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(The 3 Stooges Meet THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.?)

by James H. Burns

The following is from the recently discovered treatment for a Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode that began filming in the early spring of 1966, but for some reason, was never completed...


NAPOLEON SOLO is in the midst of a desperate foot-chase, following two enemy agents through the alleys of a major American city.

Unbeknownst to the gentleman spy, just up ahead--

Are the Three Stooges, MOE, LARRY AND CURLY JOE...

Finishing or starting a construction, painting, or some kind of job....

As the Stooges are endeavoring with a ladder, or long plank, or some seemingly innocent object--

The two enemy agents come running through, taking the Stooges by surprise.

One of the malefactors bumps into Larry, and something falls from the agent's pocket.

The agents keep running, but "the Stooges" have been disrupted. As SOLO comes running through the area, the Stooges turn-- KNOCKING Solo out, accidentally, with their equipment. Solo crumples to the ground, up against the wall, unconscious.

After some general hubbub, and concern, Curly Joe spots the item that fell out of the enemy operative's jacket.

It's a T.H.R.U.S.H. badge....

LARRY: T.H.R.U.S.H.? What's a T.H.R.U.S.H.?

CURLY JOE: A thrush is a little birdie!

Moe slaps Curly Joe.

MOE: T.H.R.U.S.H. is an organization of criminal masterminds, you lamebrain! They wanna take over the world!

LARRY: Those no-goodniks.

CURLY JOE (thinking out loud): Yeah....

LARRY (indicating Napoleon Solo): Moe, then who's this?

CURLY JOE: Maybe we caught a bird with six hands!

Moe goes over to Solo, leaning unconscious, up against the wall. Moe goes through his pockets.

Larry and Curly stand near by.

MOE: Let's see here...

Moe pulls out Solo's special U.N.C.L.E. gun, which only tranquilizes. He hands it to the boys.

MOE: Here, take this. Be careful, you quince-heads...

Curly Joe takes the gun.

Moe has gotten to Solo's I.D. billfold.

MOE: This guy isn't THRUSH. He's from U.N.C.L.E...! He's one of the good guys!

LARRY: I was an uncle, once.

Curly Joe, meanwhile, has been examining the U.N.C.L.E. gun. It goes off, making that unique U.N.C.L.E. gun SOUND.

Curly Joe has shot himself.

He does a quick, slow fade, looking more dreamy than dead, and falls to the ground.

LARRY: Moe! Curly--Quick!

Moe and Larry hurry over to Curly Joe''s prone figure, frantic. Moe starts slapping Curly Joe's face.

MOE: Speak to me, kid. Speak to me!

LARRY: We're too young for you to die.

Solo, meanwhile, rubbing his brow, has come to.

SOLO: There's no need to worry. He'll only be unconscious for a while.

MOE (looking at the smiling, unconscious Curly Joe): Sleeping on the job, huh?! Why, I'll give you...

Moe grabs Curly by the lapels and starts shaking him, Curly's head just happily lolls back and forth.

Larry looks concerned.

Solo, now standing; puts his hand on Moe's shoulder.

SOLO: I'm certain that won't help.

Moe, responding to the voice of quiet authority, stops, stands, and looks at Solo.

SOLO: My gun, please.

Larry picks it up, from where it's fallen, hands it over to Solo.

Solo places it back in his jacket-holster.

SOLO: Now, as I'm certain you don't work for the competition, perhaps you fellas can help me...

ROLL U.N.C.L.E. Title Credits...


James H. Burns, April 1, 2012


3 of the Brothers Howard: Shemp visits Moe and "Babe" on the set!

Check the dateline!

This bit of parody was originally written for the good folks of the 3 Stooges Fan Club, which you can find out about at:

They produce a TERRIFIC quarterly newsletter/magazine, have a wonderful internet group, and host an annual FREE get-together in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania (about thirty minutes outside of Philadelphia). (This year's confab is the last weekend of April.) The centerpiece for the festival is the Stoogeum (in Ambler, Pennsylvania (Gwynedd Valley)). The Stoogeum is an absolutely first rate treasure trove of all things Stoogey, maintained and presented with the quality of a top-of-the-line art gallery. You can visit the Stoogeum on many weekends (about once a month, for an "open house"), and elsewhen, by appointment. Details can be discovered, here:

Speaking of, "Crying, Uncle..." I recently caught up with the DVD collection of THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. film compilations (eight movies, on four discs), released some months back from Warner Archives. (Fans had been surprised when a few years ago, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. episodes collection DIDN'T include the "movies.")

The theatrical releases--edited mostly from U.N.C.L.E. two-parters--orginally caused controversy in the United States, in the 1960s, because MGM was essentially just asking folks to pay for what they had already seen on television, for free!

But it's always fascinating to see the color version of U.N.C.L.E.'s pilot, fleshed out with new scenes featuring Luciana Paluzzi. (The Paluzzi scenes, along with additional sequences shot for THE SPY WITH MY FACE feature ("The Double Affair"), were cleverly combined to make up much of ANOTHER first season show, "The Four Steps Affair.")

It's also intriguing to see Will Kaluva as the first head of U.N.C.L.E., "Mr. Allison," before the producers decided to recast Leo G. Carroll as Mr. Waverly... (The uncut SOLO pilot, without the additional footage, is available on the aforemented U.N.C.L.E. TV set.)

