3 items from 2011
There was never any shortage of spy shows in the 1960s. Get Smart, Man in a Suitcase, I Spy, Mission: Impossible... Spies were for television in the sixties what cops and doctors are for television today. Some spy shows were even successful enough to spawn a spin-off: The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., for instance, is a spin-off from the popular series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
However, it seems like The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. was one of the few spy shows from that era that weren't really a success; only twenty-nine episodes of the series were produced before the program was cancelled due to low ratings. Now, the complete series finally coming to DVD from Warner Brothers, available in two four-disc sets. We were able to get our hands on a copy of the first set, and surprisingly, it was actually quite good.
- Sam McPherson
Film director whose work included the wartime masterpiece Western Approaches
The director Pat Jackson, who has died aged 95, was best known for the semi-documentary war film Western Approaches (1944). This neglected classic – a feature-length portrait of the Battle of the Atlantic – was shot under the auspices of the Ministry of Information's Crown Film Unit and predominantly filmed at sea under hazardous conditions. The shoot's logistical nightmares were compounded by the vast size of the Technicolor camera. Jackson himself devised the story of the imminent convergence of a German U-boat and an English ship which is on the way to save a group of comrades in a lifeboat.
Jackson was in his late 20s when he shot Western Approaches with the outstanding cameraman Jack Cardiff and a cast of amateur actors. It was a remarkable achievement that remained unsurpassed throughout the writer-director's lengthy career. The film was well received in Britain and »
- Brian Baxter
Man in a Suitcase's "Mac" McGill is the off-brand James Bond. Where Bond has a smooth swagger, McGill has an awkward stride that resembles most accurately Gru from Despicable Me. His dialogue delivery is forced (not to mention entirely cheeseball), and he takes himself way too seriously, despite his constant inferiority to the episodes' antagonists, who continually blackmail, threaten, (and in one episode, brainwash) him. If Man in a Suitcase didn't try to market him as being someone as suave as James Bond, that'd all be fine.
The show itself isn't bad, though, believe it or not. It deserves points for casting an American in the main role as McGill, despite being a British show. The fact that the show at least attempts to show American perceptions of Britain makes it interesting in that regard, though that aspect receives very little screen time.
The show also has hints of its contemporary, »
- Sam McPherson
3 items from 2011
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