The first thing that’ll notice about this movie is that they have created a new title sequence. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but they have discarded The Return Of The Saint theme music and in it’s place have used a dreadful piece of quasi-prog rock.
The film opens with the Embassy Express Race, which is a 200 mile power boat ocean race. The two favourites for the race are Oscar West (Edward Brayshaw), an arrogant fellow who is only interested in winning, and Simon Templar AKA: The Saint (Ian Ogilvy). As the race progresses West and Templar fight it out for the lead, then there is an explosion on West’s boat. Through the billowing black smoke, Templar can see West and the co-driver fighting over a gun on deck. Then there is another explosion and the whole boat is destroyed.
There is an inquest into the tragedy. Most of the inquiries centre around West’s co-driver Maurice Bonaparte. As far as the police are concerned, nobody by that name exists or can be traced. Simon, on the other hand, thinks something fishy is going on. He suspects West of being involved in a fifteen million pound gold bullion robbery, eight years previously. Templar has also ascertained a bit more information about the mysterious Maurice Bonaparte. Apparently he had spent the last seven years in a Moroccan prison. He had only been released a week ago.
Meanwhile, Oscar West’s widow, Annabel (Gayle Hunnicutt) discovers that she is broke. Oscar left her no money. Her only asset is Oscar’s yacht, The Brave Goose, which is tied up in Marseilles. Soon she is on her way to France and into a whole mess of trouble. In fact the story is very reminiscent of the classic Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn movie, Charade. Both productions feature men with shady pasts, who have mysteriously died and left their wives nothing. And both feature the shady associates of the dead husbands trying to track down and acquire large sums of money, which they believe has been secreted away by the widow. Finally both feature dashing leading men who partner up with the widows to help solve the mystery. In this, the suave dashing hero is Ian Ogilvy. Ogilvy is very good as The Saint. He’s not Roger Moore, but in some ways that is a plus. Ogilvy is a bit tougher than Moore. In the late seventies, television and the movies had changed and the simpler, more fantastical plots, such as The Fiction Makers were no longer in vogue. But having said all that, despite the toughening up of Templar, they haven’t taken away the glamour and sophistication.
Another cast member worth mentioning is Derren Nesbitt. Over the years Nesbitt has played practically every nationality on the planet – most famously as the German SS-Sturmbannführer, Von Hapen in Where Eagles Dare and as the duplicitous French/Mexican reporter, Pallain in The High Commissioner. Here he plays Inspector Lebec, a French police officer. As the character is played by ‘Dirty Derren’ you can expect that all is not as it seems.
This addition to The Saint canon is pretty good, if somewhat derivative of other spy films. I have already mentioned Charade, but there is a bullfight scene, that plays like a hyped up version of the one featured in Fathom and there’s some underwater scenes that remind me of When Eight Bells Toll. But if you can overlook these similarities and just let the story, and the entertainment wash over you, then The Saint And The Brave Goose is a fine Saint film.