The Saint in the Sixties

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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    10: The Scales of Justice

    W: Robert Holmes

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Robert Asher

    S: Jean Marsh, Andrew Kier, Mark Burns

    An enjoyable little romp around the City of London and Chelsea that involves the Saint investigating the mysterious death of his chum Sir John Mulliner, Chief Director of Combined Holdings, a multi-industrial trade group formed through aggressive company take overs. Before Sir John’s demise, in five months four other directors have met with surprising deaths. Can a cryptic postcard hold any clues? The Saint wants to investigate and he’s assisted by Gilbert Kirby, soon to be Lord Mayor of London, and Kirby’s daughter Anne, played with some panache by Jean Marsh, who returns for yet another spell on The Saint.

    The story is fairly rudimentary and doesn’t bare much close examination. The telling clues come to Templar and Anne at the same time, and both make the correct deduction, only it is Anne who does all the Saint-like investigations at the home of Elliott Stratton, who inherited his father’s company when he became the first director to pass away. The improbabilities of the climatic penthouse confrontation are best forgotten.

    Writer Robert Holmes hadn’t hit his stride with Dr Who yet – he would write for that show successfully for a decade – and his detective yarn covers all the required bases without threatening to be anything inventive. As detective stories go, for that is what it is, it passes the grade. Andrew Kier plays Kirby and Mark Burns cuts an agitated figure as the youthful Elliott Stratton.

    Standard 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: 3,238MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    11: The Fiction Makers: Part One

    W: John Kruse

    Adapted as The Saint and the Fiction Makers by Leslie Charteris [with Fleming Lee] (1968)

    D: Roy Baker

    S: Sylvia Sims, Justine Lord, Kenneth J. Warren, Philip Locke, Tom Clegg, Nicholas Smith, Roy Hanlon, Peter Ashmore, Caron Gardner

    The history of The Fiction Makers is somewhat convoluted. The two episode story was written by John Kruse as a prospective ninety minute spin off movie for The Saint and was penned for release in 1967. It had been written and filmed during the production phase of Season 5. If you look closely, you’ll notice Sir Roger’s hair is looking a little different to Season 6! He’s slimmer too! However, as the production team were putting finishing touches to the story, it was held over to the sixth season. Some national television networks didn’t show the episodes at all and fans in those countries had to make do with the stitched together cinema movie instead, entitled The Fiction Makers. The Saint character was only referenced in the advertising, not in the movie’s title; Sir Roger gets big billing on the posters. Meanwhile, Leslie Charteris and his collaborator Fleming Lee picked up John Kruse’s script, watched the rushes and constructed the novel The Saint and the Fiction Makers. This was released to print in 1968 before the movie premiere or the television air date. Wiki Fandom claims the book came out on Jan 1st, but that seems an unlikely date. Nonetheless, certainly in America, fans of the Saint may be forgiven for having thought the novel was an original as it predates the TV episodes.

    Anyway, whatever the history of the movie / book / TV show, the UK edition hit audiences on 8th Dec 1968. It kicks off with a pastiche of James Bond / Matt Helm / the Saint himself as Simon Templar watches the premiere of the spy action film Sunburst Five, whose hero Charles Lake fights the bad guys and saves the bikini clad girl. “Oh, Charles,” she swoons. Templar’s date is of course the actress Caron Gardner, played as a common cockney by Carol Henley, giving a nod to all those Niki Van Der Zyl dubbing atrocities. Templar isn’t enamoured with the film or the pulp fiction they are based on, but Finlay Hugoson wants him to be extremely interested. He’s the publisher of the Charles Lake books and reclusive author Amos Klein’s confidant. Only Klein has refused a lucrative but indefinite offer of freelance work and Hugoson fears it may lead to trouble for his protégé.

    Klein turns out to be a ditsy young woman, played with easy laughter and appalling comic timing by Sylvia Sims. Before the Saint can even try to explain the situation, the hapless pair are kidnapped by two policemen in disguise. The coppers turn out to be members of SWORD, an elite criminal outfit run by the bald headed, shouty, edgy Mr Warlock. He’s helped out primarily by his associates the Bishop, Nero Jones, Flug, Simeon Monk and a beautiful woman, Galaxy Rose. The trick in the tail is that SWORD – the Secret World Organisation for Retribution and Destruction – and Warlock and everyone else are creations of Amos Klein and feature as Charles Lake’s enemies in novels like Volcano Seven, Eight Lover and Earthquake Four. Not only has this group of criminals hijacked Ms Klein’s characters, they’ve even pinched a plot and plan to break into the Hemetico storage vault, constructed within a disused colliery at Templedown. Arab princes keep their crown jewels there, nations keep gold reserves, De Beers stores its diamonds: Hemetico is a physical gold mine. Only this version of SWORD hasn’t figured out how to perfect a decent heist: “You will write it and we, your characters, will live it,” declares Warlock.

    Now, this all began to look vaguely familiar and I realised about twenty minutes in that I had watched the movie version of this a few years ago. Then, I thought it was dire. I wasn’t wrong. It is dire.

