Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


Roger Moore
THE SAINT (1964). British television series based on the character created by Leslie Charteris.

Literary creation The Saint -- a slightly shady adventurer who generally was on the side of the angels -- first appeared in a series of films in the forties and fifties, and then became the star of this sixties British series that ran for six years and over 100 episodes. Roger Moore played Simon Templar, famously known as "the Saint," and played him well, with that certain charming insouciance that was also a hallmark in Louis Hayward's theatrical portrayal in such films as The Saint in New York. Moore himself became famous with this series, which was also a hit on American television, and it was undoubtedly for this reason that he was later chosen to play James Bond in 007's more cartoonish adventures. The Saint was first produced in black and white then switched to color episodes for the later seasons. Each episode was an hour long including commercials. Simon would address the audience right before the credits rolled. The character of Inspector Teal was perfectly friendly to Simon in the first couple of seasons, then became the more (over) familiar unpleasant adversary of the movies.

Based on the many episodes I've watched, The Saint was a good but not great series with some memorable episodes. The first episode, "The Talented Husband" about a Bluebeard, was not an auspicious debut, seeming slow and padded. The subsequent episode, "The Latin Touch," with Alexander Knox as an ambassador whose daughter is kidnapped in Rome, was more on the mark. In the clever and suspenseful "Double Take," a Greek millionaire nearly has Simon stumped when he hires a perfect double for his own strange purposes. Board members are killed off one by one in "Scales of Justice," with Jean Marsh as a frightened secretary. The harrowing "Man Who Could Not Die" has Simon attempting to stop a murder that is to take place in deep, isolated caverns. In "Starring the Saint" -- which guest stars Alexander Davion [Paranoiac] and Jackie Collins, Joan's author-sister -- a producer of a movie about Simon's exploits is murdered. Rival female race car drivers really hate each other in "The Fast Women," while an unknown enemy wants ultimate revenge on Simon in "The Time to Die." The exciting "Old Treasure Story" has Simon and a shady group searching for Blackbeard's booty on one of the Virgin Islands.

"The House on Dragon's Rock"
Occasionally a Saint adventure would be a little more far-out than usual. "The Convenient Monster" takes place at Loch Ness and concerns a creature that may or may not be real (although the real thing does show up at the very end). "The House on Dragon's Rock" concerns a mad scientist who for inexplicable reasons wants to breed a new species of giant ants, one of whom almost has Simon for lunch. While one could easily imagine that this was a rip-off of the 1954 monster movie Them, this episode was actually based on a 1937 short story (ghosted for Charteris) entitled "The Man Who Loved Ants." In any case the episode, which takes place in Wales, is suitably creepy, as is the ugly giant ant that is let out at night to, presumably, get the lay of the land. I remember watching this decades ago with my parents and my mother, who had a bit of a crush on Moore but thought he was too pretty,  groaning, "Oh, I didn't know they did stories like this." Frankly, I always thought Moore, while basically masculine, was kind of asexual.

Verdict: Some good mysteries and adventure in this series, although it's not quite on the level of a true classic. **1/2. 


angelman66 said...

Can you believe I have never seen one of these? Gawd, but Sir Roger was jaw droppingly handsome!!
And similarly, have never seen an episode of Remington Steele, the series that spawned another long-running Bond.
To me, Roger was the sexiest Bond, followed by Pierce. To bastardize Carly, Nobody Did it Better...

William said...

Yes, Moore had his admirers, although I can't say he was ever my type. I'm familiar with Remington Steele with Brosnan but don't think I ever watched it. The Saint series was on Hulu for a time but I think it's been removed.