Further Adventures of Ellery Queen
b a c k
The TV audience will meet for the first time the actor who will portray the detective Ellery Queen in "The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen" colorcast on NBC-TV this Fall. His identity will not be disclosed until then. (NBC-New York, Aug 28 1958)
During the first twenty weeks Ellery was enacted by the far too young and handsome looking George Nader. Nader won the role after a coast-to-coast talent search that included sidewalk surveys of average people to get their views on what the sophisticated detective should look like. Scripts were poor and the acting abominable. In this series the idea was to do actual Queen stories, and six of the first eight were adaptation of the novels. Other writers' mystery stories were dramatized by making Ellery the hero character which didn't help much... The show was telecast live from Hollywood.
At first four directors were names by producer Albert McCleery to handle the series: Alan Hanson (see 1* Note), Livia Granito, Walter Grauman and Alan Cooke. All are alumni of McCleery's NBC Matine Theater programs.
McCleery's biggest problem was finding an actor to
play Queen. McCleery had long talks with Dannay and Lee. "After getting
a run-down on the character, I built up a picture in my own mind of an
attractive, not overly athletic man of maybe around 30, well-educated
without being an intellectual snob - a man who might have gone to
Dartmouth or Williams or Hamilton and who might have been on the
swimming team. Not a football player. Not a Mike Hammer."
Other sources stated NBC couldn't spring Richard Long from his Warner Bros, series commitment (to the yet unsold Room for One More) so the new role of "Ellery Queen" went to George Nader.
Right: George Nader as Ellery Queen with Angela Austin rehearsing.
starring George Nader:
"The Glass Village"
Director: Walter Grauman
Teleplay: Nicholas E. Baehr
Executive producer: Albert McCleery
With: Vaughn Taylor (Judge Shinn), David Opatoshu (John Kowalczyk, a vagrant), Angela Austin, Andrew Duggan (Ferris Adams), Ralph Dumke, Richard Hale.
Ellery pays a visit to a cousin who is judge in a New England village. When an elderly woman painter is bludgeoned to death, the townsfolk are quick to suspect a tramp who was passing through the area. Against the whishes of the judge and Ellery, a posse is formed to go after the tramp.
Right: George Nader and Vaughn Taylor in "The Glass Village" the debut episode of The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen (1958).
This debut episode was probably the best
FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ELLERY QUEEN
Because sequels are often flops, it is a pleasure to report that NBC-TV's The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen made a fine debut Sept. 26 with "The Glass Town." If the same levels of acting, writing and particularly imaginative camera work are maintained, the live mystery series (in color) should win a considerable following. As the gentleman-detective, George Nader was properly analytical and sardonic although Ellery Queen purists may dispute the opening and closing shots of the intellectual supreme warmly embracing a curvaceous blonde. No one else could. But it was the supporting players as citizens of the dying, yet terribly proud, New England town who made the hour tingle. When an elderly woman painter of Shinn's Corners was beaten to death, the insular townsfolk were quick to accuse a passing vagrant, played with compelling fear by David Opatoshu. As Judge Shinn, veteran Vaughn Taylor provided a welcome restraint to the undisciplined emotions of his fellow citizens. In addition, there were flashes of humor, the comic relief necessary in the starkest tragedy, which was further proof of the excellent writing. Truly outstanding was the camera work by the director who realized the promise of live television with his superb use of the "cameo" technique. Executive producer Albert McCleery (who produced the late and lamented Matinee Theatre) has been quoted as saying "We're going to spend more money for scripts and actors, not costly props and sets." Mr. McCleery's philosophy was tellingly applied in "The Glass Town," whose budget was half the normal amount for a live hour show. There is increasing evidence that the mystery is making a strong comeback and may eventually supersede the western as the "smart thing to produce." The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen would be an excellent (if not the) criterion for anyone with a series in mind.
Production costs: Approximately $55,000 weekly.
Sponsored by RCA, through Kenyon & Eckhardt, on NBC-TV, Fri., 8-9 p.m. EDT. Started Sept. 26.
