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ELLERY QUEEN 1975-76  b a c k

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Ellery Queen

Click on left and/or right sidePublicity shot of the 'Dynamic Duo' David Wayne & Jim HuttonNBC, 1975-1976

Creator/Executive Producers: Richard Levinson, William Link
Music: Elmer Bernstein, Hal Mooney 
Ellery Queen: Jim Hutton
Inspector Richard Queen: David Wayne

Sgt. Velie: Tom Reese

Simon Brimmer: John Hillerman
Frank Flanagan: Ken Swofford
Deputy Commissioner Hayes: Arch Johnson

In 1975, Levinson and Link, lifelong Queen fans, were allowed by NBC to do Queen the way they wanted. The result was "Ellery Queen" which ran for only one full season. Stylistically,  the producers went back to the radio show, setting this series in 1947. Although the pilot was based on a Queen novel, and one episode on a short story, the rest of the episodes were original stories, but stories that well-captured the spirit of an Ellery Queen mystery. Jim Hutton played Ellery as a good-natured, absent-minded young man for which there were legitimate bases in the books. Frederic Dannay said Hutton's portrayal reminded him not so much of the fictional Ellery, but of himself at about Hutton's age. Hutton's charm and natural manner played perfectly against David Wayne's crusty Inspector (despite lacking the moustache so often mentioned in the books, the definitive depiction of 'The Old Man'). The show had a sense of good humor, and its setting in 1947 lent a welcome sense of  nostalgia to the stories.
Although the episodes varied in quality, none was poor, and even the weakest of them is redeemed by the plot, the production values, and the marvelous casts.

Every episode of this 1975-1976 TV show has distinct repeating features. Adding to the authentic feel of the series is the
"Challenge to the viewer," in which Hutton, as Queen, turns to the camera, and invites the audience to review the clues and deduce the culprit. This device was, of course, a direct visual analogue to the "Challenge to the Reader" that appeared in the earlier Queen novels and radio plays just before the solution was revealed.
original episodes had a clever opening montage (often cut in syndication, but restored in the DVD collection), in which the announcer says something like, "This famous song-writer is about to be murdered. Who is guilty? Is it ..." Each suspect is shown in a brief clip, speaking a short phrase (sometimes deliberately excerpted to look off-beat and humorous), then: "Match wits with Ellery Queen and see if you can guess whodunit"! followed by the stylish opening credits, accompanied by Elmer Bernstein's Big-Band 40s-type theme music. NBC's 1975 through 1976 Ellery Queen series is as fine a mystery series as American television has given us.

Ellery Queen and his father appear in every episode of the 1975-1976 TV show Ellery Queen. Sgt.Velie appears in all but one (The Sinister Scenario), and either Simon Brimmer or Frank Flannigan serve as competition for Ellery (in the case of Simon Brimmer) or a source of information (in the case of Frank Flannigan) in many of the others. We  like to offer you the story-outlines of those episodes.


Part 1: 1975 Episodes

1* "Ellery Queen Too Many Suspects" US (1975)

Too Many Suspects - Beelden uit de generiek

Oozing style, this pilot opens with a view of the Manhattan-skyline 1947, and then immediately gives us an intriguing look into the production of the immensely popular radio plays. A look behind the scenes of  "The Casebook of Simon Brimmer" where the star reminds us most of an first Ellery we find in the early novels, a wise-guy who sets out to smart out each and everyone. Brimmer, unsatisfied with his scriptwriters tempts Ellery with a lucrative deal to deliver storyboards. A bored Ellery, already struggling with a deadline for his book, refuses the honor. Brimmer decides to get his inspiration an other way. Monica Grey, fashion designer, gets murdered but not before she manages to pull out the plug of her television and clock. A dying clue which, as his father points out, Ellery just can't resist. A strongly simplified plot based on "The Fourth Side of the Triangle" had its clues dramatically changed to make way to portray Ellery as some sort of Columbo "avant la lettre", a forgetful slob who a sharp observant mind. No shortage of suspects as it becomes clear that Grey had a love affair with her married neighbor Carson McKell (Ray Milland,  "Dial M for Murder"). Carson call on Ellery to get him acquitted and in doing so provides Simon Brimmer a new topic for his radio show. Brimmer points out a loose end in the investigation and a irritated Ellery sets out to bring a classic denouement with the obligatory mise en scène.

