The Saint in the Sixties

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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1963

    11: The Saint Plays With Fire

    W: John Kruse

    based on The Saint Plays With Fire by Leslie Charteris featured in Prelude for War (1938)

    D: Robert S. Baker

    S: Joseph Furst, Justine Lord, Ivor Dean

    This week there’s a nasty little case of arson and murder for our hero to resolve. The show kicks off at a rally for the British Nazi Party. All brown tunics, swastikas and lunatics, this bunch of no hopers are infiltrated by the journalist John Ketter and he’s obtained a list of their backers and doners, among them a few big businesses and a few of the entitled rich. When Ketter is found dead among the ashes of a burning mansion, the Saint believes there’s foul play. The question is, can he prove it?

    The suspects are a dithering lot. Chief of them is the crazed German industrialist Kane Luker, played with much crazed attitude by Joseph Furst. Like Dr Mortner in A View to a Kill, he’s so obviously a Nazi it’s a wonder no one’s ever called him out before. Furst of course was Blofeld’s genius scientist Prof Metz in Diamonds Are Forever; it’s fair to say he toned his act quite considerably in that movie. Here he’s quite preposterous, often bordering on hysterical.

    This story swerves from an extremely dull and unlikely court inquest into a melodrama of such over-the-top intensity it’s hard to take it seriously. The incidental music doesn’t help, rising to crescendos at moments of high danger. Justine Lord looks lovely playing the high society hustler Lady Valerie; the writers are too polite to call her a whore. She goes through half a full range of one-dimensional emotions: scared, stroppy, devious, seductive, humorous. I quite like her; she gives the Saint a few curt licks of her cutting tongue before the bad boys make her change sides. Extortion is not Valerie’s forte.

    The ending is a sweaty little scene set in a cellar with the Saint and the Lady tied up awaiting execution. Rescue comes in an unlikely form. Meanwhile, lurking in the background, is Ivor Dean’s Inspector Claude Eustace Teal – good to see him returning, the most laconic of the various Teal’s – and he appears just in time to trap the Nazi mastermind. The whole adventure has got a little out of hand by then. When Furst refers to Templar’s and Valerie’s impending fate as “The final solution” I couldn’t tell if this was poor writing or a terrible joke; it was certainly delivered in exceedingly poor taste.

    The Saint Plays With Fire was adapted from Leslie Charteris’ novel Prelude for War, which was retitled The Saint and the Sinners before ending up taking on the television adaptation’s version. The novel follows a similar plot, but the fascists concerned are backed by the French and once the fire and the whitewashed inquest are dealt with, Templar’s investigations reveal a foreign assassination plot which could plunge Europe into a Second World War. Published in 1938, there are some dire predictions offered by the author through the mouthpiece of his hero, the key one of which comes true as the onset of European fascism does result in war.

    This is the first instance of a whole novel being adapted for a series episode and in that regard, it does feel rough and unfinished, as if the writer deliberately left a ton of detail on the pages of the book. Reworking a pre-war cautionary tale into a post-war one doesn’t quite succeed as well as it might once the cliched costumes and characters are introduced, despite a few decent scenes, mostly between Moore and Lord.

    Oh. It’s cute to see a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin on Lady Valerie’s cocktail trolley. Some good things should never change.    


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1963

    12: The Well-Meaning Mayor

    W: Robert Stewart

    based on The Well-Meaning Mayor by Leslie Charteris featured in The Happy Highwayman (1939)

    D: Jeremy Summers

    S: Leslie Sands, Norman Bird, Mandy Miller

    Relocated to the fictional Borough of Seatondean from Leslie Charteris’ fictional Elmford, the Saint uncovers corruption at the civic Office. There’s a wickedly good performance from Leslie Sands as the under-suspicion mayor Sam Purdell, who is a political survivor, a philanthropist, a chef, a good husband and father as well as a half-decent boxer. He’s also arrogant, a trait born from confidence in his two-faced conman schemes, which highly strung counsellor George Hackett attempts to reveal. Hackett thinks he's finally got the evidence he needs to expose Purdell, but he suffers a fatal car accident before he can confront the mayor. Intrigued, the Saint follows up a lead, clears Hackett’s name and brings the real culprits to justice.

    There’s a topical theme at play here as corruption was rife in the 1950s and 60s U.K. council operated building trade, especially where large scale housing projects were concerned. Here it’s a civic centre, but the principle is the same. Leslie Sands is truly marvellous. You believe him as a swaggering politician, as a doting dad and as a man who also wants to uncover the truth. I was quite taken in, although the Saint has his doubts. Conveniently for the narrative he doesn’t reveal these until the slippery Purdell has admitted his low-down methods.

    The adventure is a little starchy. Norman Bird makes a hash of the political outcast and Mandy Miller is dull as his pretty daughter, Molly, who doesn’t even display signs of mourning. The inquest is held in the same court room designed for the previous episode’s legal shenanigans; it even has the same low-level stage designed to raise the coroner’s desk. Only the wall decorations change. Curiously, the same room also doubles as the Mayor’s office. The paintings hanging on the wall give it away – although I didn’t notice this until a fight scene between Moore and Sands virtually destroys all the furniture. They don’t touch the artwork. Quite good that; both men appear suitably exhausted and heroically duffed up. Pity the set designers couldn’t have put in such detailed effort.

    A tense finale at a building site concludes a low-key but effective effort enlivened by a fine villainous central performance, one which elicits our sympathy as well as our disdain.  


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1963

    13: The Sporting Chance

    W: John Kruse

    based on Vancouver: The Sporting Chance by Leslie Charteris featured in The Saint Around the World (1956)

    D: Jeremy Summers

    S: Derren Nesbitt, Carol Cleveland, Gerrard Heinz, Harry Webster

    This episode kicks off with the Saint rapping condescendingly about women and fishing during hijinks in a hotel bar at Manitou Lake, Ontario. He’s just about to meet an old police acquaintance who is summarily murdered. The policeman was searching for Professor Mueller, a defecting East German scientist whose work on satellites is of interest to his old masters in the Soviet Bloc. So, there’s a nice whiff of international espionage to this one.

    Framed for the killing by a man known only as Mr Cleveland, the Saint follows up the murder in his usual imitable fashion, tracking the professor to Vancouver, illegally searching premises, seducing secretaries and accidentally killing a thug. Roger Moore doesn’t seem squeamish about allowing a murderer to fall to his death from a high-rise window, so his attitudes must have changed a lot by 1981 and Locque’s demise in For Your Eyes Only.

    The episode doesn’t do much for the first half, although the flirtatious byplay between Moore and Carol Cleveland as the supposed plain Jane secretary Marion Kent [she’s anything but plain] is neatly done. It picks up considerably when kidnap, violence and blunder occur and we transfer location to a remote cabin beside another fishing lake, this one somewhere in wildest British Colombia. Awaiting delivery of Professor Mueller is the East German agent Netchideff, who arrives from a naval submarine plane. Netchideff is fleshed out superbly by Derren Nesbitt, who was always a serviceable television villain. He doesn’t disappoint and the adventure is well-worth a look once he appears. Up to then, it’s been quite pedestrian. Nesbitt creates a whole world of motivation and philosophical insight, packed full of mannerisms and inquisitive half-stares, laughter and violence. His colourful characterisation puts the rudimentary playing of the rest of the cast to shame. Moore, Cleveland, Gerrard Heinz and Harry Webster have trouble keeping up with his brio and invention. The end is a little disappointing, but getting there was, after a slow start, an awful lot of fun.


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 35,974Chief of Staff

    Late last night I randomly watched "The Inescapable Word" then today I checked in here for a review. Turns out it's a Series 3 episode so hasn't been reached yet, so I'll just have to wait.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1963

    14: The Bunco Artists

    W: Lewis Davidson

    based on The Bunco Artists by Leslie Charteris featured in Thanks to the Saint (1957)

    D: Peter Yates

    S: Mary Merral, Justine Lord, Peter Dyneley, Louise King

    Two confidence tricksters defraud a church out of £6000, but they don’t know the parish secretary is an acquaintance of the Saint. Simon Templar tracks his quarry down to a five-star hotel in Nice where he devises a confidence trick of his own to bring the pair to heel. There’s no smart playing by anyone to improve a dreadful script. The lovely Justine Lord is rewarded for her deft turn as a hooker in The Saint Plays With Fire [Episode 11, Season 2] by suddenly gestating into another of the Saint’s many girlfriends. Peter Dynekey probably gives the most convincing display as the chief con artist. Roger Moore is probably the worst due to his fake Texan accent which isn’t so much Dallas as Lone Star beer. Everyone else is fairly tacky in a low-grade exercise. Edwin Astley’s overdramatic music score turns the whole thing into an appalling farce. A lighter touch was needed – from everyone. Director Peter Yates is not at home with this kind of material and offers a flat impression of a B-movie standard enterprise.

