In 2013, a trailer materialized on YouTube for what I’m guessing was a pilot for a planned reboot of The Saint. It’s not hard to see why hasn’t found a home. You’ve pretty much seen the entire series in the promo, and if even Roger Moore looks a bit embarrassed to be involved… Sadly, Adam Rayner’s Simon Templar is more H&M than Gieves & Hawkes. Taking the analogy further, it’s like when Abercrombie & Fitch moved onto Savile Row, or when they made that Saint film with Val Kilmer.
Fortunately for us, a masterclass in how it should be done came in the form of the RKO films with George Sanders. Made between 1938 and 1943, the films benefited from the input of Saint creator Leslie Charteris and the casting of Hollywood A-lister Sanders as Simon Templar. Suave Englishmen with an edge of danger were Sanders’ stock-in-trade. He also possessed a comic touch and combines these elements in a suitably tongue-in-cheek performance. The results are unashamed B-movies but with their charismatic lead, and tight plotting and dialogue courtesy of the original books or plot ideas from Charteris himself, they remain an enjoyable watch. Then, of course, there was that chap Moore- wonder what happened to him…?
According to IMDB, the reboot resumed production to shoot some footage to enable the production team to re-edit it into a TV movie, but it still hasn’t been optioned. Even if that attempt stays buried, The Saint can hopefully be revived. The renaissance of ‘genre fiction’ in the TV schedules (Sherlock, various Agatha Christie adaptations) means that there’s a market for Templar’s exploits. Source material wouldn’t be a problem either: Leslie Charteris was nothing if not prolific. It just needs someone with an eye for a story and their tongue firmly in their cheek to evoke the feel of the RKO films or the ITC series with a contemporary twist. Let’s leave the last word(s) to the original books…
The Saint will return!
The original version of this article was published on Cult Britannia in September 2014.