The Saint in the Sixties

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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    1967

    15: The Persistent Patriots

    W: Michael Pertwee

    Adapted as The Persistent Patriots by Leslie Charteris [with Fleming Lee] featured in The Saint Abroad (1969)

    D: Roy Baker

    S: Edward Woodward, Judy Parfitt, Jan Waters, Ivor Dean

    The new year kicks off with the same old Saint.

    At the international airport for a fledgling colonial African nation, Simon Templar saves the life of Prime Minster Jack Liskard and blags himself a first class seat home. Back in London to negotiate the final terms of the handover of power from the UK, Liskard becomes embroiled in a nasty game of blackmail and turns to his new best friend for help. Blackmail turns into a murder investigation when Liskard is discovered shot. Naturally Claude Eustace Teal is on hand to investigate. Naturally he only gets the story half-right and the Saint fills in the blanks.

    Not a great story, one which revisits plenty of tropes we’ve seen before. For an original adventure, The Persistent Patriots feels very much like something Leslie Charteris might have concocted. A few nods to the modern ilk – Jan Waters plays a photographer’s model in debt who is obviously more than just a model, even her indignation at the suggestion runs dry – and a couple of fist fights can’t enliven a drab affair.

    Nice to see Ivor Dean back as Inspector Teal. Cult figure Nosher Powell has a small role as a heavy. The eagle-eyed will also spot the same left-luggage set used in Paper Chase [S5: E11].

    The Persistent Patriots [along with The Art Collectors] was adapted for novelisation by Fleming Lee and Leslie Charteris in the 1969 collection The Saint Abroad. Odd that, since for this story he is mostly at home.


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    16: The Fast Women

    W: Harry W. Junkin

    Based on The Fast Women by Leslie Charteris featured in The Saint in the Sun (1963)

    D: Leslie Norman

    S: Jan Holden, John Carson, Kate O’Mara, Victor Maddern, John Hollis, Donald Morley

    The Saint is in sly mode as he fends off the attentions of two female racing drivers, Cynthia Quillen and Teresa Montecino, both vying for the Women’s Trophy, a sort of Grand Prix for girls. Cynthia has her claws out for Teresa, who has her own talons gripped onto Cynthia’s husband, Godfrey. He is a layabout cuckold drunk, feeding off his wife’s purse and propositioning every cute little woman he meets. The Saint quite rightly takes a dislike to everybody, especially when they all start badgering him to kill the other. A fee of £100,000 doesn’t sway him. Murder is simply not on his mind. A night of love with the fiery Teresa might be however: “Why don’t we have a dinner party of our own for disreputably single people and we’ll invite nobody else?” Kate O’Mara’s racy Italian accepts with indecent haste, much like her driving.

    Not a lot happens here. John Hollis pops up as an assassin for hire and there is a brief sojourn to the Brighton Hippodrome where the Saint and the race engineer Paddy observe Maximillian Tordoff performing great feats of marksmanship. Otherwise it’s standard fare with a few nice scenes and a lot of bitterness. Paddy aside, these are really horrible, self-absorbed people who don’t elicit an ounce of sympathy from the audience. Donald Morley’s Inspector Dawes is as perplexed by the perpetrator’s motives as I was; he’s more cooperative with the Saint, but to maintain the suspense clues must be hidden from us, so the reveal is an eyebrows raising moment. 

    The episode isn’t terrible, but it doesn’t do very much. Leslie Norman does an okay job with a subpar script and story. A few notes are worth raising:

    There is some decent, if swift, location work taken at Brands Hatch motor racing circuit which blends in neatly with the studio work and also some stock scenes taken at the 1966 British Grand Prix. The livery for the Argus and Bellini cars and the helmets of the female protagonists were painted specifically to match those of Jim Clark and Graham Hill who were competing at the actual race.

    However, while Cynthia’s surname is pronounced and in the credits spelt Quillen, on her race car it is spelt Quillin.

    John Hollis, for the sharp eyed, played Blofeld in a wheel chair in For Your Eyes Only.

    John Carson makes a decent return for a third outing in The Saint. He’s always reliable in these little affairs.

    Paddy gets the rules of darts slightly wrong, claiming you must start and finish on a double, when you only have to finish on a double, at least in ordinary pub darts. Double-in is only generally used in professional championship matches.

    The incidental music is particularly strong for this one. During the backstage fight between Templar and Tordoff, the action is accompanied by a whispered boogie-woogie tune from the theatre show taking place above the combatants. A nice touch that. The car chase is also enlivened by a jaunty jazzy little number which hints at the silliness of the drivers – the expert women race to nothing more than the sound of their engines. I don’t often give Edwin Astley praise – let’s be honest he’s got his work cut out scoring 26 episodes a year and I understand he’ll take short cuts – but this outing certainly offers more than the usual brass and drum portfolio we’ve come to expect. 

    The Fast Women marks a turning point for The Saint on television as it was the last episode to be adapted from a Leslie Charteris original. Its origin collection The Saint in the Sun was also the last Saint book to be written solely by Charteris himself. From 1964, all The Saint novels / novellas / collections would by written by other authors starting with Harry Harrison’s Vendetta for the Saint [which would later be the last novel adapted for television and theatrical release]. Indeed, so wrapped up in television consultation did Charteris become that his next Saint book didn’t arrive until 1968 and was entitled, with rare honesty, The Saint on TV.

    Regarding the television adaptations, Season 5 had already seen several adventures written specifically for the screen. It is a credit to Charteris’ invention that he has written enough novels or short stories to occupy as many as 76 episodes of the TV series, but times have to move on and the production team must have felt they had exhausted all the best stories available to them. The repetitive themes of blackmail, double cross and deception, coupled with doses of infidelity, smuggling or revolution, a dash of espionage or corporate greed, seem a little moribund by 1967 and branching out into original adventures feels like a step in the right direction for The 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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    1967

    17: The Death Game

    W: Harry W. Junkin, John Kruse

    Adapted as The Death Game by Leslie Charteris [with Fleming Lee] featured in The Saint on TV (1968)

    D: Leslie Norman

    S: Angela Douglas, Alan McNaughtan, George Murcell, John Steiner, Bernard Horsfall, Ivor Dean, Katherine Schofield

    And as if by magic, the very next episode was picked out by Leslie Charteris to headline The Saint on TV, the first of two novella collections that appeared in 1968. And it is a weird one, a story that feels as though it has been transplanted from the script-room of The Avengers. This jokey murder game was the kind of ruse employed over and over to thwart Steed and Mrs Peel. It doesn’t sit half so well with Simon Templar. The opening scenes take place during a fog bound London night. The Saint is pursued by wind-up toy soldiers, shot at, dodges an arrow and avoids an electrocution. As Roger Moore’s expression turns more and more bemused, a disembodied voice claims to have “killed the notorious Simon Templar.”

    It is, of course, all a wonderful lark for bored psychology students Jenny Turner and Grey Wyler who play an internationally popular cult activity called the Death Game. This involves hunters tracking and ‘killing’ victims by nefarious means. Wyler is an expert, who revels in his successes. Jenny seems more in it for cute kicks, but then she’s played by Angela Douglas, who is cute and probably way too old to be impersonating a psychology student. Vice-Chair of the faculty, Bill Bast, thinks the Chairman, Dr Manders, is hiding something: 12% of students who attend the honorary World Finals in Switzerland never return. And Manders has been paid £5000 to ensure he sends prime candidates to Adolf Vogler’s specialised clinic in the Swiss Alps. When Bill Bast turns up dead – by nefarious means, naturally, or unnaturally as it were – the Saint feels he must investigate further. When Dr Manders tries to scythe him with a rapier it becomes fairly obvious all is not what is should be with the Death Game.

    Inspector Teal agrees, and it later becomes clear he’s fed Templar extensive background information about Adolf Vogler because come the final reel the Saint knows everything about the villain’s history and his present. His future, of course, is to be bested by the Saint, but not before a final ten minutes which resembles a daytime telly version of The Hounds of Zaroff. The Saint and Jenny are pursued by hunters through the woodlands of a lake bound island where Vogler has his elaborate brutalist mansion, all cement and glass and straight lines. He’s able to observe the Death Game candidates through closed circuit cameras hidden behind mirrors, sips tumblers of brandy alexanders and reaches out across the world to plot to order the downfall of political agitators from any nation – using the same psychologically imbalanced hunters from the Death Game. Unfortunately for the Saint, he’s rumbled by slinky henchwoman Gretl [Katherine Schofield in clinging red cat suits] and Vogler confronts him over cigars and brandy alexanders. George Murcell, who cut a wicked figure in The Saint Bids Diamonds [S4: E7] is equally good here, bringing a touch of James Bond villainy to the proceedings.

    The episode is only a half-way success. The story doesn’t even get going until the second half and feels bogged down by the Death Game of the title, a notion that doesn’t really stand up to psychological profiling. Early on the students in grimy London are a bit too ‘groovy, kinky, super’ to be taken seriously. Then it is as though we’ve got transported into a completely different episode with luxurious Swiss surroundings, a nasty criminal mastermind and a spate of killings. For what it is, it is okay. Leslie Norman, who seems overworked this season, again creates a decent atmosphere but hasn’t anywhere to place it.

