To Trap a Spy


1h 32m 1966
To Trap a Spy

Brief Synopsis

Secret agents try to stop the assassination of an African leader touring the U.S.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Vulcan Affair
Genre
Drama
Action
Thriller
Spy
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Boston opening: 19 Jan 1966
Production Company
Arena Productions
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)

Synopsis

UNCLE, an organization to combat international crime, learns that WASP, an international crime syndicate, plans to take over Western Natumba, a newly-independent African state, by killing its President Ashumen when he and two of his ministers visit the Vulcan Chemicals plant in the United States. UNCLE's secret agent Napoleon Solo is assigned to prevent the assassination. He enlists the aid of Elaine May Donaldson, a housewife who was Vulcan Chemicals owner Andrew Vulcan's college sweetheart. Vulcan becomes attracted to Elaine once again when Solo has her pose as a wealthy and glamorous widow. She and Solo gain admittance to the Vulcan plant, and there they discover that Vulcan and Ashumen head WASP. Alfred Ghist, an evil scientist employed by Vulcan, captures Solo and Elaine and hangs them by their wrists in a room filling up with scalding steam. In the room directly above, an explosion is set to kill Ashumen's two ministers, who are innocent of any involvement in WASP. Solo and Elaine escape, saving the two Africans; and instead, Ashumen and Vulcan are killed in the explosion.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Vulcan Affair
Genre
Drama
Action
Thriller
Spy
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Boston opening: 19 Jan 1966
Production Company
Arena Productions
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)

Articles

To Trap a Spy -


Though it ran less than four years, from September 1964 until January 1968, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had an inestimable impact on international popular culture, being one of the first - if not the first - television series to inspire a cult following and to exploit that viewer dedication with merchandising tie-ins, personal appearances, series spinoffs, and feature film crossovers. Inspired by the popularity of the James Bond films from Eon Productions, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a product of the Cold War... and its development nearly sparked another war. Dr. No (1962) had marked Sean Connery's iconic debut as British secret agent 007; produced for just over $1,000,000, the film made back its budget many times over, ultimately spawning a franchise that would endure for more than half a century. Before the release of From Russia with Love (1963), the second film in the Eon series, Hollywood producers scrambled to capitalize on what was turning into an international vogue for espionage stories. All three major TV networks ordered pilots for prospective spy series: from ABC, McCaffrey starring Darrin McGavin as an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency; from CBS, Dr. Stryker, featuring Richard Egan as a globe-trotting American spy; and from CBS, Solo, starring Robert Vaughn as a suave operative for the elusive intelligence agency U.N.C.L.E. Eon co-founders Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were not amused. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was the brainchild of producer Norman Felton who outmaneuvered his colleagues at ABC and CBS by striking a deal with novelist Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond character (then the hero of ten books, the most recent at that time being The Spy Who Loved Me). It was Fleming's inspiration to name the hero of Felton's series Napoleon Solo, a flourish that angered Eon Productions, whose next film, Goldfinger (1964), was in production and had in its plotline a character named Mr. Solo (not native to the corresponding Fleming novel). When a series of cease and desist orders were issued by Eon Productions, ABC and NBC cancelled their plans for spy series, leaving CBS' Solo the sole contender. Due to a potential conflict of interest, Fleming abdicated his interest in the project (selling his rights for the sum of $1) while Felton soldiered on, brooking further threats of litigation from Broccoli and Saltzman, as well as pressure from within the hierarchy of CBS and MGM to make changes - among them the name of the villainous counterforce, THRUSH (deemed too similar to Fleming's S.M.E.R.S.H.) and the inclusion of a Russian secondary hero named Illya Kuryakin. Felton stuck