ONE OF OUR SPIES IS MISSING ("The Bridge of Lions Affair") also features "new" scenes shot with Yvonne Craig as an U.N.C.L.E.secretary (and Mr. Waverly's niece!), the role she previously played in the two-part "The Alexander the Greater Affair" (ONE SPY TOO MANY).

MGM ultimately stopped releasing the movies in America, but it's interesting to realize that in many European nations, and elsewhere, these movies would have been shown in ADVANCE of their publics' chance to see them on television. In fact, the U.N.C.L.E. films were contemporary with the James Bond blockbusters, THUNDERBALL and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE.

(THE KARATE KILLERS commences with a pretty spiffy aerial attack by mini-choppers--no doubt designed to take advantage of the vast advance publicity for YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE's special Q-branch helicopter, "Little Nellie"!) The Warner Archives set might seem only for completists (although WELL worth it, at that!). It's disappointing, after all, that many of the movies' opening credits are simply shown over footage from the adapted episode's' initial minutes (sometimes played out in ULTRA-SLOW-MOTION...!) (And surely, only the most die-hard of fans would notice that some of the later films might possibly include alternate takes, or moments, from their televised versions.)

But to me, the collecton is almost worth its purchase price alone for what struck me as an incredibly rare bit of U.N.C.L.E. arcania: the theatrical trailers/coming attractions for FIVE of the films (and one "double feature" rerelease)!

(For those "cousins" among you, here are all the film titles, with the episodes they were drawn from: TO TRAP A SPY (SOLO pilot, aka "The Vulcan Affair"), THE SPY WITH MY FACE ("The Double Affair"), ONE SPY TOO MANY ("The Alexander the Greater Affair"), ONE OF OUR SPIES IS MISSING ("The Bridge of Lions Affair"), THE SPY IN THE GREEN HAT ("The Concrete Overcoat Affair"), THE KARATE KILLERS ("The Five Daughters Affair"); THE HELICOPTER SPIES ("The Prince of Darkness Affair"), and HOW TO STEAL THE WORLD ("The Seven Wonders of the World Affair".)

Sam Rolfe and David McCallum

By the way...

A strange piece of misinformation about U.N.C.L.E. has been appearing lately, that Ian Fleming, the father of James Bond, created the series. Now, I bow to no one in my admiration for the author (and a quick glance at my bookshelves would reveal nearly a DOUBLE set of Fleming's work, including his non-007 efforts)!

But Fleming DID NOT create THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

In the early 1960s, executive producer Norman Felton (DR. KILDARE) wanted to produce a new show about an international man of intrigue. He also wanted to include the Ernest Lehman/Alfred Hitchcock/NORTH BY NORTHWEST element of an "innocent" getting involved with the character's adventures.

In only a couple of VERY BRIEF meetings, Fleming named the lead "Napoleon Solo." He wanted Solo to live in Manhattan, wear bow-ties, and have as his two main research associates a local, elderly, lady librarian, and a newspaper editor. Fleming also wanted Solo to flirt with the secretary of the boss of whatever organization he worked for (a la Bond and Miss Moneypenny). Fleming named her "April Dancer" (which the producers later adopted for THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E.)!

None of these concepts, of course, made it into the series.

Felton turned to noted writer-producer Sam Rolfe (HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL), to develop the show. Rolfe wrote an EIGHTY-PAGE format, with MANY episode synopses, and launching points...

Fleming was to be a consultant on the program, and made some rough notes on Rolfe's treatment. But when the Bond producers objected, Fleming sold any claims of his to Felton for one dollar! Fleming also rather charmingly offered to buy some of Rolfe's ideas, for future Bond stories.

The confuson about U.N.C.L.E.'s origins might stem from MGM, and then NBC, referring early on to the series as IAN FLEMING'S SOLO. Fleming's credit even appeared in some later press materials.

But a Google-check, or any interview with Norman Felton, OR Ian Fleming's biographers--or, most specifically, Jon Heitland's EXCELLENT history of the show, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. BOOK--

Reveals that EVEYTHING one associates with THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.--

From the cut of Napoleon Solo's jib, to Illya Kuryakin, to even the name "U.N.C.L.E.," its organization, and its arch nemesis, T.H.R.U.S.H--

And BEYOND(!) :

Was the creation of Sam Rolfe.

James H. Burns
Go to the Burns in the City Archives

Jim with the second daughter of Curly (Janie Hanky), Moe's son (Paul),
and Larry's sister (Lyla Budnick), in 2001! (Photo Credit: David Shmookler)

You can contact Jim at

James H. (Jim) Burns was a pioneer of the second wave of fantasy and science fiction movie magazines, being one of the first writers for Starlog (and several other late 1970s publications), and a contributing editor to Fantastic Filmsand Prevue. (He wrote the earliest of these articles, when he was thirteen...!

Jim was also a key figure in many of the era's North Eastern American comic book and Star Trek conventions.

Burns was one of the field's first writers to cross over to such mainstream fare as Gentleman's Quarterly, Esquire, and American Film, while still contributing to such genre stalwarts as Cinefantastique, Starburst, Heavy Metal and Twilight Zone magazines.

He also wrote articles for Marvel and DC Comics.

(As an actor, Burns has been seen in a handful of films (including with James Earl Jones), on television, and on stage with the New York Actors Ensemble (amongst others!).)

More recently, Jim has made several behind-the-scenes contributions to Off-Broadway, and Broadway productions, become active in radio, and written Op-Eds, or features, for Newsday, The Village Voice, and The New York Times.)

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