ITC had a habit of taking a two part episode from one of their successful television series and releasing them in foreign markets as a theatrical feature. In this instance it is The Saint that gets the treatment.
Vendetta For The Saint is not really much of a spy film. In fact it is closer to a gangster movie, but as I have been posting quite a few Saint reviews lately, I thought that this would slot in very nicely next to the Simon Dutton, George Sanders, and Ian Ogilve episodes.
This movie starts off in the usual Saintly fashion, with postcard shots of Naples. Then we cut to a swanky restaurant. As Simon Templar – AKA The Saint (Roger Moore) is walking in, a gangster, Alexander Destamio (Ian Hendry) and three goons are about to leave. As the mobsters walk towards the exit, Jim Euston (Fulton Mackay), who is sitting at the bar recognises Destamio. Euston calls out to the Distamio, who he believes is an old friend. He addresses him as ‘Dino Cartelli’. Destamio tells the Euston that he must be mistaken. Euston insists that he is an old friend, but the goons intervene. As they are about to get rough, the Saint steps in (Hey, a great title for a book!) Distamio and his men leave the restaurant.
Soon after, Euston decides to leave the restaurant. But outside in an alley, Distamio has left behind a couple of his men to take care of the meddlesome gentleman.
The next day, Templar reads about Euston’s death in the local paper. Naturally enough, he thinks that it seems very suspicious. Templar then makes a few subtle enquiries to find out who the mobster is, but doesn’t get too far, because the mafia ‘code of silence’ holds strong. Eventually Templar finds out that the gangster is Alexander Destamio. And equally Destamio has done his research and knows who The Saint is as well. When Templar returns to his hotel room, he finds that it has been trashed.
Soon after, Templar recieves an invitation to meet with Destamio and is whisked away by helicopter to the island of Capri. At the airport, he is met by Lilly (Aimi MacDonald). She drives a red sports car, and sports a pink bikini. Templar is taken to Destamio who tries to bribe The Saint. The bribe doesn’t work and templar sets about baiting Destamio. He deliberately calls him ‘Dino’ and threatens to pull down his whole world. Naturally mafia heads, don’t take kindly to be threatened in their own home.
When a television series is turned into a movie, I expect a little more than an expanded television episode. Even though Vendetta For The Saint was originally a two part entry in the series, I still expect it to be the best two episodes. The Fiction Makers the other two parter that was released as a movie, was fairly pedestrian. There wasn’t anything in it that I couldn’t see regularly in the television show. But Vendetta For The Saint rectifies this. It is tougher than a regular episode, and having The Saint go up against the mafia makes this story more perilous and involving. Also utilising some actual ‘on location’ photography (Malta standing in for Italy), rather than using rear projection, adds greatly to the richness of this production.
Obviously everyone has their own personal favourites, but for me (and my ‘Saint’ viewing is far from complete), this is the best Saint film I have seen – Highly recommended.