The Persuaders!: Wikis

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The Persuaders!
The Persuaders.jpg
Moore + Curtis are The Persuaders! (1971/72)
Also known as Amicalement Vôtre
Attenti a Quei Due
De speelvogels
De uheldige helte
De Versierders
Die Zwei
Dos tipos audaces
Kaygısızlar (Turkish)
Minden lében két kanál
Οι Αντίζηλοι (Greek)
Įtikinėtojai
Kelmid ja pühakud (Estonian)
Format Action Adventure
Created by Robert S. Baker
Directed by Leslie Norman
Roy Ward Baker
Basil Dearden
David Greene
Gerald Mayer
Peter Medak
James Hill
Peter Hunt
Val Guest
Sidney Hayers
Roger Moore
Starring Tony Curtis
Roger Moore
Laurence Naismith
Theme music composer John Barry
Composer(s) Ken Thorne
David Lindup
Country of origin  United Kingdom
No. of episodes 24
Production
Executive producer(s) Robert S. Baker
Editor(s) Peter Pitt
Bert Rule
Derek Chambers
Location(s) United Kingdom Pinewood Studios
and locations throughout Europe
Running time 50 min.
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Original run 17 September 1971 –
25 February 1972

The Persuaders! is a 1971 action/adventure series, produced by ITC Entertainment for initial broadcast on ITV and ABC. It has been called "the last major entry in the cycle of adventure series that had begun eleven years earlier with Danger Man in 1960", as well as "the most ambitious and most expensive of Sir Lew Grade's international action adventure series".[1]

It starred Tony Curtis as Danny Wilde, and Roger Moore as Lord Brett Sinclair, two international playboys. Much of the humour of the show derived from playful observations about the differences between British and American customs. The show ended after one season, in consequence of failing to make an impact on US TV, thereby releasing Roger Moore to star in the popular Bond films.

Despite its focus on the British and American markets, the show was popular elsewhere. [2] It won its highest awards from Australia and Spain,[3] while Moore and Curtis were decorated in Germany and France for their acting. It persists in the memory of European filmmakers and audiences, having been casually referenced in 21st century productions from Sweden, France, Britain and Germany.[4]

The concept began to receive renewed attention from the mainstream press when a Hollywood re-make was announced in 2005.[5]

Contents

Premise

The Persuaders! are two equally-matched men from different backgrounds who reluctantly team together to solve cases which the courts cannot.

  • Danny Wilde (Tony Curtis) is a rough diamond, educated and moulded in the back slums of New York City, who escaped by enlisting in the U.S. Navy. He later became a millionaire in the oil business.
  • Lord Brett Sinclair (Roger Moore) is a polished Harrow and Oxford educated English aristocrat; an ex-racing car driver, who addresses his comrade-in-arms as "Daniel".

(Curtis himself suffered a tough childhood in the Bronx, and served in the US Navy. He was 46 when he made The Persuaders, but performed all his own stunts and fight sequences.)

Now globe-trotting playboys, the men meet on holiday in the French Riviera, instantly disliking each other and destroying a hotel bar with their fist-fight. Arrested, they are delivered to retired Judge Fulton (Laurence Naismith) who offers them the choice of spending ninety days in jail or helping him right errors of impunity. Grudgingly, Wilde and Sinclair agree to help solve Fulton's initial case. He then releases them from any threat of jail.

The men develop a sparing affection for each other, and are soon stumbling into more adventures: sometimes by chance, sometimes due again to Judge Fulton. Although the Judge recurs in the series, he has no formal relationship with his two agents. Several episodes depict his finding a way to convince Wilde and Sinclair to act on his behalf. For instance, in Angie, Angie he easily convinces one of the pair. In The Man in the Middle he endangers his agents, so that they must act in his behalf. When they are short of cash, he lures them with money. In Powerswitch he manipulates events from the shadows, with Sinclair and Wilde not knowing of the Judge's involvement.

