George’s career as a screen detective, part 5, “The Saint In Palm Springs”

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At long last here is the promised post to complete the discussion of Glamorous George as The Saint.

RKO released “The Saint in Palm Springs” in early 1941. Comely George had just begun to  have his hair cut shorter and with a part on the right.  It is SO short you can barely see his pretty curls! 😦  I believe this is the first movie Lovely George filmed after he introduced the “new look” of his hair because in the other films released in 1941 his hair was slightly longer. Check out  Rage in Heaven,   Man Hunt,   Sundown,  and  The Gay Falcon  and you will see.  In Palm Springs if you look closely at Dazzling George (and who wouldn’t 😀 ) in some scenes you can see his cute little cowlick.

I was curious to see if Palm Springs really was the first Handsome George film released in 1941 so I checked the release dates  for all the 1941 films and I AM correct.  Palm Springs , which was filmed from 1 October 1940 to 11 November  1940, was released on 24 January  1941,  Rage on 7  March 1941, Man Hunt on 13 June 1941, Gay Falcon on 24 October 1941, and Sundown on 31 October 1941.

In addition to the plot synopsis on the IMDb, to which I referred you  in the link above,  there is a very nice overview presented on the Turner Classic Movies database.  Also, TCM has an article about Saint George and Palm Springs, presumably because the movie will be airing on TCM in December.  Charteris described The Saint as being  “imperturbable, debonair [and] preposterously handsome”. Certainly Stunningly Handsome George was made for the part because this description fits him perfectly–particularly the preposterously handsome part!

Wendy Barrie appears again as Alluring George’s love interest  in this her third Saint movie.  Lucky girl!!  However, poor Wendy does not get a kiss in this movie but  watch for the scene in which Seductive George, after he and Wendy  have dinner, woos her on the patio.  It is a yummy scene.  See if you don’t agree with me.

We only see Inspector Fernack  (Jonathan Hale)  briefly at the beginning of the film when he explains to George how he needs The Saint’s help.(note that Fernack seems to have grown some new hair–no wait, he is wearing a hairpiece 🙂 )  It seems that Fernack’s old war buddy, Chris Johnson, from WWI, who had saved Fernack’s life, now needs Fernack’s assistance.   Chris had used his personal fortune to purchase three very rare Guiana penny stamps and had his brother, Peter, smuggle them out of the country to bring to the United States and deliver to Chris’ daughter, Elna (played by Wendy),  in California.  Two attempts had been made on Peter’s life since his arrival in the US and Fernack wants The Saint to escort the Peter and the stamps to California to give to  Elna.  Saint George is reluctant until Fernack tells him about the murder attempts.  Intrigued by the adventurous aspects of the situation, and smelling a whiff of danger, Intrepid George agrees to undertake the mission.

Good-Looking George arrives at Peter’s hotel room.  After some discussion Peter goes to the bedroom safe to retrieve the stamps, leaving Pulchritudinous George sitting on the sofa in the living room.  While getting the stamps Peter is shot to death and the villian enters through the window to be met by Corageous George. They engage in fisticuffs but the villian escapes.  Fernack is called in and Fearless George leaves to deliver the  stamps to Elna in Palm Springs.

In the scenes setting up the plot we get to see Dapper George in his new, white trench coat, in which he looks darling.  I know it is new because  I take careful note of coats that Fashionable George wears and this is the earliest movie in which he wears this particular coat.  You also can tell that it is new because in the scene with Peter at the hotel George has a little difficulty removing the coat because it is somewhat tight, as new coats tend to be.   We see this coat again in later movies such as Rage In Heaven Appointment In Berlin ,  and Lured.

Paul Guilfoyle   makes his second appearance as Pearly Gates.  This time Pearly is the house detective at the Palm Springs hotel where George and Margaret Forbes, whose acquaintance Charming George cultivated on the train trip to Palm Springs– well,  you know George’s fondness for lovely women– are staying.  Margaret Forbes ( Linda Hayes) is actually an agent from the country from which the stamps were smuggled and is intent on getting them from Gorgeous George.  The murderer of Peter is  staying at the hotel with his gang and is also seeking the stamps.   I won’t go into further details about the plot but will simply say that the stamps are stolen from George but, of course, he recovers them and delivers them to Elna, whose heart has been stolen by Enticing George.   Naturally, she is left watching sadly as Sexy George rides out of her life.

Palm Springs is a fun movie to watch.  It is such a pleasure to see George having a good time, riding a bike, riding a horse, and playing tennis.  George  soundly trounces  Wendy on the tennis court, and SHE is a tennis teacher.  Well, she was probably so mesmerized by Sinfully Handsome George that she was unable to watch the correct ball.  🙂  I sure would have been!  George is gorgeous in his tennis outfit with that nice white t-shirt that shows clearly what glorious shoulders George has!  And Statuesque George’s  legs are so long that he just steps over the tennis net. What a Man!

