The Saint in New York (1938)

Approved   |    |  Crime, Drama, Mystery


The Saint in New York (1938) Poster

Simon Templar, the Saint, is brought to New York. His search for the identity of "the Big Fellow" takes him through many dangerous situations.


6.4/10
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13 February 2006 | bob the moo
A dark and enjoyable start to the Saint films with a really good presence in Hayward
With crime rife in New York due to gangs and a small group of men in particular, Inspector Fernack makes the decision to bring in Simon Templar aka "The Saint" to help. The Saint is known as someone able to bring down criminal organisations but has gained notoriety due to the criminal methods he uses to do so. Dispatching one of the men with a clinical kill very early on, Templar quickly uncovers the existence of a character known as the "Big Fellow" – clearly a top man behind the gangs. Moving steadily into more and more danger he tries to reach and remove the Big Fellow to cut the head off the snake.

I'm not sure why this film was apparently banned in Sweden on its release but I would hazard a guess that it had something to do with the marvellous anti-hero qualities that Templar is given in this film. The plot could have been straight out of any crime b-movie as it essentially involves bringing "justice" to New York by taking down a major crime syndicate; however in many other films from the 1930's the hero would have been a cop trying to get a conviction and, if he killed anyone it would have been by necessity rather than choice. However with this film we have a character who kills by choice and is as much a killer as he is a bringer of justice. This dark edge makes the film more interesting than the standard plot suggests it should be and I was quite taken in by it even if the quest for the "Big Fellow" wasn't really delivered with any tension or mystery (which was a bit of a shame, although it did enough to keep me guessing and watching).

The real feather in the cap is Louis Hayward who plays it with the perfect mix of the suave and the psychotic. He is convincing as a bit of a smooth character but, more importantly, he convinced me as a cold-blooded killer and I enjoyed the dark feel he brought to the film. Outside of his though the performances are either just OK or wooden but nothing better; they more or less do the job but I could help feel that Hayward deserved more than the very basic caricatures of cops and criminals.

Overall though this is a tough and enjoyable b-movie that features an enjoyably dark anti-hero. Later films in the series (well, the next one in fact) would quickly lose touch with this dark, cruel character and tone it down to be nonexistent but here it is in full effect and it makes a standard (if engaging) plot much better than it deserved to be.

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