Written by: Leslie Charteris
Directed by: Robert S. Baker
Starring: Roger Moore and Ivor Dean
- Original broadcast trailers
- Roger Moore biography/filmography
- The History of THE SAINT
- Production still galleries
- 7 episodes on each 2-disc set
Released by: A&E Home Video
My Advice: Own ’em. And the rest of the sets, too.
[ad#longpost]Leslie Charteris’ famous character of Simon Templar, The Saint, has been chronicled in nearly 100 books, 12 films, 150 television episodes in three different series, 199 radio broadcast episodes, a 23-year stint as a comic strip, and a 20-year stint as a monthly comic book from a Scandinavian publisher. Nineteen different actors have taken on the halo over the years, including George Sanders, Vincent Price, Paul Rhys, Val Kilmer, and the “definitive” Simon Templar: Roger Moore. Roger Moore’s turn as the rakish modern-day Robin Hood ran for 118 episodes between 1962 and 1968. Easily the longest continuous run as Simon Templar (only Vincent Price comes close, with nearly 100 radio epsiodes), Moore is most often considered the high-water mark for juding portrayals of Charteris’ Saint.
In these two sets from A&E, you get fourten episodes from the later part of The Saint. The decision was made with the boxed sets to present only the episodes made after the television production switched to color filming. The stories range widely from solving murders, petty thefts, strange disappearances, museum heists, and simply staying alive, as Simon Templar has no shortage of enemies. Among the episodes presented here, standouts are “The Gadic Collection,” “The Time to Die,” “The Fiction Makers (Parts 1 & 2),” and “The Desperate Diplomat.” The only really weak story among the collection is “The House on Dragon’s Rock,” which owes more to the “B”-movie radioactive monster genre than it does to most of The Saint.
Production values on the shows are quite high, and the variety of exotic locales depicted are reminiscent of classic Bond flicks–no accident, as Bond came after Templar had been on the air for a while. In fact, the role of Ian Fleming‘s famous secret agent was originally offered to Moore, but Moore turned the role down to continue in The Saint, and the role was given to Sean Connery. No sooner had The Saint filmed its final episode than the role was offered to Moore again, and the rest is history. Watching this series, it’s easy to see how much his time as Simon Templar informed Moore’s later portrayal of James Bond, and why the task of playing a suave, debonair playboy that helped those in need came so easily to him as Bond.
The DVDs are pretty solid presentations, with excellent picture and sound (especially given the age of the originals). Features are a little thin, especially given how extensive the material available on The Saint is. Some additional information in the history of the character as presented would have been nice. As it stands, it’s a very thin overview of one of the most-often produced literary character in television, film, or radio history. Some information on Charteris himself would have been nice, as his bio is pretty interesting stuff.
But despite the relatively anemic extras, the DVDs are an absolute necessity for anybody that enjoys action thrillers or mysteries. The Saint is equal parts Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, and captures the best of both those genres. Having seen it, the impact of Moore’s portrayal and the show’s popularity can be discerned in everything from The Equalizer to The A-Team. It’s a great show, and landmark television. Any serious collector of classic television can’t live without this one, and if you’ve enjoyed Moore’s portrayals of James Bond, you really should do yourself the favor of seeing the prototype in The Saint.