The Spy in the Green Hat (1966)

Article 2434 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-27-2007
Posting Date: 4-11-2008
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Featuring Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, Jack Palance

Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin discover that THRUSH has made contact with a Nazi scientist who has plans to take over the world by diverting the Gulf stream.

This is another of those movies cobbled together by combining two episodes of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” TV series, and, of the ones I’ve seen so far, it’s the best. It’s certainly the most comic one; it’s one of those where the subplot (Solo is caught in a compromising situation with an Sicilian girl and finds himself being set up for a shotgun wedding by her gangster uncles) almost takes over the movie. This gives the show the opportunity to take on the gangster genre as well as the spy genre, and among the gangsters and their friends we find some great actors, such as Eduardo Ciannelli, Allen Jenkins, Jack La Rue, Joan Blondell (as one of the gangster’s wives, who gets the same thing Mae Clarke got in THE PUBLIC ENEMY), Vincent Beck, Elisha Cook Jr., and Maxie Rosenbloom. On the spy side of the story, we have Jack Palance as THRUSH agent Louis Strago; though Palance could have played it straight with his usual brooding menace, he instead chooses to make his character a repressed Nervous Nellie type. There’s also Janet Leigh, who (in what may be a PSYCHO reference) plays a murderess with knife killings her gleeful specialty. It was quite surprising to see Will Kuluva as the top-ranking THRUSH agent of the title; the last time I saw him was in TO TRAP A SPY , where he played the head of UNCLE before he was replaced by Leo G. Carroll, the man who plays here that sentimental old grandmother Mr. Waverly. I think I see references to serials and westerns as well in this one; the latter occurred to me when the gangsters have a showdown with a patrol boat that is circling their craft, a concept that reminded me of the old cliche of Indians circling covered wagons. The plot is pretty goofy, but a lot of fun. Incidentally, this was edited from the two parts of the series known as “The Concrete Overcoat Affair”.



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