Sunday, August 15, 2010

That swingin' Man from UNCLE

Some shows would update their opening titles every season. This was great if you loved the theme. One of my favorites was THE MAN FROM UNCLE, a James Bond-type spy show, composed by Jerry Goldsmith. Here are several versions. If you can listen to these and not want to foil the latest THRUSH plot then there's something wrong with you.

28 comments:

Wavedeform said...

Ahem... Thrush.

Rinaldo said...

Now you're talkin'. I love this era of instrumental TV themes for spy-adventure shows. This one by Jerry Goldsmith (by the way, I have no memory of the 5/4 first-season one, only the second), then Mission: Impossible (another 5/4) and Mannix both by Lalo Schifrin, and I Spy by Earle Hagen. The latter two are especially memorable jazz waltzes.

And how about Earle Hagen? It never ceases to amaze me that he created the themes not only for I Spy, but for Dick Van Dyke and Andy Griffiteh. Could those three be any different.

Rinaldo said...

Ahem... "any more different from each other?"

Cymner said...

Great choice.

thomas tucker said...

Excellent theme, along with It Takes a Thief.
Best ever, though- Mr. Lucky.
btw, what did you think of The Waltons' theme?

brickben said...

Hmmmm, I wonder if Rip Torn's guest role involved robbing the Federal Reserve?

Gary Farber said...

Ken, your clip entirely eliminates the vastly cooler context of the whole opening of that episode, The Vulcan Affair, specifically, showing the T.H.R.U.S.H. agents invading U.N.C.L.E. HQ via Del Florio's. See it here.

Tom Quigley said...

Although I realize it was a misspelling, considering how many women were willing to throw themselves at Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, maybe keeping "THRUST" in your post would have been entirely appropriate....

Ty said...

I wonder what percentage of Rip Torn's success getting roles comes from his name?

Mike Barer said...

Get Smart was very memorable. Too pull off comedy like that and still keep the spy intrigue was ingenious.

Anonymous said...

Third one's the best!

cheers
B Smith

Pat Reeder said...

Speaking of swingin' '60s spies, I never watched "Man From UNCLE," but I was definitely an "Avengers" fan. Diana Rigg and Julie Newmar and their respective skintight catsuits were probably the #1 factor in causing my puberty to kick in at age nine.

Since you've already posted the "Avengers" theme, I thought you might like this record by Patrick McNee and Honor "Pussy Galore" Blackman, who was Diana's predecessor. My partner George Gimarc and I put it into our celebrity records book, "Hollywood Hi-Fi," for its lethal earworm quality. It was actually a UK novelty hit, cashing in on the fad for Ms. Blackman's sexy leather footwear. It's called "Kinky Boots." At last, your chance to hear Patrick McNee sing, sort of!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sxswr6Qn7A

dvestv said...

Perhaps, they love it.

That Neil Guy said...

The folks over at Film Score Monthly put out four different sets of Man From UNCLE soundtrack music. Here's volume 1: http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/cds/detail.cfm/CDID/245/Man-From-U.N.C.L.E.-The/

Nonchalant Savant said...

Worst.Security.Guard.Ever.

Probably working for the TSA now.

Matt Patton said...

I still think the second version of the theme was best, just the great interplay between what sounds like a bass guitar and the deeper reaches of the brass section. Low-key and intense, as they say . . .

kent said...

But do you remember what U.N.C.L.E. stood for?

As I recall, it was the "United Network Command for Law Enforcement".

Jeffrey Leonard said...

The booze has not been kind to Rip Torn. He hasn't aged well.

Joey H said...

I like how the guest stars were featured as part of the opening. I wish shows still did that.

Vermonter17032 said...

I loved the Man from Uncle theme. There have been good theme songs right up through now, but it is pretty hard to beat the high water of the 1960s with Secret Agent, Star Trek and Hawaii Five-0.

normadesmond said...

oh my, albert dekker. wonder if he got tied up on this episode?

Foaming Solvent said...

Loved "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." as a kid. We used to play UNCLE vs THRUSH on the playground at lunchtime. Quick -- when it was cancelled in January 1968, what show replaced it? "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In."

Several of my favorite themes from the 60s have already been mentioned, so I will put in a good word for "N.Y.P.D.." I still have the ancient tape recording I made of that theme, off our old Zenith, complete with 60 Hz hum. The only YouTube I can find of the theme is embedded in this extended clip. Jump ahead to about 2:15 if you don't want to watch the frolicking of the youthful Al Pacino and Jill Clayburgh. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxxky2Jtbao

(People who have seen "Police Squad" will recognize that, although the makers of that series stole the music from "M Squad," they stole the visual from "N.Y.P.D..")

Oh, and, let's not forget "The Virginian," one of my parents' favorite shows. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWet2qgieVc

Foaming Solvent said...

And speaking of TV show openings, while the music that followed was only so-so, the opening of "Ben Casey" used to freak me out as a youngster. Dr Zorba standing there at the chalkboard, writing the symbols and saying "Man ... woman ... birth ... death ... infinity" scared me to death, but I didn't know why. Now I know why, and it still scares me to death.

thomas tucker said...

Foaming Solvent- I had forgotten about that. That is pretty creepy.

John said...

And how about Earle Hagen? It never ceases to amaze me that he created the themes not only for I Spy, but for Dick Van Dyke and Andy Griffith. Could those three be any different.

One of the things that made the Danny Thomas-Sheldon Leonard shows of the 1950-60s so memorable were Hagen's themes -- including his revision of the theme for the company's flagship show, where the two themes convey two completely different moods. The original scoring of "Danny Boy" for Thomas' show is both straightforward and schmaltzy at the same time, more befitting a melodrama than a sitcom starring the King of the Spit Takes (though I suppose it fit the mood better when they killed off Jean Hagen). Hagen's 1961 revision (used later in syndication) is still schmaltzy, but in an upbeat, early 60s Vegas style, and fits in a lot better both for that type of comedy, and with the other shows he'd score for Thomas and Leonard over the next 6-7 years.

blogward said...

Second one - best use of bongo drums in any music ever.

Matt Patton said...

Another great TV theme song from this period was Joseph Mullendore's for Honey West. Great big-band jazz sound, and accompanied by those great quick-cut photo titles (many of them intimate, sexy close-ups. And even better, in some ways, was the closing them, with that great sax riff. Actually, just about everything about that show was well-nigh perfect (I've spent a grim afternoon distracting myself with my HW box set).

Mark said...

My wife was too young for Uncle, but a big NCIS fan. I'm not sure she believes me when I tell her all the girls used to be crazy over Ducky.