Cast & Crew
Simon Templar, the debonair sleuth known as "The Saint," is hounded by the press for a story as he sets sail for a vacation in Switzerland with his friend, Monty Hayward. Determined to get a story, reporter Mary Langdon trails Simon to the Hotel Regina and corners him in the lobby. There Simon excuses himself to greet Valerie, an old friend, but knows something is amiss when she denies knowing him and furtively sneaks away to meet a man she calls Gregory. Simon watches as Gregory speeds away in his car and is followed by Rudolph Hauser, Simon's old adversary. Simon then proposes that Mary and Monty accompany him on a stroll in the woods, where they witness a man being assaulted. Simon comes to the rescue and takes the injured man to his hotel suite.
After finding a locked box in the man's possession, Simon goes into the next room to show it to his companions, and when he returns to his room, he discovers that the man has been stabbed to death. When Hauser and his accomplice Marko appear and reclaim the box at gunpoint, Simon jumps onto the rear bumper of their car and follows them to their headquarters, where he watches as Hauser interrogates Gregory about the box. Simon then steps in to claim the box, calling Mary with instructions to meet him at the St. Gallen crossroad. As Simon speaks into the phone, Hauser grabs the box and disappears through a secret panel. Hauser and Marko drive to the crossroad, where they plan to eliminate Simon, but are surprised when Simon pops out of their trunk and demands the box. Just then, Monty, disguised as a police officer, drives up and, after returning the box to Hauser, pretends to arrest Simon. As they drive away, Simon informs Monty that he emptied the contents of the box, and thus to Monty's chagrin, the troublesome object is still their traveling companion.
At the hotel, Simon examines the music box that he removed from Hauser's box and discovers that its playing cylinder punches a peculiar code on a piece of blank paper. When Valerie calls and demands the box, Simon decides to mail it across the border and books passage on the train that carries the mail. Also on board the train are Mary, Monty, Hauser, Marko, Gregory and Valerie. Rudolph and Marko begin to rifle the mail car but are interrupted by Gregory, who is killed in the ensuing shootout. Nevertheless, Rudolph finds the box and when the train stops at the next station, the police, who have been alerted by Hauser, board the train and arrest Simon for the murder of the man found in his hotel room. When Hauser opens the box, he finds a medicine kit and, realizing that Simon has tricked him, abducts Monty and calls Simon in jail to demand the box in exchange for Monty's freedom.
Meanwhile, Mary goes to visit Simon in jail and is arrested as his accomplice. Feigning a fire in their cell, the two escape and drive to Hauser's castle. Simon realizes that Hauser is unaware that the box is stowed in Monty's luggage, and offers to tell him the location of the box in return for clearing Simon's name and releasing Monty. Hauser agrees to Simon's terms, and after Mary speeds off to Paris with Monty, Simon informs Hauser that the box is on its way to Paris and threatens to charge Hauser with murder and mail theft unless he is allowed to go free. As Simon returns to London, he is greeted at dockside by the story-hungry press and Inspector Teal, who accompanies Simon, Mary and Monty to headquarters, where Simon turns the box over to Charles Leighton of the war office. As Leighton explains that the notches on the box's music cylinder replicate a plan for a secret sound detection device, Valerie, who was also working for the British government, enters the room and greets Simon.
The Saint's Vacation
This entry in the series also marked the only occasion that novelist Leslie Charteris, creator of The Saint, had an active role in the screenplay adaptation of one of his stories. Although another writer reworked the script, the film's plot adheres fairly closely to the original story. As Monty Hayward (Arthur Macrae) packs and wards off telephone calls, his friend Simon Templar (Hugh Sinclair), the debonair detective known as The Saint, eludes reporters and uses the fire escape to join him. Templar and his friend intend to travel to Switzerland for a well-earned rest; as Hayward optimistically (and incorrectly) states, "we're going away on holiday we're not going to get mixed up with anything." Reporters at the dock are fooled when Templar sneaks aboard the boat using a false beard, but the determined Mary Langdon (Sally Gray) follows the trail of The Saint across Europe and locates him at the Hotel Regina. As soon as Templar tells her that there is no story to be found, he observes skullduggery underway in the lobby an old adversary, Rudolph Hauser (Cecil Parker) is skulking about with some of his henchman, obviously on the prowl for something valuable. In the woods, Templar and Hayward defend a man being beaten by some thugs. Templar takes the man and a package he was carrying to his hotel suite but as Mary and Templar examine the package, which contains a music box, the man is murdered. Hauser and his goon Marko (Manning Whiley) appear in the room and claim the box at gunpoint. As they make their escape by car, Templar hitches a ride on the rear bumper; his trip to Hauser's palatial hideout puts him deeper in danger and in a tangled web of people fighting for the mysterious music box.