In episode 12, That's Me Over There, it appears that Sinclair has had a longstanding interest in crime-fighting, as he has had installed a dedicated telephone line for an informer on a master criminal. In episode 17, Five Miles to Midnight, he tells Joan Collins's character that he personally works for the Judge because it has given him something worthwhile to do after his failed motor racing career; Wilde never reveals nor explains his reasons.

Signature elements

Besides the premise and the characters, The Persuaders is distinguished from other television series by signature elements: the title sequence and the cars of the protagonists.

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Title sequence

The Persuaders titles and synthesiser theme, by John Barry[6] establish the background and current identities of the protagonists via split-screen narrative technique: [7] two folders, one red, one blue, labelled Danny Wilde and Brett Sinclair simultaneously narrate their lives. As the biographies approach their current ages, the screen splits diagonally, connoting their excitingly peripatetic lifestyles. The conclusion shows them together enjoying a life of sport, drink, women, and gambling. The titles were specifically designed so that neither actor would appear to have top billing, something both Moore and Curtis stipulated when they agreed to co-star.

Currently, the title sequence is subjected to respectful fan parody on YouTube, [8][9] and retains a cinematic technique cachét among professional film editors. In 2007, France 2 satirically used it to introduce a report about relations between the newly-elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his first Prime Minister François Fillon.[10] Moreover, the same channel reprised the satire for the 13 October 2007 episode of On n'est pas couché about the strained relationship between McLaren Formula One drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

The cars

The protagonists drive signature cars: Danny Wilde drives a red Dino 246 GT, Brett Sinclair drives a Bahama Yellow Aston Martin DBS with V8 wheels and markings. As with Simon Templar, Lord Brett Sinclair's car has personalised number plates of his initials; Templar’s were “ST 1”, Sinclair’s “BS 1”. In fact, true owner Billy Smart, Jr permitted their fictional use.[11] Danny Wilde’s Ferrari (Number plate Mo22 1400) was not U.K.-registered, but it's an italian plate (MO for Modena, the town where Ferrari are produced). His car’s initial appearance in the pilot episode “Overture” implies Lord Lew Grade has lent it to him.[citation needed]

Production

The concept of The Persuaders originated in one of the final episodes of The Saint titled "The Ex-King of Diamonds", wherein Simon Templar (Moore) is partnered with a Texas oilman (Stuart Damon) in a Monte Carlo gambling adventure. Liking that combination, Robert S. Baker and Lew Grade funded a new series. Unusually, production of the series began and continued without contracts among the producers and Moore.[12] Moreover, Moore's role as producer is not obvious from watching the series, but Curtis confirmed the fact: "Roger was always like the host with the show, because it was his company that was producing it. I would say he was the largest independent owner of it; Roger and his company owned it with Bob Baker, and Sir Lew owned the rest of it."

At the time, the twenty-four episode The Persuaders! was the most expensive British television series produced, each episode costing £100,000, ( 2007:£1,800,000 ) for location filming in France, Spain, Sweden, and Italy, and star salaries. One of the series' unusual production aspects was that Roger Moore was — officially and practically — his own wardrobe artist, stemming from genuine sartorial interest and marketing his line of clothes by the Pearson and Foster firm. [13]

The Curtis and Moore relationship

There is much speculation about the professional relationship between Roger Moore and Tony Curtis on- and off-set. In her autobiography Second Act, Joan Collins detailed how they did not get along when she was a guest star. She cited Curtis's foul temper for why the set of the "Five Miles to Midnight" episode was tense. Episode director Val Guest, in a 2005 interview to the British Film Institute confirmed Collins's assessment of Curtis:[14]