    I have just leaned an interesting fact, which I should have picked up on earlier, but have somehow contrived to miss. Many of Charteris’ Saint short stories first appeared in a U.S. publication called The Saint Detective Magazine, which along with a new or old Saint story also reproduced other stories by well-known authors such as Agatha Christie, Sax Rohmer, Dorothy L. Sayers, Robert Bloch, G.K. Chesterton, Donald Westlake and Edgar Wallace. The magazine ran for 141 editions from 1953 – 1967. It’s tagline was ‘Some Old, Some New – The Finest in Mystery Fiction.’ Later 1960s editions saw Charteris adapting the newly written Saint television episodes for his own publication. A very enterprising author was our Mr Charteris. 


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1963

    15: The Benevolent Burglary

    W: Larry Forrester

    based on The Benevolent Burglary by Leslie Charteris featured in The Happy Highwayman (1939)

    D: Jeremy Summers

    S: John Barrie, Gary Cockrell, Suzanne Neve

    Monte Carlo, the casino, or rather ATC’s reimagining of it. Not anywhere near as gaudy. It looks as if it’s somewhere in West London, which is ironic as Leslie Charteris’ original short story was set in London and featured Inspector Teal, not a hapless Monacast Colonel. Anyhow, Roger Moore is playing the Saint, shuffling chips at a roulette table. As he loses his last franc and walks away, he spies the camera and delivers his monologue: “Monte Carlo… a marvellous masquerade of marble, mink and millionaires. Unless you’re careful, or very rich, you can get yourself into an awful lot of trouble. I always quit when I’ve either won or lost 10,000 Francs.”

    The Saint bumps into his old pal Bill Fulton, drummer with a jazz combo, who’s having girlfriend trouble, father-in-law trouble and money trouble. All three are interlinked and so begins a morality tale of undue simplicity. The Saint decides to help out his mate in much the same way he proposed to help those destitute orphans in The Charitable Countess [Season 1:12]. This episode was originally transmitted on Boxing Day 1963, so it occupies a similar moment in the philanthropic charitable calendar. Both stories featured in the same short story collection as well, so inspiration feels entirely redundant. On that basis, it’s no surprise Bill Fulton is a musician dumb enough to employ a band without a signed contract with his promoter. Having spent all his cash paying off the band and his last fifty pounds on a spin of the wheel – a decision Simon Templar doesn’t even attempt to stop him making – we don’t share much sympathy for this man’s plight. The ensuing story about a diamond heist which will embarrass Fulton’s interfering prospective in-laws becomes entirely lacklustre.

    Screenwriter Larry Forrester would go on to pen the 1966 spy caper movie Fathom and its novel A Girl Called Fathom, and he’s hinting at that sort of fare here. Several incidents familiar from other already seen stories reoccur, most obviously the hoodwinking of the French police surveillance team. The stock location footage was a joy: Monaco before the high-rise hotels and apartment buildings spoilt the view to both the sea and the hills. Templar seems to intimately know everyone in Monte Carlo, as well as their life histories, which feels a stretch. Given his propensity to knowledge, it is disappointing but not surprising the Saint manages to fool the police, the local hoodlums and the obnoxious businessman Eliot Vascoe without a shred of supporting evidence.

    Not a vintage episode except by being in black and white. As usual Jeremy Summers’ direction is highlighted by the occasional sudden close up and sporadic bursts of violence. MOR Saint


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1964

    16: The Wonderful War

    W: John Graeme

    based on The Wonderful War by Leslie Charteris featured in Featuring the Saint (1931)

    D: Robert S. Baker

    S: Renee Houston, Noel Purcell, Alfred Burke, Susanna Leigh

    The Wonderful War has echoes of Victor Canning’s 1954 adventure thriller Castle Minerva, which was made into the half-way decent spy yarn Masquerade in 1965. Leslie Charteris’ novella of 1931 predates them all by some stretch. His story takes place in fictional Pasala, a Central American country, and introduces one of the Saint’s friends and ‘agents’ Archibald Sheridan. It was the first of Charteris’ stories to take place exclusively outside the U.K. and set in motion the template for the later travelogue style adventures. So far, this is the oldest book adapted by the television series.

    Here the action is transferred to the more contemporary location of the oil rich emirate of Sayeda. The Emirate is competed over by various energy companies, each hoping to secure the rights to drill for black gold. Top of the list is McAndrew – Shannet, but Harry Shannet has eyes on the prize and perverts a coup. The Emir [Ferdy Mayne] is killed, but his young son, Karim [Louis Raynor] escapes with the assistance of the oil prospector Mike Kelly [a grizzled Noel Purcell] and the conscience stricken Major Hussein [Patrick Westwood].

    They turn to Simon Templar for help, which is both fortunate and remarkable. You’d think the neighbouring government in Kuwait might be amenable, or even the British who must surely still have had oil interest in the Middle East. The Saint’s ability to be recognised by everyone except the villains comes in handy. I’d never noticed this before. It’s very obvious here. Templar is familiar with everyone associated with McAndrew, but not by McAndrew’s devious partner Shannet. The Saint seems to know him, at least by reputation, but there is no vis-à-vis recognition which feels unlikely. You can’t even excuse Templar’s disguise, which has him donning a white flannel suit, sunglasses and a effete accent. He pilots a helicopter and swishes flies. Roger Moore enjoys himself in the pretentious role. Yet given in other episodes even a postman and a bank clerk are able to identify “The Famous Simon Templar” you wonder why an oil magnate can’t.

    Let’s put that plot hole aside. Things run ridiculously smoothly for the Saint and his outlaw gang of insurgents, which includes Karim, Kelly, McAndrew’s daughter Lilia [a lovely but vacant Susanna Leigh, who would become better known in a series of roles for the declining stable of Hammer Productions] and Renee Houston’s little old lady Mrs McAllister, a good friend and sometime beau for Kelly. If this twosome’s history appears to go way back, so does Kelly’s and Templar’s. Apparently they were involved in some nasty business in Venezuela in 1956, presumably searching for oil concessions. Perhaps that explains how the Saint has an endless flow of money – he got rich via a [dodgy?] energy deal. He certainly knows enough of the business to impersonate Sir Henry Pierpont Sykes. Unfortunately, the disguise, or non-disguise, as it were, proves troublesome again for you would expect a serious businessman such as Shannet to know of or at least research any named business attempting to purchase the oil field concessions.    

    I’m stretching a point. The story is entertaining and runs smoothly through its gears. A good assassination scene sets the tone and initially there’s plenty of incidental suspense. The characters are nicely formed. I particularly liked the moment Major Hussein spies the fleeing Karim and has pause to consider the impact of his actions, which allows us to suspect his inner motives. There’s a scene of skulduggery in Kuwait which had reminiscences of old Humphrey Bogart flicks like Sirocco or Casablanca. A kidnap plot is foiled with a sequence of curtailed violence. Once the action returns to Sayeda and Pierpont Sykes takes over, the adventure becomes less reliable. I was reminded of Tintin, specifically Land of Black Gold and The Red Sea Sharks, and how those comic books and this chapter of the Saint’s escapades share a hackneyed view of the Middle East, its personalities, cultures and traditions. I don’t think it’s in anyway racist, but it is misinformed and doesn’t make any attempt to offer a nuanced view of proceedings. Arab oil was tremendously important to western nations in the fifties and sixties and exploitation of the local rulers was rife. The Wonderful War, like Canning’s novel, doesn’t focus on this angle, preferring to turn the adventure into a revolution tale where the British are both perpetrators and saviours. Somewhat galling to this viewer, Lilia McAndrew, who operates on the fringes of action, ends up with a higher percentage of the crude oil profits than Pierpont Sykes negotiated with the villains. The young Emir is obviously a very generous man.

