Sunday, 11 February 2018

Pan’s People:
The Saint Sees it Through
by Leslie Charteris


…and finally, our whistle-stop tour of Pan’s dawn-of-the-‘60s crime list brings us to ‘mad’ Manhattan in the company of ol’ Simon Templar.

As far as perennial series characters go, I must confess I’ve never really cared for The Saint. I mean, he’s just such a smug bastard, isn't he? I mean, I know that’s kind of the point of the character, but that doesn’t make it any easier for me to take an interest in his shenanigans. In fairness, perhaps Roger Moore is more to blame for my distaste than Leslie Charteris, but nonetheless.

I will however make an exception for the sake of the artwork for this particular edition, which is superb - so busy, so much colour... yet it works brilliantly.

Sadly however, I’m once again not coming up with much more online than “cover artist: unknown”.

Anyway, feast your eyes chums, because we’ll be back to movie reviews for a while from next week, likely as not.


Ian Smith said...

By a coincidence, I've just been reading a couple of the Saint novels. Some 2013 editions of them (published by Mulholland Books) turned up on a shelf in my local bookstore recently and I thought I'd give them a go.

I agree with your negative opinion of Templar. He does seem like an in-love-with-himself knobhead, while he saunters through the book dispensing hopefully-witty insults and being irritatingly flippant. No doubt Charteris intended him as a buccaneering, laughing-at-danger daredevil, but he just comes across the wrong way.

The character who has to put up with the most B.S. from Templar is the lugubrious policeman Inspector Claude Teal, who in the books is both his wary ally and his nemesis – Templar himself is regarded as a criminal and Teal would put the cuffs on him if he got the chance. When Templar taunted him in 'The Saint Meets His Match' by calling him “Claude Eustace old corpuscle” or asking, “Do you want a tip for the Two Thousand, or have you come to borrow money?”, I just wished Teal would turn around and arrest his annoying ass.

I know Roger Moore played him with a smug insouciance (which of course was also how he played James Bond later on), but I don’t remember being as irksome as the literary Saint.

Incidentally, I read somewhere that Vincent Price played the Saint on a radio show that ran from 1947 to 1951. Price, of course, was the villain in 1968's 'Witchfinder General' -- which also starred a young Ian Ogilvy, later to step into Simon Templar's shoes for 1978's 'Return of the Saint'. So Michael Reeves' grim account of English Civil War-era savagery / stupidity / gullibility is actually a bit of a Saint reunion. Who'd have thought it?

Ben said...

Thanks for your comment Ian - really interesting stuff.

I'm glad I'm not the only one to find the Templar character so dislikable. Funnily enough, Vincent Price is one of the few actors I can imagine might have been capable of making him seem charming, so it would be interesting to know how those radio shows played out...