    I don’t entirely know what to say about this episode except to wonder why this was deigned good enough for a cinema offering when so many better written, performed and produced single episode stories could have been expanded from their rushed fifty-minute format. Imagine The Queen’s Ransom, Paper Chase, The Russian Prisoner, The Gadget Lovers or The Organisation Man being twenty minutes longer, a drum of detail added to the characters, a tad more exposition, a bit more of a prologue and epilogue – they’d be fine products – but this mess?

    I couldn’t work out whether it was supposed to be taken seriously or not. The scene where the Saint and Amos Klein are dancing to jazz records instead of constructing a word-for-word robbery for SWORD was quite possibly the lowest moment I think I’ve ever seen in The Saint. While Roger Moore’s indignations about his and Amos’ treatment under Warlock strike a chord of cheeky believability, the manner in which writer John Kruse leads up to the event is silly in the extreme. It looks it, sounds it, feels it. Ugh.

    The cast is decent. Justine Lord slinks her way back on the screen for a final showing attempting to seduce our Roger. “Hooray,” I cry; I like Justine Lord. Kenneth J. Warren enjoys himself immensely as Warlock. Thunderball veteran Philip Locke is one of the heavies. Design and all that trad is so-so. The photography from the normally reliable Michael Reed is smudgy. The day for night scenes are over filtered and I couldn’t make out half of what was happening. To add fuel to my theory the two episodes were never designed for television transmission at all, Part One of The Fiction Makers doesn’t even end on a cliffhanger.

    Just dire.


    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: 3,238MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    12: The Fiction Makers: Part Two

    W: John Kruse

    Adapted as The Saint and the Fiction Makers by Leslie Charteris [with Fleming Lee] (1968)

    D: Roy Baker

    S: Sylvia Sims, Justine Lord, Kenneth J. Warren, Philip Locke, Tom Clegg, Nicholas Smith, Roy Hanlon

    It doesn’t get much better in Part Two. Having escaped from his hard-wired bedroom by improbably slicing through the ceiling and removing the attic roof tiles, the Saint then escapes from a locked car by slicing through the rear seat and opening the boot. It is never explained where he got the knife from. The ingeniousness of Amos Klein as a writer has its drawbacks for Simon Templar as all his attempts to escape SWORD unravel beneath the truths of her printed words. That’s almost amusing. She realises her futility too. Sylvia Sims delivers one of the most weepy, shrieky and childish impersonations of a sophisticated intelligent woman I’ve ever seen. The moment she gets covered in mud and starts to wail incomprehensibly was the sheer nadir of her turn. Dreadful.

    The rest of the episode is almost as poor as Part One. The novel idea of a bullion depository inside a disused coal mine has long legs and it is well imagined by the set designers, but I didn’t believe the heist for a second. It lacks any tension and is just plain daft. Naturally, the Saint is discovered at the last moment and is strong armed into helping SWORD carry out the daring raid. A photo from the movie premiere of Sunburst Five gives him away. There’s a neat in joke here as the magazine shows the film’s director as Roy Ward Baker, the name TV director Roy Baker usually used when credited on cinema releases.

    Adding to the delight, or not depending on how you view it, there’s a laser thingy back at SWORD H.Q. Warlock has never bothered to mention the huge gadget which might have helped in the robbery. While the Saint uses his fists, clever Amos Klein has a few gadgets of her own which, had she used them earlier, might just have got the pair out the mess they found themselves in.

    Unbelievably, IMDB rates The Fiction Makers as the best episode ever of The Saint. I simply cannot concur. Part One was appalling. “Just dire,” I wrote. Well, Part Two is just above dire. Just.

     

    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: 3,238MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    13: The People Importers

    W: Donald James

    Adapted as The Saint and the People Importers by Leslie Charteris [with Fleming Lee] (1971)

    D: Ray Austin

    S: Neil Hallett, Susan Travers, Gary Milelr, Ron Lonnen, Imogen Hassall, Salmaan Peer

    The People Importers feels very contemporary, featuring as it does a gang of people smugglers operating from Calais to an undisclosed beach along Britain’s south coast. They are taking hundreds of pounds from Pakistanis fleeing their country and hoping to find a better life in the UK. Work permits, false passports, unscrupulous landladies, thousands of pounds changing hands and the death of a Pakistani special agent who has been investigating the smuggling operation – all dodgy roads lead to Simon Templar.

    He’s been fishing without much luck until he and Micheal Robbins’ grumbling sailor Harry pull the bullet ridden corpse from the sea. “You don’t know what you might find when you go fishing with Simon Templar,” moans Harry.

    Shady goings-on is what. The police allow Templar a free hand in attempting to follow up the crime and he immediately, with the barest of evidence, suspects John Bonner, a boat broker who hasn’t sold a yacht in months yet is living an exceedingly comfortable lifestyle, including romancing Susan Travers’ goodtime girl Laura. In truth, Laura is a little old to be called a ‘girl’, but her actions, reactions and expectations are exactly the same as any modern Sugar Baby. I rather like her. She’s brazenly unconventional and when threatened by Bonner she looks so startled I genuinely felt for her situation. There is something of the control freak about Bonner, but also a need to thrash out blindly when things don’t go his way, which is often.