Yes, it was great fun doing The Persuaders, despite Tony Curtis. [laughter] I'll tell you a funny story about that:
"Tony was on pot at the time, and I used to have to say 'Oh, go and have a smoke'm', because he always had some gripe of some kind, and, one day, we were shooting on the Croisette, in Cannes, and we’d been roped off our little thing, and there were crowds all around watching us film and everything, and Tony Curtis came down to do his scene and he was just carrying on at the wardrobe saying, 'You didn’t do this, and you should have done that... and in Hollywood you would have been fired....' And dear Roger Moore walked over, took him by the lapels, looked him straight in the eyes and said, 'And to think those lips once kissed Piper Laurie'. [laughter] Well, the whole of the Croisette collapsed, the unit collapsed, and, I must, say even Tony had to laugh, but we were asked to do another... we got the award that year for the best TV series, I think it was, and they wanted to do a repeat, and I remember Roger saying, 'With Tony Curtis, not on your life', and he went on to become James Bond, so he did all right."
Val Guest, Director

In his autobiography, Still Dancing, Lew Grade notes that the actors "Didn't hit it off all that well", because of different work ethics. Despite third-party claims, Curtis and Moore consistently maintain they had an amicable working relationship. Moore says: "Tony and I had a good on- and off-screen relationship, we are two very different people, but we did share a sense of humour".[2]

In a 2005 interview,[15] Curtis referred to Moore with affection, yet revealed he would not participate in a remake of The Persuaders! without Moore.

Reception

Initial runs in the UK and US

Lew Grade was always keen to break into the American TV market, which is why he kept coming up with series featuring American actors (Man in a Suitcase, The Champions, The Baron). Failure to do so would often lead to cancellation.[1] But The Persuaders made little impact in the US, where it aired opposite Mission: Impossible on Saturday nights. It was very much a case of "mission impossible" for the British series to "persuade" audiences to switch over [1] despite the fact that Impossible was itself not in the top 30 of all programs in 1971.[16] The show was pulled by ABC before all 24 episodes were shown.

Four pairs of episodes from the series were re-edited into four individual TV movies for the ITC American market, entitled The Switch, Mission: Monte Carlo, Sporting Chance and London Conspiracy. A fifth episode pairing was planned, simply entitled The Persuaders, but never completed. This format, too, did little to spark American interest.

In Britain the show fared much better, placing easily in the top 20 of all shows in 1971. [17]

Outside UK and US

Despite the American disappointment, the series sold well outside the UK and US, which allowed it to be profitable soon after principal photography was completed.[18] Beyond simply making the initial sale, the series was popular with viewers in Continental Europe, especially in Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Hungary and Italy, where it is still regularly repeated.[2]

Radical dubbing key to German popularity

There is a body of evidence to suggest that the German version, in particular, was changed by the dubbing process as to be a substantively different program.[12] The French version was in fact a translation of the German version instead of the English original – and was also successful. A German fan has asserted that the German dubbing was "a unique mixture of streetslang (sic) and ironic tongue-in-cheek remarks" and that it "even mentioned Lord Sinclair becoming 007 at one or two occasions".[19] It also frequently included remarks about the series itself like "Junge, lass doch die Sprüche, die setzen ja die nächste Folge ab!" (Quit the big talk, lad, or they'll cancel the series) or about the dubbing: "Du musst jetzt etwas schneller werden, sonst bist Du nicht synchron" (Talk faster, or you aren't in sync any more).

This is backed by a 2005 doctoral dissertation at the University of Hamburg. In it, Nicole Baumgarten takes note of "qualitative content analyses of 15 episodes" of The Persuaders versus the German version, Die Zwei ("The Two"). Baumgarten interprets these 1978 analyses as having proven

... that the linguistic changes entailed by the process of translation result in radically different characterizations of the protagonists of the series. The language use in the translations is characterized by a greater degree of sexual explicitness and verbal violence as well as an unveiled pro-American attitude, which is not found in the source texts.[20]
Nicole Baumgarten, writing about Toepser-Ziegert's 1978 treatise, Theorie und Praxis der Filmsynchronisation