Too Many Suspects - publicity shotToo Many Suspects - James Hutton, Monte Markham and Ray Milland (NBC Station Advertising)

Pilot Airdate 03/23/75 and 09/07/75
Directed by David Greene
With: Ray Milland (Carson McKell), Monte Markham (Tom McKell), Kim Hunter
(Marion McKell), Gail Strickland ( Gail Stevens), Tim O'Connor (Ben Waterson),
 Vic Mohica (Ramon), Franny Michel (Penny), Nancy Mehta (Monica Gray)

2* "The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne"

"What's a little murder here and there on New Year's Eve"

Joan Collins (Lady Daisy Frawley) waves a cigarete holder, attempting to learn Guy Lombardo's baton techniqueNew Year's Eve at the Astor Hotel and Guy Lombardo & the Royal Canadians are playing "Everybody loves my baby" whilst Inspector Queen is trying to dodge Mrs.Velie's dancing shoes. The wealthy Marcus Halliday reveals his plans to eliminate each and everyone from his will. He steps out to the phone boot and... gets stabbed. Not before he makes a last phone call to a man he doesn't know. Ellery, as absentminded as ever, tries to get to the scene of the crime by taxi and has some explaining to do to the lovely Kitty McBride. He gets there in time to find the solution and toast to a Happy 1947!

Airdate 9/11/75
Production: Richard Levinson, William Link, Peter S. Fisher and Michael Rhodes
Production: #43606
Teleplay: Peter S. Fisher 
Story by: Richard Levinson, William Link and Peter S. Fisher 
Director: David Greene
With: Ray Walston (Howard Pratt), Joan Collins (Lady Daisy Frawley), Karen Machon
(Kitty McBride), Thayer David (Marcus Halliday), Farley Granger (Paul Quincy),
Arch Johnson (Commissioner), David Doyle (Don Becker), George Wyner (Joe
Kemmelman), Herb Edelman (Taxi driver) and Guy Lombardo (himself)

"The main inspiration is the banquet speech in The Best Years of Our Lives, as noted in the cabbie’s remark on his flat tire made of synthetic rubber (“if we’d had these on Normandy...”). A wealthy industrialist is murdered on New Year’s Eve, 1946, the suspects are the heirs he Spoiler Warningvituperates and promises to disinherit before 1947. It’s not the successor, the climbing bimbo, the petty-cash swindler, the secretary, nor her draft-dodging fiancé, it’s the swimming-pool salesman.

Greene negotiates the lighting system into a demi-noir on tightly accurate set-dressing and costumes, and gives the players leeway to accomplish their remarkable turns one after another, among them the voice of Barbara Rush emanating from an artfully plain secretary.

Inspector Queen has all this on his shoulders until Ellery finally arrives and solves the case almost at once. The range of suspects includes city and state officials impatient to be released from the crime scene at the Hotel Astor."
Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

3* "The Adventure of the Lover's Leap"

"A major breakthrough... the butler didn't do it!" 

Publicity shot - Ida Lupino in The Adventure of Lover's LeapFountain Pen Heiress Stephanie Kendrick awakens one night and picks up an Ellery Queen book, soon reality and fiction don't seem all that different.  She's found dead at the bottom of that balcony... Suicide? Not so as the body seems to be moved after death, but why? - Simon Brimmer thinks he has it all worked out!
All of the episode-specific characters were named after well-known mystery writers: Marsh,
Chandler, etc.. Several insights into the making of old-time radio, which some referrals to shows e.g. "Abott & Costello"(sound bit) and "The Gangbusters"

Airdate 9/18/75
Directed: Charles S. Dubin
Script: Robert Pirosh

With:  Anne Francis (Evelyn Chandler),Don Ameche (Dr. Norman Marsh), Craig Stevens
(Jonathan Kendrick), Susan Strasberg (Cathy Kendrick),  Jason Wingreen (Roy Miller),
James Lydon (Radial Actor), Jack Kelly (J.T. Latimer), Ida Lupino (Stephanie Kendrick ),
Joan Bennett (? )

"A critique whose dénouement takes place in a Poirot-style gathering of all the suspects during a live radio program being recorded on an acetate disc, it having been noted by other writers that the characters have names associated with the genre, such as Dr. Marsh.

The victim is a wealthy neurotic being treated with hypnotherapeutic recordings. Her estranged husband, a sometime radio actor, slips one of his own onto the changer, persuading her that the events in the book she’s reading (Ellery Queen’s The Lover’s Leap) are actually happening to her,
Spoiler Warningbut she resists the suggestion, and dies in a fall from her balcony during an argument with her stepdaughter, whose broken watch crystal provides the author with a clue.

