Thursday, January 10, 2008

B-Movie Detectives: Part 9



By 1941, George Sanders had starred as Simon Templer, aka the Saint, in five movies produced by RKO. These were fun films based on Leslie Charteris' classic "gentleman-adventurer" character, but Charteris eventually pulled the rights to the Saint away from that studio.

-

So RKO turned to a short story by Michael Arlen titled "The Gay Falcon" to find another suave gentleman-adventurer that Sanders could play.

-

In that story, the main character (who is 0bviously based on the Saint) is actually named Gay Falcon. An unfortunate name from a modern perspective, but of course his first name didn't have the same connotation then as it does now.

-

The 1941 movie version does use a few plot elements from that story, but mostly just comes up with an original story. Though Sanders is now playing a guy named Gay Laurence, known as the Falcon from his work catching criminals, he is really a carbon copy of the Saint.

-

The Falcon movies, though, are actually a little better written than those in the Saint series. The plots are better constructed and the comic relief (often a stumbling block in such film series) is actually pretty funny.

-

After four films, Sanders left the series. Rather than recasting the part, though, the producers opted to do something unusual. In The Falcon's Brother (1942), Gay Laurence is killed off. His brother Tom takes over as the main character. The series continued for 10 more films.

-

Ironically, Tom Conway was George Sanders real life brother as well. (Conway would also play the Saint on a 1951 radio series, as well as take a turn as Sherlock Holmes in that medium.)
-
Whether the Falcon was played by Sanders or Conway, the appeal of the character was the same. He was an intelligent guy--upper class but never snobbish--who always kept his cool even when he was being framed for murder or was facing down an armed killer. Both Sanders and Conway gave the Falcon class, while the script writers gave him some solid, interesting mysteries to solve.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...