Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Danger Man

With my convalescence in mind, I've been buying a number of DVDs to play on my widescreen TV, as one of the things I can do when I mustn't do anything else. I normally read a lot, and I devote a huge number of hours to my photos; but I anticipate that in the evening, after a hard day of scanning old transparencies and prints, or reading a book till falling asleep over it, I may want something else to turn to. That's also assuming that ordinary TV is devoid of interest, as it often is.

So here is my list of DVDs to watch, as bought so far:

Feature films
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; The Two Towers; and The Return of the King.
Star Wars: IV (the original film); V The Empire Strikes Back; and VI Return of the Jedi.
The Clint Eastwood Collection: A Fistful of Dollars; For a Few Dollars More; The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly; and Hang 'Em High.
Gone With The Wind.
Singin' in the Rain.
The Indiana Jones Complete Collection: Raiders of the Lost Ark; Temple of Doom; Last Crusade; and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The Philadelphia Experiment.
The Third Man.
The Manchurian Candidate (the original version).
Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
The Graduate.
Riding Giants (a film about surfing and its history).
Back to the Future.
Toy Story.
Toy Story 2.
Casino Royale.
The Terminator.
Blade Runner.

British TV series
Danger Man.
The Avengers (with Diana Rigg as Emma Peel).
The Likely Lads.
Fawlty Towers.
The Best of Dave Allen.
Civilisation (Sir Kenneth Clark on Art as a reflector of Civilisation).

No groans, please. And no apologies from me. I want to be amused and thrilled and moved and plunged into nostalgia in equal measure. It's my convalescence.

It was a lovely experience seeing what was available to buy. I did it in an actual shop. I had no idea that British TV series from the 1960s and 1970s were available. Danger Man, for instance.

This was the TV series that first made Patrick McGoohan well-known, in which he played a secret agent called John Drake, a role that inspired his later tour-de-force, the cult series called The Prisoner. Danger Man was first screened in 1960, and I remember it very well, even though I was only eight. I was much struck by John Drake's neat dapper appearance, his coolness, his humour, his ease in any situation, his perfect manners, and his compassion for the innocent victims he encounters. All tempered with quick-thinking action, political sophistication, detachment, and an understanding that the truth is relative to your point of view and the time and place. A dependable, resourceful man, who used his brain. A man you'd very, very much like to have as an ally. I was absolutely enthralled, and inwardly seethed with resentment when packed off to cubs, because I'd have to forego the frisson of watching Danger Man for mindless dib-dibbing. Here is McGoohan in a scene where John Drake presents his fake credentials to a corrupt police chief:

McGoohan himself was born in America, but brought up in the UK, and there was always something mid-Atlantic about him. In Danger Man he was apparently linked somehow to NATO, but did work on a one-man, independent basis for all sorts of important folk in the States and in the UK, private individuals as well as government people. The stories were well acted, believable, and curiously British in their flavour and ethos, even though as an Irish-American McGoohan might be expected to prefer a different way of portraying himself. For I'm certain that John Drake was very much how McGoohan would be, if really a secret agent.

Secret agents were very much my thing in the 1960s. In many ways I was doing what they did: maintaining a front, living an inner life under a cover that must not be blown.


  1. In the States, that series was called Secret Agent. They even changed the theme music to Johnny Rivers's now iconic "Secret Agent Man." I remember seeing enough of it to become a Patrick McGoohan fan. I didn't know he was born in the US!

    Now you've got us remembering that we've wanted to buy The Prisoner on DVD. :)

  2. I remember Secret Agent too!

    I love old movies and TV shows, and have been acquiring some myself. I'm not sure if you are familiar with the western TV series, Wanted Dead Or Alive, with Steve McQueen, staring as a bounty hunter who instead of packing a 45 cal six shooter, carried a sawed off Winchester 1892 .45-40 cal. rifle in a special holster. As ten year olds back in 1958, my schoolmates all thought he was the coolest cowboy on TV! i just got the complete boxed set of that series, All 96 episodes! It's great fun to watch.

    Melissa XX

    P.S. The word verification is perti, as in the hayseed saying to his main squeeze, "Girl, you shore are perti!" :-D


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