The essence of the solution is that the radio “detective” appreciates the first part of the mystery only, that is, the husband’s modus operandi, but dismisses the clue and cannot perceive the actual workings of the case. “Break it,” he magniloquently tells a sound man who holds up the successfully produced disc for broadcast.

The script by Robert Pirosh is an amusing theme carefully considered in its many aspects. The doctor is interviewed on his day off, and will not play without a caddy, so Ellery Queen becomes one silently for the nonce while the radio Poirot makes a talkative twosome on the fairway. Craig Stevens as the husband impersonates Don Ameche as the doctor on the murder weapon."

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

Stars and guest stars step into the 1940s, time setting for the who-done-it mysteries Ellery Queen. They are (from left) John Hillerman, Anne Francis, series Star Jim Hutton, Ida Lupino, series star David Wayne, Susan Strasberg, Don Ameche, Craig Stevens and Jack Kelly. All appear in the episode 'The Lover's Leap' (NBC-photo)

4* "The Adventure of the Chinese Dog"

"What do you have in your pockets right this minute?"
"I tell you ... a hole. - I know because I had to pick up the tab for breakfast."

The Queens take a 202 miles fishing trip to Wrightsville. Little do they know that Warren Wright, grandson of the town's founder and owner of a lucrative The Adventure of the Chinese Dog, an Ellery Queen episode. Left to right are Murray Hamilton, Orson Bean, Katherine Crawford and Geraldine Fitzgeraldgaloshes factory is about to be murdered. Beaten do death with his half a million dollar wedding gift for his daughter Julia: a Chinese Temple Dog. Despite Inspector's Queen intention on focusing on fishing, Ellery (reading a book on famous American Murderers) is drawn into the investigation by Henry Palmer. Palmer is Sheriff Oscar Eberhardt's rival in the upcoming election. Wright didn't trust his future son-in-law and had him investigated, his nephew was frustrated by Warren's lack of trust in his capabilities and Tilda McDonald, the housekeeper was in love with Warren...

Working title 'The Chinese Cat'
Airdate 9/25/75
Directed by Ernest Pintoff
Teleplay: Robert Van Scoyk
Story: Gene Thompson
With: Geraldine Brooks (Tilda McDonald), Orson Bean (Warren Wright),
Murray Hamilton (Henry Palmer), Robert Hogan (Gordon Wilde), Bill Quinn (Reverend
Dell), Eugene Roche (Sheriff Oscar Eberhardt), Robert F. Simon (Eben Wright), Hal Smith
(Willy Bailey), Dee Wallace (Waiter), Katherine Crawford (Julia Wright

"The title refers to the gilded figure of a temple dog rampant on a jewel-encrusted ball. Its possessor is murdered, but the object is not stolen, and only later turns up missing from a police evidence locker.

The beauty of this is that the desired element in a murder for loot cannot be withdrawn from the crime scene by the killer, because the sheriff has placed deputies guarding the front and back doors. Therefore, the element
Spoiler Warningis made to be the murder weapon, and is thus spirited away in an official capacity. The sheriff is in fact the murderer, and one of the main clues is a pinprick on the victim’s thumb, caused by one of the campaign buttons tirelessly pressed on voters by this wearied public servant."
Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

5"The Adventure of the Comic Book Crusader"

"That doesn't even look like me!"
"Does Mickey Mouse look like a mouse?"

An unusually fiery-angry Ellery Queen rampages in the office of Comic book owner, Bud Armstrong. His Capricorn Comics is putting out a Ellery Queen comic loaded with heavy-handed violence. Even more enraged to learn that the small print in his contract allows them to do so, he ends up threatening Mr. Armstrong. Armstrong, making no effort to be a likeable character and unwilling to give credit for his employees work gets shot.
Armstrong left a dying clue, he crossed out Ellery's name in a completed panel...  Frank Flannigan, columnist for The New York Gazette
, is all to eager to put the story in the newspaper 'Cop shields Kin". Ellery surrenders himself, goes to jail and starts looking for clues in comic books. FF gets one for free as he gets a package with the Ellery Queen book "The Adventure of the Purloined Gun".
Episode contains references to comedian Milton Berle and the comic Orphan Annie.

