The Saint in Palm Springs (1941)
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Sanders is wonderful as usual and in this film, he wears some casual clothes and looks terrific, so tall and broad-shouldered. Paul Guilfoyle is funny as Pearly Gates, trying to keep his nose clean while on probation. Wendy Barrie again is the female interest and again playing a woman with an aura of sadness around her.
"The Saint in Palm Springs" is perhaps most notable for some of the worst-looking process shots on record - the obvious filmed background while the actors are in front of it riding bikes or horses. If you think the walking scene in "All About Eve" is obvious, catch these.
George Sanders and Jonathan Hale appear once again as Simon Templar and Inspector Fernack in this fast moving and frequently amusing mystery. Fernack requests the Saint's assistance delivering some postage stamps to Palm Springs, three rare stamps worth $200,000. Sensing reluctance, Fernack offers encouragement: "Of course, it would be dangerous ."
Wendy Barrie returns for her third Saint movie, playing a third unique role. This time around she is Elna Johnson, intended recipient of the rare stampsa family fortune converted into stamps for easier transport out of wartime Europe. Needless to say, a gang is also after the stamps, led by a charming female (Linda Hayes) who meets Templar on the train ride west and is tracking him long before he catches on to her.
Paul Guilfoyle also returns from the previous series entry as Clarence "Pearly" Gates. When last seen, Pearly was a reforming pickpocket assisting the Saint; out here in Palm Springs, his probation officer has signed him up as a house detective at a ritzy resort. (Sure it makes sense.)
The plot is nothing too surprising, but the veteran cast and a lively script add up to an enjoyable hour. Sanders, Barrie and Guilfoyle certainly look awfully familiar together.
A very solid if unspectacular production all the way around.
In what would turn out to be George Sanders last appearance as Simon Templar, the Saint is asked by his good friend Inspector Fernack played in the series by Jonathan Hale to guard an old friend on his way west with a fortune that was smuggled out of occupied Europe. And like the fortune in Charade it is contained in three priceless postage stamps.
Sanders proves too late to save Hale's friend, but the stamps are saved and he couriers them to Palm Springs to give to Wendy Barrie who is the daughter of the late friend. Of course news of this kind of loot gets out and all kinds of people are trying for them.
It must have been deja vu all over again for Sanders. In addition to Hale, two members of the cast of the previous Saint film, The Saint Takes Over return. Wendy Barrie died in the last film, but apparently the movie-going public liked her and Sanders together. So she came back as the damsel in distress whom the Saint must aid.
And Paul Guilfoyle repeats his same role as the luckless crook who is determined to go straight in this film. As in the last he's on Simon Templar's side, but his help is somewhat dubious.
The Saint In Palm Springs is a nice entry in the Saint series and a good one for Sanders to go out on.
The film concerns trying to get some super-valuable stamps which to their rightful owner in Palm Springs. It seems that the person with the stamps in New York was killed by someone wanting the stamps for themselves. Why the stamps were smuggled out of Europe in the first place is quite interesting, though it's sad that RKO didn't want to offend the Nazis by ever mentioning that the country in question must have either been Germany or one of the nations conquered by Germany. This is because Hitler refused to allow anyone to take anything of value out of the country. Jews and other "undesireables" were forced to choose to leave with nothing or remain behind with their possessions and hope for the best. The film ALLUDED to this but never mentioned Germany or the Nazis. And, when agents of this unnamed country come to America to try to recover these stamps at any cost, once again Germany is never mentioned--even when this included murder. You must remember that this film came out just before the US entered WWII and a few film makers were still hedging their bets--not wanting to offend the Nazis. Sad, indeed, but this should help explain why this aspect of the plot is so vague. After all, it wasn't like the British or Portuguese or Swiss would send agents to another country to kill in order to recover property! The only other objection I have to the script is that with $200,000 in stamps, you'd THINK they'd come up with a better way to get them to their rightful owner than just having Simon Templer carry them all the way from New York to Palm Springs! Maybe arrange to have a police escort, or leave them in a safe in New York and then wire the heir about them--something other than to rely on one person to make it safely to California AND prevent the heir from also being murdered.
Now if you ignore all this, the film is entertaining. The dialog is the usual great dialog, the plot interesting and the conclusion very good indeed. While far from perfect, it's about what you'd expect from a B-movie of the era--watchable and exciting.
Anyway, the pick-pocketing montage with Pearly Gates is amusingly done, showing that actor Guilfoyle could do comedy as well as sinister eccentrics. Also, there's one eye-catching set, a well-designed resort courtyard that's nicely utilized. Otherwise, the staging and set design are lackluster at best. In fact, the big-Joshua-tree exterior at the climax, along with the several process shots, almost screams "phony". I'm not trying to nit- pick, just to point out that this entry lacks care in both the story department and the technical end. I suspect Sanders recognized this during the shoot and thus added to his decision to leave the series.
