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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006.



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30.04.2013

The Saint goes on

I belatedly came across the YouTube preview of The Saint, a reimagining of the Leslie Charteris character, which was shopped at Cannes this month. It had been posted by Ian Dickerson, who at my last contact was the honorary secretary of the Saint Club. (A quick glance at the website reveals he still is.)
   I’m in the pro camp on this one. It’s a mistake to compare this too closely to the RKO movies with George Sanders, or the famous TV series with Roger Moore—it’s only right that the character has been reinvented for a modern audience. I’m a little less convinced by the back-story (who killed Simon Templar’s parents?), but TV networks seem to like these story arcs. I was a big fan of Return of the Saint, starring Ian Ogilvy, and saw as many Saint episodes as I could thereafter. New Zealand missed out on the Simon Dutton series of TV movies (I only ever saw one of the four on YouTube), though we did have the one-off pilot starring Australian actor Andrew Clarke airing here in 1990; and, of course, I saw the Val Kilmer big-screen adaptation as well.
   Adam Rayner almost looks the part of how Charteris described Simon Templar, and is athletic enough for the role. I hope they let his version of the Saint be a bit of tough bastard sometimes: the literary Templar wasn’t afraid of breaking a few bones when it came to unsavoury villains, even if that might upset the Moore fans. It’s great to see the return of the Patricia Holm character, whom Charteris regularly had in the books. The last time she had appeared on screen was 1943; this time, it’s Eliza Dushku playing her. It’s a good move, in my opinion, since Dushku has her fans, and they’ll probably want to see her in a new series kicking arse.
   We also see Insp John Fernack return—the last time he was on screen was in the Clarke version. They may have made him LAPD rather than NYPD, but that’s Hollywood.
   While I know Kilmer’s portrayal of Simon Templar was not well received—leading some to feel that maybe the new Saint should be closer to the way Moore played him—I didn’t really mind. Perhaps it was a tad too early for a Hollywoodized Saint, but director Phillip Noyce had the disguise aspect right. Templar delighted in them, if my memory of the books serves me correctly, but because we never saw it with Moore, and Ogilvy adopted one of the Charteris aliases only once in his 24 episodes, people tended to forget this aspect of the character. I was more let down by the sugar-sweet and badly edited ending—I understand another version was originally filmed which ended on a tragic note—but since this was pre-Batman Begins, 1990s audiences didn’t want to see that. It’s a shame, because a follow-up with Simon Templar out for revenge might have been an interesting proposition.
   However, there is an English actor playing Templar this time, which should at least silence those who felt an American should never have taken the role in the 1990s. There is a small group of us proud of our Chinese heritage and note that Leslie Charteris was born Leslie Bowyer-Yin, and that the Yin part is (Singaporean) Chinese, so surely his alter ego should reflect a bit of this heritage, too? A minor point in a globalized world.
   If there is one aspect I would like to see retained from the books, it’s the notion that one person—or in this case, two people—can go up against the establishment, and win. A lot of the Charteris villains were dishonest types who fooled the majority of society into thinking they were respectable. But sometimes when you’re right, you’re right—and it doesn’t matter which part of society you’ve come from.
   I know, I’m judging this positively before I have seen the pilot, but I reckon giving it a chance is better than rubbishing it, as a few have around the internet. Sir Roger Moore has a cameo; as does Ian Ogilvy, who seems to be playing a villain this time. As with the Kilmer outing, the trailer seems to use an updated version of the Edwin Astley theme, rather than the familiar eight notes from Charteris. Sir Roger and has son Geoffrey served as co-producers, Jesse Alexander (Lost) scripted the pilot, while James Remar, Enrique Murciano (as Insp Fernack), Thomas Kretschmann, and Greg Grunberg round off the principal cast.

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Filed under: business, culture, interests, New Zealand, TV, UK, USA—Jack Yan @ 05.17

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