    The night’s operation hasn’t gone to plan and most of the illegal immigrants get quickly discovered by the police. Those who don’t make it to London and the same studio street set we’ve come to recognise over and over – so just a stone’s throw from Templar’s apartment then. One of the poor blighters has contracted small pox, which could spread rapidly among the uninoculated Asian communities. Another has gone to live with his sister, a famous model. A third, for his troubles, gets a knife in his back. “Small pox isn’t going to bother him,” says a weary police surgeon.

    At least the producers found a couple of Indian actors to play the main Pakistan characters. No embarrassing black-face make up this time out. Salmaan Pees is the best of them as Shuresh; Nik Zaran is the small pox sufferer. These actors make a decent job of hinting at the fear of illegal entry, the gratefulness of success at all and great cost and their stunned glances around the alien roads and doss-houses of London. The moment when a London cabbie refuses to accept an Asian man’s fare struck a chord. That kind of attitude was still mighty prevalent in the late sixties and I applaud The Saint for drawing attention to it. The Pakistanis are sympathetically presented and the story succeeds mostly because of that.

    The villains are a fairly one-note bunch of nasties, and although one of them objects to the killing, he is soon seen to be joining in the murders, so no morals there then. Imogen Hassall played an Arab in Flight Plan [S5: E13] and her dusky good looks mean she can easily play a liberated, sexy, glamour-model of a Pakistani woman. She has improved every time she’s been on The Saint since that dreadful shouty turn in Sophia [S2:24]. Hassall, a very beautiful woman, was a controversial figure for the tabloid press in the late sixties and seventies, representing the permissive society with her daring dress sense, love affairs and gossiped private life. Film roles started to involve nudity and sex scenes [El Condor, Bloodsuckers] and she became referred to as the Countess of Cleavage. Her last role was a small part in the James Bond rip off Licence to Love and Kill. Imogen Hassall died of a drug overdose in 1980 aged 38. She was a good friend of Susanna Leigh, who also graced The Saint way back in The Wonderful War [S2: E16].

    Ultimately, The People Importers is too short an adventure to do full justice to the themes and issues it approaches. As usual, the motives behind the victims and the villains are never investigated at length. In fact it is never made clear how far up the chain of command Bonner is within the smuggling operation. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this one because it attempts to tackle a subject relevant in 1968 which is still relevant today.

    Leslie Charteris must have thought so too as he, along with Fleming Lee, chose it for full length novel adaptation in 1971. I hope they managed to develop the narrative a little more and introduce some of the nuances of the social and cultural situation which are skimmed over here.


    Note of literary interest:

    The 1960s, 70s and 80s was quite a confused time for The Saint in print and while I am not reviewing the books here, it is worth noting Charteris’ continued interest yet lack of application toward his famous creation led to some curious literary collaborations:

    1964 Vendetta for the Saint – a novel written by Harry Harrison [soon to be seen adapted for the TV series]

    1968 The Saint on TV – written by Fleming Lee [from 2 TV episodes]  

    1968 The Saint Returns – written by Fleming Lee [from 2 TV episodes]

    1968 The Saint and the Fiction Makers – a novel written by Fleming Lee [from 2 TV episodes]

    1969 The Saint Abroad – written by Fleming Lee [from 2 TV episodes]

    1970 The Saint in Pursuit – a novel written by Fleming Lee [from a comic strip]

    1971 The Saint and the People Importers – a novel written by Fleming Lee [from a TV episode]

    1974 Saints Alive – a collection of 6 previously published short stories

    1975 Catch the Saint – written by Fleming Lee [2 original adventures]

    1976 The Saint and the Hapsburg Necklace – a novel written by Christoper Short [an original adventure]

    1977 Send for the Saint – written by Peter Bloxsom [from 2 TV episodes]

    1978 The Saint in Trouble - written by Graham Weaver [from 2 Return of the Saint episodes]

    1979 The Saint and the Templar Treasure – a novel written by Christopher Short [an original adventure]

    1980 Good As Gold – a collection of 4 previously published stories

    1980 Count On the Saint – written by Christopher Short [2 original adventures]

    1982 The Fantastic Saint – a collection of 6 previously published stories

    1983 Salvage for the Saint – a novel written by Peter Bloxsom [from 2 Return of the Saint episodes]


    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: 3,238MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1968

    14: Where The Money Is

    W: Terry Nation

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Roger Moore

    S: Kenneth J. Warren, Judee Morten, Sandor Eles, John Savident, Warren Stanhope

    Reuniting with writer Terry Nation after the more than satisfactory Invitation to Danger [S6: E2], Roger Moore flexes his directing muscles for the final time on The Saint with another remarkably competent adventure. I make that sound as if I am surprised, but I really shouldn’t be, and I am not. Of all the directors who have graced The Saint, the three who show the most ingenuity and an ability to create tension, hold it and turn it into something exciting are Leslie Norman, Peter Yates and Roger Moore. Others such as Roy Ward Baker and Ray Austin are fine, but there is a spark of the unexpected which draws the attention when one of my favoured triumvirate is behind the camera. Once again, Roger Moore shows a deft eye for a sudden cut or an efficient close up. He’s able to make potentially dull scenes feel claustrophobic and tipped with peril by focussing on those sweaty, nervous and scared faces.

    Terry Nation constructs a vivid story and, in another memorable departure from the norm, the adventure is filmed for the most part on location. Elstree has its uses for the interiors, and I was fairly certain I’d seen the inside of this farmhouse before, but it is the exteriors I kept latching onto. For instance, Moore films the escapades with the cars from outside the vehicles. There is no dodgy backdrops. When the characters have to speak, he closes in on their faces, removing the need for back projection; and when the story takes us there, he is filming in the countryside and in woodland, not in a studio bound set designer’s idea of country woodland. The prologue is filmed on one of Elstree’s own sound stages, a huge auditorium for a head-to-head which elicits a degree of uncertain menace. The episode has a more authentically visual texture to it. The ‘feel’ is so much more genuine than the same ridiculous London street corner we keep seeing over and over again.

    The prologue sets us up nicely. The Saint is in the back of a Rolls Royce drinking champagne, counting out a £1000 and indulging in foreplay with the lovely Lila [Jane Bates]. She’s been paid by movie producer Ben Kersh to ensure Simon Templar attends a secret meeting – Kersh is fairly certain he needs to poke the Saint’s interest before the haloed one will undertake a personal mission. Lila just isn’t interesting enough, unfortunately, but when Kersh bellows that someone is going to murder his daughter, that halo seems destined to appear.

    Pity we get that horrid revamped theme tune. After such a dramatic ending to the prologue: “There’s only one man who can save her: Simon Templar!” that jaunty piece of fluff is a distinct anticlimax.

    Luckily the rest of the episode is a good crack. The Saint volunteers to travel to Nice with a million pounds and execute the ransom charges. As usual things do not go as planned. Judee Morten’s Jenny Kersh has plans of her own – surprise, surprise, or no surprise in this case – and there is an inside man attempting to interfere in the scheme. A special effects wizard called Frank Lomax devises a automatic timed wristwatch camera which is the kind of thing that has James Bond written all over it, or maybe UNCLE or Matt Helm, and the Saint tracks the kidnappers around France by double-checking photos of the landscape. Neat that. Lomax has other gadgets too and he’s like an overgrown schoolboy Q, all japes and jokes with his inventions. John Savident enjoys himself immensely in the role. So too Kenneth J. Warren, who returns rapidly to the screen from The Fiction Makers, as the permanently perspiring Ben Kersh. Sandor Eles plays the obligatory boyfriend, a bigger role and a reward for his excellent turn in The Russian Prisoner [S5: E3].

    Ultimately, the episode resolves itself a little too easily, but that doesn’t seem to hurt. I saw it coming anyway. A fine effort all-round, well-acted, written and filmed, even the climatic fight in a hay barn was a hoot.

    Well done, Sir Roger!  

     

    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: 3,238MI6 Agent
    edited April 12

    SEASON 6

    1969

    15: Vendetta for the Saint – Part One

    W: John Kruse

    based on Vendetta for the Saint by Leslie Charteris [with Harry Harrison] (1964)

    D: Jim O’Connolly

    S: Ian Hendry, Rosemary Dexter, Aimi MacDonald, George Pastell, Maria Burke, Finlay Currie, Fulton Mackay, Alex Scott

    Harry Harrison was a renowned sci-fi author who contributed largely to The Saint comic strip. His most famous works are the adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat. Vendetta for the Saint was an entirely original story which suggested an older, more mature version of the Saint. Harrison’s interpretation of the titular hero was a more reflective and cautious one, a white knight not given to charging into the action all swords blazing. For the most part, John Kruse’s two episode adaptation follows the novel to the letter, only deviating at the last, when the villain escapes the police dragnet twice before Simon Templar snares him in a one-to-one confrontation. The two episode format adopted here was no accident, the story being deliberately envisaged from the outset as a stitched together cinema movie for the European market. Unlike the viciously curtailed full novel adaptations that the television writers squeezed into fifty minutes, Vendetta has a proper narrative sweep which introduces characters gradually and allows their relationships with the Saint or the bad guys to grow organically. It also benefitted from location shooting in Malta – a stand-in for Sicily and Naples – and an excellently underplayed hand from Ian Hendry as the villain.

    Roger Moore’s Simon Templar visits La Lanterna, a dingy, dodgy dinner-bar in central Naples where he witnesses Fulton Mackay’s Scottish tourist, John Houston, get the rap from a heavily guarded and distinctly uncooperative fellow guest. Houston believes this is an old friend, Dino Cardelli. When Houston turns up dead in a ditch the next morning, his photo splashed across the newspaper pages, the Saint’s natural curiosity is aroused. Before long he’s being introduced to Ian Hendry’s shady US businessman Destamio and his winsome English girlfriend Lily who enjoys wearing bikini’s under diaphanous crotch-length shifts. She also enjoys kissing Simon Templar and accepting $500 from him as an incentive to escape the clutches of the overbearing, ruthless, but occasionally suave and sycophantic Destamio. His fey character doesn’t convince the Saint who knows his reputation from afar. There’s a suggestion their paths may have crossed before, but this is swiftly brushed aside among the deft dialogues and the pretty bougainvillea shouldered terraces. The episode loses out in the action stakes, but gains plenty in the landscapes and studio sets which offer substantially more than the usual Elstree lacklustre. Malta helps, as it is sunny, looks hot and delightfully dusty. Templar’s journey with the fetching Lily through the supposed hills and valleys of Capri was a treat that usually takes place in Wales. Bathed in Mediterranean glow the car ride in Vendetta has a seductive, slinky, sensual feel to it as the Saint attempts to twist Lily to his way of thinking.

    Intrigued by Destamio’s evasiveness and buoyed by the knowledge Sicily’s Mafia Godfather Don Pasquale [Finlay Currie, bedbound and dubbed] is dying, the Saint travels to Palermo and investigates Dino Cardelli’s history at the national bank, discovering the cashier was murdered in a failed bank robbery over twenty years ago – exactly the moment that Destamio came to prominence. Could they be one and the same? George Pastell’s police chief offers his assistance but prefers sleeping on couches to doing any detective work, which he leaves up to Templar. Guy Deghy plays an inspector in the pocket of the Mafia who gets the thick end of both men’s tongues.

    Meanwhile there are strange goings on at the Destamio’s elaborate villa where the matriarch Dona Maria is very unwelcoming, an ancient uncle spouts delirious gibberish and the beautiful niece Gina [Rosemary Dexter] immediately falls under Templar’s spell.

    The episode is very good and I enjoyed the easy rapport Roger Moore builds with his fellow performers. Ian Hendry in particular cuts a bullish, yet controlled figure as the criminal mastermind of not one but two disguises. It’s enough to see him threaten the slip-of-a-thing Lily to recognise his power reaches far and near. He does it without even touching her: a half raised eyebrow and a roll of his accented syllables as he deposits her $500 present in his shirt pocket is enough to demonstrate this man’s hardest edges. Aimi MacDonald is suitably anxious as Lily.

    While the direction may be a touch pedestrian, that doesn’t matter in this lengthened format which demonstrates the cavalier, capricious and captaining instincts of Simon Templar far better than the tomfoolery of The Fiction Makers. The script is excellent, benefitting perhaps from a good starting effort from Harry Harrison, and the production values are a notch up from the norm. Even Edwin Astley pulls out the musical baton and offers a fine incidental score to capture the Italian atmosphere and the Saint’s raffish attitudes. The main titles feature a very good slide rule cover version of his television Saint Theme. A minor gripe has me wondering why the producers chose so many British actors for this adventure and had their characters hailing from America, London or Scotland when The Saint TV series has always frequently utilised the services of foreign actors based in the UK for its supporting players. 

    Unfortunately I had to watch this two-parter in one go, catching a copy of the film version of Vendetta for the Saint, which was originally released after the transmission of the series finished. I estimated when it came to the midpoint and went to make a cup of tea before watching the second 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

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,213Chief of Staff

    I believe Sir Rog directed an episode or two of "The Persuaders!" as well as "The Saint", and forgive me if you've already mentioned that. Did he never want to direct a movie (I'm sure you can see what I'm thinking of) having cut his teeth on TV shows, or did he ask and was refused, I wonder?

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,929MI6 Agent

    The lovely Aimi MacDonald, an almostPython, from At Last the 1948 Show

    she's also in an episode of the Avengers


  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent
    edited April 10

    I never knew that - amazing how these supporting players in The Saint get around. Regards Sir Roger and movie directing - I would have to check his biography again. Instinct tells me not.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,929MI6 Agent

    glad I could help! I was thinking it odd you didnt name the lead lady from that Saint episode til near the end, since to a Python completist like myself, she's more of a somebody than a lot of these other actresses. Carol Cleveland also appears in a lot of these shows, but I think she generally got more work than Aimi

    if you ever happen to be watching The Avengers, its Return of the Cybernauts where Aimi MacDonald appears, playing it closer to her 1948 Show persona. but she seems to always talk like a helium balloon

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent
    edited April 12

    SEASON 6

    1969

    16: Vendetta for the Saint – Part Two

    W: John Kruse

    based on Vendetta for the Saint by Leslie Charteris [with Harry Harrison] (1964)

    D: Jim O’Connolly

    S: Ian Hendry, Rosemary Dexter, Aimi MacDonald, George Pastell, Maria Burke, Finlay Currie, Fulton Mackay, Alex Scott

    Part Two of Vendetta for the Saint still sticks close to its source novel, veering away a little during Templar’s escape from a Mafia fortress and again at the swift barnstorming climax. My opinions on this episode are similar to those I had on Part One. It’s an excellent follow up. Watched together as a movie, as I did, you can sense the tension rising in the story as Roger Moore’s Saint is captured, threatened with torture and wrestles his way out of a window and down a rugged mountain face while Ian Hendry’s Mafia Don, Destamio, fawns over the old and dying godfather, Don Pasquale.

    There is plenty to admire in this episode. The acting is excellent. The costumes pleasant. Photography bright and gaudy. Screenplay more than decent. Music very good. It seems such a pity they didn’t make enough episodes of The Saint as thoroughly as this. Money was thrown at Vendetta because its two episodes were always perceived as a cinema release. The Maltese location shoots and the above average production design leaves a satisfying taste in the mouth. Roger Moore is less jokey than usual, seeming to understand this particular version of the Saint is a wary, slightly older and more watchful man. I enjoy this less robust Templar. The endless fist fights had started to grate back in Season 2. Here director Jim O’Connolly holds them in check, showing admirable restraint at times when previously he may have been encouraged to allow the stunt men let rip. Instead there is a daring flight for freedom from a castle keep, down and along a barren gulch, through a dusty village, and finally into a public transport bus, where the baddies take potshots at the Saint who hides among the fearful locals. At the end of the chase, exhausted and bedraggled, Templar looks suitably harassed.

    Having escaped, Templar must eventually return to the castle, expose Destamio in front of his Mafia peers and rescue the delightfully pretty Gina [Rosemary Dexter]. George Pastell is on hand with a squad of carabinieri to lend muscle power. The climax rather prefigures For Your Eyes Only as the Saint ascends a climbing rope to the castle ramparts, infiltrates the fortress and confronts the bad guys. The police swing to his rescue just in time amid much shooting and shouting.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Vendetta for the Saint, although I did watch it as a movie and not as two episodes – I paused the stream at the appropriate timing moment, approx. 48mins. Vendetta comfortably sits in my currently unwritten list as one of the series’ best ever adventures.  


    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


    The reason I didn't mention Aimi MacDonald is, I am afraid to say, entirely because I cannot abide the Monty Python television show. I had no idea who she was. The Python's well-observed historical satires for the cinema are excellent, an extension of Carry On, although they probably won't thank me for saying that. All the modern sketch guff and gawaff is dreadfully pretentious to these ears. Hence, I don't like The Meaning of Life. The sharper character driven comedy Cleese found in Fawlty Towers and Wanda also works better.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,929MI6 Agent

    fair enough!

    At Last the 1948 Show was a predecessor to Monty Python, broadcast in 1967, starring Cleese and Chapman, along with Marty Feldman, Tim Brooke Taylor and The Lovely Aimi Macdonald. Which is why I always think of the later three actors as AlmostPythons


    I'm glad to see how much you liked Vendetta for the Saint Chris, especially after the drubbing you gave The Fiction Makers. I liked both SaintFilms, and the fact theyre so different is one reason I liked them: more creative than simply repeating the same formula twice. (whereas the Man from UNCLE films all tend to look similar, and are not representative of the range of stories in the actual show)

    I always think with a bit of creative overdubbing, Vendetta for the Saint could be a missing BondFilm. Theres a passage at the beginning of OHMSS, when Bond is composing his resignation letter, we learn he is returning from a mission in Sicily on a fruitless search for Blofeld and instead he'd got himself into trouble with the Mafia.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,153MI6 Agent

    I like the Fiction Makers too, but disagreeing with reviews is part of the fun 😁

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1969

    17: The Ex-King of Diamonds

    W: John Kruse

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Alvin Rakoff

    S: Stuart Damon, Ronald Radd, Isla Blair, Willoughby Goddard, Paul Stassino

    This episode holds a place of affection for many fans of The Saint because it points the way forward for another ITC show of some success, the Roger Moore / Tony Curtis extravaganza that is The Persuaders. Stuart Damon guest stars as oil rich Texan Rod Huston. He’s terrible in the part, so Roger Moore plays up to him and is dreadful as the Saint as well. They don’t get any support from anyone except perhaps Willoughby Goddard as the obese Ex-King Boris of the title, who is cheating at cards in the Monte Carlo Casino.

    I reviewed this episode unfavourably in my The Persuaders thread. I enjoyed it better this time out, but the performances drag a decent story down by its boot straps and they keep on dragging. It is worth pointing out that as well as providing a source for Brett Sinclair and Danny Wilde, the episode also shares many affinities with James Bond novels and films. Underwater scuba diving, underground lairs, a fantastic yacht, timed explosives, a huge boar-like villain, a nasty heavy – played of course by Thunderball veteran Paul Stassino, who else – casinos, craps tables, a marked deck of cards, glamorous surrounds, a rich American businessman siding with the hero. If they’d thrown in a helicopter, an electrocution and Shirley Bassey you could have called it a pastiche.

    I don’t like it very much because the performances are so poor. The story is good enough to be decent, but nobody is trying hard enough to ensure it is. You just have to listen to the series of terrible French accents to understand that.

    A big 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

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,153MI6 Agent

    Maybe it’s the casino setting, but this is another one that I like.

    I’m getting a bit sad now because the end of this wonderful thread is looming - I’m hoping there is another ITC series that you’re going to get your teeth into after this @chrisno1

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1969

    18: The Man Who Gambled With Life

    W: Harry J. Junkin

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Freddie Francis

    S: Clifford Evans, Jayne Sofiano, Veronica Carlson, Steven Berkoff  

    Half way through this episode, nominal heroine Stella Longman says of Simon Templar: “He has a curiosity for the bizarre.”

    Has he? Since when? Well, I will appreciate that as The Saint discovered colour film it has also taken to far more colourful and inventive episodes, some of which have been acutely bizarre, but I have never felt Simon Templar has any propensity towards the unusual and inexplicable – that weird adventure at Loch Ness perhaps or the Welsh giant ant – but basically, he is fairly well-grounded. I prefer him that way. The producers should leave the peculiar, fantastic antics to The Avengers or that supernatural superbeing series The Champions and keep The Saint hunkered down with the street villains, international thieves and high class blackmailers. His brand of competence, assurance and devil-may-care adventurism suits those more romantic climes. Pile him into sci-fi and he, or rather Roger Moore, starts to look increasingly uncomfortable.

    The Man Who Gambled With Life is a half-way house between the bizarre and the ordinary. It begins in a very odd fashion. As Simon Templar enjoys a solitary champagne picnic, he is approached by a beautiful blonde lady who is dressed in the same clothes he is – even down to the blouse being open tantalising low – the Saint himself sports a St Christopher medallion low on his chest. Vanessa Longman sports great repartee.

    “We want you to think very hard and very deeply about death,” she purrs. He isn’t going to do that. He’s too busy inspecting her cleavage. “Is that why you brought the undertakers?” he replies. The assorted bowler hatted heavies merely hand over a box containing a chittering white mouse, Mimi, and leave the picnicker to his sparkling wine. Cue the credits.

    Back at his apartment, the Saint discovers a coffin in his living room and a wax work of his likeness occupying it. Another beautiful blonde wearing another matching outfit and displaying another oodle of cleavage appears carrying an automatic revolver and challenging Simon Templar to really give thinking about death a go: she calls it conditioning.

    “We know all about you... [It’s] all been computerised. We’ve analysed your ego, super ego, intelligence, libido and personal stability. We’ve even found out the name of your shirt maker.” Stella Longman is persuasive, but not persuasive enough. The Saint clandestinely follows her to a waiting helicopter and has the airplane traced. It lands somewhere near Sherbourne in the West Country. Desperate for company – missing the tantalising temptations of these beautiful sisters, no doubt – Templar begins to talk to the mouse.

    Meanwhile, the girls’ father, multimillionaire Keith Longman, can’t wait for medical science to catch up with his heart condition and has been experimenting with cryogenic freezing, a la Howard Hughes. He’s previously frozen and reanimated Mimi the Mouse, but his experiments on larger animals have failed. Nonetheless, he believes the freezing process works better when an animal’s, or a person’s, metabolism when it is perfectly conditioned. Longman wants to test his theory on the perfect human being: Simon Templar. Only Longman hasn’t bargained on daughter Stella falling for the dashing Mr Moore. Jayne Sofiano is a delight as the kittenish go-go-boot wearing Stella, who judo chops with the best of them. Veronica Carlson is far more robust as her sibling, Vanessa. Later on in her career, Carlson would reveal much more than her cleavage in a series of sex-and-shock horrors for the Hammer stable. Both actresses outshine the rest of the cast, a bunch of shrill looking men led by a very young Steven Berkoff, who are all donned in sweaters which look as if they escaped from the laundrette of the Starship Enterprise. It’s disappointing that the scenes set in the grounds of Longman’s mansion are filmed on the familiar indoor studio set, all fake moss, branches, leaves and sky. Sir Roger did a more impressionable job by filming on location in episode 14, Where The Money Is. Maybe that blitzed the budget for the remainder of the series.

    It’s all a bit of hokum to be honest. The Saint does his usual prowling around a stately home, knocking men out with one blow, chatting diffidently with his enemy host, courting or avoiding women [although why he would want to avoid these two glamorous ladies is beyond me] smiling and raising eyebrows. We’ve seen lots of this style over the previous seven years. Thankfully, the sci-fi elements of the story don’t overrun the telling this time, although it is an odd story indeed. The ending was a surprise. I always like a crazy villain, but Longman is less crazed than frightened; it is his ruthlessness to achieve his aims which marks him for villainy. Being frightened of dying comes to most of us, I guess.

    A good episode which holds back just enough from the truly bizarre to maintain a semblance of what The Saint has always been about: carefree, devil-may-care, exotic and exciting adventures with lovely ladies and dastardly bad guys. 


    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: 3,238MI6 Agent

    SEASON 6

    1969

    19: Portrait of Brenda

    W: Harry W. Junkin

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: John Gilling

    S: Ivor Dean, Anne Carteret, Anne de Vigier, Trevor Bannister, Marne Maitland

    Ivor Dean’s put upon police inspector Claude Eustace Teal makes his final bow in the very excellent episode Portrait of Brenda, which feels like a gentle retread of some of Simon Templar’s past cases. Dead bodies in empty flats [S6: E4 The Desperate Diplomat], strange Indian gurus [S1: E6 The Arrow of God] and young stars on the up [S2: E6 Marcia] all take a place in Harry Junkin’s screenplay. There’s a bit of padding too, with a couple of songs thrown in for Anne Carteret’s young singer to wail. That’s a trifle unfair, but they are not great tunes. Overall, I really enjoyed this episode which features a far more restrained Simon Templar, a good return for Insp Teal and a whole heap of intrigue surrounding a popular Indian Guru, a dead artist and his dead sister.