'The Saint in Palm Springs' is bang in the middle when ranking all five films. Like all the films, it's not great, but like 'Takes Over' and 'London' it's good ('Strikes Back', as said, was decent, while 'Double Trouble' was disappointingly average). The pros do outweigh the cons, but 'The Saint in Palm Springs' does suffer from a lack of suspense ('Takes Over' is the darkest of the five, despite the high body count here, and adheres closest to the tougher edge when Louis Hayward was in the role).
As well as an ending that is far too confused and comes far too suddenly with little build up. The screen projection agreed is obvious at times.
On the other hand, the sets are atmospheric and the photography doesn't look hasty or low-budget. Scripting is smart and with the right balance of fun and mystery, while the music is jaunty but also atmospheric. The direction is suitably brisk, as well as a story, that although lacking in suspense, is paced in a lively way and diverting, never dull at least.
George Sanders himself, as said with my previous reviews of his Saint outings, is super-suave, sophisticated and wonderfully caddish, while also giving a charming and humorous edge and delivering some cutting lines with aplomb. Jonathan Hale is fine support, while Wendy Barrie gives one of her better performances of her three appearances in the Saint films. Paul Guilfoyle comes very close to stealing the film in an amusing performance, and Linda Hayes is charming.
In conclusion, good fun and bang in the middle of the five Saint film starring Sanders. 7/10 Bethany Cox
Sanders' final Saint film is a good one, filled with action and humor. There's a rear projection biking scene that's worth a chuckle and the climax of the film involves a fake eyebrow, of all things. Also making their final appearances in the series are Jonathan Hale as Inspector Fernak and Wendy Barrie as the Saint's love interest, her third role in as many films. Paul Guilfoyle returns as Pearly Gates and provides most of the movie's laughs. After this, RKO launched their own series The Falcon, also starring George Sanders. The Falcon is a pretty obvious ripoff of the Saint (minus the calling cards and whistling) made because RKO was tired of dealing with Saint creator Leslie Charteris. I have to admit I enjoy the Falcon movies more than the Saint ones, outside of the first couple.
This was the last Saint film in which George Sanders played the title role, and I liked all of the others a great deal. The previous entry, "The Saint Takes Over", would seem in retrospect a perfect exit point for Sanders as the Saint as he solves the crime in his normal efficient manner, partakes in an extra generous helping of very dark comedy, exonerates and seals his friendship with Inspector Henry Fernack (Jonathan Hale), and comes as close to truly becoming involved in an affair of the heart as he has in any of the prior films only to lose his lady fair to a criminal's bullet. After all of that, seeing a victorious but rather forlorn Saint wander off into the darkness whistling his trademark tune would seem like a perfect ending to the George Sanders era of the saga.
The problem is, in this fifth and final entry for Sanders, he isn't forthcoming with his usual wit and wisdom and seems like he almost needs to be prodded to speak, the mystery isn't that intriguing, and Palm Springs is just too sunny a place for someone like Simon Templar who seems like he should be living in the shadows and climbing through windows in the dark. Not to mention he is knocked out cold multiple times by various assailants, only to be rescued by sidekick Pearly Gates.
I'd recommend this one for George Sanders and Saint Film completists only. I'd rate it as very average B mystery fare.
** 1/2 (out of 4)
The sixth film in RKO's series has George Sanders returning in the role of The Saint but this here would turn out to be his last in the series as he was replaced for the next two films. This time out The Saint takes a vacation to Palm Springs where he gets involved with a strange motel where some expensive stamps have been stolen from a safe. Out of the five Saint films Sanders appeared in I'd say this one here is the best but it still can't reach the height of the first film in the series. This film here runs 66-minutes and is well paced throughout and it also contains a pretty good story for us to follow. The biggest problem with the screenplay is that the ending really comes out of no where and the bad guy is picked out without too much thrill. Sanders never thought too much of this series or The Falcon series but I think he was actually pretty good here. It seems he has a lot more energy in the role but I guess this could have been due to him knowing this was his last one. Wendy Barrie is nice in her supporting role but it's Paul Guilfoyle who steals the film as the sidekick who's on probation and worried about going to prison.
The Saint's mission is to get the stamps to the man's daughter (WENDY BARRIE) in Palm Springs. This he manages to do, but only after several confrontations with a devious woman who tries to set a trap for Barrie, and the bungling attempts of Pearly Gates (PAUL GUILFOYLE) to help The Saint accomplish his mission.
WENDY BARRIE is pleasant as the female interest. The rear screen projection used for the horseback riding scenes in the desert is painfully obvious for the outdoor shots. Otherwise, production values are standard for a B-film of this sort but this is a bland entry in "The Saint" series with little novelty to make it worthwhile.
There are a few things I really enjoy in thinking about film. One is comparing remakes and sequels to their originals. Its odd how some work and some don't. And those that work often work for completely different reasons. The Alien series are four films as different from each other as any are from this.
Another joy is comparing projects that fail that have almost the same recipe as those that succeed, or are thought to succeed. This movie features William Powell in pretty much the same character he had in several projects at about the same time. Many, like this one, had A-list actresses. The writing isn't particularly different from one project to the next.
It seems almost that 'The Thin Man' was accidentally good. And this, accidentally bad.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.