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ELLERY QUEEN 1975-76  b a c k

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Part 2: 1976 Episodes  (Part 1)

Ellery Queen

In his article  "Confessions of a Mystery Writer" (William Link, 2002) Link says: "Thinking back, the Queen series was too complicated for its own good. I remember spending an entire afternoon with Dick trying to This photo was distributed by NBC Television in the fall of 1975 to promote the "Ellery Queen" series that lasted just one season. Jim Hutton played the famed detective. The original NBC caption sheet reads: DETECTIVE AT WORK -- Jim Hutton stars in the title role of "Ellery Queen," NBC Television Network's new suspense series about the exploits of one of America's favorite fictional detectives, to be colorcast Thursdays (9-10 p.m., NYT). Click for the TVue cover (October 26. 1975 ) based on this photo of Jim Huttonfigure how keys on a keychain would fall into what configuration in one's pocket when placed there." And also "Our failure with Ellery Queen was our template. We deliberately made the clues on 'Murder She Wrote' easier to decipher, including a very guessable murderer now and then. Part of our psychology was to reward the focused viewers because they might then be motivated to return the following week. Another unexpressed reason was that it was far easier to come up with facile clues than sweating bullets over keys in a pocket. I remember we did solve the key problem, however. The upshot was that 'Murder She Wrote' thrived for 12 seasons, Ellery Queen less than one."

Ellery Queen moves to Sunday night bag and baggage starting January 4. Doing their bit in making the move are serie stars Jim Hutton and David Wayne.
Ellery Queen moves to Sunday night bag and baggage
starting January 4. Doing their bit in  making the move
are series stars Jim Hutton and David Wayne

13* "The Adventure of the Black Falcon"

I swear to you, Ellery, if he tries to bust open my case I'll detain him on his own lousy broadcast.

Pictured are David Wayne, Tab Hunter, Susan Stafford, Rosanna Huffman, William Schallert, Signe Hasso, John Hillerman and Jim Hutton during the episode The Adventure Of The Black FalconSimon arrives at a restaurant where he will give a live-remote broadcast of his show and reveal his results of a murder investigation. The Queens arrive since the Inspector is concerned that Simon's expected revelations will undercut the official investigation. Before Simon can reveal his solution, a murder is committed in the restaurant. One of the owners is poisoned by a bottle of wine.

Airdate 1/4/76
Directed by Walter Doniger
With: Signe Hasso (Flora Schumann / Gretchen Schiller), Howard Duff (Eddie Morgan / Emile Morganstern), Tab Hunter (John Randall), Roddy McDowall ("The Amazing Armitage"), William Schallert (Alexander), Rosanna Huffman (Nancy McGuire), Lewis Charles (Nick Kingston / Harry Norman), Bob Basso

This amazing study of what Professor Weber calls “the second Thirty Years War”, 1914-1945, imagines all the depredations inflicted on Germany at the Armistice and its subsequent re-staging of the march through Flanders fields as a doughboy absconding with a minor vineyard (Der Schwarze Falke), opening a nightclub, and murdered by a greedy partner whose real name is Morgenstern, providing the clue. It all takes place around a live radio broadcast from Nick & Eddie’s nightclub, and is about as fine an example of this series’ powers of abstraction as can be wished.

Tab Hunter, in a boiled shirt and mustard sweater backstage waiting to go on as a jazz pianist, gives an unusual picture of the age. Roddy McDowall plays an American passing himself off as a German mindreader solo, in technical parlance “a head act with no gaff”.

                                                                    (Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

14* "The Adventure of the Sunday Punch"

A prizefighter is killed while training for a Championship bout and when guilt points toward his sparring partner Joe Adams, Joe's girlfriend seeks out POISONED PUNCH -- Manager Sam Hatter (Dane Clark, l.) and Doc Hatter (Lloyd Nolan) vainly try to revive Kid Hogan (heavyweight boxer Jerry Quarry) after a sparring match, in "The Sunday Punch" on the NBC Television network colorcast Sunday, Jan. 11 (8-9 p.m. NYT) 1976. Ellery to prove his innocence. The autopsy discovers death due to poison, but who could have done it? Was it the fiancée that he abused? Her father, the fight doctor? The mobster who needed him to take a dive? His manager who was being muscled?