    Two lines of dialogue stuck out: Vogler assessment of Simon Templar as “an obstructionist” seems very apt and after dispatching the Saint to Switzerland, Inspector Teal’s statement that “I need my head examining” exactly mirrors that of Inspector Dawes in the previous The Fast Women. I know how they both feel… 


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    1967

    18: The Art Collectors

    W: Michael Pertwee

    Adapted as The Art Collectors by Leslie Charteris [with Fleming Lee] featured in The Saint Abroad (1969)

    D: Roy Baker

    S: Ann Bell, Peter Bowles, Nadja Regin, Geoffrey Blaydon

    Wow. This is… well… this is … a mess?

    The Saint’s halo shifts so far to his right it is almost dropping onto his shoulder, which shows the kind of careless form we are treading here.

    Natasha Ivanova is an exiled White Russian who possesses three previously unseen Da Vinci paintings. The Saint, unaware of Natasha’s art collection, attempts to pick her up in a classy Parisian restaurant. She’s having none of it, crafty girl, but soon relents when he rescues her from a kidnap attempt. Ann Bell’s accent lasts longer than her character’s resolve. It is quite possibly the most annoying aspect of the whole episode, being so obvious and overbearing it becomes a hindrance to taking Natasha’s seriously. Full marks though to Miss Bell for not allowing the make-believe to drop, even when she’s throwing a tantrum and chucking vases and plant pots at an amused Simon Templar.

    The Saint, naturally, has all the answers and, as has become his manner, he doesn’t let on and is becoming privy to information through channels we never see. This is a cute get-out for the writers, or may be an editing concern. One thing they don’t have time for is to show the very lengthy process of determining provenance. Geoffrey Blaydon’s art expert Marcel Legrand gives the canvases only a few seconds cursory glance before declaring them genuine which is a complete farce of the actual procedure. Okay, The Saint is not a show renowned for dwelling on these sublime details, but I think it is relatively important here as the authenticity of the pieces is crucial to determining their value.

    Glossing over this enormous error in writing, there are some nice touches which lighten the mood. The Saint sneaking around in a sealed packing case, leaving it Houdini style and stencilling his stickman moniker on the lid was one. Another is the moment he notices two brandy glasses on a table when Legrand specifically claims he is alone. The eventual reveal of who everyone is and what they hope to achieve has some merit, locked up as it is with the repatriation of Nazi loot, but the whole episode is rather weak, if occasionally good fun.

    Legrand’s wife, Lucille, is played by Nadja Regin who of course played Kerim Bey’s mistress in From Russia With Love and Bonita, the flamenco dancer, in Goldfinger. No explosions interrupt her performance this time around.

    Along with The Persistent Patriots (S5: E15), Leslie Charteris chose this episode to adapt for the two novella collection The Saint Abroad. Charteris has very low taste in television. I find it unbelievable that these half-baked adventures were chosen ahead of, say, The Queen’s Ransom or Paper Chase, both of which would have made tremendous literary forays. Still, perhaps Charteris wanted a lighter Saint to inhabit the pages of his books. We certainly get one here.


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,535Chief of Staff

    I'm very much enjoying reading these. Watching them all has moved into my "one day" file (recently I bought and watched other shows of a similar vintage so I might get round to it).

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,360MI6 Agent

    Not a bad prediction as it turns out…


    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    I won't apologise for the second extended lay off to this review thread. Sometimes family has to come first. I think Simon Templar would agree...



    SEASON 5

    1967

    19: To Kill A Saint

    W: Michael Winder

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Robert Asher

    S: Annette Andre, Peter Dyneley, Derek Bond, Pamela Ann Davy, Francis Matthews, Robert Cawdron, John Serret

    Still stuck in Paris, the Saint has an even more baffling adventure where he even impersonates a man hired to kill Simon Templar!

    More terrible accents abound.

    This episode is all over the place, making little sense from start to finish. Annette Andre returns for a fourth stab at The Saint. She has a baffling role as a journalist whose father was killed in a bank heist perpetrated by gangland kingpin Paul Verrier. She’s out for justice, but come the final reel her motivations are completely forgotten. It isn’t clear how she knows about Verrier’s dilapidated Seine-side mansion which he uses for summary executions either. Like the previous heroine played by Ann Bell, I applaud Miss Andre’s ability to hold her accent through thick and very, very thin. As we are on the subject of baffling, it beggars belief that postmen and barkeeps recognise the notorious Simon Templar but not the gangland kingpin Paul Verrier, especially when you consider the amount of time Templar spends in France, as well as his wartime resistance background.

    Basically, this episode is about two rival gangsters: Verrier, who owns a swanky bar and runs the Tunisian Arm [a drug route, one supposes] and Fellows, an Englishman abroad who has the capacity to buy him out. Verrier’s wife wants him to abandon his criminal activity and has fallen in with Fellows. The Saint gets caught between everyone’s stools as well as Annette’s and the clodhopping Sgt Le Duc. Once again a couple of scenes make you sit up to attention. The Saint being entertained by three scantily clad ladies in his bedroom was one [Valerie Leon is among them, Maggie Wright another, this time returning to seduce the Saint in nothing more than a towel] and another has him confronting Fellows in a sauna then, Thunderball-style, turning the heat up to maximum.

    Not a lot to work with really. A slick but uninvolving episode. Half-way I wondered if it was a writer’s in-joke that Annette Andre’s character is called Annette and one of the villain’s is called Andre. Maybe I am seeking interest where there is none.    


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    1967

    20: The Counterfeit Countess

    W: Philip Broadley

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Leslie Norman

    S: Kate O’Mara, Alexandra Bastero, Philip Madoc, Derek Newark, Ivor Dean

    The Saint is having a hard time escaping Paris, although this above average episode starts in London. Because of that, The Counterfeit Countess feels as if it ought to be a two episode adventure with each half concentrating on the plot as it unravels in each city. That might have spread the filling a little thin, but there is a lot to enjoy in this outing, which attempts to provide something a little bit more sophisticated than the usual investigation, kidnap, chase and resolve.

    The Saint witnesses an air crash involving a bi-plane registered G-A0SN. The pilot unleashes a volley of bullets towards him and Templar’s instinct for danger and intrigue is immediately roused. He finds a stray packet of forged five-pound notes among the wreckage and bribes the previously unflappable Claude Eustace Teal into divulging some information about the owner, pilot and flight plan. Amazing what a Police Inspector will do for a couple of bottles of Four Star Hennessy! Meanwhile, the British end of the counterfeit operation is getting nervous, and their nerves are frayed further when Templar rolls up at Embassy Court to question the pilot. He finds nothing but a corpse and a book of matches for the Parisian nightspot La Chatte Enragee. The name Mirelle is scribbled inside.

    This was a lovely touch, reminding me of clues left behind for heroes like Sherlock Holmes and Philip Marlowe. I’m thinking James Bond managed to sneak one in too, but I can’t remember which novel featured it, or I may be imagining it [Colonel Sun, perhaps]. In fact the episode has several rather good moments of discreet investigation that ease us gently through the story. Templar’s perusing of the Embassy Court flat, the neat tete-a-tete with Inspector Teal, a flirtatious encounter with off-duty hostess Yvette, a more wary encounter with the on-duty Mirelle, a sneaky peak around nightclub owner Alzon’s office, a midnight break in to a Chamonix chateaux and a bedroom interrogation from the titular Nadine Debussy. All of these scenes raise the temperature of the story, making it more than the standard trial for the Saint. The episode is well constructed and scripted, if a little loose around the edges. It has a tendency to quicken at inopportune moments. For instance, Mirelle’s thawing attitude towards Simon Templar has to be taken on trust, the ending is rushed and feels comedic when it ought to tragic, there is no proper explanation as to the outcome of the British end of the Countess’ operation. Despite this, the adventure maintains a good ebb and flow and unlike some stories isn’t over focussed on the action; even though there is plenty, it doesn’t feel like there is. Thanks here must go to Leslie Norman, who again directs with a good idea of pace and suspense. Under his watch, almost every scene hints at trouble around the corner. Even the throwaway lines are ably handled – there’s a particularly cute moment involving Alzon’s Persian cat which was smile inducing. I was also pleased that Philip Broadly’s script allows a decent explanation as to why the Countess doesn’t kill Simon Templar when she has the opportunity.

    Kate O’Mara smoulders away as the Countess Debussy. Her allies in Paris are a smooth as they come Philip Madoc as Alzon and Derek Newark’s rough cut Carl. Alexandra Bastero makes a pretty heroine whose motives are never entirely clear and who – like the English hoodlums from the first sequence – disappears for the final quarter when the plot no longer requires her presence. The performances are very good all round, tetchy, worrisome and confident, depending on circumstance. The scene where Carl attempts to drug the Saint and has the tables – or wine glasses – turned on him was pure bliss; Roger Moore on top cheeky form. How he kept his eyebrows from raising will forever remain a mystery, you can almost sense him wanting to do it.  

    The production values are notable, although I am fairly certain I was watching the same basic barroom and office set tarted up from episodes like The Man Who Was Lucky [S1: E11]. Overall, this is one to enjoy, being an intriguing story with good periods of detective work, action, humour and tension for the excellent characters to negotiate. 

        

    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,535Chief of Staff

    The book of matches was in NSNA, @chrisno1. Enjoying your Saint reviews very much!

