Return of the Saint – Collision Course: The Sixth Man

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It’s only a few minutes into this episode before Simon and Annabel are released by Inspector Lebec.  It’s almost as if their arrest was arranged simply to provide us with a decent cliffhanger …..

Who was the sixth man?  It’s now been established that six men were responsible for the gold robbery.  Oscar West was one, whilst the man who died in the boat accident with him, Bonaparte, was another.  We met three of the others in the previous episode – the baccarat-loving Frenchman Duchamps, the guitar-loving sadist Berndotti and the deaf, mute knifeman Pancho (Leon Lissek).

Because Simon knows so much about the robbery (he admits he was in the area at the time) there’s a lingering suspicion on Annabel’s part that he’s the sixth man.  But since this story aired fairly late in the run it’s hard to believe that the Saint could have been involved.

But it’s interesting that this two-parter was the first to go into production, so had it been transmitted early on then Simon’s guilt or innocence wouldn’t have been so clear cut.  There’s a nice edge to Ogilvy’s performance in this episode – so it’s a pity that for the majority of the episodes Simon is presented as a straightforwardly heroic figure (with little of the reckless zest of the early, literary Saint).

Simon and Annabel have located the Brave Goose and onboard is Captain Finnigan (Joe Lynch).  Finnigan is a drunken Irishman and Lynch’s comic performance is broad, but nonetheless quite amusing.

Also aboard are Duchamps, Berndotti and Pancho and they all head out to sea in search of the treasure.  Needless to say, there’s some tension among this mismatched party – the three crooks elect to throw Simon overboard at the first opportunity, but he manages to convince them that he could be of use (and also that he possibly may be the sixth man).

After the travelogue nature of episode one, this feels more enclosed since a good part of it takes place aboard the Brave Goose.  It still has a glossy feel though, helped by the location filming in France.

There’s a mystery to be solved – Pancho is murdered, but who was responsible?  Was it one of the people we’ve already seen or the mysterious sixth man or even somebody else?  The solution to the mystery is quite neat, although it’s probable that a sizeable part of the audience would have worked it out before Simon does.

Whilst the unconvincing accents sported by the likes of Stratford Johns, John Hallam and Derren Nesbitt are a little amusing (it’s understandable that the production team preferred to cast British actors, but you’d have thought they could have found the odd French-born thesp) it doesn’t detract too much.  A major plus is Gayle Hunnicutt, who is one of the more fleshed-out female leads in the series (helped in part by the length of the story).

The Sixth Man rates four halos out of five.

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Return of the Saint – Collision Course: The Brave Goose


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Simon is indulging in one of his favourite pastimes, powerboat racing.   He has a strong competitor though – the boorish Oscar West (Edward Brayshaw).  Soon, Simon and West are way out in front and it seems inevitable that one of them will win.  But then Simon sees the other boat veer out of control and through his binoculars observes West struggling with his co-pilot.  Moments later, West’s boat explodes and both men die.

West’s widow, Annabel (Gayle Hunnicutt), is staggered to learn that West died apparently penniless.  This isn’t the case though – he was a rich man (thanks to a bullion robbery some eight years ago).  The problem is that his associates have recently been released from prison and are keen to collect their share – but they don’t believe that Annabel doesn’t know where the money is hidden …..

The first episode of a two-parter, The Brave Goose opens with a confrontation between Simon and West.  Edward Brayshaw only has a very limited amount of screen time, but it’s made very clear that he’s a wrong-un – he’s swigging from a bottle of champagne (before he’s won the race!) and is rather curt to the lovely Annabel.

As for the race itself, it’s a mix of real footage, stock footage and painfully obvious studio shots.  But even the James Bond films of the time used back projection of a similar quality, so ROTS is in good company.

When Annabel learns that the only thing she possesses of value, a yacht called the Brave Goose, is moored in the South of France, she heads off to find it.  It’s a remarkable coincidence that along the way she stops for a meal and runs into George Duchamp  (Stratford Johns).  Duchamp was one of West’s former partners.

He’s also a expert backgammon player and when Simon learns from Annabel’s housekeeper that her mistress has left the country and is playing backgammon with a fat Frenchmen he’s clearly worried.  Just as it’s something of a stretch to believe that Annabel would stop for a meal at the same place where Duchamp was eating, it’s equally implausible that Simon is rather perturbed to learn that Annabel was playing backgammon (even if he knew that one of the bullion robbers played the game).  Surely there’s more than one Frenchman who does so?

Johns exudes a sort of menace, but it is hard to shake the impression that it’s just Chief Inspector Barlow with a funny accent.  John Hallam (as one of the other gang members, Bernadotti) does have a certain presence, although he’s much more menacing once he loses his hat and guitar.  Bernadotti punches Annabel – a rare instance where a female character is attacked – and even though it’s edited, the moment is still unusual for ROTS, which had a very low violence count.

Gayle Hunnicutt was very game in this episode – she dodges a bull (although doubled for the most dangerous parts, she still had to do a great deal of running around) and she then becomes thoroughly disheveled after trudging through the swampland to escape Duchamp and Bernadotti.  But when she’s not covered in dirt, Hunnicutt is rather gorgeous and forms a strong partnership with Ogilvy.

The Brave Goose ends on a cliffhanger as Inspector Lebec (the ever-dependable Derren Nesbitt) arrests Simon and Annabel for murder.  We know they didn’t do it – and also that it won’t be long before they’re released – but it’s a strong hook to end on and it helps to give the episode a solid three and a half halos out of five.

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