Sonny Chiba's Dragon Princess (1976)

Country: Japan
Director: Yutaka Kohira
Starring: Etsuko Shihomi, Sonny Chiba, Yasuaki Kurata, Masashi Ishibashi, Jirô Chiba, Bin Amatsu
Original Music: Shunsuke Kikuchi
AKA: Which is Stronger, Karate or Tiger?
Original Title: Hissatsu onna kenshi

In some parts of the world, this film was known as Sonny Chiba’s Dragon Princess, which would imply that this is a Sonny Chiba film. Yes, he’s in it. Don’t you worry about that – for a full twenty minutes. Then he hands the reigns over to his frequent co-star Etsuko Shihomi. But it must be said, Shihomi is no slouch herself, and for the most part, Dragon Princess is a fairly entertaining – however I will add this caveat. Seek out a decent quality print. The print I watched was pretty ragged pan & scan version – taken from a worn VHS dupe. The fight scenes often appeared clunky – not because they were badly choreographed – but because one of the fighters was cropped off the screen. The film was also dubbed quite atrociously. So while I enjoyed it, I doubt many viewers have the tolerance for crap that I do.

At the risk of making the film sound like a work-place drama, as the film opens, a job position has opened up to become Tokyo’s leading karate instructor. The front runner to get the job is Kazuma Higaki (Sonny Chiba). The second favourite is a fellow named Nikaido, and in an old run down church, on a cold and dark stormy night, he challenges Kazuma to a fight. Kazuma arrives with his daughter Yumi in tow. However, Kazuma does not believe there is a reason to fight. Surely they can work it out, without having to resort to violence.

Nikaido doesn’t see it that way and bullies Kazuma into the fight. It’s a bad move, as Kazuma is a superior martial artist, and is winning the battle. But Nikaido is not the type of guy to accept defeat magnanimously. He has three other fighters hidden in the church – and they appear from the shadows armed with knives, poles, swords, etc.

Despite the weight of numbers being against him, Kazuma still acquits himself well, that is until one of Nikaido’s goons grabs Yumi. Kazuma grabs a rope, and swings to her aid, kicking off the aggressor. The as he moves to drag her to safety, one of the fiends throws a knife at her. Kazuma leaps into the knife’s path. It hits him in the left eye.

Now Kazuma is impeded, the other goons swoop in for the kill. They stab him with a sword. Kazuma is defeated. However, Nikaido agrees to spare Kazuma’s life, if he leaves Tokyo for good. Kazuma agrees.

The film cuts to New York. Actually the subtitle says New York, but later in the dubbed dialogue, it suggests it is San Francisco. Either way, Kazuma and Yumi have settled somewhere in America. Kazuma, with an eye-patch, is bitter about the betrayal in the church, and sets about claiming his revenge. Yumi is to be his instrument of vengeance, and he subjects her to a brutal training regime.

After she grows to adulthood, Kazuma dies, and Yumi (now grown into Etsuko Shihomi) returns to Tokyo. First thing she does, is head to Nikaido ‘s dojo and lay down a challenge. As she is a woman, she is ridiculed and scorned, but, oh, that’ll do. You know where this is headed, right?

Throw in a pack of killer dogs, loads of fight scenes, dizzying camera work, a bad guy who is really good guy, the promise of a martial arts tournament (that never really takes place), and all the requisite elements are in place for this type of film.

As I mentioned at the top, despite the title, this isn’t really a Sonny Chiba film. It is a Etsuko Shihomi film, and it is thanks to her, that it works. She is charismatic, convincing in her fight scenes, and carries the film on her slight, but undeniably powerful shoulders.

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Sonny Chiba's Dragon Princess (1976)

Ghost Money

Author: Andrew Nette
Publisher: Snubnose Press
Published: August 2012

I must admit, I don’t know much about Cambodia or the Khmer Rouge – and therefore Andrew Nette’s debut novel, Ghost Money was a real eye opener for me. It works on many levels – as a history lesson (all the best novels teach you stuff you don’t know), a detective thriller, and a deep explorative character study. Furthermore it is dripping with atmosphere. I know that sounds like a cliché, but I can’t think of a better way to describe the heat, humidity, and smell of South East Asia. While I have to use cliche’s, Nette doesn’t. He lived in Phnom Penh for a few years, and would appear to know the city well, and paints a extremely evocative picture.