    On a OO7 note, there’s a highly imagined dinner scene, where all the European stereotypical ideas about the Arab states are on show: music, flowing dish dash robes and headdresses, belly dancers, cushions, a lavish meat strewn meal. All nonsense. I mention this because the usurper, Aziz [a rather good Alec Mango] offers Pierpont Sykes as his guest of honour a boiled lamb’s eye. Suddenly, I was transported to India and Kamal Khan’s palace in Octopussy. I wonder if Sir Roger remembered he’d performed that scene and delivered that expression of distaste twice… 


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,886MI6 Agent

    Chrisno1 said:

     The Saint’s ability to be recognised by everyone except the villains comes in handy. I’d never noticed this before. It’s very obvious here.

    ________________________________________________________

    I noticed this before and realised it was actually the opposite of what should be, see this post. It took me another season before I got to that point however. You just have to accept this is one of the underlying laws of physics in the Templarverse.

    There's actually a third tier of recognition: the local police chiefs all know Templar by reputation, but seem to assume he's a criminal, whereas random civilians somehow all know he's a good guy and trust their lives to him.

    In the books he has a calling card (with The Saint logo) which he leaves behind for the bad guys to find, so that his reputation precedes him. So the existence of The Saint should be well known in the criminal underworld. I think we only see this calling card once or twice in the series. We do see him using the pseudonym Sebastian Tombs usually whenever he infiltrates a gang, so maybe the bad guys do know about The Saint and the Famous name Simon Templar, but not what he looks like? still, he uses that same pseudonym so often it ought to be just as wellknown amongst the baddies.

    ________________________________________________________

    chris also said:

    On a OO7 note, there’s a highly imagined dinner scene, where all the European stereotypical ideas about the Arab states are on show: music, flowing dish dash robes and headdresses, belly dancers, cushions, a lavish meat strewn meal. All nonsense. I mention this because the usurper, Aziz [a rather good Alec Mango] offers Pierpont Sykes as his guest of honour a boiled lamb’s eye. Suddenly, I was transported to India and Kamal Khan’s palace in Octopussy. I wonder if Sir Roger remembered he’d performed that scene and delivered that expression of distaste twice…

    ________________________________________________________

    I didn't spot this one, but I think you're right, Roger must have remembered some of these bits from The Saint and made plot suggestions in his BondFilms. There's two episodes you haven't got to yet, I think called Sibao and The Gadget Lovers, where big underlying plot concepts are very similar to certain MooreBond films.

    and one in the final season where he sees a nice car and compliments its beautiful lines, or something like that, as the camera moves to show a magnificent female standing next to it and Templar actually has his eyes on her. Wasn't that exact gag in The Spy Who Loved Me?


    @chrisno1 one good thing about you being a mere three seasons from the end of your epic Doctor Who marathon, is you'll have more time to continue your Saint marathon!

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    Sadly @caractacus potts I'm watching The Saint week by week on Talking Pictures TV. I'm just a few episodes behind the transmissions. Thanks for the insight on the calling card. I'll look out for it !

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1964

    17: The Noble Sportsman

    W: John Graeme

    based on The Noble Sportsman by Leslie Charteris featured in Boodle (1934)

    D: Peter Yates

    S: Sylvia Syms, Anthony Quayle, Francis Matthews, Paul Curran, Jane Asher, Russell Waters

    Anthony Quayle’s testosterone filled performance as Lord Thornton Yearley, boxer, hunter, racer, golfer, swimmer, show jumper and all-round boy’s own hero just about saves this episode. Yearley suspects one of his close associates is trying to kill him. Things are further complicated by a beautiful young wife who is having affair and the interference of his daughter, who appeals to Simon Templar in an effort to talk sense to the maddeningly bullish Lord.

    The story is slight and the Saint uncovers the plot with the minimum of fuss and no explanation. Good supporting roles for all concerned. Everyone except Roger Moore – who remains diffident throughout – takes after Quayle’s lead and puts in intense, rather ugly, yet believable performances. This might be the result of an intense and melodramatic screenplay. Peter Yates directs with some intensity and a nod to the ensuing melodrama. Some loose ends are neither solved nor investigated.

    An enjoyable slice of hokum which succeeds through sheer gutsy bravado, but the plot is ham fisted and doesn’t deserve our attention.

    For those who are interested, the short story collection Boodle, is so titled after a British slang term meaning ‘to bribe.’ A word which I believe may have fallen into disuse. It is so unfamiliar a term that the U.S. edition was renamed The Saint Intervenes, which is now the regular title.


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1964

    18: The Romantic Matron

    W: Larry Forrester

    based on The Romantic Matron by Leslie Charteris featured in Senor Saint (1958)

    D: John Paddy Carstairs

    S: Ann Gillis, John Carson, Patrick Troughton

    The Saint barely features in the first half of this Argentinian set adventure. Ann Gillis’ American widower falls for suave, sophisticated Latin John Carson in sunny, exotic Buenos Aires. All is not as rosy as it seems: the simpering twosome are being followed by a pair of unruly goons. Meanwhile Patrick Troughton’s police inspector is trying to solve a bullion robbery which resulted in the death of the accompanying couriers. The Saint actually appears to be having a holiday for once, until a frightened Gillis appears in the hotel bar clutching a briefcase and telling a long, tall tale about left wing revolutionaries and anti-fascists. Simon Templar agrees to hide the briefcase and then performs some investigation of his own, courtesy mostly of the two goons, who attempt to prise the briefcase from him, and a stroppy motel keeper who tells all for a small bribe.

    Not much happens here. The fight scenes are well done. The romance plot plods. Ann Gillis’ lead character is gullible in the extreme. The villain’s method of smuggling gold owes something to Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger. Script editor Harry Junkin has developed a tendency to drop the title of the episode into the coda during a character’s spoken dialogue which, here, feels totally unnecessary and immediately dates the show [no one in 2022 would so glibly use the term ‘romantic matron’ to describe themselves]. Patrick Troughton, two years before Dr Who, is good but underused. Director John Paddy Carstairs is best known for a series of comedies he made with Norman Wisdom in the fifties. He has such a light touch the whole chapter feels easy on the eye and mind, which isn’t a bad thing. I was impressed with John Carson, who Roger Moore had worked with on Ivanhoe, but his character disappointingly shifts too easily from three dimensions to one. Ann Gillis never gets past one.

    Leslie Charteris’ original short story first appeared in his The Saint Detective Magazine some years before publication in the compilation Senor Saint; mentions of Juan Peron and fascist governments are contemporary to the times of writing, but the Peronist Party had been outlawed by 1964, so there’s a slight dichotomy to the politics discussed. The screenwriter is Larry Forrester who penned one of my favourite spy capers of the sixties, Fathom, starring Raquel Welch, as well as the war epic Tora! Tora! Tora! and a host of episodes for T.V. shows such as Vegas, The Protectors and Hart to Hart; so he had places to go but his work – like Carstairs’ – tends toward the light.

    Not a bad episode, but not a very good one either.


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1964

    19: Luella

    W: Harry W. Junkin

    based on Luella (aka ‘The Saint and the Double Badger’)  by Leslie Charteris featured in The Saint Errant (1948)

    D: Roy Ward Baker

    S: David Hedison, Suzanne Llyod, Susan Lloyd

    The primary reason this is such a crass episode is David Hedison. He overacts to such a tumultuous degree as to make every scene he features in unbearably unwatchable. Chiefly, he spends most of his screen time acting the prat. He’s a lousy friend and husband, a terrible liar and a non-apologist. He’s meant to be employed for an investment bank, but doesn’t do a second of work through the whole show, being more interested in beer, dancing and dames. Hedison plays Bill Harvey, old sparring partner and reprobate friend of Simon Templar, who despite being married to the lovely Doris [Suzanne Lloyd] insists on playing when the cat is away in Paris. During an excruciating series of scenes, he tours London, constantly gets drunk and wins three grand at roulette – although he had requested to learn chemin de fer – and becomes involved with the equally lovely Luella and a silly plot of extortion, which the Saint terms ‘badgering.’ Luella is played by Susan Lloyd, or Sue Lloyd as she was credited later in her career in movies like The Ipcress File, and she’s rather good, especially when director Roy Ward Baker pulls discreetly away to watch the silhouette of her seductive strip tease. Very nice. Luella and her husband [Aidan Turner] are blackmailers and the Saint sets out to entrap them into handing back Bill Harvey’s winnings. So, having watched Luella ensnare a victim once, we have to watch the scenario all over again, with minor adjustments. Roger Moore does his fake U.S. accent, disguises himself with a pair of spectacles and acts as if the whole shenanigan is beneath him, which frankly, it is. Hedison and Suzanne Lloyd argue aggressively. He plays it like some over-eager Jack Lemmon; she’s a forerunner of Liz Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. They are not the least bit amusing doing it. I got the impression Harvey frequently lies and cheats on his wife and I had not an iota of sympathy for him, which makes the Saint’s solution a little galling. Harvey should be left to rot, the rotter.

