Country: United Kingdom
Director: John Paddy Carstairs
Starring: Roger Moore, Honor Blackman, Anthony Dawson, Elspeth March, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Tony Wright, Anne Sharp, Gordon Tanner, John Arnatt, John Carson
Music: Edwin Astley
Based on the story by Leslie Charteris
‘I am the Saint – you may have heard of me. Just a twentieth-century privateer. In my small way I try to put right a few of the things that are wrong with this cock-eyed world, and clean up some of the excrescences I come across.’
Time for a little more of The Saint, and as always, it could be argued that The Saint is a jewel thief and not a secret agent and has no place on this blog. As portrayed in Leslie Charteris’ books I would have to agree with you, but the TV series with Roger Moore is a different matter altogether! Simon Templar’s criminal activities are only hinted at and he spends most of his time solving mysteries, battling international villains and generally fighting for truth, justice and the Empire.
But having said that, The Arrow Of God is not much of a spy story, but it has a cast that will be familiar to fans of the Bond series, showcasing Honor Blackman, who would go on to be Cathy Gale in The Avengers, and, of course, Pussy Galore in Goldfinger – and Anthony Dawson who played the duplicitous Professor Dent in Dr. No.
This episode is set in the Bahamas and opens with a selection of stock footage clips to give you a sense of location – beaches, nightclubs with musicians playing the bongos, water skiing – all things associated with a good life in the tropics.
Simon Templar is in Nassau for the weekend at the request of an old friend, Lucy Wexall (Elspeth March). She is a wealthy lady who has a luxurious mansion by the beach, which she shares with her husband, Herbert (Ronald Leigh-Hunt), who is a reformed drug addict. But Templar is not the only houseguest staying at the Wexalls. There’s Arthur Gresson (Gordon Tanner) who is an American businessman who is working on a deal with Herbert. Also staying for the weekend is Herbert’s confidential secretary, Pauline Stone (Honor Blackman). It is rumoured that Herbert and Pauline are having an affair. Next there’s Janet Blaise (Anne Sharp), who is Lucy’s spoilt step sister. Tagging along with Janet, is her fiance, John Herrick (Tony Wright). Herrick is a keen sportsmen and intends playing at Wimbledon later in the year. Another face at the Wexall homestead is an Indian mystic named Astron (John Carson). He was invited to stay by Lucy, but she is unaware that he had been deported from the United States for fraud.
But the real fly in the ointment over the weekend is the presence of Floyd Vosper (Anthony Dawson). Vosper writes a grubby syndicated gossip column that dishes out the dirt on the social elite. Early in the episode, The Saint describes Vosper as ‘a schoolboy who writes dirty words on a backyard fence’. Vosper is not a liked man. And it’s not just his gutter-press journalism that rubs people the wrong way. He is a cruel and arrogant man who delights in taunting and bullying people. He was invited to the Wexall’s by Herbert, who thought that if Vosper were to say positive things about his imminent oil deal with Arthur Gresson, then maybe other investors would come aboard.
Upon arrival at the Wexalls, Vosper insults everyone, then later, he goes to the beach for a nap. When he fails to turn up for dinner, Templar goes to investigate only to find Vosper dead with an arrow through his chest. The question is whodunnit? Each of the houseguests had a reason to hate, possibly even kill, Vosper. And each had the opportunity too. To unravel the mess, Major Fanshire (John Arnatt) of the Nassau police is called in to sort out the mess. Naturally he recieves a little help from The Saint.
At the start, I pointed out that this episode featured two stars from the Bond series, but the other players in this show are not exactly ‘unknowns’. Practically everyone featured, has had a long and varied career, and has put in appearances in espionage related television shows and films. Anne Sharp appeared on The Saint on three different occasions – in fact she did the rounds for ITC appearing on The Baron, The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and a recurring role as Nicola Harvester in Jason King. Ronald Leigh Hunt appeared in a couple of episodes of The Avengers, and in the films The Liquidator and Where The Bullets Fly. Tony Wright, also appeared on The Saint on three separate occasions. He also appeared on The Avengers and The Persuaders, as well as the movie The Liquidator. Elspeth March went on to appear in A Dandy In Aspic and Charlie Muffin. Gordon Tanner would appear on the TV series Espionage, and as a town elder in The Prisoner (Living In Harmony). His film work included Where The Spies Are and Alistair MacLean’s Caravan to Vaccares. John Arnatt would play Charles Vine’s superior Rockwell in Licensed To Kill (AKA: The Second Best Secret Agent In The Whole Wide World) and Where The Bullets Fly – and similarly played Merlin, the gadget master in Lindsay Shonteff’s No. 1 Licensed To Love And Kill (AKA The Man From S.E.X.). I have probably laboured the point there, but you can clearly see what I mean. These actors and actresses did the rounds and were right at home doing this kind of material.
I enjoy, practically any episode of The Saint, and this is a pretty snappy entry. It wont change your life by any means, but it is a pleasant enough way to while a way an hour.