SAINT IN LONDON, THE (director: John Paddy Carstairs; screenwriters: story The Million Pound Day by Leslie Charteris/Lynn Root/Frank Fenton; cinematographer: Claude Friese-Greene; editor: Douglas Robertson; music: Marr Mackie; cast: George Sanders (Simon Templar), Sally Gray (Penny Parker), David Burns (Dugan), Gordon McLeod (Inspector Claud Teal), Henry Oscar (Bruno Lang), Ralph Truman (Kusella), Carl Jaffe (Stengler), Athene Seyler (Mrs. Buckley), John Abbott (Count Stephen Duni), Nora Howard (Mrs. Brighton), Ballard Berkeley (Blake), Norah Howard (Mrs. Edith Morgan), Charles Carson (John Morgan, Penny’s Uncle), Charles Paton (Tobacco Shop Proprietor), Hugh McDermott (Chauffeur); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Sistrom; Turner Classic Movies; 1939)
“The enjoyment comes from Sanders showing off his smarts and charm.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A passable Saint programer from RKO, filmed on location in London. It was the suave George Sanders’ second time playing the Saint; he would end up playing it five times, more than anyone else. The first Saint was the dashing Louis Hayward, featured in the 1938 The Saint in New York, who because of work schedules couldn’t stay with the series. It’s based on the story The Million Pound Day by Leslie Charteris; the writers are Lynn Root and Frank Fenton, while John Paddy Carstairs (“Lassie from Lancashire”) ably directs in a workmanlike manner.
M15 intelligence officer Blake (Ballard Berkeley) asks Simon Templar (George Sanders), The Saint, to help him on the quiet to satisfy his suspicions that foreigner Bruno Lang (Henry Oscar) is involved in espionage and counterfeiting. The debonair Simon attends a dinner party given by the aristocrats Edith and John Morgan (Norah Howard & Charles Carson), where Lang is also invited. Edith’s pretty but daffy single niece Penny Parker (Sally Gray) is attracted to Simon, but he’s preoccupied with trailing Bruno when he leaves the party. The Saint sneaks into Lang’s house and steals from his safe a valuable document. Penny, seeking adventure, followed The Saint and on a dark country road the two are riding together when they rescue a beaten man Count Stephen Duni (John Abbott) who escaped his kidnappers and tells a tale of being tortured and forced to print £1,000,000 worth of counterfeit bills. Simon gets him medical treatment and hides him out in a hotel run by his friend Mrs. Buckley (Athene Seyler). Things get more involved when Penny follows on her own the Count’s kidnapper Kussella (Ralph Truman) and being an amateur sleuth gets kidnapped by Kussella’s gang in a tobacco shop. Kussella then offers to trade Penny for the Count. But Simon’s new American ex-con valet Dugan (David Burns), who wants to go straight, finds a way to rescue Penny before the swap. Meanwhile Scotland Yard Inspector Claud Teal (Gordon McLeod), affected with a thick Scottish accent and who is henpecked, suspects Simon of something but still doesn’t arrest him after he discovers the Count was slain in the hotel room that Simon brought him to. Also working with Lang is embassy official Stengler (Carl Jaffe), who gets panicky when The Saint pays him a call disguised as Inspector Teal.
There’s no mystery to solve, instead the lightweight escapist film builds to how Simon will collar the espionage gang with help from Dugan and Penny. The enjoyment comes from Sanders showing off his smarts and charm.
REVIEWED ON 1/1/2007 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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