    Of interest to OO7 fans is of course the pairing of Moore and Hedison nine years before they teamed up on Live and Let Die. In fairness, while Hedison’s character here is a total douche, you can sense a genuine spark of camaraderie between the two actors. Moore’s role is a peacemaker to Hedison’s disruptive influence. In the Bond film, the roles are reversed and it is Hedison’s Felix Leiter who tries to restrict Moore’s James Bond from destroying everything he touches.

    In another peculiar turn, Moore has persuaded the spinster secretary of a lettings company that he works for MI5 and when she arrives to reclaim the keys to Luella’s apartment, she fancies he might just be James Bond! Cute that. When she learns he’s Simon Templar, the white halo appears above Sir Roger’s raised James Bond eyebrows, ending – as well as opening – the episode.  

    Blink and you miss him, but Alan Bennet has a walk on role as a man who wanders into a hotel bar with his date. He’s in the background when Luella ensnares Bill Harvey.

    Incidental interest abounds, but generally a horrible episode.  


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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1964

    20: The Lawless Lady

    W: Harry W. Junkin

    based on The Lawless Lady by Leslie Charteris featured in Enter the Saint (1930)

    D:  Jeremy Summers

    S: Dawn Addams, Julian Glover

    This episode is based on one of the oldest Saint novels, Leslie Charteris’ second book to feature his debonair hero, Enter the Saint. There unlike his debut novel, Meet the Tiger, Charteris chose to write three short novellas for his lead character. This story was set in England and on a Mediterranean yacht and barely featured the hero. The television adaptation changes that, but retains the notion that the hero should fall for the villainess, although here it is Simon Templar’s charms which ensnare the jewel thief Countess Audrey Morova.

    I enjoyed the episode without ever being entirely convinced by it. There’s a plot hole towards the end which is best not to concern yourself with lest it spoil your enjoyment. Dawn Addams returns to play another scheming beauty and the scenes between her and Sir Roger are wonderful. She’s got trouble in her own gang of thieves: Julian Glover’s tough nut Hilloram is suspicious of the Saint’s motives. She’s blinded by love. Ivor Dean pops up as Insp. Teal and it’s always fun to watch him spar with Sir Roger; they do it so nicely.

    Latterly, as the thieves relocate to the Cote D’Azur things turn against the Saint, but he still has an ace or two up his sleeve, most obviously his mate Dickie Tremaine. Tremaine featured in several of the original Saint novels as one of Templar’s regular associates. He’s the main character in Charteris’ novella, but is back-up for the Saint here. David Sumner makes a brief impression as a more hip version of his employee.

    I couldn’t help thinking that the people the Countess invites to her dinner parties or cruise holidays are all too old for her to be associating with, which gives the episode an air of unlikeliness. Pity, as it’s well acted and craftily directed. There’s a great shot of Addams and Glover talking while we watch their reflections in a mirror and another ‘unsteady-cam’ as the Saint is knocked unconscious. Jeremy Summers does a better job helming the show than previously; so too Harry Junkin’s script.

    A decent and pleasing effort.


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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1964

    21: The Good Medicine

    W: Norman Borisoff

    based on The Good Medicine by Leslie Charteris featured in Thanks to the Saint (1957)

    D: Roy Baker

    S: Barbara Murray, Jean Marsh, Anthony Newlands, Bill Nagy

    During a trip to Paris, Simon Templar learns that the world’s newest and most successful perfumier, Denise Dumont, is in fact an egotistic swindler who defrauded her ex-husband out of a potential fortune. So, the Saint decides to swindle her back. Another one of those ‘robbing the rich to feed the poor’ stories, this one barely raises an iota of interest. Nice to see Bill Nagy not playing a villain; this time he’s bagged some screen time as Templar’s Parisian friend. Barbara Murray doesn’t even attempt to disguise her accent when playing a provincial Frenchwoman, in fact she makes Denise Dumont sound American, which is very odd.

    Rises occasionally above the ordinary, but this one’s not much of a event.

     

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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1964

    22: The Invisible Millionaire

    W: Kenneth R. Hayles

    based on The Invisible Millionaire by Leslie Charteris featured in Follow the Saint (1938)

    D: Jeremy Summers

    S: Katherine Blake, Nigel Stock, Eunice Gayson, Jane Asher

    The Saint lives at 53 Grosvenor Mews. The writers made the location up. There is a Grosvenor Crescent Mews in Belgravia, just west of Hyde Park Corner. I don’t think they filmed there, although if you know London and it’s mews estates, you’ll know they tend to look the same. ‘Grosvenor Mews’ does suggest Simon Templar resides within those millionaire’s rows. Houses in Grosvenor Crescent Mews currently sell for up to £17m, so he’s not short of a bob or two our Saint.

    Back to The Invisible Millionaire. This one’s dated a little by being based on a pre-war Charteris story. The 1930s vintage always seem to need a radical update, but this episode doesn’t get one, although it takes the [decent] liberty of writing out Hoppy Uniatz, who came across so boorishly in Season 1’s The Careful Terrorist. In the absence of Hoppy, the Saint has been spending his time researching the investment markets and taking a peek at the London Stock Exchange; cue a few seconds of newsreel footage to fill the runtime.

    Marvin Chase is a big businessman with a big business empire. Little does he know his world is about to be turned on its head following a near fatal car crash. Unfortunately for Marvin and his nervous wife, his strange behaviour following the accident breeds suspicion. When Simon Templar’s friend Nora Prescott, Chase’s secretary, is murdered, he vows to discover exactly what is happening at the Chase mansion.

    A decently scripted number with a few scratchy performances and a see-through plot which saves itself by at least attempting to be interesting. One of ours, Eunice Gayson, makes a dent in proceedings as the doomed secretary and seventeen year-old Jane Asher plays the worried daughter, a girl who seems on the permanent edge of hysteria. After resolving the crisis, the Saint agrees to take her home, which doesn’t feel much consolation given the house is full of dead bodies and policemen by then. He may state that he never hits women, but this Saint fella still lacks a bit of tact.  

    On a side note, the original three-novella compilation Follow the Saint was the first time a Charteris novel was published in America prior to its British release. From 1938 onwards, all Saint novels would be initially published in the U.S.A. 


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  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 5,983MI6 Agent

    Lord Yearley (Anthony Quayle) drives the Goldfinger Aston Martin in this episode - same number plate as well - this was before it was shipped off to Pinewood for the Bond tech guys to turn it into the most famous car in the world.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    Wow ! I never spotted that. Thanks for the heads up.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent
    edited February 2023

    It's been a while: back with a bang !

    SEASON 2

    1964

    23: The High Fence

    W: Harry Junkin

    based on The High Fence by Leslie Charteris featured in The Saint Goes On (1934)

    D: James Hill

    S: Suzanne Lloyd, James Villiers, Ivor Dean, Stanley Meadows, Dyson Lovell, Peter Jaffrey, Harry Towb, Claire Kelly, Reginald Beckwith, Hazel Hughes, Richard Poore

    Through no fault of his own, the Saint interrupts a burglary and becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the notorious London criminal known only as ‘The High Fence’ who sells on stolen jewellery with ease and at the best rates. However, the Fence has become greedy and as robberies increase, the police have put their top men on the job: Inspector Teal and his new uncompromising underling Pryor. Ivor Dean returns for his fourth stint as the careworn Teal and he’s getting better with each turn. We know the Saint isn’t in his good books, but the pair share a mutual admiration; I like the way Templar leaves enough of an opportunistic window open to the police so Teal is never far away, even if he’s not exactly ‘in’ on the Saint’s convoluted plots. James Villiers is raspingly efficient as Pryor; a distinctly unpleasant functionary who is the chalk to Teal’s cheese. This pairing offers up a much more black and white interpretation of policing which contemporary viewers would probably recognise.  

