U.N.C.L.E. discovers that Thrush killer Andrew Vulcan plans to assassinate a visiting African leader, Premier Ashumen, while he's on a tour of Vulcan's factory. Napoleon Solo enlists the help of Vulcan's old girlfriend, Elaine May Donaldson, who pretends to be a rich widow and gets closer to Vulcan, trying to find out if her old friend really is the bad man that Solo says he is. At the same time, she also enjoys the life of luxury and wealth and finds it hard to accept that she has to go back to boring married life after the operation is over. The film is made from the first season episodes "The Vulcan Affair" (09/22/64) and "The Four Steps Affair" (02/22/65) from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Written by
Daniel Bolton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film is a re-edited version of the pilot episode for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., plus footage from at least one other episode, with a number of changes. The famous character of Mr. Waverly is not in this film, for example. See more »
I came to this movified "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." feature after faithfully watching four other much later similar concoctions, so that I was feeling a bit "uncled-out" by the time I decided to watch "To Trap A Spy". I'm pleased to say that I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this was the expanded pilot episode (before the "Man" became effectively the "Men" as David McCallum quickly gained co-star status and better balanced out the entertainment).
There are a few curios on-view here for the discerning fan - no Mr Waverley, for one, the word "T.H.R.U.S.H" replaced by "W.A.S.P." with fairly ugly overdubbing, for some legal reason or other and as stated , Illya in only a very minor bit-part at the beginning of this episode. More pertinently are the stylistic differences; the fare here is certainly grittier and less comic-book than the more sanitised mid-late 60's seasons, exemplified for one thing by actual blood-stains on bodies when shot and mildly shockingly when Robert Vaughn gets dressed on camera after obviously bedding the treacherously beautiful Angela played by Luciana Paluzzi.
Now I've seen the difference, I think I prefer this less gimmicky approach but encouraged by James Bond's gadgetry, obviously the producers of "U.N.C.L.E." felt they had to follow suit as the swinging 60's progressed. There's a reasonably suspenseful death-trap which Solo resourcefully escapes and I liked the idea of the Cinderella housewife whom Solo coerces into U.N.C.L.E.'s employ due to a past relationship with "T.H.R.U.S.H. / W.A.S.P."'s Mr Big. Some of the settings and plottings reminded me, probably deliberately of "Dr No" and I was also amused by the coy finishing scene with Solo down-playing his Lothario urges on a mildly suspecting air-stewardess.
Okay, so you'd still take "Goldfinger" or "Thunderball" any day of the week, but it was good to see Robert Vaughn at the birth of his own cool and "U.N.C.L.E." before it started aiming too much at teenagers also getting their kicks from "Batman", "Get Smart" and "The Green Hornet".
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