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    Thank you, @Barbel

    SEASON 5

    1967

    21: Simon and Delilah

    W: C. Scott Forbes

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Roy Baker

    S: Lois Maxwell, Ronald Radd, Suzanne Lloyd, Guy Rolfe

    While visiting a film studio in Rome, the Saint is present during the kidnap of stroppy star actress Serena Harris, who is making a sword-and-sandal epic and kicking up an epic fuss about everything. Nobody seems to like her very much, which given her exasperating behaviour is hardly a surprise. “The question is not does Serena have enemies,” says Lois Maxwell’s prim publicity agent, “but does she have any friends?”

    There really isn’t very much to recommend this one, which rehashes tropes we’ve seen before in The Saint: a film studio mystery, incompetent Italian gangsters, kidnap, Simon Templar acting as a go-between, heavy accents, travelling blindfolded around Rome. It is a vaguely comic enterprise, even down to the climatic fight, and everyone overacts and has a jolly time without ever stretching their acting chops.

    The extended scene where the Saint uses a tape recording of his blind-folded car journey to aurally discover the villain’s hideout is a trick I’ve seen used on several shows – most memorably The Rockford Files, where Jim Rockford counts the number of bridges that interrupt the commercial radio transmission – but I was wondering if it had been done before this. Probably and quite probably in an episode of The Saint too…

       

    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    1967

    22: Island of Chance

    W: Leigh Vance

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Leslie Norman

    S: Sue Lloyd, David Bauer, Patricia Donahue, Alex Scott, Thomas Baptiste, Christopher Carlos, Milton Johns, Norman Jones

    Memories of Dr No, Live and Let Die and Octopussy surround this adventure set in the British West Indies. The Saint investigates the genetic inoculation research of Doctor Charles Krayford, a brilliant professor of medicine who has been ostracised by the scientific community. He’s holed up on the fictitious Nookay Island with his rich benefactor Arlene Bland and house servant Grant. While Arlene is pleased to welcome the famous Simon Templar and his new love interest, Life Magazine photographer Marla Clayton, Grant appears suspicious, especially when he learns the Saint was present when Krayford’s assistant Frank Cody was murdered.

    Cody had in fact telegrammed the Saint asking for his assistance in delivering a $20million business profit. That business proposition also turns out be of interest to Jan Vanderfelt [Alex Scott], Krayford’s scheming estate manager as well as a couple of local hoodlums, Vargas and Pete, one of whom is a small planes pilot. The local Police Inspector is as suspicious of Templar as everyone else and warns him to steer clear of seeking revenge for Cody’s murder. As the Saint snoops and asks appropriate questions – or for Marla the occasional inappropriate one – it becomes clear that all roads lead to an abandoned Martello watchtower on a long overgrown cotton plantation.

    This old-fashioned, dare I say Leslie Charteris, inspired episode has some sterling performances from its cast which speed us through a not very interesting narrative. The adventure is better when it tries to do things differently. The black mamba in Templar’s bed has obvious familiarities from Dr No’s black widow spider as well as the bathroom snake from Live and Let Die; a scene where the Saint menaces the two local thugs with a game of Russian Roulette was effective, and too short as I felt the hoods give in too easily; the gold siphoning plot reimagines Major Smythe’s Ceylon lifestyle from Fleming’s Octopussy; the sweaty nightclubs, limbo dancers, photographers, watchful thugs, assassins in the shadows recall all the Bond novels and movies set in the Caribbean archipelagos. All it needed was an underwater scuba swim and a fantastic yacht and writer Leigh Vance might have got himself accused of plagiarism.

    Always nice to welcome Sue Lloyd back to The Saint, and her photographer is a good foil for Roger Moore. The ending ties up neatly, but leaves Simon Templar’s moral compass open to criticism as he seems to suggest Krayford’s scientific advances are worth more than the deaths of those involved in stealing gold bullion. There is a huge and unexplained loophole in the characterisation of Patricia Donahue’s Arlene Bland as she is financing Krayford’s work, but the Doctor already has a horde of gold to fund his research, begging the question – why did screenwriter Leigh Vance choose to make her a multimillionaire?

    Little snags aside, this story passes the time well, is imaginative and well-acted.    


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    1967

    23: The Gadget Lovers

    W: John Kruse

    Adapted as The Gadget Lovers by Leslie Charteris [with Fleming Lee] featured in The Saint Returns (1968)

    D: Jim O’Connolly

    S: Mary Peach, Campbell Singer, Glynn Edwards, Nicholas Donnelly, Burt Kwouk, 

    It is fairly obvious to see where the appeal lay for Leslie Charteris and Fleming Lee to adapt The Gadget Lovers into a Saint novella. This is far and away the most James Bondian episode of the television series we’ve seen yet. We have had a few instances of clear inspiration – most notably in The Crime of the Century [S3: E22] – but this adventure, while not trying to impersonate a Bond movie or novel directly, does everything one would expect from a movie or novel. The fact it is also dressed up as a saintly homage to the classic Greta Garbo flick Ninotchka allows us to overindulge in feelings of petty nostalgia for a more innocent era as well as the obvious humour conceived in cross-political and cross-cultural clashes. There is an awful lot happening in The Gadget Lovers and it is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

    The Saint is in Berlin, eyeing up the Kitten Girls in a sleazy Kitten Klub, a sort of daytime TV version of Cabaret’s Kit Kat Klub without the leather, Nazi’s and sexual innuendo. Simon Templar is actually more upfront, claiming that coming to the Klub and eyeing up the girls is one of life’s pleasure, even for the Head of the British Secret Service, one William Fenton, a man who seems to be openly letting his hair down to the point his assassination is only a flapping curtain away. If the murder attempt is risible and the Saint’s interruption all par for the course, what follows is a rather excellent trans-Europe chase to discover who is the manufacturer of a series of miniature explosive gadgets which are being used to kill off dozens of Soviet agents. The Saint is surprised Fenton wants to prevent the killings, but learns the Service’s real intention is to root out who is making the deadly gadgets so the British can buy the patent. Clues point to a possible connection with Paris, where Fenton’s assassin lives. The British are in competition against the Russians, whose own spymaster Colonel Smolenko is travelling to Paris, ostensibly for the same purpose.

    Among the nasty little items are a cigarette lighter which doubles as a camera until it explodes after the tenth photo is taken, a briefcase containing proximity sensors which explode bombs once the latch becomes overheated, exploding tea trays and a letter bomb which self-ignites when the vacuum sealed envelope is opened. All very ingenious and right up there with the best and most ridiculous of OO7, Matt Helm and The Man from UNCLE. Fenton’s science geeks even have a blast proof booth for viewing experiments just like Q Branch does. It’s all good fun and Sir Roger’s eyebrows are forced into overdrive by the silliness of it all.

    The Saint bumps into Colonel Smolenko on the Berlin-Paris Express and saves her from that exploding tea tray. This beautiful blonde Bolshevik isn’t the least surprised by Templar’s sudden arrival, recognising him instantly from his KGB file – “Nice to be known and loved the world over,” he quips – although this knowledge is promptly turfed aside as the two agree to swap places. Nobody else seems to recognise him! The Saint claims the swap is to protect the Colonel from another assassination attempt, but it of course allows him to carry out his own investigations. Tania Smolenko is accompanied by two hopeless KGB agents Igor and Ivan, who prove more a hindrance than a help. Glynn Edwards and Nicholas Donnelly play them suitably slow-witted. Mary Peach’s Colonel meanwhile is a joy, starchy and cunning, she melts gradually under the decadent influence of Simon Templar, who feeds her champagne, buys her dinner dresses, takes her dancing, treats her as an equal and still manages to save her life twice. At the story’s conclusion she reciprocates, a coda that seems wholly appropriate for this modern Ninotchka.

    Paris adventures move on to Switzerland, a land of schnapps and cheese and Franciscan friars chanting matins and vespers. Our heroes are given a guided tour of the monastery, but a liqueur bottle offers a vital clue and they return to carry out a clandestine infiltration. It turns out the Red Chinese, under the leadership of Burt Kwouk’s Colonel Wing, are manufacturing the miniature weaponry devices to order, and in a moment of pure UNCLE the monk’s cellar revolves to reveal all the production line machinery. Neat. Cedric Dawes art department must take a bow for that.

    Col Wing is far more ambitious than Col Smolenko. “Let the mad dogs destroy each other,” he claims of the western powers, “ultimately we will control the future.” Fast forward fifty years and you might consider this quote to be prescient of the future. Here it is used merely to signpost Wing’s dastardly intentions. Naturally, the Saint foils everyone’s plans, including those of his own employers, the British. Détente indeed, Colonel?

    Compressed too tightly into a single episode, The Gadget Lovers deserved a longer menu, something that could allow us to wallow in a feast of cultural misunderstanding as the espionage game plays out around the characters. It is there, but feels undercooked. Mary Peach is no Garbo, but she’s sufficiently straightlaced to make us believe she could be a ruthless Soviet Colonel, and that is offset nicely by her Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee minders. The eventual conclusion is rushed. You sense even director Jim O’Connelly wanted to do more with the scenes on the train or at the monastery, which pass too swiftly, making them seem more chucklesome than suspense-wracked. They should be the latter, with the tension relieved by the former. Too often it is often the other way around.

    Despite these faults, The Gadget Lovers is an excellent episode of The Saint and deserves rewatching for its blend of humour, excitement and 1960s cult espionage.  


