14 August 2003 | Victor Field
For the last time, this is not a spoof.
The first theatrical spinoff from "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." to come from two RELATED episodes ("To Trap A Spy" was "The Vulcan Affair" + extra footage, and "The Spy With My Face" was "The Double Affair" + extra footage*, but this movie was first shown on American TV as the show's two-parter "The Alexander The Greater Affair"), "One Spy Too Many" has Solo and Kuryakin go up against evil millionaire industrialist (aren't they all?) Alexander, who as part of his plan to take over the world by breaking all of the Ten Commandments has stolen a will gas, which our heroes have to get back.
This is often and misleadingly called a spoof by people who can't understand the difference between an espionage show with a sense of humour (which "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." was in the beginning) and an out-and-out comedy (which is what it became in its third year, giving the show a very misguided "Batman" feel - I defy anybody to watch Solo dancing with a man in a gorilla suit in "The My Friend The Gorilla Affair" without screaming). Though it's pretty tongue-in-cheek, the danger our heroes are in is real more often than not; it does betray its TV roots more than any of the other "movies," with several of the show's trademark going-out-of-focus-at-the-end-of-an-act shots preserved, an all-too-obvious "To be continued" moment and at least one really bad use of stock footage.
But with Messrs. Vaughn and McCallum in fine fettle, and Rip Torn having a high old time as the evil madman (and he wasn't even Larry Sanders' producer then), this is as entertaining today as it must have been when it debuted on TV nearly forty years ago. Would I be lynched if I said I actually like these more than Bond?
*Said extra footage was eventually turned into "The Four Steps Affair." That episode has never been shown on British TV, and indeed neither have most of the other episodes that became movies - except for "The Five Daughters Affair" (i.e. "The Karate Killers"), shown in its original two-part format on the UK answer to TV Land, Granada Plus.