The Saint in New York


1h 12m 1938
The Saint in New York

Brief Synopsis

The Saint goes undercover to get the goods on New York's mob kingpins.

Film Details

Genre
Mystery
Release Date
Jun 3, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Saint in New York by Leslie Charteris (London and New York, 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 12m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Faced with a seemingly unstoppable wave of violent gang crime, the police commissioner of New York takes the advice of the respected William Valcross and agrees to hire Englishman Simon Templar, a latter-day Robin Hood whose victims are always criminals and despots, to aid in his crusade. Valcross tracks Simon, also known as The Saint, to South America and, by assuring him that his methods will not be questioned, convinces him to return to New York with him. First on Simon's list of wanted gang leaders is Jake Erboll, whose intimidation of witnesses resulted in his dismissal on a murder charge. While disguised as a nun, Simon kills Jake as the crook is about to shoot his most fervent opponent, Inspector Fernack. Simon's next assignment is Morrie Yule. Armed with $20,000 in cash, which he has stolen from the gang's defense lawyer, who also exposes the existence of "The Big Fellow," the crooks's mastermind, Simon is directed by Fernack to Yule's poker club. There Simon meets beautiful moll Fay Edwards and Yule's henchmen, Hymie Fanro, Red Jenks and Boots Papinoff. After Simon reveals himself to Papinoff, he is taken to a remote house where Yule is holding a little girl for ransom. Simon tricks Yule into attacking him and then pulls a knife on him. During the ensuing fight, the lights go out, and Simon eludes his captors long enough to rescue the girl and, with a gun that Fay has slipped him, kill a guard and escape. Now a local hero, Simon pursues Hutch Rellin, who accuses Papinoff of "giving up" Yule to The Saint. Sure that he will be killed by Rellin, Papinoff tries to confess to Simon, who has jumped into his car, but is killed by Hymie and Red before he can reveal the identity of The Big Fellow's contact. The henchmen then are ordered by Rellin to execute Simon in New Jersey. Again Simon tricks his captors and, aided by Fay, who has fallen in love with him, avoids a sure death. Fay takes a wounded Simon to her apartment, where she explains that, out of gratitude for help that The Big Fellow extended her when she was penniless, she became his spokesperson. Fay offers to point out The Big Fellow to Simon during her next scheduled meeting with him. After alerting Fernack, Simon rendezvous with Fay, who points out Valcross as he passes by a bank. In panic, Valcross shoots Fay, then is shot down by Simon. As they drive Valcross to Fernack's house, Fay dies in Simon's arms. His assignment accomplished, Simon leaves a grateful Fernack one of his infamous cartoon signature cards and heads for his next adventure.

Film Details

Genre
Mystery
Release Date
Jun 3, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Saint in New York by Leslie Charteris (London and New York, 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 12m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

The Saint in New York


Leslie Charteris' popular novels featuring a snappy crime-fighting character known as "The Saint," seemed a perfect fit for 1930s Hollywood, and RKO was the studio that finally secured the rights to the books. The Saint in New York (1938), the first of the studio's Charteris adaptations, was considered such a choice property, it was originally intended as the American film debut of a young British director named Alfred Hitchcock. That intriguing idea never came to fruition, but Ben Holmes' take on the novel launched the series, if not in high style, then at least with a dollop of knowing wit.

The Saint in New York opens with New York City (or, at least, a nominal, back-lot version of it) in the grips of a formidable crime wave. In a didactic opening scene that lays the plot out for you like a pie chart, the cops determine that a group of six men are responsible for most of the major crimes in the city. But every time these criminals are arrested, they manage to either escape conviction through under-handed means, or simply hit the streets again within a few months. It's finally decided that Simon Templar, a secretive European do-gooder who calls himself "The Saint" (Louis Hayward), should be recruited by the city to kill the six troublemakers! "A few men brought to justice," one of the cops says, "and our crime wave should cease." Unless, of course, you count the government-sanctioned murders.

If you can pardon the gleeful-vigilante nature of the story -- Hayward actually carries a list of the guys he needs to rub out -- The Saint in New York is good, old-fashioned fun. Hayward comes off as a poor man's version of Orson Welles. He sports the same sarcastic, well-bred smirk that Welles used to employ, and one of the other characters even marvels at how beautifully he speaks. In fact, Hayward is so successful in the role it's a surprise that, in later installments, the character was played by either George Sanders or Hugh Sinclair. Sanders, of course, also had a mellifluous way with words but he just isn't as enjoyably rakish as Hayward is.

Ironically, Hayward, who would go on to appear in many now-forgotten pictures, including one called Repeat Performance (1947), gave a repeat performance of his own. He would play Simon Templar once again in The Saint's Return (1953), but, by then, even the audience's smirk was fading.