Producer in charge of operations: Darrell Ross; producer in charge of literary properties: Ethel Frank; directors: Walter Grauman, Alan Cooke, Livia Granito, Alan Hanson, and Lamont Johnson; musical director: Edward Truman
(Broadcasting October 6 1958)
Note: A N.B.C. press release stated that Alan Hanson, and not Lamont Johnson as previously announced would be the fourth director for "The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen,"
"The King is Dead"
scriptwriter Howard Rodman
With Ilona Massey (Karla), Torin Thatcher (King), Les Tremayne
Ellery and Inspector Queen are approached by Abel Bendigo, a member of the powerful Bendigo Munitions Company family, when the life of his brother King is threatened. Ellery visits the mysterious island, the home of a large munitions company to investigate assassination threats received by the company's president.
"Ten Day's Wonder"
Virginia Gibson joins John Lupton, who plays the role of a young sculptor who suspects that he commits crimes during amnesia attacks; John Dehner, who portrays his stepfather; and Otto Kruger. who enacts the fanatically religious brother of the stepfather, who is marked for death.
"The Door Between"
NBC changed the title of its Friday night series, "The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen." Not because it was too long, however. The new title will be "NBC Presents Ellery Queen, Starring George Nader" (New York Post, Wednesday, October 22, 1958)
"The Eighth Mrs.Bluebeard"
from a novel by Hillary Waugh, scriptwriter Mel Goldberg
With Jann Darlyn (EQ's girlfriend), Jeanne Cooper, Gene Raymond (1,3)
An insurance company is forced to pay out $50,000 on a policy when a man's wife dies in a canoe accident. The company believes that the man has killed several wives for their insurance, and sends salesman Jack Graham to bait a trap for the killer.
Above right: MIDNIGHT PICNIC on a Manhattan terrace is just getting interesting for Ellery Queen (George Nader) and his girlfriend (Jann Darlyn) when he is called into the case of "The Eight Mrs.Bluebeard" on NBC-TV The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen series Friday.
... now its exactly what everybody calls it anyhow: "Ellery Queen".
"Cat of Many Tails"
With John Abbott, Paul Langton (3)
The mayor of New York City calls on Ellery to help solve a series of strangulations for which the police can find no motive but which they believe to be the work of one killer. A killer known only as 'The Cat" kills six persons in New York.
"Death before Bedtime"
from a novel by Edgar Box (Gore Vidal)
With Neil Hamilton, Heather Angel (3), Karen Sharpe and Maggie Hayes
Ellery accepts an invitation to visit Senator Leander Rhodes, who plans to run for president. But shortly after Ellery's arrival, Rhodes is murdered.
The scene of this one is Washington, and the murdered man a Presidential aspirant. With the characters surrounding the victim all busy playing their own game, it's not as clear as it should be how he pulls it off, but what he comes up with is a surprise.
Ellery Queen is up to his intelligent ears in murders tonight — two of them, plus another near-miss, the target of which is Ellery. The story, involving a senator and his daughter and some skeletons in their closets, gets more and more complicated as it goes along. George Nader, as Ellery, gets a running romance in this one for the first time, with Karen Sharpe as the senator's daughter. The murder weapon for murder No. 1 is a bomb in the fireplace, and it actually goes off. Let us hope a good ordnance man is on hand.
scriptwriter John Roeburt
With Luana Anders, Rhys Williams (doctor), Robert Armstrong (police chief), Stephen Joyce (young doctor)
Ellery receives in the mail a number of newspaper clippings relating a series of supposedly accidental deaths in a small town where he once lived. Then he is visited by a young girl from the same town who tells him that her father has disappeared and asks for his help.
Above right: BABY-FACED BEATNIK -- George Nader's sleuthing, as Ellery Queen, leads him to quaint young lady (Luana Anders) with yen for dolls and discs.
Episode 11/21/58 pre-empted ("The Hollow Man" see 13*)
"So Rich, so Lovely and so Dead"
from a novel by Harold Q.Masur
With Eva Gabor (Linda), Thomas Gomez (3), Whit Bissell (stockbroker)
Ellery investigates the murder of a wealthy countess who was killed shortly after appealing to him for help. A conniving stockbroker stalked the wealthy heiress.
Miss Gabor will have the role of Linda, a spoiled heiress to a mining fortune who becomes involved with many men seeking the fortune but who find death instead in a bizarre murder pattern.
