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Who is the Saint?

Simon Templar, the Saint, is often referred to as the 'Robin Hood of Modern Crime.'

The Saint is the literary creation of author Leslie Charteris (1907-1993). He has appeared in around 100 books, in many different languages, in films, television, radio plays, recorded books-on-tape, and comic strips.

Essentially, the Saint is an adventurer. Leslie Charteris never disclosed details of the birth and childhood of Simon Templar. Templar is wealthy, but we don't know if his wealth is a legacy, or a result of his 'adventures'. His perspective on life is to make the most of what life has to offer; to seek out adventure and excitement; to refuse to be constrained by the dictates and restrictions of twentieth century convention. Leslie Charteris wrote of the Saint in THE SAINT CLOSES THE CASE (1930):

Adventure came to him not so much because he sought it as because he brazenly expected it. He believed that life was full of adventure, and he went forward in the full blaze and surge of that belief. It has been said of a man very much like Simon Templar that he was "'a man born with the sound of trumpets in his ears'"; that saying might almost equally well have been said of the Saint, for he also...had heard the sound of the trumpet, and had moved ever afterwards in the echoes of the sound of the trumpet, in such a mighty clamour of romance that at least one of his friends had been moved to call him the last hero..."'From battle, murder, and sudden death, Good Lord, deliver us!'" he quoted once. "How can any live man ask for that? Why, they're meat and drink - they're the things that make life worth living!. Into battle, murder, and sudden death, Good Lord, deliver me up to the neck!" .. Thus spoke the Saint, that man of superb recklessness and strange heroisms and impossible ideals; and went on to show, as few others of his age have shown, that a man inspired can swashbuckle as well with cloak and stick as any cavalier of history with cloak and sword...

He is often called the 'Robin Hood of Modern Crime' because he fights on the side of justice (but not necessarily on the side of the Law). He has no particular love for the police, but often aids them in their crime-fighting endeavours because particular criminals carefully circumvent the Law, or the Law only provides a slap on the wrist, or because a criminal has greatly offended the Saint's sensibilities. In the THE SAINT CLOSES THE CASE, and its sequel THE AVENGING SAINT, Templar and his 'gang' risk hanging, imprisonment and self-imposed exile to prevent the British government developing a dreadful weapon and to prevent other nations stealing its secrets. In "The Man Who Was Clever" (from ENTER THE SAINT, 1929) the Saint tells an accomplice:

"The game I'm in on isn't the kind they play in nurseries. I'm on it because I just can't live happily ever after. I've had enough adventures to fill a dozen books, but instead of satisfying me they've only left me with a bigger appetite. If I had to live the ordinary kind of safe, civilized life, I'd die of boredom. Risks are food and drink to me...."

But his adventures are not entirely self-centred. In true Robin Hood style, he may steal ill-gotten gains from the ungodly, but he gives to the deserving. Later in "The Man Who Was Clever", the Saint confronts the ungodly Edgar Hayn:

"Perhaps you think I'm a kind of hijacker - a crook picking crooks' pockets? Bad guess, dearie. I'm losing money over this. But I'm just a born-an'-bred fighting machine, and a quiet life on the moss-gathering lay is plain hell for this child. I'm not a dick, because I can't be bothered with red tape, but I'm on the same side. I'm out to see that unpleasant insects like you are stamped on, which I grant you the dicks could do; but to justify my existence I'm going to see that the said insects contribute a large share of their ill-gotten gains to charity..."

The public is perhaps most familiar with the Saint in the form of the Roger Moore television series. This series was made by ITV in England between 1962 and 1969, and consisted of 71 B&W episodes and 47 colour episodes.

Two two-part episodes, THE FICTION MAKERS and VENDETTA FOR THE SAINT were subsequently re-edited and released in some parts of the world as feature films. Both of these re-edited features are available on sell-through video in Australia.


However, the Saint has appeared on television in various incarnations. Ian Ogilvy made 24 colour episodes in 1979's THE RETURN OF THE SAINT.

Australia's Andrew Clarke (The Man from Snowy River, Sword of Honour) made a hour pilot entitled THE SAINT IN MANHATTAN in 1987 but the series was not picked up.

Simon Dutton assumed the halo for 6 television movies in 1989; one of these was FEAR IN FUN PARK and was set in and around Luna Park and other Sydney locations.

For episode information for all these productions, see The Saint Club's page, The Saint on TV.

The Saint has also appeared on the Big Screen. Between 1938 and 1954, RKO Pictures made 9 Saint movies with 3 different actors:

Louis Hayward

George Sanders

Hugh Sinclair

In 1960 and 1966, two French films based on the Saint were made with Felix Marten and Jean Marais portraying Simon Templar.

The most recent incarnation is Val Kilmer in 1997's THE SAINT, directed by Australian director Philip Noyce. (more pics)

For more details, see The Saint Club's page, The Saint Films.