Director: Ben Holmes
Producer: William Sistrom
Screenplay: Charles Kaufman, Mortimer Offner (based on the novel by Leslie Charteris)
Story: Martin Mooney Cinematographer: Joseph August, Frank Redman
Editor: Harry Marker
Art Designer: Van nest Polglase, Perry Ferguson Costumes: Edward Stevenson
Cast: Louis Hayward (Simon Templar), Kay Sutton (Fay Edwards), Sig Rumann (Hutch Rellin), Jonathan Hale (Inspector Henry Fernack), Jack Carson (Red Jenks), Paul Guilfoyle (Hymie Fanro), Frederick Burton (William Valcross), Ben Welden (Papinoff), Charles Halton (Vincent Nather), Cliff Bragdon (Sebastian Lipke), Frank M. Thomas (Prosecutor).
B&W-72m.

by Paul Tatara
The Saint In New York

The Saint in New York

Leslie Charteris' popular novels featuring a snappy crime-fighting character known as "The Saint," seemed a perfect fit for 1930s Hollywood, and RKO was the studio that finally secured the rights to the books. The Saint in New York (1938), the first of the studio's Charteris adaptations, was considered such a choice property, it was originally intended as the American film debut of a young British director named Alfred Hitchcock. That intriguing idea never came to fruition, but Ben Holmes' take on the novel launched the series, if not in high style, then at least with a dollop of knowing wit. The Saint in New York opens with New York City (or, at least, a nominal, back-lot version of it) in the grips of a formidable crime wave. In a didactic opening scene that lays the plot out for you like a pie chart, the cops determine that a group of six men are responsible for most of the major crimes in the city. But every time these criminals are arrested, they manage to either escape conviction through under-handed means, or simply hit the streets again within a few months. It's finally decided that Simon Templar, a secretive European do-gooder who calls himself "The Saint" (Louis Hayward), should be recruited by the city to kill the six troublemakers! "A few men brought to justice," one of the cops says, "and our crime wave should cease." Unless, of course, you count the government-sanctioned murders. If you can pardon the gleeful-vigilante nature of the story -- Hayward actually carries a list of the guys he needs to rub out -- The Saint in New York is good, old-fashioned fun. Hayward comes off as a poor man's version of Orson Welles. He sports the same sarcastic, well-bred smirk that Welles used to employ, and one of the other characters even marvels at how beautifully he speaks. In fact, Hayward is so successful in the role it's a surprise that, in later installments, the character was played by either George Sanders or Hugh Sinclair. Sanders, of course, also had a mellifluous way with words but he just isn't as enjoyably rakish as Hayward is. Ironically, Hayward, who would go on to appear in many now-forgotten pictures, including one called Repeat Performance (1947), gave a repeat performance of his own. He would play Simon Templar once again in The Saint's Return (1953), but, by then, even the audience's smirk was fading. Director: Ben Holmes Producer: William Sistrom Screenplay: Charles Kaufman, Mortimer Offner (based on the novel by Leslie Charteris) Story: Martin Mooney Cinematographer: Joseph August, Frank Redman Editor: Harry Marker Art Designer: Van nest Polglase, Perry Ferguson Costumes: Edward Stevenson Cast: Louis Hayward (Simon Templar), Kay Sutton (Fay Edwards), Sig Rumann (Hutch Rellin), Jonathan Hale (Inspector Henry Fernack), Jack Carson (Red Jenks), Paul Guilfoyle (Hymie Fanro), Frederick Burton (William Valcross), Ben Welden (Papinoff), Charles Halton (Vincent Nather), Cliff Bragdon (Sebastian Lipke), Frank M. Thomas (Prosecutor). B&W-72m. by Paul Tatara

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

RKO borrowed Louis Hayward for this production, which was the first in a series of nine films adapted from Leslie Charteris' popular collection of "The Saint" mysteries. Hayward played The Saint only once, and was replaced in the 1939 RKO film The Saint Strikes Back by George Sanders. Sanders played the role in four other RKO films, then was replaced in 1941 by Hugh Sinclair, who played the character in two additional British-made films, which were distributed by RKO. In a 1954 release, Hayward revived his portrayal of The Saint in a British co-production called The Saint's Girl Friday, which was distributed in America by RKO.
       An August 1936 Hollywood Reporter news item states that RKO "closed a one-picture deal with Fredric March to play" the title role in The Saint in New York. John Cromwell was signed to direct March, and Anthony Veiller, who is credited by Screen Achievements Bulletin as contributing to the treatment, was hired to write the screenplay. In a 1938 Hollywood Reporter news item, Joan Fontaine was announced as the female lead of the film. According to production charts, as well as Motion Picture Herald's "In the Cutting Room" and early submissions to the Screen Achievements Bulletin, Irwin Shaw worked on the project as a co-screenwriter with Kaufman. His actual contribution to the film, if any, is not known, however. A Hollywood Reporter news item adds Murray Alper to the cast, and Motion Picture Herald's "In the Cutting Room" includes Eduardo Ciannelli and Paul Fix to the cast list. Their participation in the final production has not been confirmed. Other films and television series based on the Charteris character include the popular British television series featuring Roger Moore as "The Saint," which ran from 1967 through 1969, another British television series starring Ian Ogilvie, that was televised from 1985 to 1987, and an American-made feature film starring Roger Moore that was produced in 1992. The Saint, also based on the Charteris characters, was released by Paramount Pictures in 1997. That film was directed by Phillip Noyce, starred Val Kilmer as the title character and co-starred Elizabeth Shue. that film was directed by Phillip For additional information on the RKO series, consult the Series Index.