Cast & Crew
Late one night in London, Simon Templar, a debonair private detective known as "The Saint," receives a phone call from a stranger offering him a million pounds in gold. When the man appears on Simon's doorstep, he is stabbed by an unseen assailant, but before dying, the man gasps, "The Tiger, Baycombe and the gold." Simon then calls Inspector Teal of Scotland Yard, a friendly rival, and the dead man is eventually identified as Joe Gallo, a well-known bookie. After Teal reveals that Gallo was involved in a recent bank robbery, Simon suspects that the still-missing loot is the gold that Gallo mentioned, and that he will find the answers in Baycombe. The next morning, Simon and his valet Horace travel to the Cornish village of Baycombe, where they begin searching for "The Tiger," the mysterious leader of the gang of bank robbers. As he meets the townspeople, Simon becomes acquainted with pretty Pat Holmes, who invites him to tea, where he meets banker Lionel Bentley and entrepreneur Bittle. Simon is immediately suspicious of the pair, and as Simon deduces, Bentley and Bittle are in league with The Tiger, who, under the name Tidmarsh, is working in Baycombe as a newspaper reporter. Also present at Pat's gathering is Teal, who poses as a geologist named Professor Kahn. Later, at Simon's rented cottage, one of Bentley's henchmen attempts to shoot him but misses, leading Teal to comment that Simon revealed too much earlier when he intimated to Bentley and Bittle that he knows about their compliticy in the robbery and Gallo's death. Simon insists that the assassination attempt proves that he is on the right track, and then refuses Teal's offer to work together. Soon after, Simon goes to Bentley's home and interrupts as Bentley buys Pat's shares in a defunct gold mine. Simon announces that the banker must have a criminal reason to be buying the worthless mine, and the angry Bentley orders two henchmen to pursue Simon and Pat after they resist his attempts to detain them. Simon sends Pat to his cottage, then returns to Bentley's house, where he discovers a secret passageway to Bentley's office. There, he is captured by Bentley, Bittle and other members of the gang, and accuses them of plotting to plant the stolen gold in the old mine and thereby be able to sell the gold legally. Simon also accuses them of killing Gallo to prevent him from revealing the scheme. Simon throws a knife at Bittle's hand when the criminal tries to shoot him, then is released by Bentley when Tidmarsh telephones and orders them not to kill Simon, but instead get him "out of the way" until they can escape with the gold. Bittle then attempts to get Simon arrested for assault, but the smooth-talking detective pressures Teal into providing an alibi for him. The next day, having learned from Pat that a network of ancient smugglers' caves exists in Baycombe, and that they can be accessed through the local museum, Simon questions Merridew, the curator. Merridew admits his involvement with the gang, but before he can reveal the entrance to the caves, he is killed by a knife thrown by Eddie, one of Bentley's men. Unaware that Eddie has escaped through the secret entrance, Teal, who is in the museum's outer room, arrests Simon for murdering Merridew. Tidmarsh arrives as Teal states that he is taking Simon back to London, and after they leave, calls Bentley with the news that Simon will be off the case. Tidmarsh then orders Bentley to load the gold into a boat anchored near the secret caves, but Bentley, angered by Tidmarsh's arrogance, plots with Bittle to double-cross him. The still unsuspecting Pat then informs Tidmarsh of her plan to sneak aboard Bentley's boat with Horace and retrieve the gold. That night, Bentley and Bittle knock Tidmarsh unconscious before he can join Pat and Horace, who board the boat and begin their search for the loot and the Tiger. Meanwhile, Teal explains to Simon that he arrested him as a ruse to lure the Tiger into a false sense of security, and the pair return to the museum. There, they find the entrance to the smugglers' caves, and Simon sneaks onto the boat. Pat, Horace and Simon eventually find one another, but they are captured by Bentley and Bittle. Tidmarsh arrives onboard soon after, and tells Simon that because he is a worthy opponent, he and his friends can go free. Tidmarsh is determined to kill his double-crossing partners, but Bittle shoots him while he is talking to Simon. Simon then throws a knife at Bittle's hand and succeeds in disarming him. Teal arrives with reinforcements and is informed of Tidmarsh's identity and death, although Simon announces that the police cannot have the gold, as he will be turning it over to the bank's insurance company for a hefty commission. Pat then bestows congratulatory kisses on both Simon and Horace.
