Questions don’t come more pressing for a 10 year old….well this 10 year old….circa 1975….Connery or Moore?….60s Bond or 70s Bond? Much heartsearching ensued with a result….hard, lean, stylish knocking into a cocked hat effete, detached debonaire…..Sean-1, Roger-0…a very close second for my first television hero….a hero as quintessentially English as JB……The Saint.
Even now, I can recall my introduction to this suave sophisto, an introduction repeated to thrilling effect at the start of every episode. Panoramic shot of a city (or holiday resort or rural idyll….you get the picture)….the location signposted across the screen (London, Italy, Paris, Scotland..you get the picture)….few more stock shots of place before a cut to a scene in a laid back cocktail lounge (swanky hotel lobby, groovy discoteque, plush restaurant…you get the picture) and usually our hero’s velvet voice espousing to the viewer the locale’s eccentricities and benefits…bit of action followed by rescued beautiful woman (bemused onlooker, shady character….you got the picture) announcing to anyone, especially you, the viewer that the bespoke cat over yonder is none other than the ‘famous Simon Templar’…or he may do the honours….’my name’s Templar, Simon Templar’…..a 7 note refrain…he looks skyward….white halo appears and bang…pure opening credit heaven….stickman motif, sillouhettes of fisticuffs and embraced ladies…bit of op art imagery and Edwin Astley’s magnificent, unforgettable score….dynamite!
Viewing this new collection of mid to late period episodes, all in glorious colour has reaffirmed my respect for ITC’s most successful series. They really do come across somewhat as travelogues and our man with his neatly ironed urbanity and freshly starched charm is every bit the Alan Whicker of playboy crime fighting gents. This ain’t a bad thing and the fun gets really started when spotting a whole slew of British stalwart actors twisting their vowels unconvincingly to achieve some exotic accents.
Unconvincing plots abound….in fact, when compared and contrasted to the tougher and meaner more socially pertinent early 60s black and white series it becomes all too apparent that plot development flew south in favour of far fetched but funnier story lines….austere economic monochrome realism giving way to swinging technicoloured gaiety….but it is FUN.
In these episodes there are buckets of the stuff with something around every bend for the connoisseur of 60s ephemera….his gleaming white Volvo 1800 sports car (I had to settle for the toy version)….glamorous, good looking ladies in good looking fashions and nice clean outside shots of 1960s Europe.
And there’s as many extras as any fan could wish for – a new documentary about the show, movie and episode trailers, episode commentaries from the cast and production team, three booklets including episodes guides, original PR for the movies and an exclusive of the Leslie Charteris short story The Saint and the Uncritical Publisher (previously seen in the UK), The Saint at the Wheel (all about the cars), around 40 minutes of Edwin Astley’s incidental music for the series set to extensive image galleries, behind the scenes stills and much more.
The quality of this collection is of a very high standard and coming as it does with the rarely shown feature films (and weighing in at a very reasonable quid), I highly recommend you purchase this 60s gem.
Review by Mark Ellis
The Saint – Complete Colour Series Box Set
Catalogue number: 7952473
Released: April 2006
- Exclusive documentary
- Movie versions of Vendetta for the Saint and The Fiction Makers and their respective trailers
- Trailers for all of the colour episodes
- Actor and production team’s commentary
- Three booklets
- The Saint at the Wheel
- Edwin Astley’s incidental music
- Image galleries
- Foreign titles
- Ad bumpers
- Textless material