According to this story from Deadline, Paramount Pictures has just picked up the rights for a feature-film adaptation of The Saint. They (Paramount) say they are looking to take the character, whose “life” began in a series of books written by noted author Leslie Charteris from 1928 to 1963 and of course attempt to create another tentpole upon which they can build a new character brand, not unlike James Bond or Mission: Impossible.
This is far from the first time that Charteris’s character has been adapted in various media from film to radio to television.
The character known as “The Saint” is, in actuality Simon Templar, a Robin Hood like figure who goes after wealthy bad guys and after bringing them down either returns most of the money or goods that he recovers to the victims or donates it to a worthy cause. I say “most of” because in some cases there is a reference to him collecting a ten-percent “fee” so that he can continue his operations. Templar is known to leave behind a calling card which has a stick figure with a halo and his initials. S.T., from which his supposedly derives.
The first adaptation of The Saint to other media comes in the form of a series of movies which were produced by RKO. The first of these, The Saint in New York was released in 1938 and starred Louis Hayward as Templar. This proved to be a hit, and RKO continued the series through a total of eight films, though George Sanders took over the role after the first movie.
Hayward returned to the role in 1953 for the Hammer Films production The Saint Returns (also known as The Saint’s Girl Friday).
Though there were some earlier adaptations of the Saint stories for the radio, by far the best, most popular, and longest-running radio series starred Vincent Price in the lead role and ran from 1947 to 1951 on three different networks: NBC, Mutual, and CBS.
On television, the most famous incarnation of Charteris’s character starred a pre-James Bond Roger Moore in a series which ran from 1962 to 1969.
Of course there have been other incarnations of the character over the years in all three media, along with comic books and strips. The most recent attempt at a silver screen revival was released in 1997 and starred Val Kilmer as the title character. Unfortunately, as is the case in many more recent movie revivals, this movie strayed quite a bit from its original inspiration and failed to ignite any enthusiasm either from fans of the character or those coming to Templar’s adventures without any preconceived notions.
So, can Paramount make The Saint fly again, or is the upcoming film merely going to sport a tarnished halo? Well, of course, since the movie is only in the talking stages right now, and we have absolutely no information to go on, there’s no way to even make an educated guess, but since this is a character that I’ve had a long fondness for, at the moment I’m just pleased to hear that he’s being given another chance, and I’m going to remain hopefully optimistic until I’m given a reason to think otherwise.
And in the meantime, obviously, I have plenty of chances to revisit the character and invite you to do so too. I think you’ll find he really is something special.