Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Birthday, Napoleon Solo!


Okay, he's really Robert Vaughn, 74 years old today. I'll always think of him as Napoleon Solo, though, unless I'm thinking of him as the gunfighter in The Magnificent 7 and Battle Beyond the Stars. He's not bad in Hustle, either.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Vaughn has said in interviews that he's playing Albert in Hustle as Napoleon Solo in his later years.

I want to see an Albert and Ducky (McCallum in NCIS) team-up! ;)

Bill said...

Now there's a good idea!

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, I used to own that book! Wouldn't it be great to be able to watch The Man from U.N.C.L.E. on DVD!

Chris Aldrich

Bill said...

I still own that book, an Avallone classic.

The whole four-season set is available on DVD at tvdvdplanet for a mere $139.99. You should get it for Christmas.

James Reasoner said...

I loved that book when I was 12 years old and still have the copy I bought new at Buddies Grocery Store. I haven't reread it in years, though, and would be sort of afraid to now.

I've thought about getting those U.N.C.L.E. DVDs since I liked the show so much, but the problem is that only the first, black-and-white season is consistently good. There are some good episodes in the other seasons, but there are a lot of bad ones, too.

Bill said...

I have to agree with you about that first season, James. It was played pretty straight for the most part, and the later years got looser and jokier. They were supposed to be more fun, I guess, but it usually didn't work.

Brent McKee said...

Everything I've read suggests that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. doesn't hold up at all well. The first season has its moments - particularly the first teaming of a youngish Canadian actor with an older American, with the son of a German orchestral conductor there for flavour. I mean of course th first time that William Shatner teamed with Leonard Nimoy, with Werner Klemperer as the main bad guy. (I want to see Girl From U.N.C.L.E. on DVD - young Stephanie Powers (yum).)

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I have some of the 6" Marx figures, including the two stars.

Bill said...

Brent, I've seen recent re-runs of The Girl from U*N*C*L*E, and it's best remembered, not seen. Though Stephanie did look cool in those swinging fashions.

Todd Mason said...

And syndicated repeats of MAN were on again, briefly, about 5-10 years ago, and I was able to see them then for the first time since infancy. They hold up at least as well as I SPY, which too often isn't saying much, but I was chagrined never to have seen the Ellison-scripted episode that got them all sued by Judith Merril. The most jazz-flavored iteration of the theme, I think from the third season but perhaps from the second, was the best, I say. (And the batting average of the '60s spy shows, dragged way up by the imports SECRET AGENT and THE AVENGERS and the not-too-shabby run of GET SMART!, was a pretty high one as genres of tv drama go...though I haven't seen any AMOS BURKEs or GIRLs to add to the worst excesses of, say, THE WILD WILD WEST...then again, perhaps the worst excesses were what Made that show.)

Anders Engwall said...

Vaughn should of course be remembered also for A Kiss Before Dying and Harper.

For some unknown reason U.N.C.L.E. has been rerun on Swedish television on and off in the last few years. As has already been said, it's best remembered, not seen.

TM said...

Well, we can't forget BULLITT, either...

Anders Engwall said...

Oh my god, I just realized that my previous comment is totally wrong and that I had the the two Roberts Vaughn and Wagner confused.

Bill said...

I hereby grant absolution. Except wasn't that Robert Walker in A Kiss before Dying?

James Reasoner said...

Nope, it's Robert Wagner in A KISS BEFORE DYING. Robert Vaughn was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS, which I recall was a pretty good movie although it's been many years since I saw it.

Anders Engwall said...

And just to throw yet another similar name into the discussion, Robert Webber was also in Harper.

Anonymous said...

I've been watching Man from UNCLE on the American Life Channel (Wed, 9 pm EST, following I Spy, which I also watch) and it's been loads of fun. Yes, some were darn silly and Vaughn has said so, too.

I also have all the books and most of the Man from UNCLE Magazines. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've read 'em all. I got them back in the '60s, new. I went through puberty with that show. I wrote fanfic for that show, a friend and I played Man from UNCLE games because we loved that show. That show is the defining cultural icon of my childhood.

There have been no official DVDs because the two parties who own the rights keep feuding over it, not to mention their feud has been holding up a new movie. Vaughn is friends with one of the rights holders and the other is TimeWarner which owns Turner Broadcasting which had bought the MGM properties years ago.

A DVD set of season 1 was produced last year, and Vaughn did the intros, but not released because TimeWarner informed the company they didn't have the right to do so. In an interview in a Brit tv/science fiction mag, Vaughn was hopeful this will be resolved for release in 2007 but I'm not holding my breath.

Robert Vaughn should also be recalled for the "classic" Battle Beyond the Stars and for his delightful turn wearing lingerie in uh, S.O.B.

Bill said...

I think I did mention Battle Beyond the Stars, a favorite of mine. The swine at Time-Warner took the American Life Channel out of the cable line-up here. Maybe we'll get it back when Comcast takes over next year.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Bill. Missed seeing that. I was just looking at the newer comments.

I didn't watch UNCLE the last couple of weeks, so I don't know where American Life channel stands here in NYC. Last week was the season premiere of Medium at the same time. I'll have to take a look tonight and see if we still have it.

Bill said...

They probably just took it from us folks in the boonies. I'm hoping Comcast will be nicer.