21 April 2007 | rosian
Enjoyable long Saint episode
The Saint has been one of my favourite fiction characters right since my early teens when I first discovered the books and started collecting them. Vendetta was one of the last I bought before I lost patience with the samey and all too often rather uninspired latest books. Vendetta was definitely superior to any that had appeared for a good many years.
This 2-part TV adaptation is one of the best TV episodes and it was good to see it again recently. Of the various actor incarnations of the Saint, Roger Moore is by a long way the best I've seen - not perfect but that is mainly because of the generally anodyne TV scripts which ignored the darker side of the Saint's original ethos and ruthless lawlessness and made him into a thoroughly nice guy who went around helping people rather than seeking out adventure. Admittedly the later books were in themselves rather anodyne, notably those that followed the Saint's departure for ever from England to take up residence (more or less) in the USA at the start of WW2 - something for which I never forgave the writer since I felt this great English hero should have been here helping to save England, not pootling around in the US chasing the odd Nazi at the behest of the CIA or FBI or whoever it was employed him at that period.
I've no doubt incidentally that Moore could have played the original, sharper and more dynamic (also more moralising!) early Saint, given the opportunity but none of the Saint episodes I've seen, which is most of them, ever came near the standard of the early books.
I would like to see a Saint movie based on those early Saint books - there are some splendid early adventures. Vendetta harked back somewhat to those early days in that it was much better than any other Saint book since the pre-WW2 stories. I'd also mention that I've never seen any screen version of a Saint story that came close to the Charteris original and I have to ignore the Val Kilmer effort which was totally bizarre and nothing remotely like Charteris's Saint - it beats me how the director could get it so completely and mind-bendingly wrong when the books are there for the checking. Charteris was a master story teller.
In Vendetta, the Saint is in Sicily and gets involved with the inevitable pretty girl in trouble from a family both linked with and in difficulties with the Mafia, and you can guess at some of the things that would happen to him - I won't give the plot away any further. On the whole the filming is fine although there is an excessively extended chase sequence - which gives you plenty of scenery to look at but my impression was this was filling time to ensure the story would fill two TV periods adequately. Other than this, the pacing is fine and Moore as always give a sterling performance - entertaining, humorous as well as tough and when necessary ruthless.
(No matter what movie Moore may be in and some haven't been brilliant, I've always found his own performance will be excellent, a supremely professional actor.)