The Saint Strikes Back (1939)

Passed   |    |  Crime, Drama, Mystery

The Saint Strikes Back (1939) Poster

Simon Templar, the Saint, travels to San Francisco to solve crime mysteries within the police department.


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13 February 2006 | bob the moo
A nice entry in the series but already the tough edge of the original is softened
When Simon Templar (aka The Saint) helps self-styled crime boss and daughter of a disgraced cop Val Travers to get away from a nightclub after they were both involved in a shooting. The police connect Templar to the shooting and call in Inspector Fernack from New York to bring him in. Meanwhile Templar gets on the wrong side of Travers and earns her vengeance while also trying to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding her father's fall from grace at the hands of an internal investigation.

Following on from the hard edge and anti-hero approach of The Saint when he was in New York, this film cannot help but feel like much more of a sedentary affair with a more liberal approach perhaps befitting the San Francisco setting. That said the film still has a nice feel to it that makes it just a shade better than the b-movie series generally achieved from this point onwards. Much of the credit should probably lie with Farrow's direction because he does give it quite a professional and gritty atmosphere. The story is quite good although not anywhere near as engaging as it should have been and I must admit that at times I drifted away as it lacked a consistent hook to keep me watching.

Coming in to replace Hayward, Sanders was never really going to do it for me as I already knew him to be all about the smoothness and the suaveness and it didn't surprised me when his criminal edge was played down to almost nothing and he turned in the sort of performance that made him vastly inferior to the original Saint (in my mind anyway). Support is pretty good from Val Travers – not quite a femme fatale perhaps but certainly a tough woman when required. Hale is OK while people like Elliot, Fitzgerald etc all fill in around the edges.

Overall a well-directed film that is a reasonable stab at continuing the series but, for reasons that are perhaps obvious, scaling down the mean edge the original had. Problem is that I liked this about the original film and found this film lacking teeth for being smooth without the savage. Sanders is a nice lead but he cannot lift the material and the end result is a standard b-movie that will please fans of The Saint and The Falcon.

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