THE SAINT TAKES OVER (1940) is a strong entry in RKO's mystery series starring George Sanders.
Following the dull THE SAINT'S DOUBLE TROUBLE (1940), the series is back in good form with THE SAINT TAKES OVER. The story gets off to a brisk start as Simon Templar (Sanders), aka the Saint, rescues Ruth Summers (Wendy Barrie) from a card cheat while traveling on a New York-bound ocean liner.
The Saint returns to New York to help his old friend Inspector Henry Fernack (Jonathan Hale), who was framed when a ring of mobsters planted shady money in his safe. Henry has lost his job and the Saint is determined to solve the crime and get Henry's job back.
THE SAINT TAKES OVER is a briskly paced and entertaining episode with enjoyable interplay between the Saint and Fernack. The movie is also brightened by Paul Guilfoyle as a milk-drinking gunsel who switches over to the Saint's side. Guilfoyle returns as the same character in Sanders' final Saint film, THE SAINT IN PALM SPRINGS (1941).
Wendy Barrie has a relatively small role in the film, but she makes an impact in her final scenes. Barrie has the unusual distinction of having been the leading lady in three different Saint films, playing a different character in each movie! She was also in THE SAINT STRIKES BACK (1939) and the next film in the series, THE SAINT IN PALM SPRINGS (1941). Barrie and Sanders then moved on to the Falcon series, where she played Helen Reed in the first two films, THE GAY FALCON (1941) and A DATE WITH THE FALCON (1942).
This was one of three SAINT films directed by Jack Hively. The screenplay of this 69-minute film was by Lynn Root and Frank Fenton, and the cinematographer was Frank Redman.
THE SAINT TAKES OVER is available on DVD in the Warner Archive's George Sanders Saint Movies Collection. I've previously reviewed the first three films in the set, THE SAINT STRIKES BACK (1939), THE SAINT IN LONDON (1939), and THE SAINT'S DOUBLE TROUBLE (1940).
THE SAINT TAKES OVER has also been released on Region 2 DVD. It had a VHS release as a TCM double feature paired with THE SAINT'S VACATION (1941) starring Hugh Sinclair.