The Saint – ‘The Queen’s Ransom’ (1966): Roger Moore bonding with royalty

15 JANUARY 2024

JBC rating: ****

James Bond Connections (3):

  • Starring Roger Moore (James Bond, 1973 – 1985) as hero Simon Templar, a.k.a The Saint.
  • Featuring George Pastell (train conductor in From Russia with Love) as King Fallouda.
  • Featuring Peter Madden (Kronsteen’s chess opponent in From Russia with Love) as chief villain Farid.

In the 1960s, Saint producers Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman were the small screen equivalent of the James Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Both partnerships converted a long-running series of novels into internationally successful on-screen adventures, transforming the careers of their leading men in the process. Ahead of the Bond producer’s own split, in 1965 Baker and Berman would dissolve their producing partnership. However, unlike Broccoli and Saltzman in 1975, their’s was an amicable split and Berman would go off to produce several classic 1960s action-adventure series including The Baron (1965 – 66) and The Champions (1968 – 68). Baker found a new partner in Roger Moore and together they produced the remaining two (colour) series under their joint production banner BAMORE. Whereas EON arguably lost Sean Connery by refusing to allow him greater creative involvement, Baker ensured the continued success of his show by teaming up with his leading man.

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Woman of Straw (1964): Sean Connery as a sadistic villain

19 MAY 2023

JBC rating: ****

James Bond Connections (4):

  • Starring Sean Connery (James Bond 1962 – 1967, 1971) as Tony Richmond.
  • Featuring Peter Madden (played Kronsteen’s chess opponent in From Russia with Love) as the Yacht Captain.
  • Production Designer Ken Adam (Bond Production Designer, various 1962 – 1979).
  • Art Director Peter Murton (Goldfinger, Thunderball, The Man with the Golden Gun).

Following the global success of Dr No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963), Sean Connery starred in two similarly themed suspense thrillers, Woman of Straw and Marnie (both 1964). Each film capitalised on Connery’s recent stardom by having the actor play characters who are essentially a darker, civilian variant on his James Bond persona. The American produced Marnie, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is by far the more famous film. However, the UK-made Woman of Straw, directed by veteran English filmmaker Basil Dearden, deserves to be better known. In each film, Connery is a dangerous mix of dynamism, charm, sex appeal and menace. Like Bond, his character is on a (here, personal) mission and must use his ingenuity to prevail. However, unlike Bond he is applying his skills to questionable or, especially in Woman of Straw, malign ends.

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