Saturday 25 July 2020

The Saint - The Angel’s Eye (1966)

When I did my recent post comparing the stories in Leslie Charteris’s 1953 collection The Saint in Europe with the 1960s television adaptation I mentioned that I had been unable to find a copy of the TV version of one of the stories, The Angel’s Eye. That problem has now been rectified, my boxed set from Network containing all the colour episodes having now arrived. So I can now offer my comparison of this story and the TV version (which went to air in 1966 as part of the first colour season of The Saint).

This story begins with a man named Upwater and his wife asking Simon’s help in regard to a very valuable diamond. Upwater works for a jeweller and has taken the stone to Amsterdam to be recut but the diamond cutter not only refuses to return it, he denies having ever seen it. Which of course interests the Saint. In fact he is not only interested, he is enchanted. This promises to be a rather artistic swindle and Simon is a connoisseur of swindles.

The Saint is not the only one to have taken an interest in the case, which enchants Simon even more.

The twist in this tale is really not one of Charteris’s more dazzling efforts but it’s clever and enjoyable enough and a swindle involving an immensely valuable diamond gives it the characteristic flavour of later-period Saint adventures. And the swindle is, as Simon had hoped, artistic and devious. There are also some clues scattered through the story but they won’t help you unless you know a lot about diamonds.

Harry W. Junkin wrote the television adaptation. Junkin was also the script supervisor for the series. Junkin and Charteris did not always see eye-to-eye when it came to adaptations of Saint stories, and that’s putting it mildly. 

The TV version opens in England and immediately introduces us to half a dozen key characters who were not in the original story so we know that this is not exactly going to be a faithful adaptation (and we can also therefore guess that it’s probably going to be one of the episodes that irritated Leslie Charteris).

In the TV version the diamond belongs to Lord Cranmore but he’s broke and needs to sell it. This enrages his snobbish nephew Jeremy. There are a couple of very suspicious characters hanging about who look like they might be jewel thieves. Upwater in this version is Lord Cranmore’s estate manager and he his daughter are sent to Amsterdam to have the stone recut. Replacing the middle-aged Upwater’s middle-aged wife with his daughter of course allowed the script to include an attractive young lady in the cast, and attractive young ladies were always an essential element in the TV series. 

To be fair to Junkin he has kept the core of the plot intact. All he’s really done is to add a bit of extra misdirection which actually works reasonably well. There’s still the diamond cutter who mysteriously denies any knowledge of the Angel’s Eye and Simon’s involvement still follows the same course. Perhaps Junkin has added some complications that weren’t strictly necessary but on the other hand he’s also made it a bit more of a challenge for the viewer to figure out the solution. The only weakness is that the TV version doesn’t include Simon’s explanation of the clues that allowed him to solve the problem.

Overall both the story and the TV adaptation are quite entertaining. I certainly enjoyed both.


  1. Burl Barer in his indispensable The Saint: A Complete History in Print, Radio, Film and Television (1993) records that Charteris was 'greatly pleased' by the adaptations of "The Angel's Eye" and "The Better Mousetrap". And he actually went as far as writing to his old adversary Harry Junkin with high praise for his reworking of "The Man Who Liked Ants" into "The House On Dragons Rock.

    Other scripts he praised included "The Persistent Patriots"- 'first class' and those from John Kruse. Others he was predictably scathing about, especially "Island of Chance" and "The Counterfeit Countess" - 'strictly garbage'.

    I shall re-read The Saint In Europe and then watch the shows. Hope you enjoy the rest of the Saint colour adventures, and will look forward to your reviews.

    1. Burl Barer in his indispensable The Saint: A Complete History in Print, Radio, Film and Television (1993) records that Charteris was 'greatly pleased' by the adaptations of "The Angel's Eye" and "The Better Mousetrap".

      I may have to try to get hold of a copy of Barer's book. It sounds very tempting.