to his guns and produced the pilot for Solo, which starred Robert Vaughn in the title role, and British actor David McCallum as his Soviet expat partner. Despite their misgivings that Fleming was no longer attached to the project, NBC rubberstamped their approval of Solo and the 70-minute pilot was retrofit for TV broadcast (where it would be shown in black and white, then industry standard), cut down to an hour, and retitled "The Vulcan Affair." Felton and producing partner Sam Rolfe (who had contributed ideas after the departure of Fleming, written the pilot, and oversaw the series' first season) were allowed to keep THRUSH as a villain but agreed to change the name of the series to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.; on the issue of the series' resident Russian, Felton and Rolfe responded to executive Grant Tinker's request that they eliminate "the person with the K" name (an obvious reference to Illya Kuryakin) by replacing actor Will Kuluva, who had appeared in the pilot as U.N.C.L.E. section chief Mr. Allison, with Leo G. Carroll. A further sticking point was the meaning of the titular acronym, with concerns arising from possible confusion of U.N.C.L.E. with the United Nations stemming from a legal stipulation that the U.N. could not be a party to any commercial enterprise. Though the series creators had wanted to leave the meaning of the acronym vague, they settled on the United Network Command for Law Enforcement and went the extra mile of thanking the fictional organization in series' credits. With filming of the pilot episode having occurred in November and December 1963 (sadly concurrent with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, perhaps the world's most highly-placed Ian Fleming fan), MGM made the decision to shoot additional footage in Metrocolor for the purpose of releasing a Man from U.N.C.L.E. feature overseas. Fresh from a role in American International Pictures' Muscle Beach Party (1964), Italian actress Luciana Paluzzi contributed a handful of scenes as a Mata Hari style seductress who lures unsuspecting U.N.C.L.E. agents to their doom. Paluzzi completed her scenes on the Metro lot in April 1964, six months prior to the series premiere. (The actress would later turn up in the fourth James Bond film, Thunderball [1965], playing a not dissimilar character and meeting a not dissimilar finish, felled by a bullet fired from her own side.) MGM released its cobbled together feature, To Trap a Spy, in Hong Kong in November 1964 and in the United Kingdom in March 1965. (That same month, NBC recycled Paluzzi's footage, albeit in black and white, for the twenty-first episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'s first season, "The Four-Steps Affair.") The American release of To Trap a Spy was delayed by a year, at which point it was packaged as part of a double feature with The Spy With My Face (1965), another recycle job consisting of the first season episode "The Double Affair" and additional footage prepared at the time of shooting with the intention of marketing another theatrical crossover. For long-term fans of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., To Trap a Spy remains a fascinating relic, a curio, if perhaps a bit frustrating for purists to sit through. Though the Metrocolor brings life and vibrancy to the monochromatic footage of "The Vulcan Affair" (the series went full color in its second year), the picture belongs almost exclusively to Robert Vaughn, reflecting the original intention of Felton and Rolfe for Solo to carry the series. Though ads for To Trap a Spy trumpeted David McCallum's "costarring" role, the actor is seventh-billed in the film's credits and appears, as in the "The Vulcan Affair," in only two scenes. As To Trap a Spy was assembled well in advance of the series rollout, Will Kuluva appears again as U.N.C.L.E. director Mr. Allison and all references to the evil amalgamate THRUSH are replaced for the purposes of the theatrical release with WASP. (Robert Vaughn provides looping not only for the lips of Napoleon Solo but from Will Kuluva's Mr. Allison, and Fritz Weaver's villainous industrialist Andrew Vulcan as well). In total, there would be eight Man from U.N.C.L.E. features released between 1965 and cancellation of the series in early 1968, among them One Spy Too Many (1966), One of Our Spies is Missing (1967), and The Karate Killers (1967), which featured "special guest star" Joan Crawford and marked the Academy Award-winning actress' return to the MGM lot after an absence of more than thirty years.