    The Saint always has a prickly relationship with Claude Eustace Teal, as he prefers to address him. He has a downright antagonistic one with Pryor, who lacks compassion and subtlety. This is brought to the fore in an early scene where Templar console’s famous actress Gabrielle Forrest [naturally the Saint’s latest squeeze] while Pryor officiously bulldozes his way through a series of questions and answers and suppositions. Templar almost thwarted the burglary, but during a high speed car chase, the front tyre of his Volvo P1800 is shot out and the thieves escape with Gabriella’s diamonds. Pryor’s reaction to this information is disdain unfiltered. This new policeman on the block is equally blunt when dealing with the serial thief Johnny Anworth. It is strongly hinted only Johnny’s insistence on a call to his solicitor prevents a serious case of police brutality. It doesn’t save Johnny for long: he is poisoned for his troubles. Someone wants to keep the notorious High Fence and his secret exactly that.

    Templar takes up the baton, meeting his old friend, insurance investigator and ex-Scotland Yard officer, Bob Stryker [Stanley Meadows]. The pair track down Johnny’s wife and there’s a beautifully played scene where Claire Kelly delivers a masterclass in understated bereavement as Mary Anworth, relating the ordinary life story of the neighbours, an existence she witnesses and yearns for day after day which has fallen forever from her grasp. Mary provides information that leads the Saint and Stryker to mix it with Dyson Lovell’s muscular Fasson and Peter Jaffrey’s studious, effective killer Quincy, the fence’s right-hand man.

    A dying man’s last breath sends Templar and Gabriella to the Kosy Korner Kafe. They appear to be travelling through the same back-projection as Teal and Pryor, but arrive at a totally different destination! Here, the Saint persuades Gabriella to utilise her acting skills and impersonate an Irish waitress in the hope the High Fence will materialise and pick up the stolen goods from Quincy.

    Canadian actress Suzanne Lloyd does a splendid job impersonating a famous movie star intrigued by the stolen diamonds racket and clearly engaged in an on-off affair with our hero [although it seems even more chaste than his more recent dalliances]. She’s equally accomplished as the supposed winsome, scatty, bespectacled waitress engaged in a running battle with her all-seeing employer [Hazel Hughes]. Early on she’s enraptured by the possibilities inherent in “a date with the famous Simon Templar.” Then, after a day waiting tables and having learnt nothing of interest, only that her feet are aching, she puts her feet up, swigs that brandy and is informed that Simon Templar can’t see her recognition signals:

    “I could always jump on a table and do a strip tease,” she muses with some assurance, suggesting this would not be an activity unknown to her.

    “Quite an idea,” replies the Saint with a neatly cocked eyebrow, “It’ll please the customers, but I don’t think it’s very practical.”

    “Oh, dear... This modern slavery part really doesn’t suit my talents.”  

    No, indeed, Miss Forrest!

    Lloyd was better known for playing damsels in American western serials. She has only recently featured in Season 2:19 Luella as David Hedison’s put upon wife. She was distinctly unsubtle in that adventure. Here she’s all elegance, coquettish flippancy and steely determination. She’s extremely natural in the role; despite her protestations Gabriella is as likely to down a brandy and smoke a fag as go to the theatre and dress up to the tens; she can wait tables, cavort with policeman and villains and even do some detective work. The contradictions hint at both at Gabriella’s former life and at her ability as an actress. She proves a much better foil for Templar than Bob Stryker, who gets himself beaten up fighting Quincy. Peter Jaffrey of course is too much of a gentleman to strike Miss Forrest, but he sees through her disguise in time to warn ‘The Little Fence’, Enderby, a scuttling jeweller who resembles Bond producer Harry Saltzman. Reginald Beckwith gives his character a suitably nervous complexion. Meanwhile, the Saint – like Gabriella – has been rumbled and, at the point of a gun, is led to a confrontation with the mysterious High Fence and a satisfying denouement of fists and bullets.

    This was splendid entertainment, written with some economy, but a thrusting, gripping sense of character. It is one of regular contributor Harry Junkin’s best efforts. He’s had to severely update it and removes Leslie Charteris’ regular characters Hoppy Unitaz and Patricia Holm, but retains a focus on the murders and the stretched relationship between the police and the Saint. The narrative is tight and involving. It doesn’t forget to include plenty of action and suspense, so the forty-seven minutes fairly wizzes by. Yet there are also those quiet moments of pathos and reflection, as well as the conflict between Teal and Pryor, Templar and Pryor, Johnny and Pryor, well anyone and Pryor. Director James Hill gives the production plenty of energy and while his presentation is hampered by the televisual format, he doesn’t shirk on enlivening the scenes with swift, unobtrusive edits. The fights and murders and chases are excellently balanced among the more mundane aspects of life, such as the cafe work, Mary Anworth’s kitchen sink drudgery, the rivalry among the police, the clamminess of Fasson’s bedsit hideout. That mix of the low and high life which stood shoulder-to-shoulder in London during the 1960s comes across brilliantly, the latter reflected in Gabriella’s gorgeous minor mansion of a house and her sublime gowns. It more than adequately mirrors the kind of novels and short stories author Leslie Charteris was writing, certainly at the start, where Simon Templar is a gentleman adventurer just on the right side of the law but with his nose firmly in the gutter.

    Probably one of the best episodes I’ve watched so far. I listed the whole cast above because, to a person, they are acting each other’s socks off, even Richard Poore’s duty-pecked and barely there assistant cop, broods on the side lines, caught between Teal's rock and Pryor’s hard place.

    An exceedingly excellent slice of sixties television.  


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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent
    edited February 2023

    SEASON 2

    1964

    24: Sophia

    W: Robert Banks Stewart

    based on Lucia: The Homecoming of Amadeo Urselli by Leslie Charteris featured in Saint Errant (1948)

    D: Roger Moore

    S: Oliver Reed, Imogen Hassel

    Oliver Reed sneers his way through an episode of the Saint for the second time. This one is set in Greece, relocated and renamed for no reason from Italy, and it’s a grim affair.

    Stavros Arnetas owns a rundown hotel in a backwoods village. Its major claim to fame – other than being the base of operations for Professor Hamish Grant’s archaeological dig – lies in it being the same Latin-touch hotel we saw in The Pearls of Peace and numerous other episodes. This set is being replicated to death. Here it is adorned with pictures of the Greek royal family, an extensive but empty wine rack and a wartime rifle, kept loaded naturally. Stavros has a headstrong daughter, Sophia [Imogen Hassel], who doesn’t understand his laissez-faire attitude to life. Neither do I. Still, it provides familial conflict. The Saint, being a pal of Professor Grant, is on hand to smooth things over. Until, that is, the untimely arrival of Sophia’s long-lost American cousin, Aristides Koralis, a crook of the lesser orders. Cue Oliver Reed and a faintly ridiculous story of greed and charity.

    It is notable for being the first episode of nine directed by Roger Moore during his starring run as Simon Templar. I’m not sure if these were his earliest directorial efforts; quite possibly as I can’t imagine American executives allowing him to helm Maverick or The Alaskans. Moore doesn’t do anything fancy with the camera or the characters. Overacting seems more the order of the day, certainly as far as Imogen Hassel is concerned. Accents are laughably ill-fashioned. So too the ransom note written on the hotel wall. A traditional potboiler of minimal interest.


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  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,648MI6 Agent

    I didn't spot this one, but I think you're right, Roger must have remembered some of these bits from The Saint and made plot suggestions in his BondFilms. There's two episodes you haven't got to yet, I think called Sibao and The Gadget Lovers, where big underlying plot concepts are very similar to certain MooreBond films.

    and one in the final season where he sees a nice car and compliments its beautiful lines, or something like that, as the camera moves to show a magnificent female standing next to it and Templar actually has his eyes on her. Wasn't that exact gag in The Spy Who Loved Me?

    I'm watching the colour ones at the moment and certainly there's the odd moment which leaps out: like Roger describing some baddies' hired lackeys as "baboons", as of course he does again in AVTAK. And Templar is forever asking or telling people what he wants- "Information". Which is pretty much his catchphrase as Bond too. Makes you think he must have been massaging all of these lines to roll off his tongue a bit easier- one gets the impression he worked hard at making it look like he was taking it easy.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1964

    25: The Gentle Ladies

    W: John Graeme

    based on The Gentle Ladies by Leslie Charteris featured in The Saint to the Rescue (1959)

    D: Jeremy Summers

    S: Avice Landone, Renee Houston, Barbara Mullen

    The Saint is on a sailing weekend with Katherine Howard [Christina Gregg, lovely]. Katherine appears to be more than just his usual passing dalliance – she even recognises the palms of Templar’s hands when he surprises her in the Anchor Hotel, Bosham, Sussex. I think Bosham is a fictional village. Chunky sweaters and badly projected montages of Roger Moore on a yacht ensue. The pub looks suspiciously like the one in The Invisible Millionaire [Season 2: 22] only with the bar moved to the left hand side of the entrance.