Further Promotions for "Ellery"
Over 30 NBC-TV affiliates are conducting one-week contests in support of the network's Further Adventures of Ellery Queen (Fri. 8-9 p.m.), through a cooperative set-up arranged by NBC Director of Exploitation Al Rylander. Stations are offering five-year, three-year and one-year free subscriptions to Ellery Queen's mystery magazine as awards to viewers who write the best reviews of the program. Ten volume sets of the best Ellery Queen novels will also be presented winners, in arrangement with Pocket Books Inc.
(Broadcasting December 1 1958)
"The Diamond-Studded Typewriter"
from a novel by Carlton Keith
With Olive Sturgess (3)
Alice Anthony asks handwriting expert Jeff Green to help her prove that the late James Gavin is her father, who deserted her and her mother years ago.
A notorious diamond smuggler forces Ellery to accept the gift of a typewriter at gunpoint and is murdered shortly after.
A zany collection of characters and an offbeat victim add a bit of spice to tonight's thriller. Poor Ellery is bopped on the head so often it's a wonder he can hold it up, but his chase for the murderer is full of suspense, even if the conclusion lets you down.
"Four and Twenty - to Live"
Ellery is menaced by young
with a gun who wants him to
phone the governor and request a stay
of execution for her condemned father.
"Paint the Town Black"
from a novel by David Alexander
With: J. Carroll Naish, Mala Powers, George Macready, John Baer.
A friend, foreign correspondent Mike Ainslee, who later is blown up in a plane, gives a valuable small statuette to Ellery for safekeeping. Soon afterward, Ellery becomes involved in international intrigue when it is eagerly sought by a secret agent and the daughter of a deposed Middle East dictator. Strangers first offer to buy the statuette and, when he refuses, attempt to steal it.
If you can put The Maltese Falcon out of your mind, S.S. Schweitzer's adaptation of this whodunit may add up to a suspenseful thriller. All the well-worn ingredients are there: a stolen statue that spells death to its possessor. Middle East intrigue, a secret agent, a newspaperman, a woman, and Ellery, of course. If you're in the mood for comparisons, leave this be.
"The Hollow Man"
from a novel by John Roeburt, scriptwriter Howard Rodman
With Frank Silvera (Sol), Whitney Blake (Nina), Murvyn Vye (Marco), Wesley Lau (Max), John Goddard (Rocky), John Munroe (Aldo), Russell Trent (Hobie), John Newton (Lt.Anders).
Ellery becomes involved in the search for former welterweight champion who's been missing for five years. A man is murdered, two people are beaten and two attempts are made to kill Ellery Queen.
Above right: George Nader (Ellery Queen) and Whitney Blake (Nina) in "The Hollow Man".
"Bury me Deep"
from a novel by Harold Q.Masur, scriptwriter William Mourne
With Richard Long, Pat McVey and Joanne Linville. (2)
Ellery returns unexpectedly to his New York apartment and finds a beautiful woman, apparently drunk and making herself at home. Shortly, however, the woman dies, poisoned, and Ellery attempts to learn her identity and find her murderer.
"The Jinn City Story"
aka "The Hinn City Story"
from a novel by John Roeburt, scriptwriter Nicholas E. Baehr
With Peggy Castle, Vanessa Brown, Brian Keith, James Bell (1,3)
Ellery's plane is forced by heavy fog and bad weather to make an emergency landing at a small-town airport. A mysterious old man tells Ellery that an innocent person is being railroaded on a murder charge.
It may be an unlikely relationship, but the feminine private eye Ellery finds in this tale becomes a powerful cohort and adds a spark of interest to the show. The rest of the story is the usual complicated mess involving a aces of murder, circumstantial evidence, domestic unhappiness, and corruption. Peggy Castle plays the gal who gives Ellery a hand.
"Heir to Revolution"
(original script) scriptwriter: Robert E. Thompson
With Scott Forbes (British consul), Jeanne Moody (wife of British consul), Gusti Huber, Kurt Kasznar (3)
The U.S. government asks Ellery to travel to a South-east Asian monarchy which is on the verge of being taken over by communists.
Ellery is one of the few people who can identify a young man who claims to be the rightful heir to the throne.