Airdate 10/02/75
Directed by: Peter H.Hunt
Story: Robert Van Scoyk
With:  Donald O'Connor (Kenny Freeman), Tom Bosley (Bud Armstrong),
Lynda Day George (Alma Van Dine), Eddie Firestone (Phil Collins), Herbie Faye
(Moe Fletcher), George Sperdakos (Vincent Porter), Joseph Maher (Lyle Shannon),
Alan Landers (Ronald Himes), Arch Johnson (Commissioner), Sandy Ward (?)

"The cartoonists revolt—not the maven who dictates panel by panel to his secretary the elements of his comic book empire, but the men on his assembly line—the man who draws the figures, the one who draws the backgrounds, the guy who does shading and coloring, they’ve had enough of his berating them over palm trees in South Dakota, “you wrote palm trees, I drew palm trees”, instead of the elms he obviously meant. They buy bullets for a prop .38 at the office, and drill the guy.

Not only does the innocent letterer take over the shop, he’s got a new line of comics, Swamp Critters. “Kids aren’t buying detectives anymore,” he explains. “The superheroes are dead, they’ve been replaced by cute, lovable little critters from the swamp.” This is so true, it’s absolute prophecy.

The script by Robert Van Scoyk has Ellery Queen turned into a comic book character thanks to a loophole in his new book contract. “It doesn’t even look like me,” he complains. The figureman replies, “does Mickey Mouse look like a mouse? It’s a cartoon, it could be anybody!” The maestro, angry as never before, tells the cartoonist, “you are not gonna use me to grab dimes from children!”

The letterer shows his Swamp Critters sketches to the cartoonist, who justly observes, “that’s the most dull-witted, badly-drawn comic I’ve ever seen.” The joke, and who could have known, is that Swamp Critters is precisely in the Spielberg cartoon style.

After the murder, Frank Flannigan of the Daily Gazette arrives with a photographer. “If you’re Armstrong’s secretary,” he tells her, “I’d like a front page photo. Stand up and take a deep breath.” Flannigan’s column (“Broadway Beat”) implicates the maestro, the Deputy Commissioner replays the Commissioner’s wrath to Inspector Queen, who says, “you tell the Commissioner not to believe everything he reads on the bottom of a bird cage.” What about public opinion? “Public opinion can go fly a kite.” The maestro turns himself in, and spends his time reading comic books.

Someone sends Flannigan a copy of The Adventure of the Purloined Gun. He opens it and stares. His secretary asks, “F.F., when’s the last time you read a book?” F.F. answers, “when the guy who ghosted my autobiography sent me a copy. Couldn’t get through it.” He persists. “I have a feeling there’s something in here that’s gonna singe my eyebrows.”

The cleaning lady at Capricorn Comics is the wife of a Flannigan informant. “Last night,” F.F. is told, “my wife Millie couldn’t finish her floor, so she had to come to work today.” F.F. says, “Flannigan’s heart bleeds.” Millie observed a confab of the suspects, Flannigan joins in. “Where were you,” he asks, “on the night of the murder?”
“At Bleek’s, where all the artists hang out.”
“And you?”
“Yeah, I was one of the artists he was hanging out with.”

More comic books are brought to the maestro in his jail cell (the sergeant on duty remarks, “I hate to think what he’s gonna be like in a week”), and Sgt. Velie would like to see him reading “good books,” like the new Mickey Spillane.
Inspector Queen comes home to find Flannigan there. “Been waiting long, in the dark, with a flashlight?” F.F. protests his innocence, “as a what?”
“As a law-abiding citizen,” to which the Inspector ripostes, “you better hope the Sing Sing newspaper needs a gossip columnist.” They find a pistol in the fish tank, per the maestro’s novel.

The new maven of Capricorn Comics is as tyrannical as his predecessor. He doesn’t want magnolia trees to delight the botanists, but “cute trees” for kids with peanut butter and jelly on their faces.

Spoiler WarningHis jail-cell reading has given the maestro a clue (“blam?”, says Inspector Queen, looking at a comic book panel that contains it), now he reconstructs the scene of the crime, and solves it, the victim having left a clue in blue pencil.

The secretary gets pinker throughout, and finally hides a red-and-green traveling dress under a pink housecoat. Her nerdy boyfriend is brought on to establish an alibi and then disestablish it, they weren’t watching Milton Berle on television, he was watching it alone, and he dislikes dogs dressed up as people (the letterer’s comic). The maestro extraordinarily engages in fisticuffs with a villain, the secretary comments, “bam! Pow! You’re terrific!” The maestro hastily exits.

