George Sanders as the Falcon

Fearing the cost of renewing the rights to their popular B-movie hero The Saint, RKO acquired a short detective story by Michael Arlen called Gay Falcon and set about bringing it to the screen.

Gay LaurenceThey renamed Gay Falcon’s hero, Gay Falcon, to Gay Lawrence (well, Gay Laurence at first, but I don’t think that really matters), moved his previous surname to be a reasonless Saint-like nickname, and in the lead role cast “Russian-born English film and television actor, singer-songwriter, music composer, and author” (and, later, voice of Shere Khan in Disney’s Jungle Book), George Sanders, the incumbent Saint. RKO had crafted a new franchise that was so like the Saint — but, presumably, cheaper — that Leslie Charteris sued (it was settled out of court).

Sanders stuck around for the first handful of Falcon films before he decided to leave the role. But I’m getting ahead of myself — let’s first look at the three films that established this Saint-but-not…

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