The story concerns an ex-cop named Max Quinlan who now works as a detective, tracking down missing persons. In this instance, his case is to track down an Australian businessman named Charles Avery who has disappeared while in the midst of a shady gem stone deal.

As the tale begins, Quinlan, while searching Avery’s hotel apartment in Bangkok, finds the delinquent Australian’s business partner dead. Quinlan suspects Avery of the deed, and clues point to him fleeing to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Quinlan follows the trail, but what he finds is quite a bit more than he bargained for. A normal detective would have cut their losses and returned home safely, but not Quinlan. He is driven by his own demons, and has to see the case through to the end, no matter where it takes him.

At a quick glance, Ghost Money may seem like a stereotypical detective thriller. Anyone who has read Chandler, Spillane, or Corris (as an Australian reference) will recognise the frame work of this story – a missing person case. But that is where the comparison ends. Quinlan doesn’t spout wisecracks. He doesn’t drink. And furthermore comes of second best in every physical encounter (okay he does come out on top once, but only because his opponent falls foul of his own evil scheme – to say more would constitute a spoiler). So while the framework may be familiar to readers of crime fiction, the characters certainly are not. And that is important, as it is the characters who drive the story. Quinlan has his share of back story. He is not a man who arrives on the page, already a hero (that is if you’d call him that). He has flaws and skeletons in his closet. At the end of the book, he is a very different character to the man who started

Once the story kicks into high gear, Quinlan is partnered with a Cambodian named Sarin, who is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, and now works as a translator for a local reporter named Gillies. While Quinlan is the driving force in the story, Sarin is its heart. Cambodia is his country, and the events, and changing political climate, are the things he will have to live with, once the story is over – coupling that with his brutal backstory, and a man emerges who is strong, resourceful and resilient – and if one has to call one of the characters a hero, then Sarin is more deserving of the title.

In this day and age, it is not so surprising that a lot of fiction pays homage to the pop-cultural works that have coloured, and possibly influenced the author on his writer’s journey. They can be films, other works of literature, or even songs. There are a few of these references (or in-jokes) in Ghost Money, however author Andrew Nette, never lets them overtake the story. They are subtle nuggets for the knowing. However, I want to touch briefly on the last quarter of the book, which is an intoxicating roller coaster ride, which not only ties up the disparate plot threads, but immerses the reader noirish nether world of music, surreal dream-like images and literary themes. The run home starts, with Jim Morrison name-checked – from there our protagonists are shunted into the deep dark heart of Cambodia in a helicopter. Next comes the journey down river by boat. It may sound like I am describing Apocalypse Now. While Ghost Money is a very different beast from Coppola’s Vietnam allegory, the comparison is not that far fetched. Apocalypse Now is based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and the story of one man making a journey into a landscape he doesn’t understand, to find a man, but ultimately confronting his own inner demons, which is equally applicable for Ghost Money.

The wash-up is, Ghost Money is a noirish detective story, the likes of which you’ve never read before. As I said at the top, the framework is something very familiar, but the trip itself is a wild roller-coaster ride that will take you places you’ve never been and teach you things about the world that you were never taught – all of this in a package that’s damnably readable, and thoroughly entertaining.

Ghost Money

Hunter Will Get You (1976)

Country: France
Director: Philipe Labro
Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Bruno Cremer, Jean Negroni, Patrick Fierry, Jean-Pierre Jorris, Victor Garrivier
Music: Michel Columbier
Original Title: L’Alpagueur

One of the first movies I ever ordered from France, was L’Apagueur starring Jean-Paul Belmondo. I was going through a Belmondo phase at the time and wanted to get hold of as many of his films as I could. However, I don’t speak French. But the Audio on the DVD was described as Francais et Anglais en Mono D’Origne. I figured that meant it had French or English audio tracks. It actually meant it had the original French soundtrack, with a small amount of English dialogue in it. Not much at all. I watched it, but understood very little, as it has multiple story threads happening at once. Sure, they collide at the end, but by then, I was well and truly lost.

