3 March 2004 | jamesraeburn2003
"The final spin-off"
How To Steal The World was the eighth and final spin-off from "The Man From UNCLE" spy series. It was compiled from the final episodes of the series, "The Seven Wonders Of The World Affair" (part one: 8/01/1968) and (part two: 15/01/1968). The story began life as a single episode but was stretched to feature length so that producer Norman Felton could release another theatrical movie overseas. As with the others, the TV version was not aired in the countries where the movie was released such as Britain.
Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuriyakin link the abduction of various VIP's with a plot to dominate the world. The mastermind behind it is Robert Kingsley (Barry Sullivan) an ex-UNCLE agent who plans to end all evil by launching a docility gas that Dr Kurt Erikson (Albert Paulsen),a top bio-chemist has developed with the help of the abducted VIP's.
All in all, How To Steal The World is a disappointment and clearly shows that it was padded out from a one-hour episode to make a feature film. The plot is lacklustre and its absurdities do not carry the same weight here as they did in its predecessors mainly because the tongue-in-cheek chemistry between Vaughn and McCallam, which made the series so popular has faded. Even Barry Sullivan's villain, Robert Kingsley, is a poorly conceived part as he seems like a big softy compared to his predecessors such as Luther Sebastian (Bradford Dillman) in "The Helicopter Spies" (1967). The supporting cast includes a young Leslie Nielsen who offers the best acting as an ex-army general who will go to any lengths to protect Kingsley's scheme even if it means killing people and both he and Kingsley are always colliding over each other's different ways of dealing with saboteurs.