Hunt’s coup is the anonymous illustrator or art department hand responsible for the opening strip of a gumshoe breaking down a door and announcing himself, “I am Ellery Queen”, as well as the Swamp Critters boards. The pistol in the fish tank is the central image.

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)  

6* "The Adventure of the 12th Floor Express"

"Queen - comma - Ellery. Mystery writer of some renown. Born April 2nd. New York City 1912. Father - Queen - comma - Richard. Inspector New York City Police Department."

Dina Merrill, George Furth, Pat Harrington in Ellery Queen's The Adventure of the 12th Floor ExpressNews Mogul Henry Manners of the New York Daily Examiner is murdered in an elevator - an express elevator to the 12th Floor to be exact - with no one inside but the victim. A crafty plot that will test the mettle of the best whodunit fans. And the key clue is right up there on the screen - for a lengthy period of time with Ellery and the Inspector framing it - for anyone who can recognize it. Wrightsville is mentioned in this episode when Ellery states that he's going there for some rest and relaxation. The "howdunit" of this episode is very similar to a Perry Mason episode entitled The Case of the Wednesday Woman.

Airdate 10/09/75
Directed by: Jack Arnold
Ruth McDevitt (Zelda Van Dyke), Paul Stewart (Thornton Johns), Dina Merrill
(Harriet Manners), Tyler McVey (Henry Manners), Kristin Larkin (Dorothy),  Pat Harrington Jr. (Mitchell McCully), George Furth (Albert Klinger), John Finnegan
(Fred Dumhoffer), Kip Niven (Arthur
Van Dyke)

"Newspaperman dies on his way to the top, with interesting and amusing consequences for the paper.
Spoiler WarningWhat kills him, in fact, is the crusading communist hunter who writes a column. Arnold has a very amusing time with this, constructing camera angles that show, for instance, the relative position and view of a secretary, with reference to the murder.

The amusing side plots are well worth anyone’s while as gambits and ploys, but the amazing point is driven home with an appropriate ruthlessness."
                                                                    (Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission) 

7* "The Adventure of Miss Aggie's Farewell Performance"

"Queen... Queen! He's not the fellow who writes all the whodunits?!
Oh, my dear - I thought you said he was an author!"

Jim Hutton with Eve Arden (Vera Bethune, Miss Aggie)Radio Soap Opera diva, Vera Bethune - known to her fans as dear Miss Aggie, beloved school teacher - is poisoned during a taping of the show. She survives, and asks Ellery at the hospital to stay on the case, but in short order, Miss Aggie is found shot to death. Both Ellery and Inspector Queen feel responsible for not protecting her and dive into the sea of suspects who might have wanted her dead. But hot on their heels is Simon Brimmer, determined to beat them to it and win back his lost Vita-Cream sponsor.

Eve Arden's radio character, Miss Aggie, is based on the character she played in the 1950's comedy Our Miss Brooks.

Airdate 10/19/75
Directed by: James Sheldon
With:  Eve Arden (Vera Bethune, Miss Aggie), John McGiver (Mr. Pearl),  Paul Shenar (Wendell Warren), Betty White (Louise Demery), Penelope Windust (Anita Leslie),
Nan Martin (Olivia Burns), Beatrice Colen (Mary Lou), Don Keefer, Sidney Miller,
Nina Roman.

Miss Aggie is a principal in Middleville, a radio character who steers people over life’s shoals. The mechanism of her death has a twofold interest. First, the actress playing her wants more money, the writers threaten to kill her off, dramatically, the actress poisons herself lightly during a broadcast so as to attract publicity. In the hospital, she’s murdered for real.

Second, this murder is filmed by Sheldon as a POV with a pillow for silencer, so the look of alarm on the victim’s face is met with a screen full of feathers as the shot is fired.

Spoiler WarningThe agent did it, looking to promote a kinder young actress. Four actors at their Rockefeller Center microphone stands, the Wurlie-player off to one side, director and technicians in the booth, the stern sponsor (whose wife never misses the program), Inspector Queen’s crash diet.

“Come on, son, let’s get out of this wonderful world of show business and grab a piece of cheesecake at Lindy’s. Maybe two.”

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)  

8* "The Adventure of Colonel Niven's Memoirs"

"Uh, Dad - Think you could take care of that for me? Now, I got that
  while I was working on the case."
"Ellery! You want me to fix a parking ticket? Pay the two dollars."

