THE SAINT TAKES OVER (director: Jack Hively; screenwriters: Lynn Root/Frank Fenton/based on characters created by Leslie Charteris; cinematographer: Frank Redman; editor: Desmond Marquette; cast: George Sanders (Simon Templar, the Saint), Wendy Barrie (Ruth Summers), Jonathan Hale (Inspector Henry Fernack), Paul Guilfoyle (Clarence "Pearly" Gates), Morgan Conway (Sam Reese), Robert Emmett Keane (Leo Sloan), Cyrus W. Kendall (Max Bremer), James Burke (Patrolman Mike), Robert Middlemass (Captain Wade), Roland Drew (Albert "Rocky" Weldon), Nella Walker (Lucy Fernack), Pierre Watkin (Ben Egan).; Runtime: 69; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Howard Benedict; RKO; 1940)

"Fair programmer in the Saint series."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Fair programmer in the Saint series, the fourth entry in a long-running serires, and the first not based on a story by the Saint's creator Leslie Charteris. Director Jack Hively ("Street of Chance"/"They Made Her A Spy"/"Four Jacks And A Jill") keeps it snappy and comical but full of plot holes (for those who take such B films seriously, the holes are big), as reformed jewel thief Simon Templar, aka The Saint (George Sanders), acts on his own to help his old police friend, Inspector Henry Fernack (Jonathan Hale), prove he's innocent of bribery charges and that he was framed by five racetrack fixers operating a syndicate out of NYC. Writers Lynn Root and Frank Fenton keep it breezy and fit like a glove into the formula of the series.

The Saint crosses the Atlantic from London to NYC by ship when he reads that Inspector Fernack, after arresting racketeer, club owner, Rocky Weldon (Roland Drew), as a race fixer, gets suspended for graft by Captain Wade (Robert Middlemass) because someone placed $50,000 in his safety deposit box. It results in Rocky found not guilty at trial and the Inspector facing a possible trial. When a mystery woman on the ship is being cheated in cards, the Saint catches the crook but is rebuffed when trying to kiss the vic to show her a token of his affection for her beauty. Upon docking, the attractive woman bolts from the Saint, who nevertheless tails her as a possible romantic interest. After the Saint takes care of two thugs trying to kidnap her on a Manhattan street, she vanishes.

We then observe that the syndicate head, Ben Egan (Pierre Watkin), schemes for Rocky, Sam (Morgan Conway), Max (Cyrus W. Kendall) and Leo (Robert Emmett Keane) to chip in for the money used to frame the Inspector and thereby get him off their case. Since Ben has $90,000 in his home vault, Rocky hires the nervous dim-witted safe-cracker Pearly (Paul Guilfoyle) to steal the dough, but he's caught by Ben on camera and sent to deliver a message to Rocky. When Pearly leaves, Ben is killed by the shipboard mystery woman, who also steals the money in the vault. She turns out to be Ruth Summers (Wendy Barrie), who is the sister of Johnny Summers. He's the racketeer stool pigeon bumped off by the syndicate for working with the Inspector. When Rocky is also killed, the Saint teams up with Fernack and Pearly to bring down the mob. He also obtains the help of Ruth, whom the Saint gets a confession from and he counsels that it's better to get the mobsters legally--his way. It ends in the usual series formulaic pat way, but with a few amusing twists.

REVIEWED ON 12/8/2012       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"