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Ellery Queen, Master Detective US (1940)

Ellery Queen Master Detective - Window CardDirector: Kurt Neumann
 Cast Includes
EQ: Ralph Bellamy
Inspector Queen: Charley Grapewin
Nikki Porter: Margaret Lindsay
Sgt. Velie: James Burke
Dr James Rogers: Michael Whalen
John Braun: Fred Niblo Sr
Barbara Braun: Marsha Hunt
Doc Prouty: Charles Lane
Douglas Fowley, Katherine De Mille.

Source: novel The Door Between
Working title: John Braun's Body
66 min, Black & White


(Part 1: Bron Film Daily Motion - LiliPowers)

The first of the Ellery Queen series to be made by Larry Darmour for Columbia release, went into work Sept 16. 1940 under the title "John Braun's Body" and premiered on Nov 30. 1940.

For reasons that defy logic, the studio elected to transform the brilliant, analytical Queen into a hopeless bumbler, who seems incapable of tying his own shoes, much less solving a murder.  Set at a posh health resort, the story gets under way when wealthy physical culturalist John Braun (played by former Ben-Hur director Fred Niblo) is killed after threatening to cut all his heirs out of his will. Investigating the killing is crime novelist Ellery Queen, his police-inspector father, and another mystery writer, Nikki Porter. In short order, the body disappears, along with the will, a set of X-rays, and an ambulance! Somehow, Ellery Queen manages to put the pieces together and solve the crime.Ellery Queen, Master Detective (1940)To kick off a new series of B-movie adventures with EQ, scriptwriter Eric Taylor took the novel and radically changed its setting and took every opportunity to stress comic elements to provide the film with a highly humorous tone. He even took a major surprise twist of the book and revealed it early on in the film. The amorous relationship between Ellery and Nikki had more dignity than in the previous contributions. The "master" sleuth is turned into a buffoon in this initial series entry, centering on the murder of a millionaire at a health spa. Lindsay has some good moments as Nikki Porter, but there's too much talk and too little intrigue. Light comedy was the watchword, and the "funny" sequences of the corpse that kept being stolen or removed overshadowed the plot. Ellery is so smitten with Nikki that he makes a daring proposal to her at the fade out: "Will you be my...secretary?"! -even though it's clear she's got more brains in her left toe than he has in his whole carcass.

(Part 2: Bron Film Daily Motion - LiliPowers)

Ralph Bellamy signed for four Ellery Queen pictures at $ 25 000 a picture. Larry Darmour was the producer but wasn't around very much. Rudolph Flothow was always on the set. "Director" James Hogan only had to get the picture finished. Bellamy did go to New York to meet with Lee and Dannay. They took him around to different squad rooms so he would get the feel for what went on. Bellamy described the Queen-movies as "quickies" shot in only ten days. A novelization (by non-EQ hands) was published (later re-issued as The Vanishing Corpse).

Their brief film experience was less happy, although they enjoyed Ralph Bellamy's portrayal of Ellery in this early series. "But the place was filled with crazy people." Dannay complained. "I told Manny — even If I had to dig ditches for the rest of my life, I won't be coming back." (Dannay, 1979)

Ellery Queen, Master Detective - lobbycard: first out of the usual serie of eight Ellery Queen, Master Detective - Lobbycard
Ellery Queen, Master Detective - Lobbycard
Ellery Queen, Master Detective - Lobbycard
Ellery Queen, Master Detective - Lobbycard
Ellery Queen, Master Detective - Lobbycard
Ellery Queen, Master Detective - Lobbycard Ellery Queen, Master Detective - Lobbycard

Above: full set of eight lobby cards                                                                          

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