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    1967

    24: A Double in Diamonds

    W: Harry W. Junkin, Donald & David Ford

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: John Gilling

    S: Cecil Parker, Anton Rodgers, Yolande Turner, Ivor Dean, Ilona Rodgers, Ferdy Mayne, Jack Woolgar, Dora & Doris Graham, John Clive, Yvette Herries

    A confused and confusing number about the theft of the famous Gillingham Necklace which involves plenty of double dealing, a switcheroo, a fake fashion show, beautiful twin models, beautiful twin fake necklaces, a train journey to Brussels via a ferry, Inspector Teal making an ass of himself, the Saint being charming and facetious all at once, Ferdy Mayne out-acting everyone as the sophisticated Parisian gem collector, Yvette Herries singing diabolically badly in a nightclub, a pair of gem forgers, a pair of ‘saint’ embossed cufflinks, Anton Rodgers in serious mode as a dastardly villain impersonating an effeminate fashion designer and to be honest not a lot of interest.

    A very perfunctory effort that fulfils the necessary requirements of a Saint adventure but never really gets out of second gear. Neatly resolved and all occurring in a matter of 48 hours. There are some nice touches – I did like the cufflinks, the fashion model twins, Jack Woolgar’s shifty forger, the final bit of double-dealing and Ivor Dean is always watchable [“I’d like to see you trampled by a horde of wildebeest!”] – but this is mostly a by-the-numbers charade. Despite Roger Moore’s best efforts, it isn’t even very amusing.  

    On a curious side note, I was watching The Repair Shop the night before I viewed this episode and one of the clients talked about her dad, the actor John Clive, who had voiced John Lennon in the animated Beatles movie Yellow Submarine. Before he died, Clive presented his daughter with a toy yellow submarine he was given at the film’s premiere and she was asking if the Repair team could, well, repair it. Coincidentally, John Clive appeared in this episode as Anton Rogers’ nasty sidekick Garton.


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    1967

    25: The Power Artists

    W: Harry W. Junkin, John Kruse

    Adapted as The Power Artists by Leslie Charteris [with Fleming Lee] featured in The Saint on TV (1968)

    D: Leslie Norman

    S: Pauline Munroe, George Murcell, Ivor Dean, Tristram Jellinek, Peter Bourne

    Now I know why this adventure and the disappointing episode The Death Game [S5: E17] were paired together for adaptation by Leslie Charteris: both reside among the same swinging London scene with young cats out to play among the arty student types while the Saint looks ten years too old to be able to play along. Both stories also feature George Murcell’s international villain Adolf Vogler. Murcell has twice been a reliable villain for The Saint [S4: E7 and S5: E17], but he’s not given anywhere near enough decent material to work with in this one. To be blunt, The Power Artists is a disaster from start to finish, pretending to be all hip and kooky and funny but just being laboured and embarrassing and noisy. Basically, Simon Templar is framed for the murder of the renowned avantgarde artist Perry Loudon and spends the episode chasing after the real victims along with Pauline Munroe’s barefoot hippy chick alternative sculptor Cassie. Ivor Dean’s Inspector Teal is once more treated like a prize charley. There are a neat couple of scenes: one in Vogler’s penthouse suite where the Saint confronts his nemesis, another in Finlay-Thorp-Jones’ casino where the gambler and gangland boss gives the Saint the coldest ever shoulder. The main problem is the hopeless effort to make the adventure a sort of zany, laugh-a-minute joyride. It simply isn’t. A man’s been murdered, for goodness sake, and the Saint is carting his body around London in the back of a car while a bunch of youngsters sing songs and play ‘You’re It’ with a policeman. Dismal. Really, really dismal.

    It’s enough to say that The Death Game and The Power Artists are two very ordinary episodes in possibly the most ordinary titled book of Charteris’ career, The Saint On T.V.


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    1967

    26: When Spring Is Sprung

    W: Michael Pertwee

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Jim O’Connolly

    S: Allan Cuthbertson, Tony Robins, Ann Lynn, George Pastell, Ivor Dean, Gary Watson

    No supporting stars listed usually means a duff episode and When Spring Is Sprung, despite being inventive and enjoyable, displays all the signs of a series running on empty. The acting is starting to strain, especially from Roger Moore and Ivor Dean who are taking to sharing scenes of barbed mistrust and disdain, all the light-heartedness has disappeared from their relationship. The Saint has turned into a condescending wheeze and poor Inspector Teal is made to look foolish at every turn. Templar’s ability to be condescending doesn’t stop with the police: he’s equally adept at it when confronted with a Russian agent posing as a Sally Army girl, a British secret service head and his sexy sidekick, as well as the Russian’s British agent abroad. The only person he doesn’t treat so is John Spring, a traitor who has been selling government secrets to the Russians.

    He’s up for a long prison sentence and Allan Cuthbertson’s Col Hannerly has persuaded him to turn triple agent and spy for the British against the Russians – only Hannerly needs the Saint to spring John Spring from Brixton prison. The prison break has to be convincing to persuade the Russians it is a genuine escape. This portion of the story is fairly harmless, it is what surrounds the fulcrum which is both good and bad. The bad is the involvement of the Met Police and Inspector Teal, who has been charged with guarding John Spring. His assertion that Simon Templar can’t possibly be planning to help the prisoner is part-way right, but the heavy-handed unhumorous dialogue that accompanies the assertion and the several meetings between the two labours the action, summed up by a visual joke as the Saint steals Teal’s soft mints – he did the same in the previous episode – which falls very flat. The scenes with Anne Lynn’s Mrs Spring seem awkward too. Her fate once the prison break is enacted and resolved is never revealed.

    The good stuff mostly involves Tony Robins fetching Joanne Dell, who snags Templar into her car in Nice, drives him to Col Hannerly’s elegant residence and hangs around as a chauffeur for hire. George Pastell is always a good shout for a villain and he’s good here as Vulanin, the Russian agent in control of the operation, snapping at his underlings and being as smooth as a silk shirt when under pressure. Not even Templar’s sarcasm ruffles him. The story resolves itself when Templar identifies an out of place military tie, and that’s quite neat but it also makes the Saint seem a bit of a know-it-all. I much prefer it when he has to investigate and discover facts for his own purposes.

    When Spring Is Sprung is an okay adventure, low key and just about successful. Everyone tries, but there is an air of tiredness to the shoot which is almost unmistakeable.

    On a point of interest, Simon Templar appears to have relocated. He used to live at 53 Grosvenor Mews, a nice prettily imagined property in Belgravia. The set for his flat barely changed from Season 1 – 4. However, he now has an end of terrace apartment in a completely different street and the configuration of the outside of the house no longer matches the inside, which has been remodelled but has spaces for windows on both sides of the front door when externally there can only windows to the right. It’s a minor slip from the production crew. I’m trying to think back to whether we’ve seen inside the Saint’s flat this Season and I have a feeling this was the first occasion. It used to happen regularly, but perhaps with colour film Robert S. Baker decided the hero ought to get out more.


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 5

    1967

    27: The Gadic Collection

    W: ?

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Freddie Francis

    S: Peter Wyngarde, Georgia Browne, Micheal Ripper, Martin Benson, Nicole Shelby, Henry Lincoln, Hedgar Wallace, Geoff Chesire

    A half decent story about fake Ottoman artefacts keeps this adventure on the right track despite the rather dubious make up choices which for some inexplicable reason have Peter Wyngarde acting in black-face. It is even more bizarre because every other actor playing a Turk retains their natural colour. ITV4 doesn’t even show this episode because it considers it so un-PC. [I wonder where that leaves them if they wanted to show Olivier’s Othello?] That is a pity for ITV4 viewers – although not those who use Uncle Earl online – as The Gadic Collection is a good yarn, not especially original, but very enjoyable and well directed by Freddie Francis, who has an eye for short bursts of suspense followed by riveting action or a neat one-liner.

    Simon Templar is in Istanbul to catch up with his old pal, museum curator Geoff Bane. During a visit to the Sabakin Museum, the Saint is distracted by a pretty girl who, upon inspecting the Gadic treasures, is menaced by a knife wielding hoodlum called Zoltan. “I suppose that’s what happens when you decide to have lunch with the famous Simon Templar,” says Bane before the title theme rolls. The girl is Ayesha, niece of master forger Kemal, and when the Saint encounters and rescues her again at Kemal’s studio, she decides to tell almost all. It is too late for Geoff Bane, who is murdered just after discovering that Kemal has swapped the real treasures for his masterful fake copies.

    There follows a back and forth cat and mouse game as various parties attempt to obtain the Gadic Collection. The Museum wants them, the police are hunting whoever may be responsible, a gun toting insurance man called Sukan offers £½m for them, the knife carrying Zoltan is being paid to eliminate witnesses, a beautiful Arab princess Diya wants to enter into partnership with the Saint and the millionaire collector Turen wants to torture him – all for this grand collection of jewels and gems. Naturally, the Saint pays most attention to the most attractive party, allowing himself to be seduced by Georgia Browne’s Diya in rather splendid James Bond fashion.

    Watching the Saint sneak around Istanbul, even on an Elstree back lot, certainly has some plus points. They even have footage of that same ferry boat OO7 took Tatiana on, criss-crossing the Bosphorus with extreme regularity. There are some lovely lines of dialogue, a nasty point of torture, seduction, infidelity, murder, theft, sword play, knife play and gun play. The whole thing is neatly tied up without a shred of evidence but we don’t really care because it’s all so much light-hearted fun.

