The Saint – The Latin Touch

First broadcast

11th October 1962

Plot

On holiday in Rome, Simon is witness to the kidnap of a US diplomat’s daughter. A mafia man, Tony Unciello, is responsible. His brother is about the be executed in the US and Governor Inverest has the power to stop it.

Guest stars

Alexander Knox plays the governor and is the only who is credited as a ‘guest star’ on screen. However, much more familiar to me was Warren Mitchell, playing a taxi driver, Marco. He appears in a few other Saint episodes and can frequently be found throughout 1960s’ dramas as foreigners of various nationalities. I’m always pleased when he turns up and it often helps provide some comic relief.

The Famous Simon Templar

“That’s the famous Simon Templar!” is delivered by a tourist from Missouri, Ada, who spots Simon while visiting the Colosseum. She tells her husband that she read it in the papers that Simon Templar was in Rome, which presumably means he has the kind of celebrity status that ensures his presence in gossip columns.

It’s early days but we are already going to have to gloss over the utter absurdity that Simon Templar is simultaneously famous yet on other occasions manages to easily disguise himself or impersonate someone. Similarly, Roger Moore pointed out that his other famous character, 007, was a secret agent but could supposedly walk into any bar in the world and they would know who he was and how he liked his vodka martini. It’s ITC-land – anything goes.

The Saint in…

The entire episode is set in Rome. The opening shots of the episode are taken from the real Rome with Roger Moore the only main member of the cast to feature in them. As he enters the Colosseum we move into the studio, where we stay for most of the episode.

While the change was obvious, I thought the Colosseum set was impressive enough considering its brief appearance. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been left over from another production.

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Painted backdrops

I didn’t spot any.

Period features

This section is for aspects that place us within the show’s period, or would otherwise seem alien to someone from the present coming to the episode.

There are fewer details to pick up on this week so I’ve had to be picky. Tony first gets in touch with the governor to ask him to meet him at a remote location outside Rome. Simon’s response on being told the name of the place is to ask for some maps – actual physical maps. Nowadays, many of us would just quickly type the name into Google Maps.

Tony adds soda or water to Simon’s drink using a siphon. I love these and would like one of my own but as I take my whisky neat, I feel I’d get minimal use from one. There must be a cut-off point during the 1970s when they start to disappear.

Simon drives Governor Inverest in a Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe – it’s a great big American car so the US embassy probably brings them in to have as pool cars. Tony’s car is much grander though. The Mercedes Benz 200 S looks posh and fancy, making it a good fit for the wealthy mafia man. Back down to earth and as it’s Italy, Marco’s taxi is a Fiat – a Fiat 600 Multipla.

Quotes

Tony gets my favourite quip when Simon is phoning the governor, telling him, “Remember – just one wrong word and you’ll be a real saint.”

The Ungodly

No reference to the ungodly, though Simon does quote Jesus, telling Tony that, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” I presumed this was Jesus because I’ve seen Life of Brian.

The Sinners

Tony Unciello has an inside man in Inspector Buono as well as some plain henchmen. Tony is an Italian-American and is supposed to induce fear across Italy, although it was something I struggled to see in him. We don’t see him have so much as a fight until the end of the episode. He’s an acceptable villain but not a particularly memorable one.

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She Was a Lady

Simon briefly spends time with Sue before she is kidnapped so has no time to make any proper moves, having only just met her. He stepped in as a true gent to stop Marco fleecing her for the taxi fare. By the end of the episode, he’s confident enough to offer her, “the best dinner in Rome and dancing until dawn.”

The Volvo

Not seen – he gets around in Marco’s taxi.

Violence

Simon is knocked out in the Colosseum while talking to Sue and for the rest of the episode, it’s more about the threat of violence. He goes to speak to a club singer who knew Tony and she reveals a nasty scar on her neck that he gave her. When Tony’s henchmen pick Simon up, they force him into a car at gunpoint and there is also a gun on him when he’s phoning the governor. Finally, the climax gives us some action as the police burst into Tony’s place all guns blazing and the henchman bear the brunt of it. Simon quickly springs into action, delivering a couple of punches to Tony.

Cigarettes

Four, including one in the Colosseum. While it may be permissible, all I could think was that Simon would be littering an ancient monument with cigarette butts.

Alcohol

Simon is rather reserved. In the club, he and Marco have wine glasses and coffee cups on their table, but we don’t see them take so much as a sip. It seems likely that they are the remains of the end of a meal. At a cafe, he has ordered a glass of white wine but due to the arrival of Tony’s henchmen, he never gets chance to touch it. Finally, with Tony we see him having something with either soda or water from a siphon (probably whisky) and a glass of red wine with their spaghetti meal afterwards.

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