Read The Saint Returns Online

Authors: Leslie Charteris

Tags: #English Fiction, #Fiction in English

The Saint Returns



two new
adventures from television





for the Crime Club by

Company, Inc., Garden City, New York





The genesis of this book is exactly the same
as that of my last publication, THE SAINT ON TV. Therefore, to
explain it
to anyone who may have incredibly missed that
epoch-making ops, I
cannot do better than repeat the
explanatory note with which it was prefaced:


When, after many years of noble and
lofty-minded re
sistance, I finally broke down and sold the Saint to the
Philistines of Television, I fear that I must have added one more
argument to the armory of the cynics who
maintain that every
man has his price; because I cer
tainly got mine. It must have been a
shattering blow to
the countless millions who until then had thought I was
even though I myself had never made that claim.
However, I did have
enough remnants of probity to
limit his period of bondage to two years, knowing full
well the voracity of the mills which grind out the
for what I still regard as the
mini-medium of mini-minds,
figuring that in that time, at the relentless pace of
one show a week, they would have devoured the
product of a not inactive
writing lifetime, or anyway as
of it as was suitable for adaptation to filmlets of
about 50 minutes
without the commercial “messages” and
the pauses for what is hilariously called “station identification.”
I was resigned to the expectation that my stories would be considerably garbled
and mutilated to conform
either with
the puerile tabus of unwritten censorships
or the congenital megalomania of all moviemakers who
can never resist “improving” any
literary creation that
falls into
their power, or both; but it had never occurred
to me to allow the Saint to be projected into plots that had absolutely
no connection whatsoever with anything
had ever written, and in fact any such liberties were
specifically prohibited in my first contract.

Despite all the distortions and emasculations
shook up a probable majority of hitherto faithful readers of the Saint
books, that first TV series was a big hit in
Britain (where it was
made) and many European coun
tries, and was even fairly successful in the
United States
presented in most areas at such impossible hours
that only chronic insomniacs, night watchmen, or veritably fanatic fans
would have caught it. Indeed, the Ameri
can success was remarkable enough for NBC to become
interested in putting the show on their full
network, in
color, and in what is
called “prime time”—a promotion which had never before been offered
to any series previ
ously established in syndication.

The interesting situation then was that the
British TV producers could not thumb out this possible plum with
out making
a new deal with me, which would necessarily
include the right to
create original scripts.

Well, the cynics will recognize it as the
same old story.

After you’ve succumbed once, it is so much easier to suc
cumb again. Especially when the bribe can be made
much fatter. And I have never
pretended that I chose a
career in
writing without the most powerful mercenary

So, after many hesitations and much tough bargain
ing, and
not without very grave misgivings, I eventually

The rest is history, of a sort. Many of the
results, fulfilling my worst forebodings, were lamentable. But many
of the
so-called “adaptations” of my own cherished stories
were no
less lamentable, after the weird wizardries of
television production
got through with them. Some of
those “adaptations,” in defiance of every contractual
safeguard, had been almost unrecognizable anyhow. Some of
the new original scripts were not much worse. Some
passable. And a few, to my
pleasant surprise, were quite

Enter, next, three other Tempters: the
in 137 issues had just about exhausted the reservoir of Saint material, in
spite of all the additions I had myself
able to make to the Saga during its existence, and
my book publishers in America and Britain (to put
them in alphabetical order) who had labored so stoutly for me
in my rising years but had long since been
bemoaning the indolence of success, and who were perpetually
pleading with me to give them new Saint books
they guaranteed, would be
hungrily lapped up by hordes
throughout the British Empire and
the United States (to put them in alphabetical
Why not, they conjointly urged,
extend the Saga to in
clude readable
versions of some of the best of the tele
vised inventions—subject, of course, to my own final

The idea was interesting, and by no means
unique in
literature. Even aside from the notable “Solar
by August Derleth (of which several
first ap
peared in the
Saint Magazine)
Sherlock Holmes
had been perpetuated far beyond the range of Conan
Doyle in
several movies and innumerable radio series
episodes based merely
on the character and retailing
episodes that Doyle never dreamed of. Barry
by arrangement with the estate of the late E. W. Hornung,
continued the adventures of Raffles into modern times in
considerable number of stories (many of which were
also first published
in the
Even while I was thinking it over, I
heard that the heirs to the Ian
Fleming copyrights were contemplating a
the James Bond mythology—arrangements for which
have since been concluded. If such a process could be
tolerated by such a distinguished range of
fictional char
acters, why should I
reject it for the Saint?

If I had turned it down, there would still
have been nothing I could do, so far as I know, to enjoin my own
heirs from
buying the same proposition some day—or,
worse still, to
prevent it being done without even any
benefit to them by
some later larcenist taking advantage
of the privileged piracy sanctioned by
the iniquitous con
cept of “public domain.” But by permitting it
now, besides
some of the financial fruits myself, I would have
one privilege which was denied to all the other authors
I have cited: I could personally watch over and to
a great
extent control the

These original scripts, after all, were by agreement first
submitted to me as synopses, on which I was
to make criticisms and suggestions, even if the producers
did not invariably adopt them. The resulting
scripts were again submitted to me, and again subjected to my com
ments, even though these were not always embodied
the final films. Now I would be in
a position to choose,
first, the scripts which did least violence to my
own con
cept of a Saint story. Furthermore,
the story-form adapta
tions would be
made under my own direct and absolute
permitting me to change and improve on the basic material in any way I thought
desirable, in a possi
bly unique
reversal of the usual system under which the
film producer takes it upon himself to improve on the author. Finally, I
would personally revise every page of
adaptations, making an honest effort to ensure that
in style and phrase they were as fair a facsimile
of my
own writing as could be achieved
without my doing all
the work.

What you are about to read, therefore, is an
and perhaps unprecedented experiment in team work. It
is not, in
any sense, a ghosted job, because I do not pre
tend to be the
outright author. For these first offerings
(and if they are well
received there will be more) I have
chosen story lines by John Kruse, whom
I rate as easily
the best TV scripter who has worked on the show, and
novelizations are by Fleming Lee, a promising young
writer who I think
will presently make a name of his
own. I have done the back-seat driving,
and added a few
typical flourishes of my own. Obviously, the composite
result is not even now exactly the way it might have been
if I had
written it all myself. But it is as close as any imita
tion is ever likely to

The reception of the first experiment has
me to try it
again. And if this rerun is received
as well,
will be more. After all, everyone doesn’t catch a TV
series every single week, and by this method you might
catch one of the better ones you might have missed.
in this presentation, you can enjoy it at any hour that suits
you—and with no commercials.

L. C.




Adapted by Fleming Lee

Original Story by D.
R. Motton

Teleplay by Leigh





The golden sun grew fat in its old age, and as
it sank low
over the distant Irish hills the whole countryside seemed
to share in the hush of its going. There was no breeze.
The birds
were still, and even the stream, moving deep
and slow between
green banks, made scarcely a murmur.
Only now and then a trout, striking at some floating insect
in the shallows, would break the silence with
a sudden
splash whose purl quickly
smoothed and silently

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