Movie News & Reviews

From ’60s TV to today’s big screen

Henry Cavill, left, as Napoleon Solo, and Elizabeth Debicki as Victoria star in a new version of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”
Henry Cavill, left, as Napoleon Solo, and Elizabeth Debicki as Victoria star in a new version of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Warner Bros.

At the beginning of “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (well, after he jumps out of a cargo jet hijacked by a band of Chechen separatists), Tom Cruise finds himself in a London record shop.

Yes, an old-fashioned store filled with albums recorded on vinyl, with listening booths so you can sample before you buy. Cruise’s special agent Ethan Hunt asks for a John Coltrane album – the one with Thelonious Monk, and Shadow Wilson on drums.

That album was released in 1961. “Mission: Impossible,” the TV series on which Cruise’s high-flying franchise is based, debuted five years later.

Something kind of ’60s is going on.

On Aug. 14, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” another spy caper based on a TV show from the time of the Beatles, Brezhnev and LBJ, opens. Unlike the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, this one is actually set in the 1960s – a period piece with Superman Henry Cavill in the role created by Robert Vaughn: the unflappable American agent Napoleon Solo.

Hollywood has been doing a lot of harking to way-back-then. Of the 100 top-rated TV shows of the 1960s (that includes news and variety programs), a fourth of them have been reconceived for the big screen: from “The Addams Family” to “The Twilight Zone,” from “Lost in Space” to “Star Trek,” from “Bewitched” to “Scooby-Doo.”

Though nobody’s going to be remaking “McHale’s Navy” again anytime soon (remember the disastrously unfunny 1997 Tom Arnold movie?), there are choice series from the ’60s still ripe for the picking:

“Adam-12”: David Ayer’s “End of Watch,” with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, followed two LAPD officers around in a gritty, you-are-there style. But there’s room for another no-nonsense police procedural. One based, like the 1968-’75 series, on real cases, pairing a rookie cop with a veteran officer. Maybe Josh Brolin (with blond highlights) in the Martin Milner part, and Chris Pine for Kent McCord?

“The Andy Griffith Show”: Sure, its flappy-eared eponymous star died three years ago, but why not bring the whole cast of characters from the cornball sitcom town of Mayberry back? Hand the role of Sheriff Andy Taylor to Ron Howard, who played Andy’s son, Opie, in the original. Now an Oscar-winning director, it’s time for Howard to risk everything and return in front of the cameras, where he belongs.

“Gilligan’s Island”: It’s a mystery why a big-screen version of the shipwrecked castaways sitcom hasn’t already materialized, although there were three TV movie spin-offs, including the unforgettable “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island,” with “Mission: Impossible” stars Martin Landau and Barbara Bain as the villains. (Honest!) We cast James Franco in the Bob Denver role of fumbling first mate Gilligan, and John Travolta as the Skipper, first assayed by Alan Hale Jr. For Ginger and Mary Ann? Amber Heard Depp and Elisabeth Moss.

“I Dream of Jeannie”: Barbara Eden starred as the harem-pantalooned genie who popped out of a decanter to do her master’s bidding. A pre-“Dallas” Larry Hagman starred as bachelor astronaut Tony Nelson, for whom Jeannie became a loving slave. Not exactly a forward-looking feminist scenario, but Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper could put a new spin on things, and get their “Silver Linings Playbook”/”American Hustle”/”Joy” overseer, David O. Russell, to direct.

“The Monkees”: Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees – with Josh Hutcherson as Mickey Dolenz, One Direction’s Harry Styles as Davy Jones, Paul Dano as Mike Nesmith and Michael Cera as Peter Tork. Who says it’s the last train to Clarksville?

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