llery Queen's Penthouse Mystery US (1941)
Director: James Hogan
69 min, Black & White
Like the first entry in Columbia's "Ellery Queen" series, this film depicts its amateur-criminologist hero as an oafish ignoramus. Eric Taylor went even farther in stressing comic elements...
This time around,
Chinese ventriloquist Gordon Cobb who was smuggling jewels, is
murdered by a gang of jewel thieves. Baffled by the contradictory clues, Inspector Queen
asks his son Ellery to help out. The suspect list includes Cobb's ex-partner Walsh, phony
nobleman Count Brett, sleight-of-hand artist Jim Ritter, Chinese patriot Lois Ling and
reporter-in-disguise Sanders. Despite his inability to make a move without breaking
something or taking a pratfall, Ellery Queen solves the case.
Anna May Wong is good as always, but wasted here. Slow going.
The influence of MGM's
successful "Thin Man" series was obvious, as Ellery and Nikki engage in more
comic squabbling than in sleuthing. The plot, about two murders committed
for possession of a valuable collection of Chinese jewels to be sold in the
US to help the Chinese war effort, was said to be based on a story by EQ, but if so, it was probably one of their radio
scripts. The plot was reworked some months hence to form the basis for a
Lone Wolf feature. An interesting cast, but that's about it. Like all of the remaining Columbia
entries, it was written by Eric Taylor based on based on
the Ellery Queen
radio plot “The Three
and directed by James Hogan. A novelization was published, but the
cousins did not write it.
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