The good news is, and it’s been out for quite a while now, L’Alpagueur is available in English, as Hunter Will Get You. The film is not a spy film, nor is a police film. It exists in that nether world in between. Belmondo plays, Roger Pilard, the ‘Alpagueur’ – or the ‘Predator’ in the English dub, and he hunts criminals who operate above the law. He is a mercenary, who does what the police are unable to do – for a price, of course.

The film opens early in the morning in Rotterdam, near the port. Some kind of sting is about to go down. The Predator, and his team are assembled, watching and waiting. Out of a water-side restaurant, three men exit carrying a briefcase full of money. The Predator’s team swoops. However, Pilard does not. He keeps watching and sees a pregnant lady exit the restaurant a few seconds later. He rushes after her, and starts kneeing her in the stomach. As you’ve guessed, she is not really pregnant. The kicks, knock free a padded pillow which had been strapped to her stomach. It falls from her skirt to the ground. He picks it up, and cuts it open, and inside is a shipment of heroin. Chalk one up for the Predator.

The organized crime syndicate behind the drug shipment of ‘H’ are very unhappy with Pilard, and set about finding out who he is (as nobody knows his true identity), and ultimately putting him out of business – and this becomes more prevalent as the story moves along.

While the crime syndicate is working on that, Pilard moves on to his next assignment – which is to shut down an illegal gambling operation. With fake eyebrows and a mustache, Pilard poses as an insurance agent named Roget, and within no time, he has routed out the bad guys.

Meanwhile, in Paris, in a pinball parlor, a juvenile delinquent named Costa Valdes (Patrick Fierry) is trying to rip the money tray out of one of the machines. He is observed by a violent criminal known as the ‘Epervier’ – the ‘Hawk’ in the English dub (played by Bruno Cremer). The Hawk recruit Valdes to assist in a robbery (for the tidy sum of $1000).

On the Hawk’s instruction, Valdes, armed with a pistol, walks into a jewelery store to rob it. The store owner hits the alarm switch. Hawk enters dressed as a policeman. Initially, Valdes in relieved, believing it is a great scheme employed by the Hawk. That is, until the Hawk shoots the store owner in cold blood. Then he draws a bead on Valdes. Hawk fires, hitting Valdes in the arm. He is about to finish him off, when two real policemen enter the store. Hawk turns and guns them down. Then he flees, leaving Valdes alive – the only man able to identify the maniac criminal.

Valdes is sent to prison, but he refuses to rat on Hawk – leaving the authorities once again, without a lead on Hawk’s identity.

After Pilard has taken care of the gambling operation, his next mission is to catch Hawk. With the only lead being Valdes, Pilard is given a fake identity and arranges to be sent to prison, and to share a cell with Valdes.

Unbeknownst to Pilard, the prison officials are corrupt, and this puts him on a collision course with the aforementioned crime syndicate – and ultimately leading to a showdown with Hawk.

Hunter Will Get You is an entertaining slice of 1970’s crime action. It’s not a masterpiece, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a good solid thriller with good performances by Belmondo and Cremer. As a way of lazy comparison, this is the type of movie Charles Bronson made in the ’70s – which to your way of thinking, may be a plus, or a minus (I don’t think Bronson made crap until the ’80s, so, to be it’s a big plus). There’s a hint of vigilante to Belmondo’s character, Pilard. For the first two assignments, he takes a hefty fee. But when he is assigned to Hawk, he refuses to be paid, as Hawk is such a menace to society. In Pilard’s quest, laws are not really applicable – he’ll do what ever is required (so I guess he’s some kind of government sanctioned vigilante).

If you like Belmondo, or seventies action thrillers, this is worth a look.