    Unusually, there is no writer’s credit, so I can only assume it is mostly the work of script editor Harry Junkin, but I can’t be certain. I tried researching online, but couldn’t find any evidence. Perhaps one of our Saint experts knows the answer. A good cast and a good looking episode once you overlook that awful 'black-face'. A nice send off for Season 5. It was 28th March 1968, but viewers wouldn’t need to wait long to get a fix of the Saint, exactly six months in fact…  


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    You won't have to wait six months. I have a spate of intense work coming up in March and won't have time to watch much new stuff, so I'll be posting the Season 6 episodes then.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,535Chief of Staff

    Thanks again for this splendid thread, and of course looking forward to reading more.

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,703MI6 Agent

    Incidentally, 28th March 1968 was also the date Kingsley Amis's Colonel Sun was published by Jonathan Cape in the UK.

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    And here, as promised, season six...

    Sir Roger looking mightily worried... a quality control issue perhaps... ?

    SEASON 6

    1968

    1: The Best Laid Schemes

    W: Joe Morheim & A. Sanford

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: John Moxey

    S: Sylvia Sims, Paul Daneman, Gabriella Drake, Norman Bird, Fulton Mackay, Godfrey Quigley, Francis de Wolff

    29th September 1968 was the transmission date for the commencement of Roger Moore’s final forays as The Saint.

    This episode is enlivened chiefly by a large cast list, many of whom have already appeared in the series as supporting cast members. I won’t dwell on that; it is fairly obvious the casting office had a list of agents who could supply them with regular cast members at the drop of the hat. Let’s instead focus on the shifty, shady goings on in an unnamed sleepy, shady fishing town where the rivalry between two large fishing fleets has spilled over onto the dockyards and pubs. Fist fights galore then. When one of the fishing barons, Charles Flemming, is washed up dead on a beach Simon Templar simply has to investigate, if only to ensure he can continue to hang around pretty Gabriella Drake.

    The plot has a surprising twist in the tail which I didn’t see coming until seconds before, and that leads to a low-rent version of an Agatha Christie reveal and explanation. There are plenty of flashbacks to events we haven’t seen and a heightened level of hysteria as first Mrs Flemming, then her niece and nephew begin to believe the cantankerous brute just might still be alive. The dread hangs heavy around the dockyards and the pubs too. While the mystery of Flemming’s death is solved, a legal enquiry into the sinking of a trawler – an enquiry which would implicate the other fleet owner Mike Ballard – doesn’t even get off the ground.

    Most curious is the look of the damn thing. The back-screen projection is really terrible on this one. You can see the fuzzy edges around the foreground figures. Half the time the background scenes feel detached from what we are watching. The photography is grainy and muddy. The sets and costumes seem to be in primary colours: black, red, blue, yellow, red, green. There’s no shade, no shadow unless we are suckered into the night, when there’s little light. It’s like watching Van Gogh battling Caravaggio over an easel. I was reminded of those glossy yet stylised 1950s Douglas Sirk melodramas, starring Rock Hudson and Rosalind Russell and the like. Melodrama is spot on.

    A disappointing return for The 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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    2: Invitation to Danger

    W: Terry Nation

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Roger Moore

    S: Shirley Eaton, Robert Hutton, Julian Glover, Bryan Marshall, Warren Stanhope, Leslie Crawford, Ros Drinkwater

    A bit more seriously fun than your average fluff from The Saint, Invitation to Danger features Shirley Eaton, returning to the fold for the first time since the opening season [E1 & E9] as well as a nastily impressive Julian Glover playing a heavy with the wonderful name of Ramon Falconi. For good measure Bryan Marshall is the second heavy [Marshall was the Navy submarine captain in The Spy Who Loved Me] and Robert Hutton is their boss [Hutton had a small role as one of the US State Department delegates in You Only Live Twice]. So that’s five of our alumni and a decent job they all make of it too.

    I identified this as a Roger Moore directorial effort during the pre-titles scene. The sudden cutting closeups, actions without words, violence sharper than a switchblade, all located in and around a swanky London casino. Simon Templar is ruminating on the gambling lifestyle: “If you’re a punter, the champagne is free, the surroundings attractive and the removal of your money almost painless. To make sure you don’t steal it back, casinos employ elaborate security systems…” This monologue sets not just the London-exotica tone, but also hinting strongly at the central premise of the story, that of the Saint committing a £100k robbery from the same gaming house.

    He’s not about to pass up any opportunity for a carnal foray into the unknown. Our Shirley is casting deliciously come-hither glances over the baize of a craps table. He helps her win £150, she offers her thanks and an open RSVP. “Strictly an iceberg,” says the Saint’s pal Marty Bresset, “If you want to get frostbite her name’s Reb Denning.” Simon Templar wants indeed and follows her to the underground car park and a confrontation with a hoodlum that results in her rescue and his more than blatantly obviously raised eyebrows. The halo almost seems to shimmer with excitement. 

    This is grand stuff. A good kick off to an excellent slice of entertainment. Taken to a party at a beautiful Home Counties mansion, the Saint discovers the noises of revelry are nothing more than recordings on a reel-to-reel tape. Suddenly, he’s locked inside the lounge, party sounds replaced by a disembodied voice suggesting he take things easy. Reb appears to have vanished along with his car. The Saint investigates further, extracts himself from the room via a secret door and is stabbed with a hypodermic. Falling asleep on the stairs, the camera zooms in on his Omega wrist watch and the clock hands shift from midnight to four a.m. 

    Making his getaway, the Saint is chased by a group of hoodlums who turn out to work for casino boss Brett Sunley [an excellent Robert Hutton] and drag him back to London for a game of intimidation, incarceration and interrogation. Templar is caged in a wine cellar and makes his escape in a similar manner to how Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name escaped the Rojos Brothers’ wine store in A Fistful of Dollars. A nice little homage that. Sunley turns out not only to be the owner of a high class casino, but also the middle man in selling state secrets, using the gaming profits to pay for international criminal or governmental data that he unscrupulously resells to the highest bidder. The CIA’s Reb Denning has set the Saint up to steal £100,000 of Sunley’s funds to prevent him buying Russian secrets. While Sunley and his goons, led by the icily efficient Falconi, spend all their time seeking the Saint, Denning plans to buy the secrets for America with the stolen money.

    If the plot is trifle, and a trifle complicated, the manner of its telling, how it unfolds and resolves itself is artfully done. It was great to see Shirley Eaton back sparring with Roger Moore, although she’s much more lowkey than usual and the sexy siren role doesn’t quite suit her more mature looks. That’s reserved for brunette Ros Drinkwater who plays the counter assistant at a L’Apys perfume emporium:

    Simon Templar – Good morning.

    The Assistant stops arranging her stockings and glances slowly up and down at the new customer. Her reply is not a question – Yes.

    ST – That would make a provocative answer on some occasions. Right now I want to discuss perfumes.

    A – You want to buy some?

    ST, showing her Reb’s atomiser – This has your name on it. Presumably made to order.

    A – All our perfumes are made to order. May I try it?

    The Assistant sprays a nip on her wrist and delicately sniffs at it – Yes, it’s ours. No.823.

    ST – Has anyone ever told you, you have a perfect nose?

    A – I don’t get many complaints about the rest of the equipment either.

    ST – I’m surprised you get any complaints at all… [He sniffs her hair] … That’s a nice scent you’re wearing.

    A – It’s £25 an ounce. It’s called 'Perhaps'.

    ST – For that sort of money, I want something a little more definite.

    Wonderful Chandleresque stuff from writer Terry Nation who is used to composing dialogue like this for Steed and Mrs Peel in The Avengers. Nation even gives Shirley Eaton a seductive stab at it. The Saint catches a whiff of her perfume as she sprays it in his car. His modest compliment is met with a churlish sweep of blonde hair: “Only nice? It costs thirty guineas an ounce. Made to order. It should be sensational.”

    All this talk about perfume and come-ons gets one distracted from the business in hand which is a tough and tense affair, heightened by a rather decent and decadent music score from Edwin Astley, who usually suffices with his thumping repetitive tunes, but offers something much more subtle here, some lounge bar music and a lightly taut series of long, low notes as Templar peruses the deserted mansion seeking clues. There’s plenty of action too, the highlight being the initial confrontation in the car park, the assailant wielding a wheel wrench and smashing the windscreen of Reb’s car. Moore – as director – focusses first on Reb’s astonished face through the shattered, jagged hole, then cuts to the Saint’s gripped and warring expression, spinning viciously to face his attacker. Shot in half light, the scene is remarkably effective and carries much alarm. It is less obviously orchestrated than some fist fights, which in a show such as this are often time fillers. Here, for instance, we often see the action from Reb’s point of view, through the windscreen, the combatants rolling and rocking with punches in and out of the shadows.

    Later there’s a short car chase of much excitement. The intense interrogation scene is a master class of understatement. The concentrated dialogues are excellent, the Saint and Sunley sparring verbally not physically, the audience attempting to gauge what is behind each man’s intent. The dips into meaningless action during this extended sequence disproves the case for violent deeds. The Saint as a spectacle is always light-hearted with a hint of danger, but sometimes these ‘time fillers’ do the storytelling little favour.  