Jim Hutton (standing) and Pernell Roberts in Ellery Queen's 'The Adventure of Colonel Niven's Memoirs'Self absorbed author Colonel Alec Niven is in New York for a signing of his new book, "Memoirs of a Spy". It's a character assassination novel in which he accuses a myriad of people of war crimes and treasonous acts. It seems that Niven was with the British Intelligence during the war and got his hands on some Nazi files that they didn't burn when they evacuated Paris.
Ellery's latest girlfriend, Jenny O'Brien, worked at Gotham Bookstore where the signing was held and was invited to dinner with the Colonel that evening, but when she arrived, she found him dead - stabbed with an antique Kashmir dagger. She and Ellery spend the rest of the episode chasing down clues and suspects' true identities and motives.

Airdate 10/23/75
Directed by: Seymour Robbie
With: Lloyd Bochner (Colonel Alec Niven), Gretchen Corbett (Jenny O'Brien), Pernell Roberts (Rosh Kaleel / Barney Groves / May. Pearson), Robert Loggia (Alexsei Dobrenskov), Peter Bromilow (Colin Esterbrook), René Auberjonois (Marcel Fourchet), Nina Van Pallandt (Sonja Dobrenskov), Jonathan Hole (Salesman), Claude Earl Jones

Robbie’s terribly risky move is to underplay this most intensely, so that the aliquots of international decision-making expand and disperse into quite the plain images they intend. You have a blackmailer who is a British Intelligence officer with Nazi files from occupied Paris, and various victim-suspects, all of whom were coerced by the occupiers or working undercover, including the present wife of the Russian ambassador in New York, closely watched by the NKVD (“What will Truman do,” asks Inspector Queen, reading in the papers about another strike).

The feint (not to put too fine a point upon it) would be along the lines of British imperialism undone by American democracy (Col. Niven’s doorman wears a turban, but isn’t from India, nor is he the New York criminal his revealed identity suggests, but Major Pearson of the OSS, looking for the files). This dissipates, leaving a simpler impression (the Russian ambassador asks if there are not listening devices in Inspector Queen’s office, and is told, “Sir, this is America!”).

Spoiler WarningThe beautiful solution has a ship that cannot be in Boston Harbor and the Port of New York at one and the same time (it’s Russian, with a defector), so that the real meaning is the nonexistence of any conflict between principles and expediency.
                                                                    (Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

9"The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party"

"Dad come on. You trust me, don't you?
 - NO!"

Thunderbolts and rain throughout this episode as Ellery takes a train to
Douglaston. He arrives late at the Greenhaven Estate. He is accompanied by his agent Howard Biggers. Wealthy, eccentric Spencer Lockridge intends to have Ellery's book  "The Adventure of the Alabaster Apple
" made into a five hundred thousand dollar Broadway play.

"I don't want the Alabaster Apple, alabasterized"

Stunner Stunned: Stunning Rhonda Fleming, guest star, sags into a chair as she learns her husband has vanished in 'The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party'The whole family is present as Spencer is staging a dressed rehearsal for a birthday surprise for little Johnny Lockridge to be held tomorrow.
The party centers on an episode from Alice in Wonderland, and family members are appropriately attired.
At night Ellery can't sleep and goes looking for a book. Next morning it appears Spencer, alias the Mad Hatter, has disappeared.

The story, actually based on an Ellery Queen short story from 1934, was a favorite both in print and in the TV-series. The only series entry based on an actual Queen story, this episode is regarded by many as the best filming of a Queen story ever. We learn that Sgt. Velie once played Captain Hook in a high school play. Ray Bolger is mentioned, as is Jane Wyman 'who took a part as a deaf country girl, a part which Emmy Reinhardt turned down'. This is a reference to Wyman's part in Johnny Belinda (1948), which earned her an Oscar.  Also there is a clear reference to Forever Amber 'the book one can't put down' from Kathleen Winsor. Written in 1944 as a compulsive historical novel, it still is remembered "naughty".

Airdate 10/30/75
Directed by: James Sheldon
Art director: John J.Lloyd, Set decorations: John McCarthy, Assistant director: Jerry Ballew, Unit Manager: Jack Terry, Costumes: Charles Waldo
 Jim Backus (Howard Biggers), Edward Andrews (Spencer Lockridge), Larry Hagman (Paul Gardner), Julie Sommars (Emmy Reinhardt), Rhonda Fleming (Laura Lockridge), Lew Brown (Lt. Carr ), Julius Harris (Butler), William Benedict (Cab Driver), Olan Soule (Conductor), Carmen Mathews (Letetia), Patricia Smith (Diana), George Janek (Johnny).

