore, some of the opening scenes with Solo are almost
a word-for-word lift from Connery's early 007 outings.
Beyond Bond Index