Thursday, August 21, 2008

Open Channel D

When I was a kid in grade school, it was not uncommon for me to buy a ten cent Bic pen from the school pen machine, take it apart and then hide behind the corner of buildings and whisper into the top of the disassembled writing implement, "Open channel D."

Just like the guy you see to the right.

Yes, I was pretending to be an agent of U.N.C.L.E., the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

Thanks to a tip-off from The Rap Sheet, I found out the Tuner Classic Movie channel was planning to broadcast The Spy in the Green Hat, a movie made from two stitched-together episodes of the 60s TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

I used to love the show when I was a kid and employ the theme music as the ring tone on my cell phone today, but haven't actually seen an episode since the 1960s. So with great anticipation and much puffing up of the show to my wife--who is from China and wasn't even born when the thing was first broadcast--we sat down to watch the TiVo'ed movie last night.

It was great to see David McCallum in the role of Illya Kuryakin (pictured above) and Robert Vaughn in the role of Napoleon Solo, but the sad truth is the movie was horrible. My wife was parodying the dialog about five minutes into it, but after she left to go to bed, I couldn't even bring myself to watch all the way through to the end.

The Wikipedia article on the show explains that it got more campy as it progressed, turning into a spoof rather than a straight-up spy thriller. Maybe the subtlety was lost on me as a kid, but I don't remember it being a spoof. However, watching it now, it seemed like a third-rate Austin Powers rip-off.

Still and all, there were some interesting surprises. The plot involves THRUSH's intention to change the climate of the earth to turn Greenland into a tropical paradise (even before Al Gore's PowerPoint!) and the cast included a surprising number of actors famous from other, more serious endeavors.

Jack Palance was the main baddie, but a minor baddie was played by Elisha Cook of The Maltese Falcon fame.

Janet Leigh, of Psycho fame, was also a baddie, and in an ironic turn, actually got to stab other people with a big knife.

Finally, Joan Blondell, played a mobster's aged, flapper-type wife. When the mobster gets mad at her, he takes a half a grapefruit and mashes it in her face, recreating the famous scene in The Public Enemy where James Cagney did the same thing to one of Blondell's Enemy co-stars.

I'm not ready to abandon all my childhood memories. Maybe there's still hope for the first season.


At 10:05 PM, Blogger Mickey said...



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