This marvel is one of the Ellery Queen stories arranged for television by Peter S. Fischer under the eye of Robert Van Scoyk, a concatenation of circumstances which would explain, without recourse to the shooting schedule, why Sheldon has his hands full.

The occasion is a Broadway adaptation of a work by Ellery Queen, only in production talks but giving rise to this fancy-dress party on a Lewis Carroll theme.

Here is a visionary work for connoisseurs, particularly those who go downtown to art openings at abandoned bank buildings, in the vault, as it were.
Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

10* "The Adventure of Veronica's Veils"

"The name is Simon Brimmer.  Surely you've heard of me, Officer nine-three-seven"

Jack Carter & Barbara Rhoades in "The Adventure of Veronica Veils"Before a new burlesque-revival show called "Take It Off" can open, its producer, Sam Packer (cameo by George Burns) is found dead of an apparent heart attack. But the dead man has left a video behind to be shown at his funeral declaring that no matter what it looks like, he was murdered. And he asks Simon Brimmer to solve the case. The widow, however, goes to Ellery for help, who realizes that the disappearance of the stripper's bird is more than a coincidence.

In this episode we learn that Inspector Queen once walked a beat in the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan during his early years on the NYPD.

Airdate 11/13/75
Directed by: Seymour Robbie
Script: Robert Pirosh
With:  Julie Adams (Jennifer Packard), George Burns (Sam Packer), William Demarest (Alexander Denny), Hayden Rorke (Marcus Brady), Jack Carter (Risky Ross / Joey Flanders), John Dennis (Tolson), Don Porter (Gregory Layton), Barbara Rhoades (Veronica Vale), Joshua Shelley (Dick Bowie), Romo Vincent (Gus Banana), Peter Hobbs (Dr. Steiner)

Robert Pirosh’s script is flagrantly a masterpiece on its subject, burlesque. There are two main aspects in which Robbie’s direction signally expresses this, and the first is a surprising dramatic evaluation of the MacGuffin, the producer’s onstage funeral during which a film of himself is projected, announcing he’s been murdered. Robbie cuts to a long shot of the stage from the center right balcony as the house lights come up and curtains behind the casket are drawn on the blank screen lifted to the heavens.

The second is a stirring, pointed command of the idiomatic rhythms in the art being portrayed. The cast (George Burns, Barbara Rhoades, Jack Carter, Julie Adams, William Demarest, Joshua Shelley, Don Porter, Hayden Rorke) is more than able, it rises to the occasion at exactly the mark and reveals its superabundance of gifts by never missing it, even though the actual stage material used is very slender, quantitatively.

The show is called Take It Off!, the comic killed the producer with his prop insecticide sprayer, incidentally killing the stripper’s parrot, Galahad (the producer’s wife wasn’t seeing another man, she lost her shirt gambling, and the angel wanted to move the stripper into O’Neill and Ibsen, whom the lady—her stage name is Veronica Vale—thinks is Buddy Ebsen).

The Night They Raided Minsky’s is a conscious holding of inspiration for the work. 

                                                                    (Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

11* "The Adventure of the Pharaoh's Curse"

Inspector Queen: "It's past your bedtime."
Margie Coopersmith: "Is it really past your bedtime?"
Ellery: "He's been trying to get me to go to bed at ten o'clock since I was 14..."

Taped outline of wher the body fell provides grim meeting place for principals in the "Ellery Queen" colorcast of "The Pharoah's Curse" The men are (from left) Wallace Rooney as museum guard, Ross Martin as museum director, Tom Reese as police sergeant Velie, Jim Hutton as Ellery Queen and David Wayne as Inspector Queen.Norris Wenthworth has brought an Egyptian sarcophagus from Germany to display at the Tremane Museum, but there's a curse on it that's killed its previous six owners. Simon Brimmer is on hand to interview the new owner and ponder his fate, when lo and behold, he does indeed become the mummy's 7th victim. Or could someone else have had murder on his mind? Seems that Norris Wenthworth was a former aircraft manufacturer who had been investigated by a Select Senate Committee on charges of war profiteering 

Airdate 12/11/75
Production: Richard Levinson, William Link, Peter S. Fisher and Michael Rhodes
Production: #43603
Teleplay: Peter S. Fisher 
Story by: Rudolph Borchert 
Directed by Seymour Robbie
With: June Lockhart (Claudia Wentworth), Simon Oakland (Norris Wentworth),
Nehemiah Persoff (Mustafa Haddid), Ross Martin (Dr. Otis Tremane), John Larroquette (Bellboy), Nancy Belle Fuller (Margie Coopersmith), Wallace Rooney (Harry), 
Charles Macaulay (Critic).