Airdate 1/11/76
Directed by Seymour Robbie
With Robert Alda (Frank Anthony), Lloyd Nolan (Dr. Sanford), Terrence O'Connor (Melinda Sanford), Janet MacLachlan (Corrine Ogden), Dane Clark (Sam Hatter), Dick Bakalyan (Maddie O'Neill), Juanita Moore (Mrs. Douglas), Otis Young (Joe Adams)

The argument can be stated with the telegraphic precision of an Associated Press wire release, or even a newspaper headline, for all the mysteriousness it engenders, and this gives a graphic sense of structural possibility to a mere feint or red herring along the way, which looms large.

Spoiler Warning

Boxer expires, opponent blamed, ring doctor guilty (daughter beaten by pug).

The very interesting detail of the supposed poisoner, a pharmacy student, bankrolled by a mob boss (for an honest favor), makes this a special case of Emersonian favoritism, perhaps. The student is black.

                                                                    (Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

15* "The Adventure of the Eccentric Engineer"

"Son, when it comes to women you'd better leave character analysis to your old man"

In tv drama debut -- Ed McMahon, of NBC-TV's "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," plays a toy trainer enthusiast in his TV drama debut as "The Eccentric Engineer" on the NBC Television Network's "Ellery Queen" colorcast Sunday, Jan. 18 (8-9 p.m. NYT). (1/9/76)When a formerly brilliant, now seemingly senile inventor is murdered in his electric train workshop, the mystery is afoot. It seems no one could have come in or gone out during the period of time when the murder must have taken place. In order to gain admittance to the train room, one had to have a "ticket". This narrows the suspects down to the victim's family and his business associates.
Meanwhile, Ellery's being shadowed by a young woman who wants help with a love story she's writing and EQ can't seem to shake her. Eventually he wants anything BUT to shake her, as once again, Ellery shows the 'lady's man' side of his personality.

Inspector Queen listens to The Lone Ranger on the radio in this episode.

Airdate 1/18/76
Production: Richard Levinson, William Link, Peter S. Fisher and Michael Rhodes
Production: #43608 
Written by: Booker Bradshaw, David P. Lewis 
Directed by Peter H.Hunt
With: Ed McMahon (Lamont Franklin), Bobby Sherman (Doug Carmichael), Arthur Godfrey (Claude Sitwell), David Hedison (Roger Woods), Dorothy Malone (Carol Franklin), Ann Reinkin (Lorelei Farnsworth), Dick Van Patten (Billy Geeter), John Fujioka (Chinese Restaurant owner)

An inventor (Ed McMahon) who heads his own company withdraws into seclusion to work on his model trains, but this is a secret project to develop Spoiler Warninga system of automation for the postwar world. He’s murdered by a junior executive (David Hedison) whose pushy wife wants him to advance himself.

At the same time, Ellery Queen is accosted by a mousy dame (Ann Reinking) who wants his help writing a love story about John Tyler, “who had 15 children”. Instead, they fall in together on the mystery, and in the course of the investigation she is called upon to wear a silver evening dress, which reveals her as beautiful.

“The Adventure of the Eccentric Engineer” is undeniably recherché, complicated and difficult, but it would appear to represent the war just ended in the series chronology, in that Hitler made his trains run on time, and was put down by upstart Liberty. This modest poem (by David P. Lewis and Booker Bradshaw) is ineluctably beautiful as well.

                                                                    (Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

16* "The Adventure of the Wary Witness"

One of the more serious episodes of the series, and one of the best. Can Ellery help the accused murderer of mobster Dick Sargent (Tom Calabrese), Jim Hutton (Ellery Queen), Michael Constantine (Leo Campbell), Sam Gilman (The Judge)Nick Danello find a missing witness to  prove his innocence? Ellery feels obligated and more emotionally involved than in other cases, as the defendant is his old college buddy, Lin Hagen. But things don't seem to be adding up. The missing witness (a mysterious woman in a green dress) has left her fingerprints nowhere in the apartment. And her description could match most of the women in New York.
Along for the ride is ace reporter, Frank Flannigan, who works more closely than usual with Ellery (or "Junior" as he calls him) since he sees anyone like Nick, that rids the city of sleaze, as deservant of a medal. But he's chomping at the bit to get this story of the mysterious witness to the St. Patrick's Day Murder - who's contacted Ellery secretly - into the headlines. Sitting on a scoop is not easy for Flannigan.