    The adventure starts off with a trip up the King’s Road before Templar neatly veers onto the studio street set I now know and love-hate in equal measure. At this point the incidental music is distinctly pop. Later on, in the recording studio, things turn a bit crazy-cocktail crooner. Ah well, never mind. It is good to see The Saint finally making decent hay with the trippy side of the sixties. Writers have tried it a couple of times, but it doesn’t quite seem to work with the format. The Saint is too straight and needs a comedy wingman to become a trendy character, however much Roger Moore raises his eyebrows and drops quips with the same ease he drinks cognac.

    “Claude dislikes the bizarre,” Templar muses, “which is why he dislikes me.” There’s only one reason the word ‘bizarre’ is used here and that’s to clarify the outlay of the previous episode. I think Templar actually means ‘unusual’. There is nothing bizarre about the goings on this week. The Saint has been called to Alan Williams’ studio apartment, because the painter had some information regarding a ‘swindle’. Upon arriving he finds the poor man murdered and his beautiful neighbour, Josephine, pining for him. A phone call leads Templar to a recording studio where the up and coming singer Diane Huntley is cutting a couple of jazzy lounge music numbers under the watchful impatient eye of Johnny Fox, played by a young Trevor Bannister. Huntley takes Templar to visit a Guru, but it isn’t making any kind of sense to Templar – or to Teal, who is as baffled as Josephine. A little digging at a cottage in Kent provides further clues and a couple of tough tussles with future Darth Vader David Prowse keep us on edge.

    Best of all is the interplay between Moore and Ivor Dean, all testy one-upmanship, taking us back to the early and best days of their teamwork. “Your methods unorthodox?” crows Teal, “They’re arrogant, illegal, dangerously impetuous and criminal.” He neglects to mention they always succeed. The Saint steals the policeman’s brandy as he listens.

    The adventure doesn’t do very much, between the songs and the sermonising there’s barely enough to fill thirty minutes, but it is presented wonderfully well, the actors are top notch for this one and the dialogue is tight, taut and satisfying in the telling and the reveal of mystery after mystery is well collated.

    On a passing note, Alan Williams’ work suggests he’s a terrible artist, but the portrait of Brenda, his dead sister, is rather good. 

    Full marks to this one.     


    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: 3,238MI6 Agent
    edited April 15

    Well, it had to happen, as there are only 118 episodes of The Saint, but this is the final entry into my review series.

    I know a lot of you have enjoyed my minor essays on each adventure, agreeing and disagreeing with much aplomb. So, thank you for the support and I hope anyone who hasn't yet seen the thread can enjoy and use my insights and opinions for themselves in the future.

    If you want to read my take on the 1970s reboot Return of the Saint, please go here: The Saint in the Seventies — ajb007

    I will gather my thoughts on the series and post a summary in a few days.

    For now, it is goodbye and thank you Sir Roger Moore - whatever the circumstances of the telling, always a class act.


    SEASON 6

    1969

    20: The World Beater

    W: Donald Jones

    Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris

    D: Leslie Norman

    S: Patricia Haines, John Ronane, James Kerry, George A. Cooper, Eddie Byrne

    So, after six years and a dash of days, The Saint takes his harp into heaven and departs the television screen – at least until 1978 when his bastard uncle Return of the Saint takes a bow. On this evidence, it was probably about time. The sixth season has been teetering on the edge of disaster for quite a while. The Fiction Makers held the mirror up to its deficiencies. The World Beater tramples all over the mirror. This was an appalling story to close the series. Roger Moore has ceased to show any interest other than his quizzically raised brows. The scripts are betraying signs of wear. Even normally reliable director Leslie Norman has lost his touch. The whole episode feels as if it is heading for a shuddering halt.

    Basically, Simon Templar is being touted as the best thing in rally driving – I remember he once raced Grand Prix cars, so I guess he’s a decent boy behind the wheel – and Harold Laker wants him on his team. Laker doesn’t care which team, he’s buying them all. Except one, and that’s owned by the Hapgood’s, a father and son combo. Templar of course decides to race for them. They do have the best car. Sabotage and ill-feeling and a long lost love affair combine to make this rehash of past stories just about watchable, but it is so dull I fell asleep twice and had to rewind the DVD. The cast try, I suppose, but there isn’t much you can do with a silly looking car rally along the country roads of England. I only ever saw the Saint’s car in action.

    I’d like to say it was a fond farewell, but it really isn’t. An exit stuck in the mud is more like it. For a series which has consistently demonstrated verve and invention, this was a very dour turn and only adds to the malaise which set in around about the time that new theme tune reared its ugly head. It is always sad to see great shows go to seed, but sometimes the producers never know when or how to stop and The Saint was clearly ready to leave some episodes ago. 


    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: 6,153MI6 Agent

    I agree. The final episode is truly dreadful and a sad way to end an iconic series.

    I don’t want to sound like an echo chamber, but once again thanks to @chrisno1 for this great thread, for reference purposes alone it is essential reading, but it’s much more than that as the reviews are compelling reading whether one agrees with them all or not.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
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