Above right: George Nader as Ellery Queen in "Heir to Revolution".
"The Murder of the Whistler's Brother"
from the novel by David Alexander, scriptwriter Sheldon Stark (1)
With Shepperd Strudwick, Eduardo Ciannelli (3), Norma Moore, John Vivyan.
The director of an art museum asks Ellery to recover a stolen Cezanne painting within 24 hours so that it can be shown at an important exhibition. Ellery must learn what happened to a valuable painting or see his father's oldest friend die.
"Death Likes it Hot"
aka "Age of Reason"
from a novel by Edgar Box (Gore Vidal),
scriptwriter: Robert E. Thompson
with Anna Lee, Kent Smith, Julie Bennett, Vivi Janis (1,3)
A friend of Ellery's drowns in tropical waters, but Ellery knew his friend to be an expert swimmer and suspects the death was murder.
Episode 02/06/59 pre-empted ("Room Upstairs" see 20*)
"Margin of Terror"
02/13/59 (intended for broadcast 2/20/59)
from a novel by William P.McGivern, scriptwriter: Warner Law
With: Francis Lederer, Jean Marsh, Jay Novello, Michael Bradford, Edgar Stehli and Lili Valenty.
During a speaking engagement in Naples, "Papa George" Dimitrovitch, a former Soviet official who defected to the United States, is kidnapped by Soviet agents who intend to force him to return to Russia. Ellery extends his Italian vacation and tries to find Papa George.
"The Room Upstairs"
Tonight's whodunit (the last one starring George Nader) is fairly interesting, even though the facts involved may strain your credulity most of the way. However, the picture of Ellery posing as a chauffeur in a wealthy man's home to elicit information about a wounded daughter who's confined to her room, produce moments of tension and charm. Marian Seldes, as another daughter in distress, is also a definite asset. (Color) 8 p.m. Ch. 2.
NBC-TV began a promising new hour series in color, titled The Further
Adventures of Ellery Queen. Produced by Albert
McCleery, an intriguing series was anticipated. However, from the
beginning, the series, starring George Nader, lacked sustained interest.
A heavy-handed production, it often failed to produce the proper
suspense and credibility. Nader appeared to be the wrong choice for the
starring role. McCleery, an imaginative producer who earlier supplied
superior afternoon TV dramatic fare, failed to grasp the feeling for
this series. Scripts were "dull".
The inevitable happened NBC announced the series would shift from Hollywood to New York and Alan Neuman has been named producer. A new star is being cast for the title role . Nader's Hollywood commitments made it impossible for him to come to New York. A film producer who worked on the almost-forgotten Kate Smith Show and Wide, Wide World, on TV, Neuman sees the son of Inspector Queen as a man of humor, warmth and vitality. "He can think or move in action as the situation demands," Neuman said. "With 70 per cent of the nation's active mystery writers living In New York and with the vast reservoir of Broadway acting talent to draw on, the move to New York is expected to provide much fresh material for the show," he declared. Much of the success of a show such as this depends on the writers. Stars are important, but "meaty" material turned out by experienced writers is more important.
Apparently ABC TV's Mike Wallace turned down the title role in NBC-TV's Ellery Queen - At some point (Jan 29, 1959) Gig Young was considered the lead contender for the part. But when the series switched to production in New York, Lee Philips (left) took over the EQ role and the Inspector was completely dropped. Philips played Ellery as a man of awareness and compassion, substantially closer to the original concepts. The title was shortened to Ellery Queen and most of the episodes were presented on color video tape so that producer Alan Neuman could cast actors appearing, at the time, on Broadway. The scripts were all TV originals written especially for the program. Joe Roeburt, himself a well-known author, was the scripts editor.