Hunter Will Get You (1976)

Fight Card: Tomato Can Comeback

Author: Jack Tunney (Henry Brown)
Published: August 2012
Book No: 8

Earlier this month, the eighth novella in the Fight Card series, Tomato Can Comeback was released, and it continues the high standard set by the previous stories. This one is set in Detroit, and is told from the point of view of sports reporter, Gil Schwartz.

The hero of the piece, is a boxer named Tom Garrick, who after suffering a terrible beating at hands of a welterweight contender, is nicknamed Tomato Can – as it is suggested that he bled so much during the fight, he resembled a tomato can being split open by a tire iron. The beating is so traumatic, Garrick gives up the fight game.

Later, however, with the help of an army buddy, his platoon sergeant in Korea, Garrick prepares to make a comeback. Gil Schwartz thinks it may make a great story, and pays close attention to Garrick, and the people around him.

Unlike many of the other Fight Cards stories, there isn’t an out and out villain (like organised crime, or a dirty fighter), but there is a mystery to the story – which I’ll refrain from remarking upon – but it ties all the loose ends together rather nicely.

Tomato Can Comeback is hugely entertaining and a worthy addition to the Fight Card series. If you enjoyed, King of the Outback, or any of the other Fight Cards stories, then jump on board this one – you wont regret it. Highly recommended.

Fight Card: Tomato Can Comeback

Book Cover of the Day – The Forbidden Territory

The Forbidden Territory
Author: Dennis Wheatley
Publisher: Hutchinson
Published: 1933
Pictured above: Arrow Books – Paperback edition, published Sept. 1958

The Forbidden Territory was Dennis Wheatley’s first published novel. It was made into a film in 1934. Allegedly, Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights, but the film was directed by Phil Rosen.

You can read more about the film version at The Dennis Wheatley Project.

Book Cover of the Day – The Forbidden Territory

Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)


Country: United States
Director: Boris Sagal
Starring: Roger Moore, Patrick Macnee, John Huston, Charlotte Rampling, David Huddleston, Gig Young, Geoffrey Moore
Music: Richard Rodney Bennett
Based on characters by Arthur Conan Doyle

Regular visitors to this site, may have read this review before (originally posted in Jan 2010), but as the film has finally been released on DVD (by Madman Entertainment in Australia.) I thought it was well worth revisiting. I must admit, I am rather happy I can now relegate my old grey-market NTSC videotape to the scrap heap.

Before we begin, one thing, I feel is important to point out, is that Holmes is now so much bigger than the original stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. There have been countless continuation novels (not only limited to Holmes, but Professor Moriarty and Holmes’ brother Mycroft have each had novels written about their exploits).

Then, of course, there are the films. The first Sherlock Holmes film was the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (AKA: Held For Ransom) and starred Maurice Costello as Holmes. Since then, over 70 actors have played the part in over 200 films. But for most people, it was Basil Rathbone’s portrayal of the deerstalker cloaked crusader during the 1930’s and 40’s that are most fondly remembered. But with a 200 plus film back catalogue, a huge range of actors have tried their hand at playing Holmes; some more successfully than others.

The novelisation
For the spy fan, the Holmes adventures that are of interest are the propaganda films from the forties, which feature Basil Rathbone as Holmes battling Nazi spies and other assorted evil doers. Also of interest are the films which feature arch villain Professor James Moriarty. There is no mistaking that the rivalry between Homes and Moriarty is one of the battles in popular culture. Moriarty himself is one of the great ‘evil masterminds’, and certainly a prototype Blofeld (or any other diabolical villain). It is not so very surprising that David McDaniel in The Man From UNCLE novel, The Dagger Affair intimated that the evil organisation THRUSH was set up by Professor Moriarty.

Roger Moore in his biography only has one page devoted to Sherlock Holmes in New York, but it appears to have been a pleasant working experience. From My Word is my Bond (page 264) – Roger Moore – 2008 Harper Collins:

‘Jack called me up and asked if I’d be interested in a TV movie for Fox called Sherlock Holmes in New York. Patrick Macnee was already cast as Watson. It was to film in LA, so that all rather suited me. It was actually shot on the Hello, Dolly sets at Fox’s Hollywood studio.

