Leslie Charteris’ created Simon Templar, also know as the Saint in the 1928 Novel Meet the Tiger. The Saint was originally a thief who robbed “the ungodly” (usually criminals or other lowlifes) to enrich himself or might occasionally capture a criminal for the same purpose. The character moved and acted with charm and style and grew to be considered “The Robin Hood of modern crime.”
The character hit the silver screen with The Saint in New York starring Louis Heyward. George Sanders took over the role in 1939 and in five films made the Saint his own as a dashing witty, and formidable force against the ungodly becoming far more of a detective than the original character. This was carried on for two more films (with slightly less success by Hugh Sinclair). The next Saint film wouldn’t be made until the 1953 with Louis Heyward reprising the role in The Saint’s Girl Friday.
The Saint came to radio in 1940 with a six week run in Ireland over Radio Athlone. In 1945, the Saint came to radio in two separate series’. In January, NBC introduced a thirteen week series starring Edgar Barrier. In June, CBS produced a thirteen week series starring Brian Aherne. However, it was in 1947 that local CBS affiliate KNX introduced the most memorable radio Saint as Vincent Price took over the role and would play it, not only over KNX but also over Mutual, and NBC with Tom Conway (brother of George Sanders) taking over the role for the Summer of 1951.
The Saint would also be a big success on television with a pre-James Bond Roger Moore playing the character in a British ITV series that ran for six seasons in 1960s. In addition, there were other less successful Saint series, including Ian Olgilvy in the 1978-79 series Return of the Saint and a series of TV movies in 1989 starring Simon Dutton.
Beyond this, there was a BBC Radio 4 series in 1996, an awful movie starring Val Kilmer in 1997, and in 2013, there was a failed TV pilot for the Saint.
The character’s history in print (including newspaper strips and comic books) is a testimony to how durable Leslie Charteris’ idea is. The Saint is a fascinating and roguish character who is at his best when his audience fully believes that despite everything else, he’s on the side of the angels.
Originally posted 2018-01-09 04:54:17.