Guest star Sal Mineo was murdered on February 12, 1976, just 18 days after this episode first aired.

Airdate 1/25/76
Production: Richard Levinson, William Link, Peter S. Fisher and Michael Rhodes
Written by: Peter S. Fisher 
Directed by Walter Doniger
With: Cesar Romero (Armand Donello), Michael Parks (Terry Purvis), Tricia O'Neil (Yvonne Donello), Sal Mineo (Jimmy Donello), Richard Young (Dr. Kemp), Dick Sargent (D.A.Tom Calabrese), Sam Gilman (Juez ), Michael Constantine (Leo Campbell), Dwayne Hickman (Linville Hagen )

"The false witness of the title is brought in to a murder trial first to advance an impossible solution, but finally to be murdered herself before testifying, and leave the case moot. That is the theory behind the proceeding, anyway.

To some extent, naturally, and in the hands of the very expert parodist Peter S. Fischer, this is a deliberate reflection of Perry Mason. I pause to reflect in turn that a former Los Angeles D.A. once opined that a famous case would not turn out like one of Perry Mason’s with a surprise ending, not realizing perhaps that he was repeating words spoken by Hamilton Burger."

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

17* "The Adventure of the Judas Tree"

Ellery and his Dad investigate when wealthy industrialist and former war profiteer George Sherman is stabbed to death with a Chinese ceremonial Ellery Queen( Jim Hutton) considers Paula (Diana Muldaur) one of six suspects in the slaying of her wealthy husband  in "The Judas Tree" (NBC Photo)dagger and then dragged out of the house and hung from a tree. The tree is popularly known as a Judas tree, and a crown of flowers has been placed on his head. Six sets of fingerprints, and plenty of motive to go around, leave the Queens with much to sift through. And when they discover the victim was dying of acute lymphoma, and had only months left to live, the plot thickens.

Airdate 2/1/76

Directed by Walter Doniger
With: Dana Andrews (Lewis Marshall), Clu Gulager (Father Devlin / Capt. Thomas Horton), Diana Muldaur (Paulette Sherman), George Maharis (Dr. Tony Bender), Jack Kruschen (Gunther Starr), Ted Gehring (Bufford), Bill Dana (Salvatore Mercadonte), Michael Pataki (Albert Russo), James Shigeta (Stephen Yang), Nina Roman (Grace), Peter Hobbs (Doctor)

This is the one about the very sick traitor who’s found hanging adorned with branches of the specimen. There is a question, most amusingly, of a missionary who might not be all he seems, and the victim’s wife is leaving him for his doctor.

Spoiler WarningThe solution is too good not to be described. The murder is a suicide dressed up by the absconding couple, who were meant to be framed by it in the first place for vengeance.
Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)


18* "The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario"

"I didn't know...I finessed him, Dad."

An interesting concept: the Queens go to Hollywood to watch Gilbert Mallory (Troy Donahue) who'll be the "Ellery Queen" of the epicthe filming of an adaptation of an Ellery Queen novel into a movie. The good Inspector is just positive they'll be mixing with the glamorous Hollywood elite any moment now, but it never seems to happen. At the studio, they meet the fellow who will be playing Inspector Queen (Noah Beery Jr.), as well as the star, Gilbert Mallory (Troy Donahue), who'll be the "Ellery Queen" of the epic. Mallory is a real ass to everyone on the set, from fellow actors to director, and proves himself to be a philandering husband as well. So we aren't terribly shocked when he is murdered.

Airdate 2/8/76
Directed by Peter H.Hunt
With: Vincent Price (Michael Raynor), Troy Donahue (Gilbert Mallory), Paul Carr (Lt. Braden), Noah Beery Jr. (Lionel Briggs), Barbara Rush (Claire Mallory), James B. Sikking (Mike Hewitt), Karl Lukas (Sgt. Harris), Susan Damante (Pamela Courtney), Don DeFore (Dave Pierce), Jack Murdoch (Al Garvin), Paul Fix (Capt.Benjamin Blake)

The teleplay is indubitably a major work by Robert Pirosh, and it extends in two broad lines overall, primarily a wide-ranging and comprehensive satire of Hollywood (apart from its many local jests and quips), and secondarily an incidental impression of just how films were and are made (a concomitant of the plot).