Right: Network television! OVER TWENTY-THREE MILLION IMPRESSIONS from commercials on NBC-TV's Ellery Queen on April 17 an May 1st ... the first time a budget-priced label has advertised its records on network television! (Add from Billboard, April 6. 1959)
starring Lee Philips:
"Shadow of the Past"
Original story: Sam Dann
Director: Ira Cirker
Scenic designer: Warren Clymer
Costume designer: Noel Taylor
Editorial supervisor: John Roeburt
Associate director: Robert Hopkins
Unit manager: Milton Meyers
Music director: Ezra Laderman
Lighting director: Alan Posage
Origination: NBC Brooklyn studios on color videotape
With Lili Darvas (Rosa Koenig), George Voskovec (Dr. Koenig), Georgann Johnson (Miss Dale/Leonora), Dick Gardner (George Prescott, a cop), Joan Hackett (Christine), Robert Lansing (Lieutenant), Charles White (Paddy), Peter Von Zernack (Otto Meier).
A rookie cop's prospective father-in-lawn, a slum rent collector, is mysteriously killed and his walled is found in a neighborhood hoodlum's possession. Ellery goes to the aid of the young cop George Prescott, who has promised his fiancée he'll find the killer.
The first "Ellery Queen" color-cast since the series' transfer from Hollywood to New York, with a new star in the title role proved to be a disappointment last night. The story, "Shadow of the Past," dealing with the murder of a former Nazi concentration camp commander by one of his ex-prisoners who was practicing medicine illegally in New York, had an interesting basis idea. But where it should have been taut it was lackadasical: the lack of suspense gave the proceedings a slumberous air. And the new "romantic" element added to the script was entirely superfluous.
Lee Philips, succeeding George Nader as Ellery, was not as vivid as his predecessor. But he may eventually grow into his role. However, George Voscovec and Lili Darvas, in supporting parts, gave first-rate performances. (Daily News - Feb 28 1959)
"The Chemistry Set"
03/06/59 - Repeated on 06/19/59
Original script: Blanche Hannalis
With Jeff Donnell (Laura Benson), Conrad Nagel (Amos Roeburt), Ruth Warrick (Sharon), Sallie Gracie (salesgirl)
Toy manufacturer Amos Roeburt asks Ellery to help recover a number of his chemistry sets for children who contained an explosive chemical compound when they were sold.
Queen starts out on an all-night nightmarish chase to run all down that have been sold, before some child kills himself. Sally Gracie, as a salesgirl destroying sales slips to cover up petty thefts, doesn't help a bit.
Conrad Nagel did workmanlike job as toy manufacturer who aged 10 years in one night. Lee Philips does adequate job as Ellery, but producers still haven't caught the brainy Queen of fiction. Philips tosses around a Shakespearean quote occasionally, but it sounds rather like a 12-year-old reciting Mark Antony's "Friends, Romans and countrymen" speech by rote. (Bill Summers in Orlando Evening Mar 7. 1959)
The hour long Ellery Queen mystery has improved since it moved from Hollywood to New York. Actor Lee Philips fills the part of Queen better than George Nader ever did. He also has a better script to work with in the color-cast. (March 20. 1959)
"Cartel for Murder"
03/20/59 - Repeated on 07/03/59
Director: Ira Cirker
Writer: Alan Gary
Original story: S.S Schweitzer
Adapted by: John Roeburt
With Anne Meacham (Joan Foster), Alexander Scourby (J.B. Sanford), Barbara Dana (Mimi), Meg Mundy (Margot Gaines), Martin Balsam (Costa Starchos), Barbara Dana (Mimi Sanford), Karel Stepanek (Dr. Barshek), Joe Silver (Hugo), Michael Conrad (Charles), John D. Seymour (Mr. Jessup), Conrad Bain (Harmon), Allan Frank (Counterman).
The daughter of a financier tells Ellery that her father's fall fall from the top of a building was not a suicide but murder, and accuses a man with whom her father was involved in a big business deal.
"A Girl named Daisy"
03/27/59 - Repeated on 07/10/59
Director: Dick Schneider
Original story: Eliot Asinof
With Shelley Berman (Barker), Sherry Britton (Daisy, cooch dancer), Jan Norris (Caroline), Neil Laurence (Stan), Coe Norton (Stellago, the puppeteer), William Thourlby (Goliath, the strong man), Glenn Styres (Ace, the midget), Berman (the barker).
Ellery takes a girl Caroline to visit a carnival, where he meets a friend Stan who warns him that there's trouble brewing. Before he can explain more, he is murdered.
Right: Lee Philips on the set of "'A Girl named Daisy" (03/27/1959).
