Morpheus on… The Saint (2017 TVM)

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” L.P. Hartley.

And this fact means that any attempt to lift the Saint from the period his books were written (’29-ish to ’63-ish) to the present, is doomed to failure.

But “The Saint” (2017 TVM). has a damn fine go at it. Indeed it owes more to the books than the various small and big screen outings that have peppered the years.

For a start, Simon’s on/off girlfriend (live-in; advanced for the time) from the early books – Patricia Holm – features strongly. And Rayt Marius appears (somewhat younger than the original character). While Fernack turns up and even Teal is referenced (but sadly, not seen).

Templer is played by stubbly-chinned Adam Rayner. Thus far, after a Shakespearian background, he has starred in the short-lived mini-seasoned “Tyrant” (from the same stable as “Homeland”) and featured in “Notorious” (another cancelled mini-season series).

Pat is played by the gorgeous Eliza Dushku. American, with Albanian, Danish, Irish, German and English roots, she has been around for a quarter-century (despite only being 36). She is currently dancing around the edge of “Bull” as his love-interest.

Also featured are Ian Ogilvy (now 64) who played the Saint in the Seventies reboot series. And Sir Roger Moore, who co-produced this effort and starred in (and occasionally directed) the classic Sixties series, has a tiny cameo; aged 86, this was fittingly his last film rôle.

The music is more than adequate – and includes the musical signature written by Charteris himself. And in a cheeky touch, the theme is also Templar’s ring tone!

The direction is fine and the editing tight. The swish international locations hide the modest budget. The action scenes are well performed – particularly by Eliza. And the dialogue occasionally crackles. So all in all, a worthy effort. Well worth a look if you are in an undemanding and naustalgic mood.

But what if you are not?

Well, the film does have its problems. Like the “goofs” – Simon fires around twenty bullets at a chopper from an automatic handgun without a reload – and if the gold bricks featured near the film’s start were real, they would weigh far more than they clearly do. And the whole enterprise is just a little lame.

But then, this was never intended as a feature film. It was made in 2013 as a TV pilot and when it (deservedly) failed to get picked up it languished for a couple of years, before having extra footage (filmed in Romania) added – to turn it into a TV movie.

However, these days TV movies are passé – and it was only when Sir Roger fell off the twig that the film finally emerged through various digital media.

According to Wiki, the film runs 116 minutes. But IMDb lists it at only 91 mins – and that is the version which is currently available free, on YouTube.

With English language, scope and stereo, the quality is quite good – so enjoy!

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