Radio Days

The Saint Vincent Price

The Saint Vincent Price

Spring’s here. It is also allergy season, and therefore headache season. For some headaches, the best solution is for me to lie down with a washcloth over my eyes. The problem with that is that I don’t necessarily want to fall asleep. I could listen to my iPod, but it’s easy to drift off when you’re listening to music. I found a solution during my junior year of college: I’d just read an article about some prominent person (whose name I forgot) who liked to listen to old-timey radio broadcasts of The Saint, so I downloaded a few episodes off Morpheus and listened to them while my eyes were compress-covered.

The Saint is about a detective named Simon Templar. The radio show is based on a book series. Later on they inspired a TV series that starred a pre-Bond Roger Moore, and eventually came a movie with Val Kilmer that if nothing else, had a very good soundtrack. In the movie, Mr. Templar was called “The Saint” because he used various saints’ names as aliases. I’ve never seen the TV show, but on the radio, Simon Templar goes by Simon Templar, so there’s no real reason he’s called “The Saint” unless you’ve read The Da Vinci Code and believe in the connection between the Templar knights and the Holy Grail. He’s also played by Vincent Price, so it took some time for me to believe that Simon Templar’s a suave ladies’ man and not the villain behind Peter Brady’s tiki idol, Edward Scissorhands’ creator/father, or the victim of a vampire Kermit on The Muppet Show.

Vincent Price Muppet Show

In general, listening to crime shows can be soothing because people talk in low voices. Often I did end up falling asleep mid-episode, but I didn’t need to have a headache to enjoy them. In the end, The Saint ended up being one of the influences on a detective story I wrote for my fiction class. Although it needs revision if it will ever resurface, it was a lot of fun to write. Now that I’m currently reading a mystery novel (The City and The City by China Miéville) I’m toying with the idea of writing one myself. I no longer have my original Saint episodes on my computer, so I found some public domain episodes at just in time for my first headache of the spring.

I have to say that the episodes I recently heard must be early or late in the series, because they’re not all that great. At some point Simon acquired a goofy New Yawk cab driver sidekick and the show became more lighthearted and less suspenseful. The more serious episodes available are ones I’ve already heard, so they’re not exactly mysteries to me. That’s why I switched over to The Adventures of Philip Marlowe. This show was inspired by a book series by Raymond Chandler, who incidentally was a major influence on The City and the City. Miévelle even included him in his acknowledgements. I listen to the show more often when I want to fall asleep because so far I’ve only had one major headache. That’s why I have yet to get all the way through the case of “The Hairpin Turn”.


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