... Last week's production was a maze of technical blunders. (Mirror News - Apr 3, 1959)
"The Paper Tiger"
04/03/59 - Repeated on 07/17/59
Original story: Sam Dann
With Paul Hartman (Bill Wilson), Nancy Carroll (Fanny Wilson), Doretta Morrow (Dr.Winifred Schneider), Alvin Epstein (Elwood Parker), Kimetha Laurie (Blind Girl), Nathaniel Frey (Tony Bevilacqua), Vaughn Taylor
After his janitor is murdered, the general manager of a paintbrush factory becomes involved with gangsters.
The step-up in production since moving series to New York has helped save some routine stories. (Sioux City Journal - Mar 29. 1959)
"The Small Elect"
aka "The Lecture" (3)
With Edna Best (Edna Brewer), Judith Evelyn (Elisabeth Howe), Edward Andrews (Dean Pirie), Happy Felton (Dr.Gavin), Russell Nype
On a book-autographing and lecture tour, Ellery is the house guest of socialite Elizabeth Howe. While he's lecturing to a small group in the Howe library, a fuse blows and a murder is committed in the dark.
"Confession of Murder"
04/17/59 - Repeated on 07/31/59
Original story: Joe Roeburt
With Wayne Morris (Kid Duffy), Glenda Farrell (Mrs.Barrett), Scott Marlowe (Tommy Barrett), Dan Morgan (Mr.Barrett), Jeanne Bal (Carol Kenneally), Kay Medford
Young Tommy Barrett confesses to a robbery and shooting, but retired boxer Kid Duffy doubts the boy's guilt and turns to Ellery for help.
"Castaway on a Nearby Island"
Associate Producer: Paul Freeman
Director: Elliot Silverstein
Writer: Greer Johnson
With Leueen MacGrath (Serena Parrish Maxwell), Lloyd Bochner (Philip Maxwell), Evelyn Ward (Vanessa Harvey), Thomas Chalmers (James Parrish), Henry Lascoe (Capt. Journet), Molly McCarthy (Gail Parrish), Gerald Price (Capt. Ansel Hamrick/Willis Spicer), Frances Myers (Billie Bernice), Robert Dryden (Janus Parr).
The murder of a recluse Janus Parr on Staten Island fails to stir the curiosities of many people - until, that is, Ellery Queen sees the corpse's picture and recognizes a signet ring that he is wearing. The crest leads our hero to a Park Avenue family and an exciting investigation.
Hour-long pre-taped color series which had a budget for everything but good writers (Mirror News - Aug 7. 1959)
"The Curse of Aden"
05/01/59 - Repeated on 08/14/59
Original story: Leonard Stadd
With Barton MacLane (Capt.Bueler), Hurd Hatfield (Raymond Vincent), Julie Adams (Irving), Ruth McDevitt (Mrs.Celia Donahue), John McGiver (Dr.Kanow), Roxanne Arlen (Ann Voorhis), Bob Richards (Philip)
When socialite Celia Donahue's legendary ruby is stolen and her butler killed, police ask the help of Ellery, who has written a book about the ruby. Ann odd clue, seemingly unrelated, helps Queen crack the case. Ellery discovers a second corpse, and suspicion points to the playboy son of the ruby's owner, Philip. It all gets pretty confusing especially the ending. The title refers to a string of jewels capped by a rare ruby.
Episode 05/08/59 pre-empted by a NBC news special, "Why Berlin?"
"Dance into Death"
05/15/59 - Repeated on 08-21-59
Original story: Bob Corcoran
Choreographer: John Butler
With Morey Amsterdam (J.C.Smith), Tamara Geva (Natalia Cherkasov), Wood Romoff (Nicholas Reynaud), Philip Abbott (Lt.Winslow), Martin Balsam (Gordon Egstrom), Sandra Donat (Lisa Harris), Phil Gerard.
Watching a ballet performance from this box. Ellery sees the prima ballerina Lisa Harris suddenly collapse on the stage. It soon develops that the girl has been murdered.