She goes on to put the matter more plainly, saying that the only common element between the The Persuaders and Die Zwei is the visual information. CBS News investigated the German dubbing industry in 2006, where they, too, confirmed substantial differences between the German and English-language versions of The Persuaders![21] In trying to assess the reasons why such a radical change was made, CBS discovered that German dubbing artists believed that "staying exactly true to the original is not always the highest aim." This spirit was invoked by the person who oversaw the adaption and also performed Tony Curtis' role:

When a company says they want something to be commercially successful, to make people laugh, I give it a woof. I make them laugh like they would in a Bavarian beer garden.
Rainer Brandt, co-ordinator of the German dubbing of The Persuaders and Tony Curtis' dubbing voice.

It has been argued that an important reason for the vast differences between localised versions of The Persuaders! owes significantly to the nature of the piece.

One of the most endearing features of the old British series The Persuaders was the abyss between the accents and registers of Tony Curtis, the self-made millionaire Danny Wild (sic), born in the Brooklyn slums, and Roger Moore, the most polished Lord Sinclair. But how could it have been preserved in Spanish? By turning Curtis into a low class Caracan and Moore into an aristocratic Madrileño? Here not even the approach that works with My Fair Lady would be of any avail; different sociolects of the same vernacular will not do—much less in subtitling, where all differences in accent are irreparably lost.[22]
Sergio Viaggio, A General Theory of interlingual Mediation

The Persuaders!, Vaggio argues, needed to be different on the Continent because a strict translation simply would not have made sense to local audiences.

Modern re-releases

The series' popularity in Britain earned it re-runs on Channel 4, Granada Plus, and ITV4 in the 1990s and 2000s. When the pilot episode Overture was screened as part of Channel 4's nostalgia strand TV Heaven in 1992, that series' host, comedy writer Frank Muir, said in a Radio Times interview that The Persuaders "must have been the best bad series ever made... absolute hokum". However, BBC Radio 5 presenter Dave Aldridge later asked: "Was seventies TV really this good?"

In Germany the complete series had a re-run in the second half of 2007, and is said to have attracted a new generation of fans.

The entire series was remastered for DVD release in Europe in 2001. In 2006, because of its popularity in Britain, a 9-Disc DVD special edition boxed set was released, with extra material to the complete, uncut, re-mastered twenty-four episode series. Having so few episodes made The Persuaders! a difficult sale for U.S. syndication; however in recent years the proliferation of cable networks has made possible re-running single-season shows. The terms of one such re-run on A&E Network allowed for a Region 1 DVD release in 2003.

Awards

  • Winner - Logie Award 1972 Best Overseas Drama (Australia)
  • Winner - TP de Oro Award 1973 Best Foreign Series (Spain)
  • Winner - Bambi 1973 for Curtis and Moore (Germany)

Influence and remake

The concept of a partnership between a rough American from the city backstreets and a sophisticated British aristocrat was to be used again in the cop action drama Dempsey & Makepeace in the mid-1980s, starring Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber.

A motion picture remake was announced in 2005, set to star Steve Coogan and Ben Stiller.[23] Hugh Grant and George Clooney were later announced as the stars, with Stiller attached as producer, aiming for a December 2008 release.[24] As of January 2010, the film remains unproduced.

In the episode "To The Death Baby" (see below) a beautiful sophisticated rich single lady millionaire heiress needs rescuing by Brett and Danny, played by Jennie Linden.[25] Who has a striking resemblance to one: J. K. Rowling. One of the dramatic closing credits for the show pops up at the end with dramatic music: for one Harry Pottle[26], an art director for most of the shows...(although in that particular episode, a different Art Director is credited).

