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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Drama > British Telefilm > The Saint – Simon Dutton Telefilm DVD Set (1989/Umbrella Entertainment/Region Four/4/PAL)

The Saint – Simon Dutton Telefilm DVD Set (1989/Umbrella Entertainment/Region Four/4/PAL)

 

Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Telefilms: C

 

 

PLEASE NOTE: This DVD can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region 4 PAL format software and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.

 

 

The Saint, Simon Templar, is a forerunner of James Bond and while the commercial and often critical peak of the character is often considered the massively successful Roger Moore TV series (links below) of the 1960s, many actors have played the role, from several when RKO had their movie series, to foreign actors to Ian Ogilvy in the underrated, short-lived late 1970s series Return Of The Saint (reviewed elsewhere on this site/link below) that did not survive behind the scenes troubles beyond the show’s control.  Since then, several revivals have been launched and none with any great success.

 

Besides a one shot hour-long U.S. pilot with Andrew Clarke and Val Kilmer feature film that fizzled, the actor who managed to do better by default was Simon Dutton, who logged up six TV movies (the ninth Saint) as the Leslie Charteris hero.  He was fair in the role, but no matter what this series tried from guest stars to minimalism, these films never worked.  Gone were the care and production values Sir Lew Grade was able top provide as the original producer of the Moore and Ogilvy shows.  Some fans of the book liked the changes, but the films barely made a showing the U.S. and overseas had limited success.  Now, The Saint – Simon Dutton Telefilm DVD Set (1989) has been released on DVD in Australia by Umbrella Entertainment after the successful launch of the Ogilvy series a few years ago and we can take a closer look at what did and did not work.

 

Dutton is not a disaster as Templar and was not totally miscast, yet I felt he never totally filled out the role despite the sense it made to some extent to cast him.  Of course, like George Lazenby as James Bond, he could have grown into the role had he lasted long enough, but playing his as older and grayer did not mesh.  Having him drive around in a Jensen Interceptor, produced by the company that helped make Volvo’s great P1800 speedster as driver by Moore in the 1960s show.  Add the fact that Dutton was named after the character and that is just one too many in jokes and not enough up front new ideas and energy.  Energy is something the show also lacked.

 

Then here is the manner in which the shows are made.  They look more like detective shows for an older audience form their credits to their pacing and in the tired tradition of one too many U.S. and U.K. mystery shows, often flaunt guest star appearances that feel more like desperation that surprise.  The films are as follows with the key guest stars noted:

 

The Brazilian Connection (Gayle Hunnicut, who appeared in the only two-parter Return Of The Saint show.)

 

The Big Bang (Morgan Brittany)

 

The Software Murders (Pamela Sue Martin (Nancy Drew) and Georgia Allen)

 

The Blue Dulac (John Astin)

 

Fear In Fun Park (Rebecca Gilling, Richard Roxburgh, Anthony Wong)

 

Wrong Number (Vince Edwards)

 

 

That reads more like a cast list for Murder, She Wrote for the most part than the kind of action series previous Saint series represented.  I had seen some of the telefilms after much effort to find them on U.S. TV and was not impressed or found them particularly memorable.  If anything, I went into shock at the mistakes that were being made left and right.  Like the Clarke pilot and Kilmer feature, the approach is all wrong and not faithful to the punch of the books (I have actually read all 45+) or the best film versions.  A new feature is being made for release soon with James Purefoy taking over the role in a Roger Moore/Barry Levinson production.  Obviously, the makers of this version wanted to have this out in advance so people could judge for themselves.

 

Some may enjoy this take, but Dutton’s version never seems totally witty, able-bodied, worldly or as exceptionally competent as the character should be.  Still, this may have a few fans, but in remains more of a curio than anything else and as much as I wanted to like it and it to work, the Simon Dutton Saint did not get better as the films went along and the plug was finally pulled.

 

 

The 1.33 X 1 color PAL image look good for a show that was filmed then finished on analog videotape as these copies apparently were with the aliasing errors and issues of detail, depth, plus dull colors in places.  That they do not look better than the copies of the Return Of The Saint episodes on DVD from the same company says that the company will need to redo the transfers and then some when Blu-ray versions roll around.  Finishing on video was not an option that worked at the time Return Of The Saint was made, but sadly was when these were produce.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono also sounds good for its age including the dialogue, but the new version of the theme is substandard and forgettable, while the sound mixing in general has little character to speak of.  Shockingly, there are absolutely no extras, despite all the Saint fans in Europe, et al, though there was no real memorabilia connected to this version of the show either.

 

For more on The Saint, try these links:

 

The Saint MegaSet (A&E U.S. NTSC)

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/372/Saint+MegaSet+(color+shows)

 

The Saint Set Five (A&E U.S. NTSC)

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/42/Saint+Set+5+(Roger+Moore)

 

The Saint – The Early Years – Set One (A&E U.S. NTSC)

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/1927/The+Saint+-+The+Early+Years+(1962

 

The Saint – The Early Years – Set Two (A&E U.S. NTSC)

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/2583/The+Saint+-+The+Early+Years+(1963

 

Return Of The Saint (Umbrella PAL Set)

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/6250/Return+Of+The+Saint+–+25th+An

 

 

As noted above, you can order this Simon Dutton Saint PAL DVD import exclusively from Umbrella at:

 

http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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