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The Saint Strikes Back is a 1939 American crime film directed by John Farrow. It marks the second cinematic incarnation of the antihero crimefighting character Simon Templar, alias "The Saint". George Sanders replaced Louis Hayward, who had played the Saint in The Saint in New York. The movie was produced by RKO and also featured Wendy Barrie as female gang leader Val Travers. Barrie would appear in two more Saint films, playing different roles each time, though not in the next film in the series, The Saint in London. This was the second of eight films in RKO's film series about The Saint.

The Saint Strikes Back
The Saint Strikes Back FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byJohn Farrow
Produced byRobert Sisk
Written byJohn Twist
StarringGeorge Sanders
Wendy Barrie
Jonathan Hale
Music byRoy Webb
CinematographyFrank Redman
Edited byJack Hively
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • March 10, 1939 (1939-03-10)[1]
Running time
64 min.
Box office$460,000[2]

In the film The Saint foils an assassination attempt by a member of Val Travers' gang, but is arrested by the police for the murder of the gang member. He persuades them to let him assist in apprehending a shadowy criminal mastermind. The script was based on the Leslie Charteris novel She Was a Lady (Hodder and Stoughton, 1931) which was also published as Angels of Doom and The Saint Meets His Match. The screenplay was by John Twist, who set the story in San Francisco (the book is set in England). Robert Sisk produced and John Farrow directed.


While dancing at a New Year's party, the Saint spots an agent of Valerie Travers preparing to shoot someone, so Templar guns him down first at the stroke of midnight. Templar is placed by witnesses at the scene, so the San Francisco police request the assistance of Inspector Henry Fernack (Jonathan Hale) of the NYPD. Before Fernack can leave, the Saint arrives in New York and accompanies him to the West Coast.

Travers' father had been a police inspector whose efficiency caused trouble for a mysterious criminal mastermind named Waldeman. When a large sum of money was found in his safe deposit box, however, he was fired on suspicion of working for Waldeman and committed suicide. Travers is determined to clear his name by any means necessary. The Saint takes up her cause, despite her hostility for his interference in her plans and her suspicions about his motives. Templar gets the cooperation of the police commissioner, over the objections of Chief Inspector Webster and criminologist Cullis, who wonder if the Saint is Waldeman himself.

Templar and Travers cross paths again when the trail leads to Martin Eastman, a noted philanthropist and seemingly-irreproachable citizen, whom they both suspect is linked to Waldeman in some way. Templar forces Travers and her gang to drive away, all except her burglar, Zipper Dyson. Templar gets Dyson to open Eastman's safe and takes the money inside. The serial numbers confirm that it was stolen in a robbery perpetrated by Waldeman. When Eastman contacts Cullis instead of reporting the theft, Templar knows that Cullis is also working for Waldeman. With that information, not only does the Saint exonerate Travers' father, he also identifies Waldeman.



Casting George SandersEdit

The Saint in New York (1938) had been a surprise hit for RKO and they decided to turn it into a series. In July 1938 they announced they would make the second in the series, The Saint Strikes Twice. A.C. Edington was assigned to write the script and Louis Hayward was announced as star with filming to start in August 1938.[3]

Hayward was reluctant to reprise his role and was not under contract to RKO. He had just played the lead in The Duke of West Point (1938) and wanted assurances the new film would be more of an "A" movie.[4][5] Hayward ended up signing a long term contract with Edward Small and making The Man in the Iron Mask (1939).[6]

RKO ended up casting George Sanders, who they borrowed from 20th Century Fox.[7]

The title was changed to The Saint Strikes Back and it was to be made alongside The Saint in London.[8] John Farrow was assigned to direct in December 1938.[9]

The script was written by John Twist.[10]


Filming started in December 1938.


The New York Times said the series "found its stride" with this film.[11]


  1. ^ "The Saint Strikes Back: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Richard B. Jewell's RKO film grosses, 1929–51: the C. J. Trevlin Ledger: a comment, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Volume 14, Issue 1, 1994
  3. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1938, Jul 16). NEWS OF THE SCREEN. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  4. ^ Schallert, E. (1938, Oct 24). Rival producers rush stories of lincoln. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  5. ^ Scheuer, P. K. (1938, Aug 05). Binnie barnes given contract and lead. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  6. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1938, Nov 01). SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  7. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1938, Nov 14). SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  8. ^ RKO WILL RELEASE 54 FEATURE FILMS. (1938, Aug 11). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  9. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1938, Dec 06). SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  10. ^ By, D. W. (1939, Jan 29). HELLO, CENTRAL--HOLLYWOOD CALLING. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  11. ^ By, F. S. (1939, Mar 09). THE SCREEN. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

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