Ellery Queen dictates a novel throughout this adventure, having injured an index finger while using a can opener, Recalling, perhaps, Nabokov’s famous remark to Edmund Wilson on the latter’s fictional female characters, that he would as soon use his penis to open a tin can.

Inspector Queen has to solve the case of a museum benefactor who has been found dead after the premiere of his exhibit, the sarcophagus of Amon-Ra. Ellery suspects murder, but a heart condition is indicated.

Now, there is a great deal of hugger-mugger surrounding the victim, who is unloved by his family, detested by an Egyptian antiquary as a graverobber, and loathed by the museum director, whom he humiliates. There is a cloud of suspicion around this Mæcenas as a profiteer in the recently-concluded war, who sold defective planes as in All My Sons.

Spoiler WarningIn fact, the dutiful guard who found the body has a Gold Star flag in his office, and caused the death by brandishing a pistol, which made the moneybags keel over.

Simon Oakland plays the victim as a careless sort of vulgarian, amusing and helpless. June Lockhart plays his wife, who is leaving him for Ross Martin as the patient museum director. Nehemiah Persoff is the Egyptian.

The strangeness of the artifice is intensified rather than diminished by the abandonment of Hollywood lighting in a piece set in 1946. There are amusing touches in Peter S. Fischer’s script, such as the broken driver’s-side window in the victim’s car (he locked his keys in), the ceremonial golden key found in the middle of the bunch on his key ring, the medicine in the wrong coat pocket.

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)


12* "The Adventure of the Blunt Instrument"

"We're going to nip this thing in the bud. I've got the most fantastic cure-all. Hot lemonade and sassafras - mixed with the extract of a pound of calves' liver. And after a rub-down with menthol and oil of peppermint, you take a bath in scalding chicken soup - hold the noodles...."

The episode opens with an awards dinner sponsored by the "Crime Writers of America" announcing this years' recipient of their Blunt Instrument Award to be mystery writer, Edgar Manning for his book, "The Shanghai Solution". Ellery Queen is not in attendance, as he's at home with a head cold - a great running gag throughout this episode. At a gathering after the awards dinner, we see the story's principals at Manning's residence where each one seems to feel equal disdain for their host. After a sour toast, Manning goes into his study to call Ellery - intending to gloat over his win, where he is murdered while speaking to Ellery on the telephone. All Ellery hears is Manning's remark that some "rash person is there to balance the books".

Airdate 12/18/75
Directed by: Ernest Pintoff
With: John Dehner (George Tisdale) Joanna Barnes  (Camellia Justice),  Dean Stockwell (Cliff Waddell), Richard Jaeckel (Nick McVey),  Eva Gabor (Magda Szomony), 
Ellen Weston (Mary Parks), Clyde Kusatsu (Mateo) , Keene Curtis (Edgar Manning), 
Robert Cornthwaite (Osterwald)

This is very close to Mike Hodges’ Pulp in its defense of the writer against literary vivisectionists. A haughty scribbler wins the Blunt Instrument Award for Best Mystery Writer of the Year, and repines at its lowly status. He’s slain while talking on the telephone to careless rival Ellery Queen, whose opinion is given that the prizewinning novel is its author’s best work.

The suspects all were celebrating his victory at the author’s home, the bitter crime novelist whose work, according to the deceased, is “thinly-veiled pornography”; the secretary set to wed this rival; the publisher who cheats on royalties and whom the author is ready to flee for his ex-wife’s publishing house; the mistress of dubious citizenship and morals, an actress of sorts; and the Chinese houseboy with an Italian name.

Spoiler WarningThe murderer is the research assistant, who may actually have written The Shanghai Solution, a Marine Corps veteran with one good leg and two bad arms from Okinawa. The murder weapon is not as thought the Blunt Instrument Award itself, but a swift judo kick to the temple, and the motive is a proposal of love to the actress.

“There is no arguing with Johnson,” according to Goldsmith, “for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt-end of it.”

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

Part 2: 1976 episodes...


(1) Ellery Queen on the Small Screen by Francis M.Nevins Jr.
     in The Armchair Detective volume 12, 1979
(2) Ellery Queen - the TV series
Christopher J. Mulrooney, film critic by permission Heather Lowe 2016

Last updated October 23, 2016 

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