The real thing of main interest beyond even these telling aspects is the form, splaying the events it constructs ultimately in an elegant structure along a timeline that anticipates the composition. Thus, an actress’s overdose is the final image, but it occurred beforehand thanks to an obliging publicist (Don DeFore) now blackmailed by a stunt man (both are now on another picture, an Ellery Queen adventure).

The studio isn’t Eagle-Lion but Crown Eagle. Vincent Price is the director. “This thing is too sweet,” he says of his drink at the poolside party he’s throwing, “see that you get the next one right,” he tells the fellow tending bar, sternly.

The stunt man (James Sikking) wants to replace the murdered actor (Troy Donahue) playing Ellery Queen. He’s been in pictures, thesping. “Western Stallion!”, snarls the director and walks away. “Big shot,” the stunt man ripostes. “Three flops in a row.”

“Great performance, Claire,” the director tells the jealous widow (Barbara Rush), “the screen lost a great ingénue when you retired.” A Hedda Hopper lookalike (Carole Cook) observes the fracas. “Oh, now,” says the publicist, “don’t print any of this, it’s bad for the industry.”

Inspector Queen hopes to meet Ava Gardner, but isn’t impressed by Hollywood society. “I don’t like fish eggs in my corned beef hash.” The actor portraying him (Noah Beery, Jr.) wants to talk, and is rebuffed. “Don’t bother me, I don’t want to be studied.”

The picture is a “quick flick” partly owned by the star, who therefore refused to take direction. Inspector Queen turns to Sgt. Velie, but he’s an actor on the inevitably familiar sets that Hunt’s camera moves amongst.

The stunt man dies while filming. “In the first place,” the present ingénue (Susan Damante), bound by contract, answers an interrogation, “you can put what I know about cars in your eye and not even blink. In the second place, do you really think I would kill two men for an Oscar-winning role in a major motion picture?”

“She’s not that good an actress,” says an LAPD detective (Paul Carr) watching the rushes, where a bloodthirsty gleam is visible as she fires blanks point blank and the actor falls dead in a scene evidently changed at the last moment, “I’m bringing her in!”

The real Ellery Queen has it all figured out. “You know?”, says the publicist. “Enough,” replies the maestro. “Well, I don’t know,” interrupts the detective, “tell me!”

There was to have been a stunt man in the murder scene crashing through a window, before revision. “Missed him in 231A,” the Inspector concludes, “got him in 98B.” Publicists and novelists don’t get daily script revisions.

“You said you knew,” the astonished detective remarks upon the maestro’s gambit, and is answered with a variant of an awkward line in that scene, “I finessed him.”

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

19"The Adventure of the Two-Faced Woman"

"Paperwork! Pretty soon you'll need a judge's permission to question a suspect. "

DEADLY ART AUCTION -- Lillian McGraw (Dr. Joyce Brother, left), her husband, Clint (Forrest Tucker), and her cousin, Celeste (Vera Miles), attend an art auction where Lillian buys the portrait of a woman and soon after is slain in "The Two-Faced Woman" on NBC-TV's "Ellery Queen" color-cast, Feb.29 (8-9 P.M. NYT)While visiting Simon Brimmer's radio studios, Ellery gets a call telling him that socialite Lillian McGraw has been stabbed. Learning of this, Simon shares with Ellery the events of the day, during which he was present as Mrs. McGraw purchased three hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of paintings at the Prescott Galleries. This affords the episode the luxury of a series of flashbacks, as told through Brimmer, where we get to know the murder victim a bit more than usual.

Airdate 2/29/76

Directed by Jack Arnold
With: Vera Miles (Celeste Wakefield), Joyce Brothers (Lillian McGraw), Theodore Bikel (Sergio Vargo), Woodrow Parfey (Dr. Saltzman), Edward Mulhare (Myles Prescott), Victor Buono (Dr. Friedland), James Andronica (Eddie Hummel), Alfred Ryder (Claude Gravette), Forrest Tucker (Clint McGraw), Ben Wright (Anton Luchek).

