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. Armie Hammer plays his partner, KGB man Illya Kuryakin, originated by David McCallum. The clothes are straight out of the fashion mags of the day. The cars, vintage. The songs from Solomon Burke, Roberta Flack, Hugo Montenegro and His Orchestra, Nina Simone.
"We wanted to capture the essence and uniqueness of that time," director Guy Ritchie says in the U.N.C.L.E press materials.
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, a veritable TV Guide grid of hits and bombs spawned from the Cold War decade.
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. Boomer studio execs and the pseudo hipster screenwriters working for them might consider the following:
Adam-12. David Ayer's End of Watch, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, 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 '68-'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.
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. If Warner Bros.' The Man from U.N.C.L.E. flies, can the distaff spin-off be far behind? Stefanie Powers had the original assignment, playing espionagette April Dancer, with Noel Harrison as her British partner, Mark Slate. New iteration: Bryce Dallas Howard (yes, Ron's daughter) and Robbie Williams.
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?
My Three Sons. A widower has three boys to raise by himself - with the help of a cranky but lovable uncle - and Benicio Del Toro looks just right to take on Fred MacMurray's paterfamilias part. The kids? Publicity-generating nationwide auditions, please.
Petticoat Junction. The show's Shady Rest Hotel sat just outside Hooterville, but in the new version, the pert country girls played by Lori Saunders, Meredith MacRae, and Linda Kaye Henning could be waitresses at a local Hooters. Or not. Like The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres, the sitcom offered a slice of rural America unfamiliar to hard-bitten urbanites.
Route 66. Before he climbed into that Adam-12 patrol car, Martin Milner was paired with the brooding George Maharis in this innovative, adventurous road-trip drama. The new duo to cruise around the country in a vintage Corvette? How about Fantastic Four costars Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller?
The Time Tunnel. Irwin Allen's sci-fi TV series starred James Darren, Robert Colbert, and Lee Meriwether as scientists working on the top-secret Project Tic-Toc - a machine to transport people through time. And it worked! In the new big-screen release, Jesse Eisenberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Scarlett Johansson's chrono contraption is renamed Project Tic Tac, allowing for some seriously minty product placement.