I’ve already related the story of how I called Oliver Reed and asked if he was interested in playing Moriarty. Well, after he turned us down flat, Jack approached John Huston. As well as being a famous and accomplished director, writer and producer, Huston also turned his hand to acting in the odd film. He was wonderful to work with. On his arrival, John said to our director, Boris Sagal, ‘My boy, I have a lot of speeches to deliver. I may need some help remembering them.’ So, the art department made up beautiful prompt cards – or idiot boards as well call them – with the dialogue written on, and held them behind the camera at strategic points for John to refer to. He delivered every line perfectly, never looking at them once. The old cad.

John and I both enjoyed backgammon and fine cigars, so between takes we’d sit down to play and smoke. I never had the opportunity to work with Huston as a director. That would have been fun and is one of my few regrets.

Other casting fell into place: Charlotte Rampling, David Huddleston, Gig Young, Signe Hasso and my son Geoffrey, who was around ten, who played Irene Adler’s (Charlotte Rampling’s) son who is kidnapped by Moriarty. We later discover that the boy is in fact the result of a suggested liaison between Holmes and Irene Adler.

I won’t say this is regarded as one of the most popular or warmly remembered Holmes film, but we certainly had fun making it.’

As the film opens the year is 1901, and in London, Moriarty (John Huston) is enjoying a brandy is his gaudily decorated villains lair at Victoria Docks. As the clock strikes midnight, one of Moriarty’s lieutenants, Colonel Moran arrives with news. Moriarty and his team of cronies have been plotting the assassination of Lord Brackish, who is the head of the London Bank.

As Moriarty congratulates Moran on the success of his part of the mission, Moran’s voice begins to change. Then he pulls off several rubber appliances that had been glued to his face. Underneath is Sherlock Holmes (Roger Moore). Holmes recounts how all of Moriarty’s men have been rounded up by the police and how his assassinated attempt has been thwarted.

Moriarty is enraged. But then goes to show Holmes a trapdoor in the floor, a knife that is fired from a cash register on a desk, and a falling chandelier. He shows Holmes each of these devices that could have killed him, and then explains why he didn’t use them. He chose not to kill him at this time because he is preparing the crime of the century, and not only does he plan on changing the world with his audacious act of criminality, but also to humiliate Holmes in the process. Moriarty taunts that he plans to commit the perfect crime and Holmes will be helpless to stop it. As there is no direct evidence against Moriarty at this time, Holmes cannot have him arrested.

In the United States, Irene Adler (Charlotte Rampling) is preparing to star in a new Broadway production at the Empire Theatre in New York. For nine years, for each production she has starred in, she has sent two tickets to the premiere Holmes. He has never attended any of the productions.

Three days later, Holmes and Dr Watson (Patrick Macnee) are at their modest lodging at 221B Baker Street. An envelope arrives from the United States and inside are two tickets for Irene Adler’s new play, but the tickets are torn to shreds. Holmes realises something is amiss and immediately, with Watson in tow of course, he heads for New York.

Upon arrival, they go to the Empire Theatre to acquire tickets for the evening’s performance, but when it comes time for the curtain to be raised, the theatre owner addresses the crowd and says that Irene Adler will not be appearing on this evening due to illness. Her understudy will play the role. Holmes and Watson waste no time, and head directly to Irene Adler’s home. Irene is not ill at all, but something is troubling her, and it doesn’t take long for Holmes to deduce what it is. It appears that Irene’s son, Scott (played by Sir Roger’s son Geoffrey) has been kidnapped.

Shortly thereafter, a note is delivered by a messenger addressed to Holmes directly. But who knew he’d be here? The note says that if Scott is to survive, then Holmes is to refuse any request that the local police may ask.

It all becomes clear on the following morning when Inspector Lafferty (David Huddleston) of the New York Police Department approaches Holmes in want of assistance. In seems that New York plays host to the world’s largest gold depository in the world. Many countries have stored their gold in these top secret vaults, and all the gold has just been stolen. Lafferty asks for Holmes assistance in retrieving the gold. If the gold is not found, then in two days time, when an international transfer is set to take place, then pandemonium will break out between the different countries. It may even lead to war.