    Shades of Arsenic and Old Lace abound as three dotty ladies hide secrets in their cottage on Smuggler’s Lane. These stalwarts of the Women’s Institute, local charities and the Summer Fete are such a village fixture that even young Katherine calls them ‘auntie’. The appearance of Philip O’Flynn’s feckless Alfred Powls threatens to reveal the trio’s shady past. Can Simon Templar keep their reputation safe in the face of blackmail and murder?

    A cheerful little number. Not much happens. John Graeme’s script is mostly functional and does its best work extracting humour from everyday situations thrown askew. Thus, the whole is played mostly with a firm eye on the laughter count. A needless fist fight is introduced to speed things up, but even that’s got cod-James Bond epitaphs at its end. The resolution is both macabre and mildly amusing.

    I enjoyed the episode without ever sensing it’d be considered television gold. The three actresses who played the sisters [all unknown to me and listed above] were very good.

    Entertaining Sunday fare. 


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  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,648MI6 Agent
    edited February 2023

    I spotted another reoccurring Roger-ism: whenever he's invited to anything he's always "delighted" to accept 😁

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    I haven't spotted that one yet - I'll keep an ear out for it.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1964

    26: The Ever-Loving Spouse

    W: Norman Borisoff

    based on The Ever loving Spouse by Leslie Charteris featured in The Saint to the Rescue (1959)

    D: Ernest Morris

    S: Barry Jones

    The Saint is in San Francisco. His hotel has been overrun by the boisterous antics of the representatives of the National Candy Maker’s Association, whose Annual Convention is taking place in town. The bar the delegates are frequenting and fouling is heroically named the Rowdy Room. It resembles something out of the Wild West rather than the West Coast.

    Pity poor Norma Upton, a hotel photographer trying to make a few measly dollars, who gets the greasy end of a few palms on her comely behind for her efforts; the participants drunk and pawing. Mind, she’s not averse to a bit of palming, being involved with unscrupulous snapper Vern Balton, who is out to blackmail millionaire candy king Otis Fennick. Norma strips to her undies for a staged porn pic with the aging Fennick and in doing so riles the already highly strung emotions of her man, the miserable waiter Alec. Meanwhile, Fennick embroils the Saint in his troubles, but there’s more afoot when his wife turns up in San Fran and turns out to be sleeping with Fennick’s top salesman, Kingman.

    What started off as a rehash of the David Hedison shocker Luella, expands into a complicated game of cross, double cross, blackmail, adultery, jealousy, bored wives, shifty journos and abusive husbands. There isn’t a single person in the cast list of characters who is anything other than unpleasantly money grabbing or simply unpleasant. Even the hotel receptionist loves a bribe and the local police are hot-headed, rude and authoritative. A fair amount of decent wordsmithery between the characters just about keeps us interested, but it’s hard work. The plot is enlivened by the proximity of two femme fatales and the reveal of the true villain among many villains as a psychologically damaged psychopathic sociopath.

    Barry Jones cuts a fair figure as the wronged husband. David Bauer returns to scowl with abandon as the photographer Vern Balton. Jacqueline Ellis and Jeanne Moody do their best to paper over personality cracks as the feisty femmes.         


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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 2

    1964

    27: The Saint Sees It Through

    W: Norman Borisoff

    based on The Saint Sees It Through (1947) by Leslie Charteris

    D: Ernest Morris

    S: Margit Saad, Joseph Furst, Guy Deghy, Elspeth March

    The Saint Sees It Through was the last full length original Saint novel written by Leslie Charteris. From this point he concentrated on short stories and novellas. A late return came in the sixties when he adapted a few television episodes into accompanying novels. The book was primarily set in New York, where the Saint aids his American wartime chum John Hamilton into busting a Chinese opium smuggling ring. The television version starts in New York, but relocates the action to Hamburg, West Germany, and replaces opium with the less controversial prize of twelve priceless miniature Raphael portraits. The smugglers are old school Germans, who may or may not be ex-Nazis; they are certainly exploiting holes in the import and export system to smuggle important stolen works of art from Europe into the USA. It is hinted, very mildly, these might be wartime loot. The Raphael’s have been stolen from the Kremlin, but we don’t learn by who or how, only that the Soviets want them back and the American’s have agreed to assist because they want to close the conduit. The courier has been killed, but a signed and addressed photograph of Simon Templar’s old flame, the singer Lili Klausner, is discovered in his luggage. Hamilton asks the Saint to go incognito for the US Antiquities Bureau and trace the Raphael’s.

    The Saint accepts reluctantly, curious to know how Lili is caught up in the seedy world of stolen antiquities. Lili is being brainwashed by the psychiatrist and secret ace smuggler Dr Zellerman, played with a little more restraint than usual by Joseph Furst, appearing for his once a season runout. He’s rather menacing, controlling Lili with deep hypnosis, making her compliant and subservient. It is she who recruits wayward sailors to smuggle the paintings [and other goods] by seducing them in the tacky lounge bar Tante Ada’s. She also sings, but that’s secondary. Margit Saad makes a decent tragic heroine. Her plight resembles that of the Korean veterans in The Manchurian Candidate. It’s quite a treat to have one of these early episodes latch onto an espionage theme with a little zeal, even if the resolution has to be simplified because of the time constraints of a fifty minute adventure.

    Elspeth March cuts an unlikely figure as the matronly, but coercive, boss-madam Tante Ada. March previously impersonated a wronged wife in the Season 1 clunker The Arrow of God. She was adequate in that, but here she doesn’t seem comfortable as a villainess. One of the problems of filtering through the same regular acting agents is the occasional slice of duff casting and we have one here. Tante Ada is in league with Zellerman, but she’s spooked by Templar’s appearance. Rightly so, for the Saint’s hold over Lili seems to disturb the good doctor’s once unbreakable psychosis. The terrible twosome’s nominal hitman is Guy Deghy’s nervy Carl Eberhard, who tricks Templar’s contact into an early grave. The first two thirds of the adventure pass well as a half-decent spy yarn, mixing a little romance to spice up the otherwise tepid proceedings. There are a couple of neat twists the audience may not expect [I didn’t, for sure]. The back end is a more traditional Saint outing, with a clever disguise, a climatic confrontation, a fist fight and finale of some drama.

    It's fairly well constructed and performed, but it feels a little tame and isn’t as welcoming as some episodes. I feel the writers must have excised a tremendous amount of plot and character development in adapting the novel. Still, an okay effort.       


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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    Okay, back in The Saint saddle, cantering in with the opener to Season Three.


    SEASON 3

    1964

    1: The Miracle Tea Party

    W: Paddy Maurice O’Brine

    based on The Miracle Tea Party featured in Follow the Saint (1938) by Leslie Charteris

    D: Roger Moore

    S: Nanette Newman, Fabia Drake, Conrad Phillips, Victor Viko

    The Miracle Tea Party kicks off Season Three. There had been a seven month break since the end of Season Two, but ITC must have been extremely confident in their product as it pitched up with a further 23 adventures to entertain us. The world of the Saint was clearly more than up and running by late 1964 and given the cinematic contributions of James Bond, this opener encompasses a broad espionage theme, which compensates for a rather rapid screenplay that does too much in this fifty minutes.

    The adventure is directed by Roger Moore, which feels like a gamble for a season opener, but he does a reasonable job, although the story does follow the prerequisite format of almost all the previous stories: a brief prologue introduction from Simon Templar direct to the camera, a damsel in some distress, a semi-intricate plot, a few rough tough moments, a resolution of astounding ease and a neat epilogue where the title of the episode is shoved indelicately into the conversation. Moore handles it with enough panache to suggest he could have had a decent career as a television director.