    The ending has a neat twist to it which I didn’t see coming and for once, while Templar has the explanations, we don’t feel he’s being too smart. We don’t see everything he mentions, but that is less relevant in this episode as other clues – the tape recordings, the deliberately abandoned atomiser, the unsolicited automatic pistol – hint at what we finally come to learn. Throughout, Moore as actor delivers a solid and challenging performance, one which plays both to his strengths as a raconteur and to his audience-perceived character persona as action hero. He’s light when it counts, brutal when necessary and never out of his depth, always inquisitive and thinking ahead; he barely flinches as each quandary piles upon another. I would go so far as to say that under his direction in this and other episodes Roger Moore delivers his best performances. The one he gives in Invitation to Danger is probably as close as I’ve seen to a foretaste of his interpretation of James Bond, sveltely cavalier with a hint of devilishness and a propensity to sudden necessary violence.

    As director, Moore allows other actors to inhabit his own space – those single and dual face close ups – making the episode seem quite claustrophobic. While the actors may occupy expansive sets, like the casino and the mansion, the shooting of those interiors as mostly background allows us to appreciate their inner turmoil, terrors and thought processes.  

    A very impressive episode.

      

    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    3: Legacy for the Saint

    W: Michael Winder

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Roy Ward Baker

    S: Ivor Dean, Alan MacNaughton, Stephanie Beacham, Reginald Marsh, T.P. McKenna

    13th October 1968 and viewers of The Saint in UK must have wondered what had hit them. A few minutes in and Roger Moore raised his eyebrows to the white halo and the high pitched whistle for Edwin Astley’s revamped theme tune kicks in. It’s now too sprightly by half, suggesting a more cheerful, colourful and less intense product was about to unfurl. The earlier two episodes of Season 6 were in fact recorded as a batch of Season 5 adventures and held back for transmission in case the new season was not ready to air. In the USA, those two episodes were included in the Season 5 transmission runs. It makes for a sudden jarring change watching episodes on consecutive weeks / days in 2023. As a quick reaction, I hate the new jazzy theme. The original has something of the night about it, yet also something sophisticated and debonair. This effort sounds as if Edwin Astley had taken a couple of tabs before floating away on an LSD inspired carpet ride. It simply isn’t punchy enough.  

    And that rather applies to Legacy for the Saint as well. The adventure kicks off in another casino. A bit too obviously repetitive for UK viewers after last week’s casino based story. This one is a private gaming house run by underworld kingpin Ed Brown, played with some panache by Reginald Marsh. He’s making an effort to go straight, although not entirely: Simon Templar is in a secret back room taking hundreds of pounds tax free from serious gamblers. As he exits, the Saint deposits a series of chips at the roulette wheel, promptly loses the lot and declares: “Now, that’s illegal.”

    The club is Ed Brown’s newest baby. “How are you enjoying retirement from a life of undetected and unpunished crime?” asks the Saint. It suits Ed well, but he still has enemies. Chief among them is his slippery lawyer, played by with low key shiftiness by Alan MacNaughton, who plants a bomb in Ed’s car. Killed in the ensuing blast, Ed’s funeral turns into a crime syndicate’s wake, with four of his rivals watching a home video of their nemesis outlining a plan for a million pound bullion robbery.

    Naturally, Simon Templar has become involved – on the insistence of Ed’s pretty daughter Penny, who the Saint first meets when breaking the news of her father’s death. She’s at a posh finishing school in Switzerland and is less of a child, more a woman. You’d have to be if played by Stephanie Beacham. There’s a lovely cameo from Sheila Keith as the school’s governess Cynthia Ffouldes. Up to this point, the story was progressing quite nicely and I was enjoying the performances and the relaxed atmosphere. When the four ugly men of the apocalypse turn up at the wintery funeral, the whole adventure turns equally ugly and a bickering, hostile and punitive air pervades.

    Inspector Teal is dragged into the fray and made to look a dunce once more. The bullion job is a success. The Saint chills out smoking fags and impersonating policemen. The tale has a well-disguised twist or two in its final scenes, but it had all become a tad tepid by then with various bad tempered performances – primarily from Ivor Dean whose role as Teal is being written completely differently to how it was in Seasons 1 – 4; I noted a subtle change in Season 5, but it is extremely noticeable here. It doesn’t help the four gangland bosses are an equally irritable bunch. A couple of neat camera tricks from director Roy Ward Baker can’t breathe life into a fairly humdrum product. Sadly, the good-looking Miss Beacham is totally wasted.

    It’s difficult to know how to assess a product like this. All the production values are in line, it looks good and the cast are really trying, but there’s no visual spark or insistent characterisation. You don’t believe in anyone or in what they hope to achieve. While the colour episodes of The Saint have attempted to open out the casual globe trotting fare of Seasons 1 – 4, with for instance more espionage and ‘bigger’ implications in the plots, they seem to lose something of their charm. This might be because Simon Templar, as a character, was established by Roger Moore based on and inspired by in the main Leslie Charteris’ writings. Without that to fall back on, the stories lack fluidity and grace and the Saint, for all his classy style becomes just any other detective / adventurer / thief and rings hollow because of it.

    After last week’s [or last season’s final] brilliant episode, Legacy for the Saint is a huge disappointment.   


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    4: The Desperate Diplomat

    W: Terry Nation

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Ray Austin

    S: Suzan Farmer, Robert Hardy, John Robinson, Ivor Dean

    Brendan J. Stafford is the cinematographer for Season 6 of The Saint. Michael Reed had done most of the camera work on the previous seasons, so I’m blaming Stafford for the terrible look of these new episodes. The colour is really smudgy, far too dark and makes The Saint look as if it was made by one of those cheap Hollywood studios of the fifties, like Monogram, AAP or Republic. You know, Randolph Scott westerns and dodgy monster movies, that kind of thing. Stafford’s work just looks awful.

    I half complimented the photography last time out because I thought it was a fifties homage, but it isn’t so here. It is just shoddy work. Which is disappointing because The Desperate Diplomat, despite a dreadful title, is a decent adventure. Best of all, and a good starting point, the delectable Suzan Farmer is back to grace The Saint after striking out on her own with a couple of Hammer Productions. I enjoy watching Miss Farmer, a very attractive actress with her dimple chin, wide eyes and sweep of lush blonde hair. She can perform too, which certainly aids this adventure, a story so slight it takes place in as good as only three locations and therefore has to be driven by character, not action as there is nothing and nowhere for anyone to go.

    Well, there is the small matter of ¾million pounds in stolen oversees aid, pinched by Simon Templar’s old mate Jason Douglas. I say old not just because, as Claude Eustace Teal correctly supposes, they’ve known each other for some time, but because he is so much older than the Saint. The two were caught up with an African terrorist group a few years ago [an unrecorded adventure I believe, I don’t recall a Jason Douglas appearing before] and the two old pals each have an obscure signet charm as a calling card: if one sees the other, he recognises there is trouble and has pledged to offer assistance. When the police find a dead body in Jason’s London flat and an envelope addressed to Simon Templar containing the charm, Roger Moore’s eyebrows simply must lift. The halo prompts the start of that dreadful theme tune.  

    Next, we see the Saint pay a visit to Jason’s daughter, Sara, a fashion designer fleshed out by the lovely Miss Farmer. She’s surrounded by lingerie clad girls, who flirt with our Roger in their smalls, but she’s not about to lend him any favours of that kind, or any kind. News reports say Jason Douglas has absconded with the money after killing a government courier. Overnight she’s lost business, friends and become the target of harassment. The Saint, frankly doesn’t give a flying f### and tells her so. It’s about as heartless as Sir Roger has ever got in the show. No knight in saintly armour here.

    He changes his tune when receiving a phone call from a stranger who claims to have abducted Sara. This follows an extremely tense scene where David Cargill’s crooked lipped heavy Eddie Margoles rips her blouse, assaults her and receives the swiping blade of sewing scissors across his cheek. Sara escapes no further than the closest car, but Robert Hardy’s Walter Faber isn’t any kind of angel either – he’s the kidnapper in chief.

    On a purely technical note, the street all this takes place in is an Elstree studio set. I’ve seen it before in episodes of The Saint, with varying different facias as shops and houses change ownership. Here, it is exactly the same street where Templar first meets Inspector Teal, only shot from a finer angle. It is rather remiss of the producers to think we wouldn’t notice, but perhaps in the sixties without DVD’s and playback we didn’t.

    There follows an extended game of cat and mouse through forest [where the Saint rescues Sara] then over to Geneva [where they track down her mortally wounded father] and lastly to an abandoned grand chalet in the lower Alps. There is some gun play, some fighting and a hefty dose of tension, helped immeasurably by the cast playing it all to the hilt. Robert Hardy in particular shines as the despicable and determined Faber, surrounded by equally committed nasties, who think nothing of threats, intimidation and blackmail. The Saint spends much of his time tied up in a basement and it is left to Suzan Farmer to provide the suspense, sneaking around the chalet and catching whiffs of the bad guys plot before attempting her escape. Sadly for Sara, a single clue gives her away and she too ends up in the damp cellar. That’s almost a Terry Nation penned tribute to Leslie Charteris, it feels so traditionally Saintly.

    The episode has an air of claustrophobia about it, thanks to those minimal locations. During the extended climax, Stafford’s deep smudgy colours are more appropriate, but the detail is lost and the photography feels too lurid to be given any breath of reality. It doesn’t help the whole thing is shot day-for night and mostly in shadow. It is so intensely DARK. I capitalised that because it is my major complaint. The dark shadows, suits and nightscapes simply blend into one another. You can’t make out a thing. Dreadful.