By Richard Harland Smith

Sources:

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Book: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of a Television Classic by John Heitland (Macmillan, 1987)
Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett (St. Martin's Press, 1995)
"The Importance of THRUSH" by C. W. Walker, www.ManFromUncle.org
To Trap A Spy  -

To Trap a Spy -

Though it ran less than four years, from September 1964 until January 1968, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had an inestimable impact on international popular culture, being one of the first - if not the first - television series to inspire a cult following and to exploit that viewer dedication with merchandising tie-ins, personal appearances, series spinoffs, and feature film crossovers. Inspired by the popularity of the James Bond films from Eon Productions, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a product of the Cold War... and its development nearly sparked another war. Dr. No (1962) had marked Sean Connery's iconic debut as British secret agent 007; produced for just over $1,000,000, the film made back its budget many times over, ultimately spawning a franchise that would endure for more than half a century. Before the release of From Russia with Love (1963), the second film in the Eon series, Hollywood producers scrambled to capitalize on what was turning into an international vogue for espionage stories. All three major TV networks ordered pilots for prospective spy series: from ABC, McCaffrey starring Darrin McGavin as an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency; from CBS, Dr. Stryker, featuring Richard Egan as a globe-trotting American spy; and from CBS, Solo, starring Robert Vaughn as a suave operative for the elusive intelligence agency U.N.C.L.E. Eon co-founders Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were not amused. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was the brainchild of producer Norman Felton who outmaneuvered his colleagues at ABC and CBS by striking a deal with novelist Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond character (then the hero of ten books, the most recent at that time being The Spy Who Loved Me). It was Fleming's inspiration to name the hero of Felton's series Napoleon Solo, a flourish that angered Eon Productions, whose next film, Goldfinger (1964), was in production and had in its plotline a character named Mr. Solo (not native to the corresponding Fleming novel). When a series of cease and desist orders were issued by Eon Productions, ABC and NBC cancelled their plans for spy series, leaving CBS' Solo the sole contender. Due to a potential conflict of interest, Fleming abdicated his interest in the project (selling his rights for the sum of $1) while Felton soldiered on, brooking further threats of litigation from Broccoli and Saltzman, as well as pressure from within the hierarchy of CBS and MGM to make changes - among them the name of the villainous counterforce, THRUSH (deemed too similar to Fleming's S.M.E.R.S.H.) and the inclusion of a Russian secondary hero named Illya Kuryakin. Felton stuck to his guns and produced the pilot for Solo, which starred Robert Vaughn in the title role, and British actor David McCallum as his Soviet expat partner. Despite their misgivings that Fleming was no longer attached to the project, NBC rubberstamped their approval of Solo and the 70-minute pilot was retrofit for TV broadcast (where it would be shown in black and white, then industry standard), cut down to an hour, and retitled "The Vulcan Affair." Felton and producing partner Sam Rolfe (who had contributed ideas after the departure of Fleming, written the pilot, and oversaw the series' first season) were allowed to keep THRUSH as a villain but agreed to change the name of the series to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.; on the issue of the series' resident Russian, Felton and Rolfe responded to executive Grant Tinker's request that they eliminate "the person with the K" name (an obvious reference to Illya Kuryakin) by replacing actor Will Kuluva, who had appeared in the pilot as U.N.C.L.E. section chief Mr. Allison, with Leo G. Carroll. A further sticking point was the meaning of the titular acronym, with concerns arising from possible confusion of U.N.C.L.E. with the United Nations stemming from a legal stipulation that the U.N. could not be a party to any commercial enterprise. Though the series creators had wanted to leave the meaning of the acronym vague, they settled on the United Network Command for Law Enforcement and went the extra mile of thanking the fictional organization in series' credits. With filming of the pilot episode having occurred in November and December 1963 (sadly concurrent with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, perhaps the world's most highly-placed Ian Fleming fan), MGM made the decision to shoot additional footage in Metrocolor for the purpose of releasing a Man from U.N.C.L.E. feature overseas. Fresh from a role in American International Pictures' Muscle Beach Party (1964), Italian actress Luciana Paluzzi contributed a handful of scenes as a Mata Hari style seductress who lures unsuspecting U.N.C.L.E. agents to their doom. Paluzzi completed her scenes on the Metro lot in April 1964, six months prior to the series premiere. (The actress would later turn up in the fourth James Bond film, Thunderball [1965], playing a not dissimilar character and meeting a not dissimilar finish, felled by a bullet fired from her own side.) MGM released its cobbled together feature, To Trap a Spy, in Hong Kong in November 1964 and in the United Kingdom in March 1965. (That same month, NBC recycled Paluzzi's footage, albeit in black and white, for the twenty-first episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'s first season, "The Four-Steps Affair.") The American release of To Trap a Spy was delayed by a year, at which point it was packaged as part of a double feature with The Spy With My Face (1965), another recycle job consisting of the first season episode "The Double Affair" and additional footage prepared at the time of shooting with the intention of marketing another theatrical crossover. For long-term fans of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., To Trap a Spy remains a fascinating relic, a curio, if perhaps a bit frustrating for purists to sit through. Though the Metrocolor brings life and vibrancy to the monochromatic footage of "The Vulcan Affair" (the series went full color in its second year), the picture belongs almost exclusively to Robert Vaughn, reflecting the original intention of Felton and Rolfe for Solo to carry the series. Though ads for To Trap a Spy trumpeted David McCallum's "costarring" role, the actor is seventh-billed in the film's credits and appears, as in the "The Vulcan Affair," in only two scenes. As To Trap a Spy was assembled well in advance of the series rollout, Will Kuluva appears again as U.N.C.L.E. director Mr. Allison and all references to the evil amalgamate THRUSH are replaced for the purposes of the theatrical release with WASP. (Robert Vaughn provides looping not only for the lips of Napoleon Solo but from Will Kuluva's Mr. Allison, and Fritz Weaver's villainous industrialist Andrew Vulcan as well). In total, there would be eight Man from U.N.C.L.E. features released between 1965 and cancellation of the series in early 1968, among them One Spy Too Many (1966), One of Our Spies is Missing (1967), and The Karate Killers (1967), which featured "special guest star" Joan Crawford and marked the Academy Award-winning actress' return to the MGM lot after an absence of more than thirty years. By Richard Harland Smith Sources: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Book: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of a Television Classic by John Heitland (Macmillan, 1987) Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett (St. Martin's Press, 1995) "The Importance of THRUSH" by C. W. Walker, www.ManFromUncle.org

Quotes

Trivia

This film is a re-edited version of the pilot episode for The Man From UNCLE, with a number of changes. The famous character of Mr. Waverly is not in this film, for example.

Notes

First shown on television September 22, 1964 as a 60-min "pilot" episode of NBC's "Man From U.N.C.L.E." series as The Vulcan Affair; c22 September 1964; LP33331.