Well, enough about The Saint.  I wll be writing some posts about The Falcon series soon, but first I have some thoughts for two other, possibly shorter, posts.  The restored version of  Journey to Italy  will be shown at the National Gallery of Art Theatre  here in Washington on Saturday, October 13 and Sunday, October 14.  Naturally I will be going to both showings.  The movie was restored by  L’Immagine ritrovata, Bologna  , in collaboration with CSC—Cineteca Nazionale, Rome .  I am hoping the restored version will be released on dvd in the near future.  I have sent an email to a press officer at CSC—Cineteca Nazionale, Rome  asking if they plan to do so.

Also I have found out that Journey  was shown at the Cannes Film Festival   last May.

Anyway, all this has inspired me to write a post discussing this movie and the first movie George made with Ingrid, Rage In Heaven , in 1941.  The second post will be one about the movies featuring European George with the buzz cut.

 

George’s career as a screen detective, part 4 “The Saint Takes Over”

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The Saint Takes Over  is the second Saint movie Most Handsome George filmed in 1940.  In this movie Simon Templar, played of course by Gorgeous George Sanders , known to the police of two continents as The Saint , is returning to New York from London when he discovers that his old friend and sometimes foe, Inspector Fernack ( Jonathan Hale ), a detective on the New York police force, is in trouble.  Fernack is unable to explain the presence of fifty thousand dollars in his safe. He had just arrested a character known as Rocky Weldon on charges of race fixing, but the case had blown up when the chief witness  for the state, Johnnie Summers, had been killed.  It now appears that someone had bribed Fernack to try to convict Rocky.  Astute Saint George (no dummy he) realizes at once that Fernack is being framed.  The Saint had become interested in a pretty girl (naturally) named Ruth ( Wendy Barrie ) on the ship from London.  When the ship docks, two thugs try to kidnap her.   Able-bodied Saint George prevents this, but Ruth disappears during the scuffle.

Fernack has been framed by a combination of crooks headed by Big Ben Egan ( Pierre Watkin). Others in the gang are Rocky Weldon (Roland Drew ), Max Bremer ( Cyrus W. Kendall), Sam Reese (Morgan Conway),  and Leo Sloan ( Robert Emmett Keane).  Egan collects ninty thousand dollars from the gang members to cover the cost of framing Fernack and protecting Weldon, which he then places in his safe.

That night, Rocky sends his stooge, Pearly Gates ( Paul Guilfoyle (who also is with George in “The Saint In Palm Springs)), to rob Egan’s safe. Pearly is surprised by Egan who sends him back to Rocky with instructions for Rocky to come to Egan’s. When stealthy Saint George breaks into the house a little later he finds Egan killed. Fernack comes in a second later.  Observant Saint George finds a hidden camera rigged up near the safe and when he and Fernack develop the exposed film it shows Pearly in the act of opening the safe.  With this evidence they force Pearly to help them in their efforts to clear Fernack.

Rocky is killed before Good-Looking Saint George can question him.  With Pearly’s  assistance, Saint George and Fernack then kidnap Sloan, but the unknown assailant kills Sloan while he is being held in Fernack’s  basement.  Suave Saint George meets with Ruth and from her takes the gun with which she has killed Egan, Sloan, and Rocky.  Savvy Saint George finds, as he expected (not being born yesterday), that Ruth’s name is Summers, and that she is avenging the murder of her brother, Johnnie Summers, by Egan’s gang.  She agrees to let Saint George try to convict the rest of the gang.

However, the police arrest Fernack who had been left with Sloan’s corpse.  Agile Saint George  wrests a gun from one of the officers and escapes. Pearly and Crafty Saint George then fool Reese and Bremer into confessing that they killed Johnnie Summers and framed Fernack.  A radio tuned to the police wave-length and hidden by Shrewd Saint George picks up their speech and the police locate the source.  When the police close in on the gang, Bremer escapes but is killed by Ruth. In the process Bremer shoots Ruth who then dies in Saint George’sarms. He is devastated.  Fernack is cleared and, as he is wont to do, Eye-Candy Saint George quietly disappears again.