    Still, while Robert Hardy is scheming and slithering his serpentine way through the morass, The Desperate Diplomat is certainly worth more than a casual look. The finale was phenomenally good and while the coda seems a little barren, at least Suzan Farmer exits still looking beautiful. Hooray! On this occasion, the Saint and the Heroine – and she is more of a heroine than most, being actively involved several times in the unfolding action – do not leave hand in hand. He’s lost a friend, she’s lost a father, they have not gained each other, which feels entirely appropriate.

    Despite the grim look of the episode, I rather enjoyed The Desperate Diplomat. It has a strong script, bellowing performances and an exciting climax. This is the sort of adventure which reminds us of the Saint’s personal past, of how he came to be such a notorious individual. It places him in a situation not beyond his calling. It also has an international, topical flavour – Jason is attempting not to steal the aid money, but to stop it being invested in an African dictator’s private Swiss bank account – and despite several plot holes [we never learn for instance how the Saint knows Jason is in Switzerland, or what relationship the dead man in the dingy flat was to the diplomat] the episode is eminently watchable and succeeds by virtue of the commitment of the actors.

    Very good.     

      

    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,360MI6 Agent

    @chrisno1 It’s interesting to read your comments about the colour. I watched this episode on my tv subscription package recently and the colour was fine and sharp, they are obviously using an upgraded version of the season whereas your source still has the original film stock version.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    I hadn't considered that. I watched a few episodes online. Most were in TV repeats. I didn't note which ones were which. Perhaps that might also account for it.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    5: The Organisation Man

    W: Donald James

    Adapted as The Pawn Gamble by Leslie Charteris [with Peter Bloxsom] featured in Send for the Saint (1977)

    D: Leslie Norman

    S: Tony Britton, Caroline Mortimer, Glynn Edwards, Norman Bird, John Collin, Simon Lack, Mark Dignam

    Jack Gwillam played Major Carter in Paper Chase [S5: E11]. Here he’s impersonated by Mark Dignam and is much more upper class establishment figure. Gwillam had an air of resignation to him, about the world passing on without his military façade. Dignam plays him like a civil servant – suggesting of course that the rank of major is a civilian military award, honorary rather than actually – and he’s less effective. He doesn’t even know the names of his agents. Carter’s opposite number is Jonathon Roper, a bona fide military man who tries to act like a civil servant, but whose ideas of the way society should evolve are purely capitalist, bordering on the fascist: “Democracy is devoted to the protection of the weak.” The two protagonists make an interesting contrast, but they both dress the same and act the same, an air of diffidence surrounds them. You feel as if they’ve been cut from the same public school cloth.

    Simon Templar has been asked by the MoD to infiltrate Roper’s Organisation. This is a multinational crew, military types, being trained at a health farm for a series of terrorist missions. Carter’s chief interrogator Spode [Norman Bird] believes Roper’s Organisation are going to spring George Craddock from a MoD safe house. Craddock defected to the Chinese and is now in control of all the Red Tide’s western agents. The British have snatched Craddock from Hong Kong and Spode is attempting to glean information from him. Not very successfully though; during one scene Craddock interrupts the Q&A, pushes aside the single arc lamp, opens the curtains and berates Spode, telling him what a crap job he’s doing. Very odd. Director Leslie Norman usually has scenes like this down to a tee, but he’s miscalculated on this one.

    Similarly maligned cinematographer Geoffrey Stafford has mucked up again. This time he appears to be using a green filter. Everything is tinged in alkaline colours: green walls, green curtains, green carpets, verdant lawns, emerald doors, khaki uniforms, Kate Barnaby’s dress, the weights on a set of dumb-bells, the nurses wear blue, the men’s tracksuits are blue, window blinds are blue, even the back projection is tinted green. The story has a phenomenally peculiar to look at.

    Putting the colour scheme to one side, difficult though that is, The Organisation Man is a fairly decent adventure. The Saint infiltrates Roper’s crew, wheedles himself into the top man’s affections, makes a couple of enemies on the way and sneaks down to the local pub for secret assignations with Kate – who happens to be one of Major Carter’s agents. She enjoys cutting the Saint down to size: “Brash, overconfident and mercenary,” she calls him. Ouch. Spot on, my girl! Sir Roger merely raises an eyebrow.

    Tony Britton is good as the villain and Simon Lack makes an impression as the unimpressionable spymaster George Craddock. The episode moves swiftly and decisively and has a tense gunbattle at its climax.

    IMDB rates The Organisation Man as the fifth best episode of The Saint. That might be pushing it, especially with those shades of green all over the place, but it is a rollicking good story and has some decent supporting roles to keep us interested when the plot becomes a bit see-through.

    In 1977, some ten years after this episode aired Leslie Charteris belatedly picked it as one of two stories to be adapted for his publication Send for the Saint, one of the final few Saint books.


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    6: The Double Take

    W: John Kruse

    Adapted as The Midas Double by Leslie Charteris [with Peter Bloxsom] featured in Send for the Saint (1977)

    D: Leslie Norman

    S: Gregoire Aslan, Kate O’Mara, Denise Buckley, Michael Robbins, Blake Butler

    Gregoire Aslan provides most of the fun in The Double Take as billionaire shipping magnate Eugene Patroclos. Based loosely on Aristole Onassis, Patroclos is a bustling, impatient, arrogant, extravagant man who will not take “no” for an answer, not even from the good natured Saint. Templar turns down his offer of £100,000 of work because he considers Patroclos too wealthy to need his help. Never bothered him much before, although occasionally he likes to rub rich person’s noses in it: remember Maggie Oakes in The Charitable Countess [S1: E12], for instance?

    Here, even against his better judgement, the Saint becomes intrigued by Petroclos’ insistence he is being impersonated and that the doppelganger is so good he has infiltrated his company, deceived his staff and is so good he has even obtained a secret code book which Petroclos uses to send orders to his shipping captains. Threatened by two gunmen who try to make him leave Athens, the Saint decides there might just be something in the billionaire’s story and chooses to help the poor moustachioed man.

    What follows is an intriguing story of a man who really does seem to be in two places at once. Michael Robbins’ journalist isn’t convinced. Nor is the Saint. But the longer the episode runs, the more we just begin to wonder. Central to the success of the episode is Aslan, who commands the stage brilliantly as a sweeping, all-powerful magnate, his bristling beard and scuttling demeanour giving an air of conspicuous consumption. Denise Buckley and Kate O’Mara play competing and very similar looking secretaries, both named Annabelle. The moment when Simon Templar gatecrashes a London party to discover a new Annabelle was brilliantly performed. The following confrontation with the ‘double’ Petroclos was also exceptional. I don’t know what the Saint was supposed to be thinking, but he look confused. I was and I think that was the writer’s intention. The action switches back and forth between Athens and London, sometimes being a tad silly. Nothing though is done without reason. The Saint eventually uncovers a gun smuggling operation which one of the Petroclos ‘doubles’ is instigating without the other’s knowledge. By the end, the story has descended into farce as the US Navy comes to the rescue in the shape of a half-dozen fist pumping sailors, but it was worthwhile getting there.

    It is nice to see that Geoffrey Stafford has got his photography sorted out at last. The colours are crisp and the set designs can finally be appreciated. There is a lovely cinematic shot taken through a porthole window which was very good. The episode certainly looks extravagant.   

    The website howgoodisreview rates The Double Take as the sixth best episode of The Saint. I can’t make that kind of assessment yet, having not watched them all, but of the colour episodes, it is certainly a cut above most. It suffers perhaps from being overindulgent with the central premise to the point it ceases to be credible. As Simon Templar says: “The idea of a perfect double is just a load of malarkey.”

    In 1977, some ten years after the episode aired Leslie Charteris belatedly picked it, along with the previous episode The Organisation Man, to be adapted for his publication Send for the Saint, one assumes because both times Simon Templar becomes a man for hire.


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    7: The Time To Die

    W: Terry Nation

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Roy Ward Baker

    S: Suzanne Lloyd, John Bancroft, Terence Rigby, Maurice Good, Freddie Jones, Monica Grey, Linda Marlowe

    An edgy little number from the pen of the prolific Terry Nation which feels as if it just might have escaped from a pile of Avengers rejects such is the cat-and-mouse chase around London as the Saint attempts to discover who has set out to murder him.

    It gets a mite silly by the end, but there is quiet a lot of joy getting there. Suzanne Lloyd has always proved a good foil for our Sir Roger. This is her sixth outing. Here she plays Mary Ellen Brett, an American freelance journalist charged with writing an expose of the famous Simon Templar. Instead she gets caught up in his dangerous lifestyle and comes a little too close to death for comfort.

    Death threats come via phone calls referenced by a music box chime. The Saint asks a contact at MI5 to run checks on which of his enemies are at large, but he has more success and more fun interrogating Charlie Mason [Terence Rigby] a small time crook whose been paid to rig the Saint’s desk lamp to administer a mild case of an electric shock. Mason shared a cell with embittered criminal Matty Sumrie who has just been released from jail and whose wife manages the family’s antique clock shop.