    While this episode dips a little into the espionage route, it still plays to the old world vision of Britain and its role in the world. Everyone’s very polite except the baddies. The Saint pairs up with a slightly dotty, but resourceful, old lady named Aunt Hattie [Fabia Drake], and a deadly pharmacist, two characters who encapsulate Hitchcockian oddballs. There’s also another look at Commander Richardson [Basil Dignam] who hasn’t been seen since the Season Two curtain raiser The Fellow Traveller. He was working for the Ministry of Defence then, but he now seems to have switched to Special Branch. Although I like Richardson because he fulfils the ‘M’ role in putting the Saint into peril, he isn’t anywhere near as memorable as the put-out and put-upon Inspector Teal. It’s fun when the police condescend to Templar and he responds in kind; that dynamic is missing in the more obvious master-servant relationship Richardson and Templar develop. He should really have stayed at the M.O.D. Still, it does at least make the Saint’s motives more cognitive.

    If anything the story moves too fast. An awful lot of ground regarding spies, traitors, stolen blueprints, microfilm, smuggled data, secret codes, hidden bases and dastardly villains is covered in fifty minutes. Nanette Newman makes a fetching heroine who really is mostly window dressing. Again, a little more time would expand her relationship with the Saint as well as improve her character’s background. Ditto Fabia Drake’s doddery old lady and the dodgy double agent with an ulcer, Charles Houston’s Norton. There’s also a car chase form Portland Naval Base to London, which passes in a blur. This episode should really have been a two-parter.

    Good performances. I spotted Robert Brown in the opening few scenes. He plays a heavy and is rather good in a more snidey role. His future days as a slightly frazzled, slightly frustrated M to Roger Moore’s unperturbed, diffident OO7 seem a long way off on this showing. Nanette Newman might have made a passable Bond girl if Eon had ever written a part for a British Bond girl; maybe a sort of Sylvia Trench #2. Viktor Viko is the scarred, crude Red Agent ringleader behind a chain of Miracle Tea importers, whose network of spies plunders state secrets from informants at UK military bases. The set up was clever and I enjoyed the unravelling.

    The early scenes set around Waterloo Station were very good with an increasing atmosphere of panic and intrigue culminating in the murder of a MOD / Special Branch spy. The over-cover stuff done by Templar seems a bit rudimentary after this sterling start. You rather wish Commander Richardson had gone all Moonraker on us and invented a valid reason to have the Saint infiltrate the base and do his spying.

    The original novella involved a counterfeit smuggling operation and the bare bones of this are contained in the £500 of rolled up bank notes hidden in Miracle Tea boxes, handed to the informants as payment. The Saint’s eyebrows are always aroused by a bit of indecent smuggling as well as the joys of waiting for a telephone booth.

    Overall a good little number that doesn’t try too hard, although it perhaps could have and should have tried harder.       


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 3

    1964

    2: Lida

    W: Terry Nation

    based on Lida (a.k.a. The Foolish Frail) by Leslie Charteris featured in Saint Errant (1948)

    D: Leslie Norman

    S: Erica Rogers, Jeanne Moody, Barry Keegan, Peter Bowles

    Written by Terry Nation and directed by Leslie Norman, Lida has a thorough television pedigree. It’s a very good episode, based on another of Charteris’ short stories from Saint Errant. Five of the nine tales had already found their way to the screen and this made a neat half-dozen. Lida has a very broad narrative which might have suited a longer format than a short story or a television episode. There is a lot of character and plot development taken on trust which could have been included and explained in a longer format. Terry Nation relocates the action to the Bahamas from Miami and the Saint’s literary squeeze, Patricia Holm, becomes the title character’s sister instead of her best friend. Patricia Holm was a mainstay of Charteris’ early Saint novels and collections, right from the debut in fact, but her appearances had dwindled as the series wore on and Saint Errant was the last to feature her. The TV show did not include her at all, which allowed Sir Roger to dally with numerous ladies instead of being tied to just one.

    Erica Rogers [back again, and much more pleasant this time] plays the worried Joan Wingate whose sister, Lida Verity, appears to be having a personal crisis of some sort. Joan’s so worried she calls in Simon Templar, who she just happens to meet in the sun lounge of her Bahamian hotel. Roger Moore’s eyebrows are raised with complete disinterest; his halo is slipping. Lida is being blackmailed with some compromising photos snapped after a midnight liaison with the shadow pimp Maurice Kerr. Having befriended her at Captain Kidd’s Club and romanced her over the roulette wheel, he has drugged poor Lida and allowed those sordid snaps to be taken by Pebbles, the creepy house photographer. It’s the kind of thing people get done for in online sex-tape scams these days; or they brush it off as ‘one of those things’ and exploit the situation themselves, like Pamela Anderson. Lida, a married woman of much wealth and standing, wants to keep the whole affair quiet and has been making regular payments to her unseen blackmailers. Her husband seems to be working abroad a lot. When she is found shot dead at the nightclub, no one bothers to inform the poor man. He’s due a dreadful shock.

    Luckily the Saint is on hand to follow up the clues provided by a shifty gang of hangers on. Suspect Number one is Maurice [a troubled and young Peter Bowles, unrecognisable without the moustache, and very good] who hasn’t only been leading Lida astray, but several other ladies too. There’s even one in his bed when a distraught Lida seeks comfort in his arms and on his lips. Maggie Wright’s Mara, poses in her skimpies, and cuts the deluded older woman down to size with a withering gaze. Lida’s adultery isn’t mentioned, but two wrongs don’t make a right and things end badly for both Lida and Maurice. One assumes Mara is still bedhopping her way across the Bahamas.

    Suspect Number Two is Inspector Maxwell [Robert Raglan] who responds to the Saint’s interference with the customary wariness of all authority. This time, the police’s investigation seems deliberately devised to close the case quickly and even Templar’s usual disdain for the services seems deserved. It’s a big red herring from the writer, though. Halfway through, one of Maxwell’s lieutenants suggests that the Saint’s ploy is working: annoying Maxwell enough that the Inspector starts to do some proper investigation. So, just lazy then. Death in Paradise this is not. The two policemen grin with a knowing glint. Maxwell’s first move is to have Templar followed while the Saint does all the dirty work.

    Suspect Number Three is Esteban [Marne Maitland], the dodgy slimeball who manages Captain Kidd’s. He looks like a prime suspect, but the Saint is able to rule him out. “I hope you get him,” Esteban tells Templar, “Using my club for a blackmail racket. The stinking thieves.” Yet Esteban himself employs the same hucksters to draw women into the club and lose money at the tables. He even has Maurice on his payroll. No wonder Maurice has an apartment full of women, he’s been picking them up every night for a percentage cut.

    Lastly, the photographer Pebbles, a sweaty little man as handy with a gun and a blade as he is with a flashbulb and a photo lens. This is one of the best realised villains in the series so far. A little man, caught in his little hovel, eking a living doing dirty work, you believe Aubrey Maurice’s scuttling portrayal from head to toe. He’s the kind of snivelling man Peter Lorre used to play in those gangster flicks opposite Humphrey Bogart. His confrontation with an angry Maurice Kerr is an excellent scene of perspiring, violent close-ups, forced sneers, knifes to throats, spitting mouths, all viper tongued animosity. Director Leslie Norman works miracles on the limited budget.

    Help is provided by Barry Keegan’s door man Bosun, and when Joan is kidnapped, the Saint begins to unravel the plot. But who is the secret headman with the skull and crossbones ring and is the Saint too late to save Joan and himself from this criminal extortionist? The ending comes amid a flurry of blows and much good fun.

    The episode is fast and furious and plenty happens to keep us occupied. If Jeanne Moody’s Lida is a mite hysterical, that doesn’t detract from the danger we sense she is walking toward. While Roger Moore is mostly in perfunctory mode – even the action sequences seem to be of little interest to him – he is aided by a supporting cast who attempt to inject some sense of menace and purpose to the goings on, and that isn’t always the case in these sixties ITC shows. Mostly they succeed.

    On a side point, this episode was preceded with a gold ITC logo which I’d never seen before, suggesting it was licenced back from abroad. Some of the early scenes were very scratchy, especially the audio track. I wonder if the original taped copy had vanished? At least we hadn’t lost it completely, unlike so many of those early Classic Dr Who stories I’ve been watching.  