Under the blue abstract nude is a self-portrait, the lady’s artistic countenance years before on the Mediterranean. Her Texas oil husband bought it for her, along with a Vermeer and the like, she faints at the sight.

It brings back the murder of a bearded Bohemian on his boat, she doesn’t remember what happened.

Spoiler WarningSimon Brimmer has a beautiful theory, but it was the lady’s sister-in-law, who never liked her.

Vargo, prince of artists, perhaps laments the loss to detective work, but sweeps away in beret and cape to paint another one even better.

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

20"The Adventure of the Tyrant of Tin Pan Alley"

FLEETING SMILE -- Rudy Vallee, as top songwriter, is all smiles as he joins his wife (Polly Bergen) in what proves to be his final radio interview in "Ellery Queen" episode "The Tyrant of Tin Pan Alley"A popular songwriter is murdered during the musical interlude on a radio interview show, and Ellery tries to clear a friend who has just publicly accused the victim (a songwriter at a radio station) of stealing a hit tune from him.
Simon Brimmer - a bit pompous as always - appears once again as is usual in episodes with radio-themed storylines. The solution will be more obvious to veteran readers of Queen than it was to Simon. So it will be no surprise to fans when Ellery once again betters Mr. Brimmer.

Airdate 3/7/76

Directed by Seymour Robbie
With: Albert Salmi (Herbie Morrow), Polly Bergen (Dina Carroll-Wyner), Michael Callan (Gary Swift), Vince Howard (Charlie), Norman Fell (Errol Keyes), Brad David (Dan Murphy), Ken Berry (Paul Parker), Dori Brenner (Laura Schramm), Rudy Vallee (Alvin Winer)

“America’s beloved tunesmith” (Rudy Vallee) is murdered in the record library of a radio station during an unscheduled break in a live interview. Present are his disaffected wife (Polly Bergen—Simon Brimmer describes their happy marriage on-air as “ideal”), his manager (Albert Salmi), a disenfranchised bandleader (Michael Callan), a plagiarized young songwriter (Brad David), the tunesmith’s stepdaughter (Renne Jarrett), and the all-night disc jockey (Ken Berry).

Payola is the motive, the tunesmith being a music publisher with a long arm. The radio station set is illustrative of the Art Deco style, with the amusing addition of a color-coded and structurally significant record-finding system in the library.

The tunesmith wrote Brimmer’s theme song, with lyrics by the latter:

A foggy night;
The stars grow dimmer.
Murder’s afoot—
Call Simon Brimmer.

Policemen snoop
Without a glimmer;
To solve the case,
Call Simon Brimmer.

Inspector Queen describes this amateur sleuth in the act of naming the wrong culprit as “like a cat in a birdcage”. The bandleader tries out a new song called “Mona Lisa” and turns it down, “who wants to hear a song about a painting?” The tunesmith calls him “a cut-rate Como”. Ellery Queen drives his father home, and the Inspector tells him, “the way you drive we can both sleep.”

The actual author of the lyrics and the rest is Robert Van Scoyk. Robbie handles the murder particularly well, wielding the camera around the record stacks to a medium close-up of the tunesmith, looking for anyone else’s recording but the bandleader’s, and wearing one blue and one yellow sock, facing an unseen adversary.

In light of NBC’s sometimes careless titling (Colonel Nivin is so given, correctly or not), there is a delightful error at the beginning:

The Adventure of

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

21"The Adventure of Caesar's Last Sleep"

A mobster who is to be the star witness for an ambitious prosecutor is killed. Trouble is, Inspector Queen's office was in charge of guarding the witness, who has yet to complete his testimony about organized crime. So the crusading prosecutor goes after IQ's scalp. Before you know it, the finger of suspicion points to Inspector Queen's right hand man, Sgt. Velie, whose Awaiting the momentary arrival of a mobster suspect are (from left) guest star Kevin Tighe and series stars Jim Hutton and David Wayne. Tighe star of the network's "Emergency!" series, appears here as Detective Jim Millay (NBC-photo)brother-in-law owns a restaurant that mobster Benny Franks frequents. When things get publicly hot Inspector Queen is told he's too old for the job and relies too much on his son. In fact, this time Dad spots the crucial clue (although it's clear Ellery sees it first) and gets to do the final "exposure of the killer" scene.