Episodes

# Original Air Date (UK) Title Summary
01 17 September 1971 Overture Mysterious invitations lead millionaire playboys Danny Wilde and Lord Brett Sinclair to Monte Carlo, where a beautiful girl (Imogen Hassall) holds the key to a crime syndicate that appears to be operating with a dead boss. Olivia Mela is the blonde in the purple bikini.
02 24 Sept 1971 The Gold Napoleon The daughter (Susan George) of a jeweller (Harold Goldblatt) is marked for death when she discovers that reproduction gold coins are being marketed as real.
03 1 October 1971 Take Seven When a supposedly dead man reappears to claim his inheritance, a beautiful aristocrat (Sinéad Cusack) asks Brett and Danny to expose him as an imposter.
04 8 October 1971 Greensleeves Lord Sinclair is cast to impersonate himself when a mysterious group takes over his long-unused family estate to play host to an African leader (Cy Grant), and finds he must trust to his old family moto: "Concealia est prudentia" (sneaky is best!)
05 15 October 1971 Powerswitch A mysterious drowning leads Brett to a beautiful dancer (Annette Andre), and a man who appears to be an old business associate of Danny's.
06 22 October 1971 The Time and the Place No one will believe that Danny has found a veteran political journalist dead at the country estate of a right-wing British politician (Ian Hendry), when the "corpse" appears to be alive and well.
07 29 October 1971 Someone Like Me Danny wants to meet Brett's reclusive multi-millionaire friend (Bernard Lee), but someone abducts Brett and places him in a mysterious hospital where a deadly operation is planned to create a perfect double of him.
08 5 November 1971 Anyone Can Play Danny thinks he can't lose when he plays his new betting system in an English casino, but while there he's mistaken for the paymaster of a very different system.
09 12 November 1971 The Old, the New, and the Deadly Danny is mistaken for a blackmailer who is the target of both a cruel French Count (Patrick Troughton) and the beautiful daughter (Anna Gaël) of a disgraced politician.
10 19 November 1971 Angie... Angie Bullets fly on the French Riviera when Danny encounters Angie (Larry Storch), his childhood buddy from the old neighbourhood, whose path to retirement may mean a deadly retirement for Danny.
11 26 November 1971 Chain of Events Danny gets himself chained to an attaché case intended for the British Secret Service (George Baker, Suzanna Leigh), and pursued by deadly Iron Curtain agents (Peter Vaughn et al.) who want the case back and the courier dead.
12 3 December 1971 That's Me Over There With Brett kidnapped by henchmen (Allan Cuthbertson, Peter Gilmore, Neil Hallett) of his nemesis (Geoffrey Keen), Danny must impersonate Brett to get key evidence from an endangered informant (Suzan Farmer).
13 10 December 1971 The Long Goodbye Fulton sends the boys to Scotland, where they find a wrecked plane, a dead scientist, and a formula for cheap synthetic fuel which attracts deadly interest - plus a string of beautiful girls, all claiming to be the late inventor's heiress.
14 17 December 1971 The Man in the Middle Fulton persuades Brett to help identify a traitor in British Intelligence; but when Brett and Danny fall foul of MI5 agent Kay (Suzy Kendall), Brett's untrustworthy cousin Archie (Terry-Thomas) must save the day.
15 24 December 1971 Element of Risk Brett must extricate Danny when he's mistaken for an American criminal mastermind (Shane Rimmer) whose suave confederate (Peter Bowles) is planning a gold heist.
16 31 December 1971 A Home of One's Own Danny gets more than he bargains for when his newest acquisition, an English country cottage, proves to house a deadly secret. Actress Hannah Gordon guest stars.
17 7 January 1972 Five Miles to Midnight In Rome, a Mafia hitman is on the run from the Mob after offering to turn state's evidence. Fulton asks Brett and Danny to get him out of the country, but when a beautiful photographer (Joan Collins) gets involved the boys find themselves in a shooting war.
18 14 January 1972 Nuisance Value When the spoiled daughter (Vivienne Ventura) of an immensely wealthy man is apparently kidnapped, Danny and Brett discover the unsuspected perils of double-dating, when suspicion of being behind the kidnapping falls on them!
19 21 January 1972 The Morning After Lord Brett wakes up from a wild party with a hangover - and a wife (Catherine Schell)! When the validity of the marriage is confirmed, Danny pursues clues that point to a Scandinavian diplomat (Griffith Jones) and a political conspiracy.
20 28 January 1972 Read and Destroy When Brett's friend Felix (Joss Ackland) has woman trouble (with guest star Kate O'Mara), Brett and Danny are drawn into a deceptive game of espionage, as ex-spy Felix tries to publish his memoirs.
21 4 February 1972 A Death in the Family Someone is killing off Brett's aristocratic relatives one by one, and unless he and Danny can identify the murderer the next name on the family tomb will be his own. Guest starring Denholm Elliott. (In a homage to Alec Guinness in the 1949 film Kind Hearts and Coronets, Roger Moore plays half-a-dozen parts, as various Sinclairs who are murdered.)
22 11 February 1972 The Ozerov Inheritance Grand Duchess Ozerov (Gladys Cooper) seeks Lord Brett's help in saving her family jewels; but her lovely granddaughter, the Princess Alexandra (Prunella Ransome), isn't the only discovery the boys make when doing genealogical research.
23 18 February 1972 To the Death, Baby Brett and Danny try to save a beautiful heiress (Jennie Linden) who is the target of a slippery con man (Terence Morgan); but there are other potential targets the boys haven't considered, including some menacing Spaniards (Roger Delgado et al.).
24 25 February 1972 Someone Waiting Pursuing a beautiful ingénue (Penelope Horner), Brett and Danny are drawn into a multi-faceted affair with deadly implications when Brett resumes his motor racing career and an unknown saboteur seeks to wreck the next race.

