A few days ago, the sad death was announced of actor/singer Noel Harrison. Son of 'My Fair Lady' Rex, he was probably best remembered for his wonderful performance of Michel Legrand and Alan and Marilyn Bergman's haunting song 'The Windmills Of Your Mind', from 'The Thomas Crown Affair' ( the film that made chess sexy! ) which starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. Noel was the only singer to do the song justice. He was also well known for having played 'Mark Slate', the sidekick of girl spy 'April Dancer' ( Stefanie Powers ) in the short-lived television series 'The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.' in 1966/67. Noel was probably the best thing about it; his dapper, chirpy Englishman was in keeping with the mood of the times. But the show was plagued by weak scripts and an under-use of Powers, which was strange seeing how she was supposed to be the star.
'The Lethal Eagle Affair', written by Robert Hill and directed by John Brahms, is one of the better instalments. It opens in Austria, with Mark watching from the top of a tree as his friend and partner April is being driven through the grounds of a château - with her tied to the roof of a car. An eagle swoops out of the sky, and towards the helpless female. Mark is under strict orders from 'Mr.Waverly' ( Leo G. Carroll ) not to intervene. As the eagle closes in for the kill, it suddenly vanishes from view. It has been disintegrated by a new machine developed by 'Franz Joseph' ( Michael Wilding ). Joseph's employer is the beautiful and wealthy 'Gita Volander' ( Margaret Leighton ) who is hoping to use the device to secure a place on the THRUSH Council. Also present is the elegant 'Count Egon' ( Cesare Danova a.k.a. 'Actor' from 'Garrison's Gorillas' ), who is there to see if the device works or not. A further test is demanded - this time on a live, adult male. April is to be used as the bait...
This is less noticeably campy from some of the other episodes of the series. April gets an important role for once, working undercover while keeping in constant radio contact with Mark. There is an amusing scene with a tearoom where Mark gets the come-on from a stunning ( and boy, isn't she ) blonde played by Thordis Brandt. He has to tell her she is not interested , even though he plainly is. The climax has an U.N.C.L.E. assault force - led by Mr.Waverly - storm the château while an THRUSH assault force disguised as U.N.C.L.E. agents ( confusing? you bet! ) tries to make off with the disintegration device. Leighton - hilarious in Kevin Connor's 'From Beyond The Grave' ( 1973 ) - hams it up delightfully as 'Gita', who looks to have lustful interests in April. A few more episodes like this - and a few less than ( heaven help us ) 'The Danish Blue Affair' ( with Dom DeLuise ) - and 'G.F.U.' might possibly have averted cancellation.
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