THE SAINT: THE BRAZILIAN CONNECTION. Made-for-TV movie, UK, ITV/LWT, 2 September 1989; US, syndicated. One hour and forty minutes. Simon Dutton (Simon Templar), Gayle Hunnicutt, David Ryall (Inspector Teal), Simon Rouse, Jenifer Landor. Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris. Screenplay: Anthony Horowitz. Director: Ian Toynton.

   This was a disappointment, to put it mildly. That this was the first of only six made-for-TV movies featuring The Saint could have been a bit of a warning — if the series had been successful, why weren’t there more?

   There are a lot of credentials involved on the production end. Among other TV productions, screenwriter Anthony Horowitz is best known now for Foyle’s War, and director Ian Toynton has an equally long list of movie he had a final say on.

   You can’t blame the story on the lead, Simon Dutton, although he seems to have only two expressions in this film, sour and dour. No, make that three. Once in a while he has three. On occasion he has the temerity to look puzzled.

   No carefree sense of adventure in his portrayal of The Saint, no gleam in his eye when one of his capers is about to come to fruition. I imagine I was spoiled by Roger Moore in the role, although George Sanders was pretty good, too.

   Maybe it’s that the story in its basics is dull. Baby smuggling from Brazil, that’s the “connection” the title of this episode comes from. The opening setup has to do with two other cases before this one gets down to business: a stolen diamond tiara and a showing of ancient Chinese sculptures (fake) are far more interesting, but both are forgotten once two lower level bad guys steal a baby off a busy London street.

   There is a philosophy of film-making that is very common but which puzzles me quite a bit, and I’ll see if I can describe what I mean. When there are sequences in a film designed to set up the story and background, the pace of the movie is slow, unhurried and deliberate. But when the action starts, what happens on the screen flashes by so quickly, zip, zip, zip and what was it that just happened? Who knows. Maybe what happened will be explained in the next scene, and maybe it won’t.

   Some of what happened in The Brazilian Connection is still a mystery to me, including how on earth Templar and his lady friend find themselves running up and down inside the Thames Barrier to order to stop a yacht from making its way through. An interesting action sequence, to be sure, but as it turns out, the whole scene has nothing to do with how the bad guys are caught.

   Will I watch another. as long as I have a complete set of the first three of these movies? Well, I did like the gentleman who plays Inspector Teal (David Ryall), whose quasi-friendship simply chafes the sensibilities of his superior at New Scotland Yard (Simon Rouse).

   There were a lot of Simon’s involved in the whole production, weren’t there?