Airdate 3/14/76

Directed by Richard Michaels
With: Stuart Whitman (Erwin Murphy), Michael V. Gazzo (Benny Franks), Timothy Carey (Jay Bonner), Bibi Besch (Edie Allen), Edward Albert (Lee Marx), Arch Johnson (Commissioner), Stanley Ralph (Ross Gabe), Kevin Tighe (Jim Millay), Jan Murray (Ralph Caesar).

The structure is essentially that of Bullitt, with period evocations of Terror by Night and The Enforcer.

This terribly dramatic and mysterious formulation (by Rudolph Borchert out of Michael Rhodes) yields to a key that balances it as
conscious gag material. The star witness (Jan Murray) is a feint to deflate a booming District Attorney (Stuart Whitman), and who is
murdered by his wife (Elizabeth Lane) lest he earn his reward, a ticket to paradise with a blonde.

Ralph Caesar is his name.

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

22"The Adventure of the Hard-Hearted Huckster"

"The plot is too complicated Mr. Queen. Save it for one of your

Carolyn Jones (Rita Radcliffe) with David Wayne(Inspector Queen) in The Adventure of The Hard-Hearted HucksterJames Bevin Long doesn't want his company, Quick Silver Tobacco, to get to much involved in this new medium: television. When Mr. Long makes one enemy too many he gets stabbed in the back, whilst taking his lunch alone in his office. Several people could have entered. The pizza delivery boy is seemingly the last to have heard Long alive. Ellery Queen is on the premises gathering some information for a new novel (Can cigars be hollowed out to make some kind of weapon, e.g. a blow gun?).
New York Gazette reporter Frank Flannigan is offered his own radio show, sponsored by Quick Silver Cigars, and that show soon after Long's murder, is revamped into a TV show (WPIQ-TV)
. Secretary Florence Ames almost gets killed when her vodka is spiked with barbiturates.
Inspector Queen is forced to appear on the Flannigan show but shows up late. When the only other guest is swept away by John Cameron Swayze, Ellery Queen appears live on TV in style and even delivers the murderer using the set for the 'Aunt Sarah's Cooking Tips'!

Whilst exclaiming his hunch to invite Eisenhower (who he thinks is going to run for President asa democrat) Frank is informed by Quick Silver Tobacco (angered by Flannigan cigarette-smoking) that they'll trade Frank Flannigan for Ed Sullivan. Ellery and his dad head home to catch "I Love a Mystery"... on radio.
In the trivia department the New York Giants are mentioned. Ellery gets called 'junior' and we see a ventriloquist.

Airdate 3/21/76

Script: Robert Swanson
Directed by Edward Abroms
With: Juliet Mills (Florence Ames), Eddie Bracken (Horace Manley), Bob Crane (Jerry Crabtree), Herb Edelman (Max Sheldon), Carolyn Jones (Rita Radcliffe), Fred Beir (James Bevin Long)

"TV makes its appearance in the historical vein of this series, as Ellery Queen demonstrates with a free-moving impromptu live performance its preferability under certain circumstances to “impressions”, the printed word.

The occasion is veteran journalist Frank Flannigan’s debut in a coast-to-coast broadcast to millions and millions. F.F. freezes up on-camera in a terrified contemplation of his imaginary audience and the eye of fame. Ellery Queen as his guest calmly walks around the set discussing various aspects of the case with convenient demonstrations as they come to hand.

The gag is an ad man who’s averse to broadcasting, done in by exploiting his fixed personal schedule."

Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)


23"The Adventure of the Disappearing Dagger"

"I know exactly what I was doing five years ago. What?
Seven years!"