The Saint Meets the Tiger
RKO had introduced Simon Templar, aka The Saint, to the screen in 1938 in The Saint in New York, starring Louis Hayward. Although Hayward was an effective, albeit more dramatic than most, incarnation of Charteris' hero, the next five entries in the series starred George Sanders. The role increased his standing in Hollywood, but Charteris was not happy with RKO's handling of his stories or the casting of the lead (he wanted Cary Grant in the role) and tried to stop them from making any more films in the series with no luck. Like most Hollywood studios during World War II, RKO had frozen assets in England, so they shot two new Saint movies back to back there, The Saint's Vacation (1941) and The Saint Meets the Tiger. Even though they brought Charteris in to write the first, he remained unhappy with the results. Meanwhile, the studio picked up the less expensive character the Falcon, who had appeared in books by Michael Arlen, and moved Sanders into a new series (he would eventually be replaced by his brother, Tom Conway). Charteris then sued, claiming the Falcon films plagiarized ideas from his books.
For the two British-shot films, RKO cast Hugh Sinclair, a British actor who had made his stage debut in 1922. Among his early theatrical hits were the stage versions of Escape Me Never and J.B. Priestley's The Good Companions. He had previously visited Hollywood, where he made his screen debut opposite Constance Bennett in RKO's Our Betters (1933). At 38, he was the oldest actor to take on the role to that time.
In this outing, Templar uncovers a band of gold smugglers after a dead body turns up on his doorstep. Although The Saint Meets the Tiger was the last film in RKO's initial series, it was adapted from the first Saint novel, Meet the Tiger. It was also the only film in the series to feature Pat Holm (Jean Gillie), the girlfriend from Charteris' books, and Simon Templar's butler, Horace (Wylie Watson). Gordon McLeod -- who had played Inspector Teal in the studio's earlier British-lensed series entry, The Saint in London (1939) -- returned to the role this time out.
The Saint Meets the Tiger was met with decidedly weak box office response. In fact, RKO was so unhappy with their two British-shot Saint films they kept the second from U.S. screens for two years after The Saint's Vacation proved a box-office flop. Finally, they sold the U.S. rights to Poverty Row studio Republic, best known for its Westerns. At the time, Republic announced they had picked up the film to see if audiences would accept the character with an actor other than Sanders in the role. They didn't.
Variety was kind to Sinclair, but quick to dismiss the film as "strictly for the lower half of dualers...The Saint Meets the Tiger has too many plot loopholes to escape better billing." RKO would wait nine years to bring back the character, with Hayward returning to the role he created on screen for The Saint's Girl Friday (1953). The character would achieve his greatest success when Roger Moore took on the role in a popular 1962 British TV series. A 1997 attempt to revive the character in The Saint, starring Val Kilmer, met with little success.
For Sinclair, his two films as the Saint were a mere blip on his career radar. He would continue his stage career with notable performances in T.S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party and the London company of The Philadelphia Story, starring Margaret Leighton. He also would co-star in the acclaimed film version of D.H. Lawrence's The Rocking Horse Winner (1949). One cast member would go on to a bright sleuthing future in her own right. Although unbilled, the film's maid was Joan Hickson, who would cap her lengthy career with a series of popular television appearances as Agatha Christie's female detective, Miss Marple, in the '80s and '90s.
Producer: William Sistrom
Director: Paul L. Stein
Screenplay: Leslie Arliss, James Seymour, Wolfgang Wilhelm
Based on the novel Meet the Tiger by Leslie Charteris
Cinematography: Robert Krasker
Art Direction: Paul Sheriff Principal Cast: Hugh Sinclair (Simon Templar, the Saint), Jean Gillie (Pat Holm), Gordon McLeod (Inspector Teal), Clifford Evans (Tidemarsh), Wylie Watson (Horace), Dennis Arundell (Bentley), Joan Hickson (Maid). BW-69m. Closed Captioning.
by Frank Miller
The Saint Meets the Tiger
Although not the first screen appearance of Simon Templar, this film is based on the very first Saint novel.
This film, which was produced as a "quota" production in England by RKO to access the company's frozen British funds, was the second of the studio's three British "Saint" pictures. The film was produced in 1941, but according to modern sources, RKO declined to distribute it in the United States. Hollywood Reporter news items indicate that RKO sold the American distribution rights to Republic in July 1943, and that Republic intended to use the film as "a testing ground" to see if the public would accept a "Saint" picture that did not star George Sanders, who had become identified with the role in the RKO series. Hugh Sinclair made his second and final appearance as "The Saint" in The Saint Meets the Tiger, and RKO did not produce another picture featuring the character until the 1954 film The Saint's Girl Friday. For additional information about "The Saint" series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry for the 1938 film The Saint in New York in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3879.