Monday 12 November 2007

The Saint's Double Trouble (1940) Jack Hively

How could any B movie fan resist this one? It's a Saint movie with George Sanders not just playing the good guy but that bad guy too, and with Bela Lugosi added to the mix for good measure. We're in Cairo and Bela's trying to send a coffin through the mail. Some things never change. What's strange is that he's sending it from Simon Templar to Professor Horatio T Bitts in Philadelphia, and while Lugosi was many things, the Saint isn't one of them. Anyway, the coffin contains an age old Egyptian mummy, which goes against every rule of sending things through the mail.

Of course there's soon a murder, with Saint calling card attached, and the Saint himself appears at Inspector Fernack's hotel room, because naturally he's on holiday in Philadelphia at the time. Soon we discover that there are two people wandering around who look exactly like the Saint: one is Simon Templar and the other is the leader of a gang of international jewel smugglers called Duke Bates.

As you'd expect everything soon gets very bizarre indeed, as both Templar and Bates realise this too, so we get each playing the other, sometimes obviously so we're in on the ruse but often times not obviously at all so we're not sure exactly who we're watching. Is it Templar or Bates or Templar playing Bates or Bates playing Templar? You figure it out. Bates's hoods have a lot of difficulty, as does The Partner, Lugosi's character and everyone else in the story.

Lugosi gets very little to do, but George Sanders does. There's so much to'ing and fro'ing with Sanders trying to outdo Sanders that it really needs a couple of viewings to get everything straight. I hope he got paid twice because he really is both leads. Fascinating but confusing.

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