60-67 min, Black & White.
"Fiction's famous mystery buster tackles his most baffling case"
Review March 14. 1942
"AUDIENCE SLANT: (Family) Will keep the Ellery Queen fans mildly amused.
BOX OFFICE SLANT: Makes a good added attraction for a bill well fortified with name and story values.
Plot: Ellery Queen (William Gargan) is asked by Norris, secretary to Ralph Morgan, to investigate two men who are blackmailing his employer. Queen learns also that Morgan is seeking two daughters born in Tahiti. When his secretary (Margaret Lindsay) meets one of the daughters, she assumes her identity to help Queen unravel the mystery. The two blackmailers are killed and suspicion points to Morgan. But later he- too, is murdered. Gargan eventually proves that Norris is the killer.
Comment: The action and mystery elements are present but this story gets a little involved at times and some of the characters' motivations are not sufficiently explained. However, the Ellery Queen fans will find it satisfactory entertainment. It makes a good added attraction for a program which is on the light side and also has sufficient name strength and story values to bring the customers in. The lighting in some of the scenes is quite faulty so it is difficult to discern the expressions of some of the characters as a result. Sell the picture with radio tie-ups over those stations which carry the Ellery Queen program. There is a good book tie up since this is the 101st anniversary of the detective story and a special Ellery Queen book is available."
|Above: full set of eight lobby cards
William Gargan takes over from Ralph Bellamy as the title character. He lacked
Bellamy's charisma but unlike Bellamy, who played the role of Ellery Queen
for laughs, Gargan adopts a more sober approach, much to the overall benefit of the film.
The story takes place at the lavish country estate owned by wealthy Alan Rogers. Two young
ladies show up at Rogers' doorstep, both claiming to be his long-lost daughter.
Concurrently, a pair of unsavory gentlemen (Andrew Tombes, Charles Judels) from Rogers'
checkered past arrive with blackmail on their minds. Ellery tries to make heads or tails
of all this intrigue before Rogers ends up losing his fortune, aided by his "girl
Friday" Nikki Porter - but our hero is unable to prevent a pair of nasty murders.
The budgets were getting even thinner, but it was definitely a step up from the Murder Ring atrocity.
|The Evening News
"At the Star" May 27. 1942
"Ellery Queen, master of mystery whose crime-hunting exploits have provided the material for a score of books, several dozen radio dramas and four sensational motion pictures, returns to the Star Theatre tonight in Columbia's 'A Close Call For Ellery Queen,' fifth in the thrill packed series. William Gargan essays the title role and, according to report, brings to the screen a delightful new freshness which supplements the interpretation hitherto given the Ellery Queen characterization by Ralph Bellamy. Gargan is the sole change in the acting personnel, due primarily to Bellamy's discovery of prior screen commitments which prevent him from continuing the series. Margaret Lindsay remains, as Nikki Porter, Ellery's lovely crime- and man-hunting secretary. Charley Grapewin again is seen as Inspector Queen, the gruff, bluff policeman-father of the suave criminologist, and James Burke continues as Sergeant Velie, whose feet are almost as flat as his head! "
|(Source YouTube Scott Lord Mystery Film)
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