In an article published on The Conversation, James Smith explores how the remake of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is the latest in a long line of spy spoofs, going back to Joseph Conrad’s novel, The Secret Agent.
The 21st-century spy movie is typically a pretty serious affair. Daniel Craig has brought a bit of darkness back to Bond, coasting on the success of the Bourne series. But after the success of Kingsman: The Secret Service last year, it looks as if the hammy spy spoof is back in the game. And now Guy Ritchie has jumped on the bandwagon. With the release of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a remake of the popular 1960s television series of the same name, he joins a long line of authors and filmmakers who have satirised spying or spoofed the conventions of the spy thriller.
Books were where it began. Joseph Conrad’s great modernist novel The Secret Agent was, amongst other things, a satire on the conventions of the early spy story, with the supposedly illustrious secret agent of the title, Verloc, in reality a seedy and lazy dealer of pornography. Other authors, such as Compton Mackenzie and Graham Greene, used their personal experiences in intelligence work to write scathing caricatures of the covert sphere.
Filmmakers as diverse as Hitchcock, Mike Myers and the Coen brothers have all made their satirical mark on the spy genre, and with Kingsman, we saw the recent potential for a high-profile spy parody to achieve critical and commercial success. Ritchie’s entrance into the scene is further proof that such parodies are again on the up.
Read the rest of this piece over at The Conversation.