In his book, The Saint: A Complete History in Print, Radio, Film and Television, Burl Barer wrote that "British stage actor Hugh Sinclair had a mustache, a beautiful speaking voice, and an absurd haircut when cast to replace George Sanders as the Saint in an adaptation of Charteris' The Saint's Getaway. ...Sinclair's timing is off kilter in his first scene with Arthur Macrae his posture and presentation appear peculiar but his offhand approach is less cynical than Sanders'. Blessed with a marvelous speaking voice, Hugh Sinclair would have made an excellent radio Saint. Discounting one's immediate dismay with Sinclair's awkward entrance into the series, the screenplay is actually quite delightful. Bright aides and clever bits of business brighten the proceedings." Co-star Sally Grey had already appeared in an earlier entry in The Saint series, The Saint in London (1939), opposite Sanders.
In a review at the time of the film's release, Theodore Strauss of the New York Times said, "Don't let the title of The Saint's Vacation... mislead you. If we remember correctly almost each of the Saint's previous brushes with destiny began just about the time that he packed his razor and toothbrush for a sabbatical. ...Not that the Saint's present contretemps over a mysterious little music box is the most exciting of his adventures. But the Saint in action at any time makes for pleasant entertainment..." As for the actor change, Strauss felt that "...Hugh Sinclair, now in the role, lacks a bit of George Sanders' sardonic suavity, he's a capital fellow nonetheless."
Burl Barer observes that The Saint's Vacation was based on Charteris' novel The Saint's Getaway, and, as was typical according to his agreement with RKO, Charteris received $10,000 for the rights to his book, but also an additional $3,000 for the screenplay. The final script by Jeffrey Dell was the only one credited in RKO's initial advertising for the film, an oversight which later became a point of contention; as Charteris later wrote to his lawyer, "The picture The Saint's Vacation was my own screenplay adaptation from my own novel Getaway which RKO had purchased quite some time before I did the scenario. Needless to say, this adaptation followed the original book as closely as possible... When the form of screen credit was casually discussed at the time, it was my verbal understanding that it was to read 'Screen Play by Leslie Charteris from his own novel Getaway.' You will notice that in the advertising the original source is not even mentioned either."
Although subsequent ads and the screen credits were correct, Charteris was building a case featuring a variety of grievances with RKO, as he was trying to get out his contract with them so that he could shop his character around to other studios. The main complaint was that RKO had launched a competing series of films featuring a similar detective, The Falcon, who was even played by former Saint George Sanders. There would be a follow-up Saint film starring Hugh Sinclair, The Saint Meets the Tiger (1943). The die was cast, however; RKO indeed shifted most of their attention to The Falcon series. The deciding factor was no doubt money Falcon author Michael Arlen only charged $3,000 per adaptation, less than a third of the fee that Charteris charged the studio per film.
Producer: William Sistrom
Director: Leslie Fenton
Screenplay: Jeffrey Dell (writer); Leslie Charteris (screenplay and novel)
Cinematography: Bernard Knowles
Art Direction: Paul Sheriff
Music: Bretton Byrd (uncredited)
Film Editing: Al Barnes, Ralph Kemplen
Cast: Hugh Sinclair (Simon Templar, aka The Saint), Sally Gray (Mary Langdon), Cecil Parker (Rudolph Hauser), Arthur Macrae (Monty Hayward), Leueen MacGrath (Valerie), Gordon McLeod (Inspector Teal), John Warwick (Gregory), Manning Whiley (Marko), Felix Aylmer (Charles Leighton), Ivor Barnard (Emil).
by John M. Miller
The Saint's Vacation
RKO decided to form a British Company to utilize funds frozen by the British government because of the "Films Act," which limited money taken out of the country to 50% of revenues earned from American films distributed in Great Britain. This was the first film made using those frozen funds.
The working title of this film was Getaway. A Hollywood Reporter news item notes that in February 1941, the studio decided to stop American production of their "Saint" pictures and assigned producer William Sistrom to begin filming the series in London with a new set of British actors. The Variety review explained that the move was prompted by the British government's decision to freeze RKO's funds in England, thus making them available only for British production. In the early 1940's, the British government enacted the Films Act which placed the revenues earned from American films distributed in Britain under the auspices of the British Treasury. The act limited the earnings that an American company could take out of the country to 50 percent, effectively freezing the other 50 percent in Britain. To access those "frozen funds," RKO decided to produce The Saint's Vacation and several others in Britain, although only one other "Saint" picture, The Saint Meets the Tiger, was produced (see below). In The Saint's Vacation, Hugh Sinclair took over the title role from George Sanders, who then stepped into RKO's "Falcon" series. For additional information about "The Saint" series, consult the Series Index and see entry for the 1938 film The Saint in New York in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40.