Monday, November 12, 2012

Becoming a big fan of George Sanders as The Saint

By Doug Gibson

Blog note: We've been axed, banned, or whatever it's called from The Monster Kid Classic Horror Movie Forum, it has all the words. It came as a surprise. Years ago I was advised by friends to add our blog posts to the Forum, and so I usually have. When we started updating our posts more this fall we of course noted those on the Monster film forum. And then a couple of days ago, boom, we're banned.

To be fair, I had some email notice but I never checked administartor email (who does?). I went to the forum to post and surf the many interesting subjects and posts. (It is an amazing site). Apparently, the Forum-meister regarded me as a spammer. While I find that mildly insulting, it's his site and I have replied with an apology and a promise to not include any more of my blog posts on his site. I would like to be reinstated, just to continue reading the interesting information, but we'll see.

It's trimmed our hits by half, which is a downer, but since this site is a labor of love and we've made no money in several years, blog participation is not a huge deal. (Perhaps if I promise to donate $100 from Google Ads to the Monster Forum people when I reach that minmum payout (I think I'm at $40-something now so it'll be a long wait) ... the Monster forum folks will allow me back on. ...

With the family, watched The Saint Strikes Back, George Sanders' first foray as Simon Templar for RKO's series of the rogue sleuth created by Leslie Charteris. That makes three Sanders' Saint films I've seen so far (The Saint's Double Trouble and The Saint in London being the others) and I am a huge fan of Sanders in the series. Simon Templar is one of the great personifications. In "... Strikes Back," the Saint is in San Francisco to both thwart a criminal mastermind, solve a murder and restore the reputation of a late, disgraced policeman whose daughter, played by Wendy Barrie (who was in other Saint films), wants Simon dead. The whole shebang centers around the search for a master criminal named Walderman.

Jonathan Hale is back as Templar's fan/nemesis, Inspector Henry Fernack, who kind of reminds me of Inspector Japp to Hercule Poiriot. It's a joy to watch Simon's roguish affection to this good man. Of course, Sanders's careless flirting and banter with Barrie's Val Travers is a hoot. Barry Fitzgerald's Irish charm and brogue is put to good use and playing a courtly roles as a criminologist is Jerome Cowan, who played the guy who prosecuted Kris Kringle in "Miracle on 34th Street."

There are many great scenes, and an appropriate complicated ending where everything is tied up rather neatly, but my favorite scene may be Sanders's Templar, charming an Irish cop with his perfect faux Irish accent. It occurs early in the film, after an opening murder, where Templar successfully gets Val Travers away from inquisitive police. Next week, on TCM at 10, Saturday, Nov. 17, will be "The Saint in London."

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