George’s career as a screen detective, part one–The Saint: movie one “The Saint Strikes Back”

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The first Saint film in which George stars as Simon Templar, “The Saint”, was   “The Saint Strikes Back” released 10 March 1939. This film was preceded in June 1938 by “The Saint In New York” in which Louis Hayward played the Saint. Because the first Saint film was so successful RKO  purchased the film rights to The Saint series of books by Leslie Charteris . RKO wanted to have George play the lead role thus they purchased half his contract from 20th Century Fox . So for several years George was one of the few actors in Hollywood under contract to two different studios. At this time George was still a relative newcomer to Hollywood, continuing to climb the Hollywood ladder and the Saint series moved him up a few rungs more.

The script for “The Saint Strikes Back”, which was the first of two Saint movies George made in 1939, was based on Charteris’ 1931 novel  She Was A Lady, published in the U.S. as Angels of Doom. John Twist, who wrote the screenplay, set the movie in San Francisco (the book was set in England).  The movie starts at a New Year’s Eve party where, while dancing, Saint George sees an agent of Val Travers ( Wendy Barrie ) about to shoot someone. Saint George  “pots” (apparently an English slang term for “shoots”)  the agent just as the clock strikes midnight and the lights go out.  Some people at the nightclub recognize Saint George and the San Francisco police  contact the New York City police and request the assistance of Inspector Henry Fernack ( Jonathan Hale )who is the only person who knows Saint George very well.  Saint George travels to New York City, however, before Fernack leaves and accompanies him to San Francisco.

Well, back to” who is Val Travers?”.  Val’s father had been a police inspector with the San Francisco police and had been making it difficult for the mysterious villain “Waldeman” to perpetrate his crimes in the city. Waldeman had planted a large sum on money in Travers’ safe deposit box and when it was discovered Travers was fired on suspicion that he was working for Waldeman. Travers consequently committed suicide and his daughter is working to clear his name by any means possible.   Saint George rallys to her cause, but she is suspicious of his motives and is hostile to his interference.  Unbeknownst to everyone, except the police commissioner, Saint George is working undercover for the San Francisco police.
Many complications ensue.
Of course Saint George identifies Waldeman and exonerates Travers father. Naturally, Val has fallen for Saint George, but he leaves her with only her pleasant memories.
There are two movie clips from the movie at Turner Classic Movies which you may find very entertaining.

In my next post I will be discussing George’s delightful portrayal of the Saint in the 1939 movie  “The Saint In London” which is actually filmed in London.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tori Smith
    Apr 24, 2016 @ 22:50:48

    I Seriously Love George Sanders I Fell Deeply In Love With Him When I First Lay Eyes On Him In Rebecca (1940) I Have Over 283 Pictures Of Him On My Cell Phone And I’m Still Working On More.


    • Judy Robinson
      Apr 25, 2016 @ 19:52:48

      I am mad for the oh so handsome Mr. Sanders myself! I have a huge collection of his photos, movie posters, lobby cards framed and hung on my walls. I first fell in love with him in The Saint movies. What a man!😍💜💝💘


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