    There follows an excellent scene where the Saint gains entry to the shop at night, does some snooping and is discovered by Donna Sumrie, holding him at gunpoint and delivering a stark reminder that while he chases the wicked, he often forgets that they too have families and friends and that lives can be ruined even when good deeds are performed. Matty Sumrie has died leaving his widow nothing but the shop and two weeks of happiness. Chastened, Templar makes a discreet exit. It’s a really top notch moment from the series and from Roger Moore, who reveals as he often did in Bond movies, a rare talent for pathos and empathy. Monica Grey as the widow is suitably distraught.

    There’s another decent moment when the Saint trails his ‘killer’ to a deserted mansion but instead finds Charlie Mason’s corpse. Later, he’s contacted by Mason’s girlfriend, Laura, who informs him she knows the underground car park that Charlie’s secret contact uses. She doesn’t explain how she knows, a minor oversight, but you barely notice as there follows a substantial gun fight which ends in Laura’s fatal shooting. Simon Templar is piling up dead bodies this week. You’d think Claude Eustace Teal might have put in a show, but instead it is his MI5 buddy Dinny Haigh.

    Everything comes to a climax when Mary Ellen is kidnapped and the Saint is left a cryptic message graffitied on his apartment wall: ‘The Time to Die’. An abandoned church is the final setting and the villain is revealed with a minimum of fuss and a lot of explaining. What is never explained is why the newspaper cuttings he reads neatly displayed on the church altar are the same ones we saw pinned to Matty Sumrie’s desk in the antique shop. There was no relation between the men, so why the unnecessary link? Still, a minor slip that doesn’t seriously spoil anyone’s enjoyment.

    Curiously, the exterior of the Saint’s apartment has stopped being filmed out of the studio. It is now the same Elstree studio set we’ve seen multiple times, most recently in The Diplomat’s Daughter [S6: E4]. You barely notice until in one shot the camera pans back and you can see the front of Sara Robinson’s fashion emporium. That’s disappointing, as I liked the visits to the mews terrace. They added a sliver of reality to the show which is missing once the producers start to rely entirely on studio sets.


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    8: The Master Plan

    W: Harry J. Junkin

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Leslie Norman

    S: John Turner, Lyn Ashley, Burt Kwouk, Christopher Benjamin, Robert Morris, Paul Greenhalgh

    Dodgy goings-on at the Red Dragon Club…

    Burt Kwouk drops in as a Chinese agent called Mr Ching who plans to sweep the Red Menace to power in the West through a diet of heroin addicts. Perhaps he’s attempting to appeal to a British man’s decadent side. He himself prefers the Meditations of Mao...

    Tony Lane’s had enough and he’s getting out fast. But not fast enough…

    Nasty nightclub owner Chord doesn’t think Tony should be leaving anywhere and plans to have him snuffed out by his own gas fire…

    Searching for Tony, Simon Templar and Jean Lane get locked up in Chord’s padded cell, escape and arrive in time to rescue poor unconscious Tony…

    Chord decides to finish the deed in hospital, trickily stealing a medical gown and using his distressing lack of bedside manners to remove a nurse and smother poor Tony with his own pillow…

    Thwarted yet again by Templar, Chord hopes Mr Ching can be satisfied once he learns his shipment of white powder cargo has cleared customs…

    Unfortunately, Templar was listening in on the deal at shady antique seller Fishman's. He’s heading for the warehouse and planning to nick the goods before Chord can get there…

    A shoot out in a warehouse…

    A boodle…

    A kidnap…

    An unusual double cross from the villains…

    A fist fight…

    The Master Plan is foiled.

    Standard Saint.

    No surprises.

    No standout performances.

    Lyn Ashley looks pretty as Jean.

    John Turner is exceedingly one-note nasty as Chord.

    Note 1:

    Fishman’s Chinese Antiques is the same set as Sumrie’s Watch and Clock Antiques from last week’s episode The Time To Die; the façade is the same as Sara Douglas’ fashion house in The Desperate Diplomat. That means it is the same street as Simon Templar’s apartment and, yes, we see the front door, which naturally means Tony Lane’s apartment is the same one Inspector Teal found the dead body in The Desperate Diplomat, outside and in. The production crew must stop using this studio set!  

    Note 2:

    IMDB rates this as the eighth best episode of The Saint.

    Really… ?


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    9: The House on Dragon’s Rock

    W: Harry J. Junkin

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Roger Moore

    S: Anthony Bate, Annette Andre, Alex Scott

    This one’s alright, as reworkings of Frankenstein go.

    The Saint is on a trip into deepest Wales. He pontificates over the opening scenes of some fairy tale idyl of the Welsh Mountains, all wooden mountain chalets and girls in smocks. Preposterous. It really does look as if the production crew are attempting to imitate the world of Hammer Pictures. The Saint stops at the Prince of Wales pub in a town with an unpronounceable name that he doesn’t bother pronouncing. The place is deserted, even the drinks have been left half-drunk. Only a little girl, the landlord’s daughter, is left in the house and she explains, with some clarity, that there is something strange happening in the village, but the adults won’t talk to her about it. Tonight they are all on the mountainside, near Devil’s Gorge, looking for a lost shepherd, Owen Thomas.

    The girl’s father, Dylan Williams returns, armed with a dozen questions, a hostile attitude and a shot gun. Luckily, once Simon Templar explains he’s a friend of the village doctor, Rhys Davies, attitudes become more hospitable. So, queries the Saint, if the villagers are only looking for a shepherd, why is everyone carrying shot guns? It turns out there is something very strange on those mountains indeed. Horses have been killed, lorries overturned, fences demolished and now Owen Thomas has been scared speechless and driven almost insane by something he has witnessed.

    The pub locals insist it is a monster from outer space, or a lycanthrope, or a vampire. The Saint listens in, sipping a glass of port. The banter falls deadly silent when Anette Andre enters – as well it might, she looks delightful – only this pretty blonde is a public enemy due to her association with Western Research Laboratories who have commandeered the Big House [an Irish term, but I’ll let it ride]. Dr Charles Sardon has been working there for two years in utter secrecy. Carmen [Andre] is the scientist’s niece and secretary and she suffers the ire of the locals who instantly blame the research facility for these strange goings on. It seems a reasonable assumption.

    Up to this point, the story has all the makings of a supernatural thriller, the kind of thing Hammer could make hay with, or The Avengers perhaps. The tropes are familiar and the acting is all yokel-local-beer swilling ignorance. At least ITC stretched their muscle enough to employ a troupe of Welsh actors [Mervyn Johns, Glyn Houston, Richard Owen, Talfyn Thomas] to play the regulars in the pub. The exterior of the research facility, based at the titular and imaginary Dragon’s Rock, is Margam Castle near Port Talbot, a regular filming location for movies and television series. The interior is a resuscitated one from The Counterfeit Monster [S5: E6]. That was a consummate disaster of an adventure dealing with Loch Ness and a fake dinosaur. I was beginning to think The House on Dragon’s Rock would turn into something similar, but it doesn’t. It is certainly daft for the grounded antics of Simon Templar, but there is an indisputable charm and thankfully director Roger Moore doesn’t let the silliness interfere with the telling.

    Hence, when the stakes raise and the dastardly Dr Sardon takes a long run at things, while we don’t believe it for a second, we don’t mind because the characters and the situations have been presented to us so convincingly. So, when Carmen [Andre] dampens the mood in the pub, our sympathies and our intrigue settles on her; Templar takes the natural lead and the next morning chooses to investigate the Big House for himself.

    He finds Anthony Bate’s Dr Sardon charming, but impatient. We already know he’s a ruthless individual: “To advance the boundaries of science, it is sometimes necessary to lose a few lives,” he tells his sceptical assistant Dr Armstrong [Alex Scott]. When asked the centre’s purpose, he explains: “We are conducting research at the molecular level, combining the techniques of physics, chemistry, mathematics, electronics and biology… [We’re] studying sonic and electrical impulse communication between the lower forms of life. It is quite amazing how insects and lesser mammals can talk to each other.” During the same scene, to emphasise his point he makes condescending remarks about Carmen’s useful attributes, menacingly looming over her shoulder at the same time. Moore, as director, makes it clear this professor’s idea of communication is relentlessly one-sided.

    This is where we, as an audience, start to recognise the reinvention of the Frankenstein myth, told as it were from the villagers’ point of view. The mad scientist believing he is master of the world, or the god-creator, and hiding his invention / creation from the world only to see it wreak havoc because he cannot control it. We know inevitably, the monster will turn on its creator and that is exactly what occurs here. Getting there is plainly silly but an awful lot of preposterous fun. Even the waving giant ant tentacles and the dodgy SFX of the humongous beast don’t lower the tone as much as you might expect.

    The climax comes in a fiery underground inferno and Roger Moore leaves the last shot focussed on the intense burning flames, just how Roger Corman used to finish his Poe-cycle movies. So we really are in the realm of mad-scientist horror. It’s difficult to know how to judge The House on Dragon’s Rock. Leslie Charteris liked it immensely – according to the credits the episode is based on his ‘story’ but how much of this is true, I can’t tell, as I can’t find any reference to it anywhere other than the TV listing – and IMDB rates it a Top 10 episode. It is very popular with fandom. I’m not sure the adventure fits quite so snugly into The Saint. It does feel as if it ought to be an episode of The Avengers or The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk perhaps, something with a more funky fantasy remit. Nonetheless, it is hard to fault the effort put into it. The performances are excellent and the overall impact is top notch even if the story is a bit Jules Verne / Mary Shelley light.

    Ah, hell, it’s hard to criticise. I enjoyed it.


    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 

    The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

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