In my next post I will be talking about  classy George’s last Saint movie “The Saint in Palm Springs” (1941)

George’s career as a screen detective, part 3, “The Saint’s Double Trouble”

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The first Saint film that George made in 1940,“The Saint’s Double Trouble” , was filmed from November to late December 1939 and released on 26 January 1940.   I love all of George’s Saint films but I think this is my favorite for two reasons: (1) George plays a dual role so he is on the screen almost all the time (which is a visual delight), and (2) in my opinion George is his most handsome self in late 1939 and 1940.  The movie is also intriguing because  Bela Lugosi has a role and it is not as Dracula!  Interestingly, in 1947 George  made a non-Saint film “Lured”  in which another movie monster actor, Boris Karloff, aka Frankenstein, was featured.

“The Saint’s Double Trouble” is the first Saint film which wasn’t based directly on one of Leslie Charteris’ novels. However, Charteris did contribute to the developing of the story for the film. The second Saint film which George made in 1940, “The Saint Takes Over” (which I will discuss in my next post), was also not based on one of the novels.  In this film Saint George, master criminal turned crime-fighter, also plays the role of his doppelganger, Duke Bates, who has smuggled some diamonds into the U.S.  One of members of Bates’ “gang” , “”The Partner”,  played by Lugosi had cleverly concealed the diamonds in a mummy encased in a coffin. The mummy was sent to Professor Bitts who was a sort of mentor of Saint George’s when George was in college and to whom Saint George had promised to send the best specimen of a mummy he could find.  A note in the coffin tells Professor Bitts that the mummy comes from Saint George who is making good on his promise.  Consequently when the smuggled diamonds are discovered and several murders are perpetrated Saint George is blamed.  Saint George has his hands full proving his own innocence and getting the diamonds back.  Of course, he does accomplish this task beautifully and also regains the love of Professor Bitt’s daughter. You will see another familiar cast member of The Saint series in the film since Inspector Fernack (Jonathan Hale) is on vacation and visiting the Police Department in Philadelphis where the story is set.  You can find a more detailed overview of the plot at Turner Classic Movies.

Sorry not to have added “live links” to this post, but I wanted to publish it before I go on holiday tomorrow.   I wish George were here to enjoy the holidays with his dedicated fans.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah,  Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year to all you George fans!

George’s career as a screen detective, part two–“The Saint In London”

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In “The Saint” movies George plays Simon Templar , known as “The Saint”.  Rumor has it that he got this nickname because, althought he acts primarily outside the law, his efforts often help the police.  Another rumor is that he got the nickname because of his initials “ST”.

 The second “Saint”  movie that George filmed, “The Saint In London” was released in the U.S. on 30 June 1939, just a few days before George’s thirty-third birthday on July 3.  George had  recently finished filming Confessions of a Nazi Spy  ( George filmed eight movies in 1939 and I am constantly amazed at his versatility as an actor) during which his hair had been cut very short, a sort of crew-cut, and bleached for his portrayal of a Nazi officer. Because of this he was forced to wear a hairpiece while filming  “The Saint In London”. If you look closely you will see that the hairline of the hairpiece is staight across whereas George’s real hairline grows a little further down on the left side of his forehead.   A rare little treat that one gets in this movie is to see George changing shirts. He is lovely!  Another little aside, Saint George is a scotch and water drinker, but in this movie he has a dry martini. When I watch this movie I drink a dry martini with him. In reality vodka was George’s drink of choice.

Lynn Root and Frank Fenton wrote the screenplay for “The Saint In London” based on Leslie Charteris’ short story, “The Million Pound Day”, which was published in the 1932 collection The Holy Terror , also known as The Saint vs. Scotland Yard.  In an unusual move for filming a lower-budget movie RKO filmed “The Saint In London” on location in England, using a largely British cast.

 Here is a brief synopsis of the plot. In the movie  Saint George, newly back in London, is tipped by a friend in the Secret Service to a mystery involving one Bruno Lang , seemingly a Society card-sharp, but really involved in a plot to print and pass a million pounds worth of foreign currency. Also involved are various sinister characters; an innocent murder victim Count Duni; the Saint’s attractive admirer Penny Parker (Sally Gray ); and his old nemesis Scotland Yard Inspector Teal (Gordon Mcleod).  Sally helps Saint George in foiling the villians and attempts to seduce him, but Saint George  is too much of a gentlemen and eludes her traps.  There is a longer more detailed overview at the website for Turner Classic Movies .

 Also, this last June in order to  publicize the release of George’s five Saint films, WarnerArchive posted a YouTube video of a clip from the movie. Happily for us,  they selected a clip which gives a brief glimpse of George changing shirts so take a look while it is still posted and enjoy yourself!

Sorry, I only had two photos from “The Saint In London” (wonder how that happened?) to put in the slide show so I supplemented with some other charming photos from my collection. Hope you enjoy them!

My next post will be about George’s third, and probably my favorite, Saint movie: “The Saint’s Double Trouble” . In this movie George gets to play two roles so he is on screen twice as much. Yummy!

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.