Dana Wynter and Mel Ferrer in a studio photo for NBC's 'The Adventures of Ellery Queen".  Ferrer and Wynter, who portray husband and wife in this episode, had previously appeared together playing the romantic leads in the 1959 film Fraulein.This time we match wits with Ellery and his father in the investigation of two murders. Upon returning from Wrightsville, where Ellery finished his book and Inspector Queen managed to catch one trout, they find a message from Hamilton Drew, a retired detective who left the force in 1938 at 65, and mentor of Richard. The night before Drew was setting a trap to uncover the true killer in a five-year-old homicide case. He ends up being murdered himself. Drew had invited all those who were on board "The Lady A",  the aircraft in which Stu Hendricks was murdered in 1942. Stu, president of a company, was also being blackmailed for stealing plans for the Madison Automatic rifle during WWII. Buck Nolan, the pilot, was charged with both murder and blackmail, but only the charges for blackmail stuck... Ellery finds that the key to the second murder lies in the solution to the first case. 

It's almost Inner Sanctum time. Don't you ever get inspired while the sun is shining?"

Some footage is shown of the troops in North Africa (El Alamein) and the Miss Boardwalk 1942 competition in Atlantic City. Inspector Queen's secretary is called Grace. Ellery gets some pointers from Marvin The  Magician and even gets a phone number (BG 0555) from a nude model named Wanda. There is a "Connecticut State Historical Society Marker" in view setting forth persons (Col. Nathan Shay), facts, and dates that don't seem to  relate to anything in the plot... an inside joke perhaps?

Airdate 4/4/76
Producers: Peter S. Fischer and Michael Rhodes
Executive producers: Richard Levinson and William Link
Director: Jack Arnold
Teleplay by: Stephen Lord and Robert Van Scoyk
Story by: Stephen Lord
With:  Gary Burghoff (Jerry Hacker), Walter Pidgeon (Hamilton Drew), Mel Ferrer (Brandon Childs), Dana Wynter (Alyssa Childs), Ronny Cox (Buck Nolan), Michele Marsh (Norma Lee Burke), R.G. Armstrong (Sam Buffo)
, Tom Reese (Sgt. Velie), Tom Lacy (Ray Vogel), Tom Brown (the Broadcaster), Kristin Larkin (the assistant)

The archness of the script is a magnificent lever for Arnold’s wit. The dénouement is laid out on the diagonal à la North by Northwest in a parked plane, as Ellery Queen solves the wartime murder of an ordnance manufacturer, a feeble businessman who knew nothing about weaponry. Spoiler WarningHis murderer is the actual designer of the automatic rifle issued in 1943 and bearing the company name. The dagger is made of eutectic fusible alloy, and nominally disappears into a fishing-line sinker once the murder is committed during a 1942 plane flight. The culprit marries the boss’s wife immediately thereafter, and that’s how we won the war.

Arnold savors a backstage visit to Marvin the Magician, who says, “I’ve got an alibi, I know exactly what I was doing five years ago.” Ellery Queen innocently inquires what that was. Marvin replies, “Seven years.” The theme is very closely related to Paul Wendkos’s Hell Boats.
                                                                    (Christopher J. Mulrooney used by permission)

According to Fred Dannay the series drew as many as twenty million viewers per week. Unfortunately, the networks did not consider such numbers sufficient, and Ellery Queen was taken of the air after a single season.
After the final episode of the series aired, there were a number of scripts waiting to go - some of them quite excellent. Many were re-tooled and used in the short-lived NBC series called "The Eddie Capra Mysteries" starring Vincent Baggetta. The show tried to mix elements of "Columbo" with elements of "Ellery Queen", but achieved neither as the star was totally miscast. Another one of Richard Levinson and William Link's creation: Columbothe unused scripts, and one of the best, "The Adventure of the Grand Old Lady" (in which a famous mystery writer dies and Ellery recalls a old case that the writer was personally involved in), was re-tooled and used as a "Murder, She Wrote" episode. The same writing team that created the Hutton-series was also responsible for the immensely popular  'Columbo', and in the first episode of that series, "Murder by the Book" (9/15/71) (directed by Steven Spielberg), they featured a world-famous mystery writer who murdered his collaborator in perfect crime fashion, only to be exposed by the shambling Lieutenant. It was no secret that the duo was based on Dannay and Lee (although the detective Mrs. Melville, as depicted in the teleplay, was clearly a Miss Marple-clone).

In September 2010 a DVD box set was
with the complete pilot and an
  Ellery Queen featurette, with
  participation by series Co-Creator
  William Link (see left). David Lambert
  of tcshowsdvd provided this sneak

Part 1: 1975 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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