But, as Scott’s life is at stake, so Holmes refuses to assist the police in their investigations. At that moment, Moriarty’s taunt about how he will commit the crime of the century and Holmes will be helpless to solve it rings in his ears.

Sherlock Holmes in New York is actually a great deal of fun…that is if you can accept Roger Moore as Sherlock Holmes. I can. But, to be honest, Moore is the weakest link in the film. His acting is okay, but Roger Moore is, …well he’s Roger Moore. He’s the same likeable character that he portrayed as The Saint or James Bond. If you like Moore, then I suggest that you will like this film.

Patrick Macnee does a fine job with Watson, as the character is written. unfortunately, Watson is written as somewhat of a buffoon – definitely from the Nigel Bruce school of Watson – which I know rubs some people the wrong way. As an adjunct here, I must watch The Hound of London, in which Macnee plays Holmes (although it has a reputation for being one of the worst Holmes films ever).

In the quote above, Moore suggests that Sherlock Holmes in New York is not popular or warmly remembered which is quite a shame really. It is well written and the cast is engaging – Huston is clearly having a ball as Moriarty. Out of all the Sherlock Holmes films made this is far from the worst, and Moore’s performance isn’t bad.

Here’s the spiel from Madman.

Roger Moore takes on another literary hero in the DVD debut of this cracking and rare Sherlock Holmes mystery

The games afoot for Sherlock Holmes when he is lured to New York by his arch nemesis Moriarty under the guise that something sinister has happened to Holmes’ former flame, Irene Adler.

During their last meeting, Moriarty had promised revenge in the form of shattering Holmes’ reputation in the eyes of the world. He plans to commit the crime of the century – a crime that will occur under his very nose – and he will be powerless to stop it. The world will sneer, ridicule and the hound the famous sleuth into oblivion.

So when the villainous scoundrel makes good on his promise by quietly robbing the world’s gold reserves from a high-security bank vault, why is Holmes refusing to put his remarkable deductive powers to use? Has Moriarty indeed pulled off the crime of the century?

Roger Moore, taking a break from the height of James Bond hysteria, joined an all star cast including Patrick Macnee, Charlotte Rampling, Gig Young and John Huston as Moriarty for this sumptuous big-budget Sherlock Holmes adventure filmed by 20th Century Fox in 1976. Never before available on DVD, this Special Edition includes a newly recorded feature-length audio commentary with Sir Roger Moore.

Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)

The Saint in Manhattan (1987)

Country: United States / United Kingdom
Director: James Frawley
Starring: Andrew Clarke, Kevin Tighe, Christopher Marcantel, George Rose, Holland Taylor, Caitlin Clarke, Ben Vereen
Music: Mark Snow
Based on characters created by Leslie Charteris

I’m a bit late on this, as it has been out for a couple of weeks, but Madman Entertainment have just released the last piece of the Saint on television jigsaw puzzle – the much sought after The Saint in Manhattan. This pilot for a proposed new television series had never been released before – and had only existed as a poor quality dupe – available from the gray market. But Saint fans can now rejoice. Below is my review from a few years ago (for that aforementioned poor quality dupe).

The Saint in Manhattan is a Saint for the Magnum PI generation. Actually, its probably a few years too late for Magnum, but this pilot episode for a proposed new series has the same smirk and high living like Magnum, and added to that, Clarke has a moustache of Tom Selleck proportions.

Clarke copped a bit of flack for keeping the ‘mo’, but the Saint has had a moustache before. As always, though, in this day and age, any actor who takes on the role of the Saint is compared to Roger Moore, who was clean shaven. I must admit I like Andrew Clarke as an actor and he has been in some good productions – ANZACS springs to mind. But in the work I have seen he has always played a pretty down to earth Australian, so seeing him as a wealthy, womanising high roller, was a stretch for me. And maybe because I know him from his other work, I found his accent flittered between a fake Etonian and his natural Australian accent.