References

  1. ^ a b c Chapman, James. Saints & Avengers: British Adventure Series of the 1960s. I.B. Tauris. 2002. Chapter 10.
  2. ^ a b c The Persuaders! at Television Heaven
  3. ^ The Persuaders! IMDB awards page
  4. ^ The Persuaders! IMDB movie connections page
  5. ^ Early announcement about Persuaders movie
  6. ^ John Barry at soundtrackcollector.com
  7. ^ The Persuaders! title sequence on Youtube
  8. ^ A 2006 example of Persuaders fan parody
  9. ^ A 2007 example of Persuaders fan parody
  10. ^ France 2 news , Thursday 17 May 2007
  11. ^ Trivia about license plate "BS-1" at uknumberplates.co.uk
  12. ^ a b The Persuaders! trivia page at IMDB
  13. ^ Alan Davidson explains Moore as wardrobe artist on The Persuaders!
  14. ^ Val Guest interviewed at the BFI
  15. ^ Tony Curtis talks to Roger Moore's official website
  16. ^ US TV ratings for the 1971-72 season
  17. ^ British TV ratings for the 1970s by year
  18. ^ Passages from The Persuaders! Book 2
  19. ^ Forum remarks at commanderbond.net
  20. ^ Baumgarten, Nicole. The Secret Agent: Film dubbing and the influence of the English language on German communicative preferences. Towards a model for the analysis of language use in visual media. University of Hamburg. 2005. p. 32.
  21. ^ http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/28/world/main2050048.shtml Montopoli, Brian. "Doubling as 'Dubbers'". CBS News. 28 September 2006.
  22. ^ Viaggio, Sergio. A General Theory of interlingual Mediation. Frank & Timme. 2006. p. 258.
  23. ^ "Coogan to star in new Persuaders". BBC News (BBC). 8 June 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4072634.stm. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  24. ^ Walden, Celia (19 May 2007). "Clooney and Grant star in The Persuaders film". Telegraph.co.uk (Telegraph Media Group). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1552053/Clooney-and-Grant-star-in-The-Persuaders-film.html. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  25. ^ "ITC Classics on The Persuaders Episode To The Death Baby". http://www.itc-classics.com/Persepisode2.html. 
  26. ^ "Harry Pottle The Persuaders! Art Director at IMDB". http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0693411/. 

External links


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