     

    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  


        

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 3

    1964

    3: Jeannine

    W: Terry Nation

    based on Jeannine (a.k.a. The Lovely Sinner) by Leslie Charteris featured in Saint Errant (1948)

    D: John Moxey

    S: Sylvia Sims, Jacqui Chan, Robert Cawdron

    The Saint is back in Paris and knocking heads again with Robert Cawdron’s Sgt Luduc and getting mixed up in a jewel heist organised by Judith Northwade, the cat burglar he befriended and foxed in Season 2’s Judith. That episode was enlivened by the generous mouth and modern theatrical mores of Julie Christie. Her role is taken over by Sylvia Sims who cuts a completely different figure of a thief, not nearly so sly – although given she and Templar have previous, it’s understandable she’s less of a mystery.

    Writer Terry Nation does a good job without ever threatening to be as creative as he was in Lida. That’s partly because the familiar shenanigans surrounding all heist capers are present and Nation can’t do much with such soiled ingredients. The most interesting angle is provided by Jacqui Chan’s rough tongued Madame Chan, a trade ambassador for East Vietnam. She possesses a string of priceless pearls and everyone seems to be interested in stealing them, excepting Simon Templar, which immediately raises the suspicions of the local police, who put Luduc on his tail once again. And once again Luduc is tricked and the baddies are thwarted – twice – or three times if you include the actual theft. There’s a bold statement about oppressed populations and their right for personal freedoms, but while a little bit of politics doesn’t bother me unduly, it is rather shoved into the narrative and the Saint’s sudden decision to side with a thief because he represents an oppressed minority seems more Robin Hood than Robin Hood.

    There’s also a neat little scene at Judith’s apartment where the Saint insists he’s a perfect gourmet, that Mrs Beaton stole all his recipes and that the food of life is bacon and eggs:

    “Blue Mountain,” he comments approvingly as he sips what he believes is filter coffee, “lightly roasted, coarsely ground.”

    “Instant; two francs a tin,” she responds with a cluck.

    This leads to some sexual to-and-fro [“The advantages of a partnership like this is the many fringe benefits,” Judith says as she wraps her arms and lips about Sir Roger]. He’s less enamoured with Madame Chan’s even more obvious approaches. She wants to reward him for retrieving her stolen necklace, an event which involves a well-choreographed fight on a hay bale which must have taken some figuring to make as good as it is. A neat cameo from Peter Wright as a seedy forger perks things up a little. Maggie Wright’s hotel receptionist is a delight whenever she’s on screen and perks things up for entirely different reasons. [She was a scene stealer in the previous episode too.]

    When the Saint finally catches up with Judith a.k.a Jeannine, he’s in her apartment again, cooking a coq-au-vin and double-crossing both cat burglar and the police. Sir Roger’s Simon Templar is as dab a hand in the kitchen as his interpretation of OO7 in A View to a Kill. Unfortunately, the Saint’s theory that pearls will dissolve in wine is a gastronome’s myth, so the story’s resolution is flawed and Judith – as an expert – would know this. Now, if he’d used vinegar… 


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 3

    1964

    4: The Scorpion

    W: Paul Erikson

    based on The Inland Revenue by Leslie Charteris featured in The Holy Terror (1932)

    D: Roy Baker

    S: Catherine Woodville, Nyree Dawn Porter, Dudley Sutton, Ivor Dean, Geoffrey Blaydon

    The Saint meets the Scorpion!

    Not quite as exciting as I make it sound, but a tasty little number all the same. Businessman Mark Deverest has taken an advisory position at the Ministry of Aeronautical Affairs, but failed to relinquish shares in his company. When the company wins a contract to develop the U.K.’s new fighter jet, his position is compromised. Someone has discovered his secret and is blackmailing him with a threat to spill the truth to the press. One of Simon Templar’s accomplices from his days as a genuine thief, a nervous wreck of a burglar known as Long Harry, was responsible for the theft that unmasked Deverest, but now he’s being hunted down in case he blows the lid on the scheme. Long Harry, like the Saint, lives by a strict Snatcher’s Code: he’ll rob anyone for a few quid, rich or poor, but extortion, that’s a line never crossed.

    The Saint, aided by Deverest’s lovely secretary Karen, launches an investigation. First, they observe a trade-off with hostess and goodtime girl Patsy Butler at the Bird’s Nest Club, then Harry is found murdered in the Saint’s apartment. While the outside of Templar’s mews flat is unaltered, and I always assumed it was in Belgravia [53 Grosvenor Mews, a fictional location probably based on Grosvenor Crescent Mews near Hyde Park Corner] it turns out they are filming in Hampstead, near the New End Hospital and Streatley Place. Maybe it’s a mews in Finchley or something. There’s a nice foot chase around the back streets. Meanwhile Deverest’s mansion is exactly the same as the one used for Dawn Addams’ house in The Lawless Lady [see 2:20] and we see the same interior of bedsit and stairs used in The High Fence [see 2:23] come in handy for Patsy’s residence. Poor Patsy ends up being hurtled down the steps by her boyfriend. It’s a very unlucky set of stairs. Nyree Dawn Porter would go onto better things in BBC’s The Forsythe Saga and another ITC production The Protectors.

    Dudley Sutton, who would become famous as a dodgy, cuddly antique dealer in Lovejoy, is ruthlessly spare playing motorcyclist Eddie Black. He threatens his girl with a hoop of fishnet tights: “A man has to be ruthless in the world, obey the law of nature, that’s the secret of power.” He’s learning fast from his boss the mysterious Scorpion, quoting him verbatim. Pity he doesn’t arm his sidekicks with venom tipped boots or something. Eddy is dealt with far too easily, once most of the Bird’s Nest Club has been vandalised in the fight.

    The Scorpion is a new master crook who Inspector Teal would like to get his hands on. Teal leaves the door open for Templar to work his magic, which of course he does. This is the only part of the original short story to survive the adaptation. In Charteris’ version, Teal allows Templar and Patricia Holm to attempt to capture the Scorpion and claim a hefty reward which will clear the Saint’s debt to the taxman. It was a daft plot in 1932 and the one we have here isn’t any more believable.

    Geoffrey Blaydon makes a suitably vigilant villain, a man whose life is littered with legal jargon and his house with a menagerie of vicious reptiles, chief among them a batch of death-dealing scorpions. He sent one to the Saint only to have the horned creature menace Karen Bates. It isn’t quite as dramatic as the tarantula crawling up James Bond’s shoulder in Dr No, but you can tell where the inspiration came from.

    Roy Baker directs with his usual sense of timing. There’s a neat sequence where the Saint and Patsy yell seven bells at each other while a kettle boils furiously in the background, the whistle squealing as the ding-dong reaches its climax.

    A few fist fights, an accident, a kidnap and a lot more shouting later and the whole tawdry business is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.  


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,131MI6 Agent

    SEASON 3

    1964

    5: The Revolution Racket

    W: Terry Nation

    based on The Revolution Racket by Leslie Charteris featured in Senor Saint (1958)

    D: Pat Jackson

    S: Suzanne Lloyd, Ed Bishop, Eric Pohlman

    A sweaty little number set in an undisclosed South American country.

    The Saint is kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to a plush restaurant where he meets the city police commissioner, Carlos Xavier, an outsize Eric Pohlman, who displays all the acting tricks required to steal a show. He’s very good and I enjoyed every scene where he twists the Saint around his finger, only to lose out at the last. Xavier is a glutton and a very amusing one. He uses a superb Latin American feast to tempt Simon Templar with rescuing a damsel in distress, one Doris Inkter.

    She turns out to be no damsel. With her brother, Sherman, Doris is gunrunning and hoping to pull off a deal with the Enriques Brothers which will net them $375000. After a long night “talking” she asks the Saint to come in with them, explaining the scheme is a scam and that most of the boxes are full of iron rods. They don’t want a revolution either – it would spoil their gun running wheeze.

    Roger Moore slums it a bit; his fake US accent is all over the place. Suzanne Lloyd returns for a third shot at seducing our Simon and succeeds this time – although quite what a young Ed Bishop [playing Sherman] makes of that is any one’s guess. There’s fist fights and chases and cross, double and triple cross. It’s a lot of fun but not very involving.

    At the end, the Saint donates his share to UNICEF, which marks Sir Roger making an early on screen statement for the charity of which he was already associated.  


    For other reviews and responses on The Saint:

    Recommend "The Saint" or not? — ajb007

    ITV's The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Saint, Return Of The Saint — ajb007

    Roger Moore and The Saint Series — ajb007

    Leslie Charteris's The Saint/Simon Templar Discussion Thread — ajb007  

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