The show opens with a message sent from Special Branch, Scotland Yard to Inspector John Fernack of the New York Police advising him of the imminent arrival of Simon Templar (Andrew Clarke) in New York. Fernack rushes to the airport and watches as the passengers disembark from the Concorde that has just arrived from England. A stewardess walks up to Fernack and hands him a ticket folder, which he opens. Inside in Simon Templar’s calling card.

Meanwhile Templar is being chauffeured by helicopter to a heliport, where his car – with the number plate ST 1 – awaits him. It appears that times have changed, and Templar now drives a very sleek black Lamborghini, which he drives back to his palatial penthouse apartment in downtown Manhattan.

But soon Templar is bored and complaining of malaise to his butler, Woods (George Rose). His restlessness doesn’t last long with the arrival of a letter from an old flame, Margo. Margo also happens to be a world class ballerina. She is in New York to perform Sleeping Beauty, but she has been receiving strange threats. She requires a bodyguard and asks Templar to help out, which he gladly does.

As a promotional gimmick, during the opening night ballet performance, Margo is to wear the multi-million dollar ‘Empress of Austria’ diamond tiara, which belongs to two of the leading patrons of the ballet, Walter and Fran Grogan. After the show, Margo hands back the tiara only to discover it is a fake. As they search backstage, in the tiara’s original carry case there is a calling card – the Saint’s! So Templar is the prime suspect for the theft.

The Saint in Manhattan is essentially a formulaic whodunit, with the Saint investigating all the suspects in between sparring bouts with Inspector Fernack. The story itself may be nothing special, but the dialogue is pretty witty. It is a pity that Clarke doesn’t have the panache or charm to deliver the lines with the sly wink that they deserve.

As I mentioned at the top, The Saint in Manhattan was the pilot episode for a prospective series, but it would be my guess that the show didn’t generate the response and enthusiasm expected and no further episodes were made at the time. However the Saint would return two years later, but with Simon Dutton taking over as Simon Templar.

It’s interesting to compare the two. The Saint in Manhattan had pretty high production values, but was let down by Andrew Clarke’s performance. No maybe that’s unfair – let’s just say that Clarke was miscast in the role. Whereas the following Saint series, in Dutton they had a great Saint, but at times the series looked gritty where it should have looked glamorous and jet-setting. And some of the plots were just clunky, without any wit or panache.

I have probably made The Saint in Manhattan sound absolutely terrible. It is not, but it is what it is…one hour of network television. You can see the same formulaic storytelling in any mystery show of the same era (and probably many from today too).

A special ‘thank you’ to Tanner from the Double-O-Section for help with this review.

The blurb from the Madman DVD:

Simon Templar: lifestyle extravagant… Fingerprints: unavailable… Occupation: highly suspicious… Alias: THE SAINT.

The Saint, is back in New York, restless and bored. But the tedium is about to escalate to full-blown excitement when he is contacted by an old flame, Margo, a ballerina who is set to star in a high profile performance. She has received death threats in the guise of a mutilated doll being left in her dressing room, and as part of the ballet, she will don a million dollar tiara on opening night.

The performance goes without mishap, however, upon leaving the stage the tiara has somehow been swapped with a fake, and The Saint’s calling card has been left in its empty box. Someone has framed Simon, and his old adversary Inspector Fernack is quick to point the finger. Has Margo set up her former flame, or is it an insurance rip-off? One thing’s for sure, whoever the criminal, they should have thought twice before setting up The Saint.

Australia’s Andrew Clarke won the highly-coveted role of Simon Templar in this big-budget, pilot episode for a proposed American series of the classic literary hero created by Leslie Charteris. It’s The Saint for the 1980s, but he still oozes charm, chivalry and heroism as he searches for the truth. The Saint doesn’t respect the law, but he does respect justice. Sometimes they’re not always the same thing.

Never previously available and rarely screened since its original broadcast, at last THE SAINT’s television legacy is complete with the release of this one-off adventure.

The Saint in Manhattan (1987)