When I was a teenager back in the 1960s, I was a huge fan of the James Bond films, TV’s Secret Agent and other spy thrillers.
I also loved Get Smart, the Mel Brooks and Buck Henry TV spy comedy series.
Olivia Rutigliano at Crimereads.com offers a look back at the funny and clever series.
In the first few moments of the black-and-white pilot episode of , the camera hangs over an audience in a concert hall—Symphony Hall, the narrator tells us, in Washington D.C. Somewhere in the city is the headquarters for a secret counter-espionage organization known as “CONTROL.” , capturing the group in evening dress watching in rapt silence as the orchestra plays, the narrator informs us, that somewhere in the “is one of CONTROL’s top employees, a man who lives a life of danger and intrigue, a man who has been carefully trained never to disclose the fact that he is a secret agent.”
Watching this scene in the twenty-first century, it might not seem so jarring; how often have we sat inside crowded theaters and had our viewing experiences disturbed by the loud ringing of a phone? But this episode is from 1965, and so when the phone goes off in the middle of the theater, the patrons look around incredulously. A man stands up and hastily exists the theater and when he does, the ringing travels with him, out into the hall.
Ducking into a supply closet, he takes off his right shoe and removes the bottom, revealing a tiny, compact phone receiver with built-in rotary dial along the sole. “This is Smart,” he says into the shoe (which it is, but then he elaborates): “Maxwell Smart… Agent 86.” He learns from his boss that the evil organization KAOS is up to a nefarious plan, and so promises to get right down to headquarters.
Of course, this will take a moment, because in the course of answering his shoe-phone, he has unwittingly locked himself in the closet.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can also watch a Get Smart clip about “the Cone of silence” from the first episode via the below link: