is arguably the greatest fictional detective of American creation, but despite several
attempts in diverse styles, he
has never been accurately
portrayed in movies or on television. The great complexity of plot and depth of character
that marked the extraordinary series of Queen novels almost never survived in attempts to
transfer them to visual formats, and the part was often played for comedy (one of the
first movie Queens was comic Eddie Quillan).
As with the radio Queen, television versions of the "logical successor to Sherlock Holmes" appeared on three networks (as well as in syndication) in a twenty-six-year span.The character of Ellery Queen made only one successful crossover to the (little) screen as a NBC series, with legitimate bases in the books for most of the characteristics that Jim Hutton displayed in the leading role. The show had a sense of good humor, and its setting in 1947 made nostalgia an important component of its success.
Adventures of Ellery Queen
Dumont, 14 Oct 1950-1951
Producers: Norman and Irving Pincus
Being broadcast at the beginning of TV, the series
were allegedly broadcast live. Although ABC made recordings which
somehow seem to have survived. At first Richard Hart, big and strapping
and sporting an incongruous Errol Flynn moustache, was the star in The Adventures of
known as A Kaiser-Frazer Adventure in Mystery. This first series was aired live and was
well done for a Dumont net program. Florenz Ames played his father,
Queen. The show appeared on the Dumont Network beginning in 1950 and each episode took 25
minutes. After only four months, less than a third of the way through the season, in
January of 1951, Hart died of a heart attack during a rehearsal and was replaced
on 24 hours notice by Lee Bowman,
older, suaver, and slimmer. Lee recalled "Hart died
on a Tuesday and I did the show on Thursday. I had no idea of getting into
a live series, but they offered it to me, and I stayed."
The program won the TV Guide Award for best
television mystery of 1950 and it lasted until 1952. They kept about five
writers busy via a rotation routine, due to the shortage of good actors
that quintet is often forced to rewrite a script so a character will fit
one of the "dependable six." Scriptwriter Helene Hanff became what she described as "Ellery Queen's special write of arty murders", and wrote plots about a murder at an art gallery, one at the opera, two at the ballet and one at a Shakespeare festival. "We were just getting round to murder at a rare book shop when they took the show off the air."
Viewers and critics weren't mild for this series. As
one critic put it: "Apart from that occasional touch and the fact that
two of the characters bear the same names, there is no significant
resemblance between the original stories and the TV series. They might as
well build a situation comedy around the character named Hamlet and sit back
and wait for the Shakespeare fans to crowd around."
... read more by clicking on the episode list below.
During the first twenty weeks Ellery was enacted by the far too young and handsome looking George Nader. Nader won the role after a coast-to-coast talent search that included sidewalk surveys of average people to get their views on what the sophisticated detective should look like. Scripts were poor and the acting abominable. In this series the idea was to do actual Queen stories, and six of the first eight were adaptation of the novels. Other writers' mystery stories were dramatized by making Ellery the hero character which didn't help much... The show was telecast live from Hollywood, but when the series switched to production in New York, Lee Philips took over the EQ role and the Inspector was completely dropped. Philips played Ellery as a man of awareness and compassion, substantially closer to the original concepts. Using only original scripts the show was produced on videotape rather than live and the title was shortened to Ellery Queen.
... read more by clicking on the episode list below.
he Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode:
"Terror at Northfield"
Production with Revue Studios, Universal Studios 1963
When his teenage son Tommy is found murdered in the town of Northfield, John
Cooley sets out to avenge the boys death. John is a religious fanatic who
believes he is on a mission from God. When he finds a piece of car headlight
at the murder scene, he seeks out and kills the car's original owner Frency
La Font and an elderly librarian who had some connection to the car. With
all the murders, the residents of Northfield are understandably shaken. They
demand that Sheriff Will Pearce solve
the case. Unfortunately, Pearce's girlfriend Susan Marsh falls under
Cooley's suspicions since she bought the car from La Font. His attempt to
kill her, however, is foiled at the last second by the timely arrival of
he Adventure of the Seven Black Cats
(Záhada sedmi černých koček) (Czechoslovakia)
TV film, 1966
A pet shop owner alerts Queen that seven cats and two sisters appear to be missing...
he Three Lame Men
(A három sánta rabló) (Hungary)
TV film, May 6. 1970
According to the program guide at the time, this story by Ellery Queen was not previously been published in Hungarian. In the story, banker Sherman kills his lover and then arranges his own abduction...