ELLERY QUEEN 1975-76 b a c k
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llery Queen (2)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 figure 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."
Above right: 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 Hutton.
Above: 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.
Part 2: 1976 Episodes
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."
Simon 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.
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.
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 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?
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.
Boxer expires, opponent blamed, ring doctor guilty (daughter beaten by pug).
15* "The Adventure of the Eccentric Engineer"
"Son, when it comes to women you'd better leave character analysis to your old man"
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
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
Sunday, Jan. 18 (8-9 p.m. NYT).
At the same time,
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.
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
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.
Guest star Sal Mineo was murdered on February
12, 1976, just 18 days after this episode first aired.
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
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.
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.
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 the 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
(right). 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
|19* "The Adventure of the Two-Faced Woman"
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).
"Paperwork! Pretty soon you'll need a judge's permission to question a suspect."
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,
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.
20* "The Adventure of the Tyrant of Tin Pan Alley"
A popular songwriter is murdered during the musical interlude on a
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.
“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).
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
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.
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
James 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
"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.
23* "The Adventure of the Disappearing Dagger"
"I know exactly what I
was doing five years ago. What?
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
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.
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.
Page first published 2015, 2018
b a c k