Since this whodunit boasts a ballet scene and a number of talented per
formers Including Tamara Geva, Morey Amsterdam and Martin Balsam, it
manages to rise a notch above the routine entries the series has offered
thus far. Otherwise, it's just the usual mystery story about a dancer
whom everybody disliked enough to murder. (The
Evening Star, May 15, 1959)
John Butler choreographing a special two-minute pas de deux for his ballet dancers. (Variety - May 15. 1959)
Episode 05/22/59 pre-empted by
Kovacs on Music, music comedy program starring Ernie Kovacs, his wife Edie
Adams, Louis Jourdan and singer-actor James Darren.
"Body of the Crime"
In a recent
Ellery Queen program a girl whom the hero meets as a fellow juror
a murder trial
promptly turns up as his mistress. All this is presented with great casualness just
as if it were the common and accepted manner of behavior. The
pointedly established between two sympathetic characters,
had nothing to
do with the story line but was just tossed in for obviously
"This Murder comes to you Live"
06/05/59 - Repeated 09-04-59
Director: James Yarbrough
Original script: W.J. Shore
With Ben Hecht (Alonzo Christian), Geraldine Fitzgerald (newspaper publisher Vanessa Rusk), Ray Walston (program moderator and host Archer Hempstead), Buster Crabbe (Police Lt.Garver), Georgeann Johnson (production assistant Angela Payne), Robert Emhardt (politician Barton Findlay), Earl Hammond (Boris Temple), Grahan Denton (atomic scientist Dr. Norman McLean)
Ellery accompanies poet Alonzo Christian to a TV studio where Christian is to appear on a talk show. While the program is on the air, the poet is murdered. The off-the-air antagonisms of the panel members and the unpleasant character of the program host when he is" off-mike provide the background for the mystery.
Lots of hocus-pocus, on and off stage finagling, and Ben Hecht turned actor, makes this very wordy whodunit worth a look. Since the author could not make up his mind what or whom to satirize; politics, the press, or TV panel shows; he settled for confusion. Aided and abetted by a cast including Hecht, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Ray Walston, it has its moments.
ON THE AIR "A Corking Script and Ben Hecht, Too"
Ben Hecht, playing an author named Mr. Christian, got his coffee with an extra lump — of cyanide — on the Ellery Queen Show Friday night and conked out quoting Shakespeare. Imaginative scripts like that, you'll have to admit, are not the nightly norm on the TV whodunnit circuit.
Of all the Queen shows I’ve seen since the switch to New York, In fact, this was the liveliest of all. A few like this earlier in the season and the series might be returning next fall.
What happened Friday can be summed up simply: The mystery and sleuthing angle was largely subordinated to the fairly literate interplay between a rich, red-blooded variety of characters.
The believable staging of the TV panel show on which Mr.Christian got the wrong cup of coffee supplied the program with Its biggest punch. I was kind of sorry when Mr. Christian’s demise forced Queen into action and brought Buster Crabbe, of all people, into the scene as the police lieutenant.
The show slid downhill from there but at least, in Ray Walston's skillful sketch of an egotistical TV host, Geraldine Fitzgerald's intriguing liberal newspaper publisher and Mr. Hecht’s Mr. Hecht, it had its high and exhilarating moments. If they repeat any Queen shows this summer let this be one of them.
Buster Crabbe, incidentally, called Mr. Queen “Mr. Christian” at one point and seemed to be looking for a pool into which to submerge after the goof. Some of the action which followed. Including the “live,”! on-the-air quiz by Queen of the suspects, was something of a strain, but it was all such fun, who could complain?
(The Evening Star, Washington D. C., Monday, Jun 8. 1959 - Bernie Harrison, Star TV Critic)
|Beginning June 19, thru September 4 tape repeats where shown on Fridays, 8-9 PM. Repeat episode on June 26. 1959 was preempted by "The Fourth Coast" a news and documentary exploration of the immediate problems and long-range potential of the St.Lawrence Seaway.|
(1) Ellery Queen on the Small Screen by Francis M.Nevins Jr.
in The Armchair Detective volume 12, 1979
(2) NY Evening News
(3) Classic TV Archive
(4) OAC Online Archive of California
(5) The Evening Star
(6) Ross Reports on Television Programming
|B&W Copy of Color Telecast available at The Paley Center for Media (N.Y.- L.A)|
Last updated June 6, 2021
b a c k