Watching 1939: The Saint in London (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film:  The Saint in London (1939)

Release date:  June 30, 1939

Cast:  George Sanders, Sally Gray, David Burns, Gordon McLeod, Henry Oscar, Athene Seyler, John Abbott, Ralph Truman, Charles Carson

Studio:  RKO Radio Pictures

Director:  John Paddy Carstairs

Simon Templar (Sanders) is keeping an eye on businessman Bruno Lang (Oscar), as he suspects him for leading a counterfeiting ring. Socialite Penny Parker (Gray) tags along on Templar’s investigations for excitement, and an American pickpocket Dugan (Burns) helps out Templar on the case.

1939 Notes:
• One of two Saint films released in 1939. The other was The Saint Strikes Back (1939)
• Sally Gray was in four films in 1939.

Other trivia: 
• Based on the short story “The Million Pound Day” by Leslie Charteris
• The third of the Saint films
• Filmed in England with an English cast. Sally Gray was famous in the UK and called the British Ginger Rogers.
• The director John Paddy Carstairs also directed two television episodes of “The Saint” starring Roger Moore in 1962 and 1963.

Sally Gray and George Sanders in “The Saint in London.”

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
George Sanders is always droll and sophisticated and is seemingly the perfect choice for Simon Templar, also known as The Saint. In 1939, audiences first saw George Sanders as The Saint, and “The Saint in London” (1939) was the second Saint film released in 1939 – the first being “The Saint Strikes Back.”

Sanders is seemingly a perfect actor to play the charming Robin Hood-like character. But the author of “The Saint” stories, Leslie Charteris, wasn’t a fan of Sanders in the role.

Despite that, audiences (and myself) enjoy Sanders’s portrayal of Simon Templar.

Some say that “The Saint in London” is the best of the nine film series. I truthfully find that many of The Saint films are very similar. But I do enjoy the addition of the Brooklyn pickpocket named Dugan, played by David Burns.

While B-budget level, The Saint films have a level of style mixed with detective mystery that is intriguing.

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