THE SAINT: “The Convenient Monster”

The Saint, Season 5

First broadcast: 4 November 1966

Cast: Roger Moore (Simon Templar); Suzan Farmer (Ann Clanraith); Laurence Payne (Noel Bastion); Caroline Blakiston (Eleanor Bastion); Moultrie Kelsall (Fergus Clanraith); Fulton Mackay (Willie); William Holmes (Angus McGraw); Anne Blake (Mrs. Moncrieff); Ewan Roberts (Inspector Mackenzie); Alistair Hunter (The Publican); Brown Derby (The Pathologist); Michael Graham (First Reporter); Harry Littlewood (Second Reporter)

Director: Leslie Norman

Screenwriter: Terence Feeley

Producer: Robert S. Baker

Based on: “The Convenient Monster”, in Trust the Saint (1962) by Leslie Charteris

My review

Saint - Convenient Monster.png“The Convenient Monster” is the cryptid that may lurk in Loch Ness.  A dog and sheep are found mutilated, with enormous footprints at the scene.  The locals agree that it’s Nessie; a naturalist tries to prove the monster’s existence – but the Saint isn’t so sure, particularly when the monster’s next victim is a local who suddenly came into money.

This is a strong adaptation of one of Leslie Charteris’s later tales, where the Saint had become respectable; an adventurer who co-operated with the police rather than working against them.  It’s also more of a mystery than a thriller; instead of career crime, the plot concerns the relationships between four locals.  We suspect there’s more going on than meets the eye, but we don’t know what the scheme is, or who’s behind it.

In some ways, this resembles “The House on Dragon’s Rock” (or: the Saint vs. the giant ants).  Both stories are set in the British Isles, outside England; Simon stays at an inn, meets both the locals and the gentry; something monstrous attacks farm animals and then people; and there are lots of night scenes.

Gladys Mitchell’s Winking at the Brim (1974) also combines a monster hunt with a mystery – but less successfully.  Mitchell uses Nessie more as a backdrop, and the mystery is one of her dullest, but here SPOILER the monster is the cover for the crime, à la Hound of the Baskervilles.

The cast includes Laurence Payne (c.f. Doctor Who: “The Gunfighters” and “The Two Doctors”), and Caroline Blakiston.

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