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The Saint: A Complete History in Print, Radio, Film and Television of Leslie Charteris' Robin Hood of Modern Crime, Simon Templar, 1928-1992 Paperback – May 30, 2003
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"clearly a labor of love...recommended"--Choice; "detailed and lively...a good reference"--ARBA; "top notch...informative and fun...emphatically recommended"--Journal of Popular Culture; "beautifully produced illustrated volume...a likeable and very respectful work"--Interzone; "richly detailed"--Reference & Research Book News; "an interesting slice of pop culture"--Communication Booknotes Quarterly.
About the Author
Burl Barer lives in Stevenson Ranch, California.
Top customer reviews
But this book is far more than bibliography, impressive thought the bibliography is. What I found far more interesting was Barer's portrait of Charteris himself, and what struck me as his somewhat ambiguous relationship with his creation Simon Templar. On the one hand, he was a spirited defender of Templar's biography, personality, and distinguishing characteristics, keeping a close eye on the way the Saint was portrayed in all his various media incarnations over many decades. As a writer myself, I particularly enjoyed reading his comments to various scriptwriters about the poor job they were doing on plot or characterization.
At the same time, however, Charteris was more than willing to let those other writers do the heavy-lifting of producing new Saint stories for his approval and to be published under his name. If a story, movie, or radio drama ended up being, frankly, not very good then, as Charteris said in reference to those 1989 TV movies, "The old joke about crying all the way to the bank is my only consolation" (p. 230).
There are some things this book is not, and one of them is a character study of the Saint. Although Templar's biography comes through in these pages, Barer does not devote to the novels the same attention he does to the radio plays or movies, which I regret. But that may be a reflection of my own tendency to think of the Saint primarily as a literary character who was then translated, often not very well, to other media. Barer takes a more holistic view, I think, in which the Saint as portrayed by Roger Moore, the extravagantly betrousered Ian Ogilvy, or the "Thomas Magnum by way of Matt Houston" Andrew Clarke (p. 222) is as definitive a part of the Saintly canon as are the novels.
I don't know if I would call this book "essential reading for the Saint fan," simply because it is possible to enjoy the stories without needing to know the information contained here. But for readers interested not only in the stories but in all the Saint's many manifestations and interpretations -- and most valuable, I would think -- a fascinating look at the author behind it all, then Burl Barer's book has stood the test of 15 years and is worth keeping handy today.
It is a must-have for Saint fans, and makes for an excellent read, even for those detectivish fans who don't really know much about Simon Templar or Leslie Charteris to start with...
The author had extensive access to Charteris' archives and at times comes across too much like the voice of The Saint's creator and takes his side too much. On the one hand, the Roger Moore TV series e.g. is not that bad; on the other hand - and quite frankly - the original Saint novels aren't always that good! A little bit of critical distance would have served the author much better.
Also, the book has an amazing 419 pages, though only 243 are proper text about the character in all its incarnations. The remaining 176 are appendices that primarily deal with extensive plot summaries of TV and radio shows. I am not a great fan of books that rely too heavily on synopsis to fill their pages.
Mind you, overall this *is* a book that can be recommended to anyone interested in this pulp hero, but please beware of the caveats.