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Ellery Queen: Don't Look Behind You

NBC,  11/19/1971 or 11/11/1971
Peter Lawford96 minutes
Producer: Leonard J.Ackerman
Executive producer: Edward J.Montague
Director: Barry Shear
Screenplay from EQ-novel: Ted Leighton
Music: Jerry Fielding
EQ: Peter Lawford
Inspector Queen: Harry Morgan

Sgt.Velie: Bill Zuckert
Dr. Edward Cazalis: E.G. Marshall
Mrs. Cazalis: Coleen Gray
Celeste Phillips: Stephanie Powers
Police Commissioner: Morgan Sterne,
Christy: Skye Aubrey

Queen remained off the home screen for thirteen years. Universal Pictures prepared a 2 hour pilot for a new series. Originally announced as 'Catch me if you can' this easily forgettable murder mystery has famed detective taking over police-baffling Hydra case. Relationship between Lawford and Morgan starts out well but disappears as film progresses. The plot structure of "Cat of Many Tails" is present here, but all Lawford (left) and Harry Morgan in "Ellery Queen Don't look behind you" of the story's subtleties and insights are tossed away. The script was written by Richard Levinson and William Link (billed as "Ted Leighton" because they disapproved of changes made). The casting of Ellery is preposterous: Lawford plays him as an overaged, mod "Swinging London" hipster. Harry Morgan, well-suited as the long-suffering Dad, has been rewritten as a long-suffering uncle. Thus resolving the difference in accents between the two actors.

Skleněná vesnice
             aka  The Glass Village  (Czechoslovakia)

TV film, 1975
Director: Jan Matějovský
Screenplay: Jaroslav Merunka
Starring: Vaclav Švorc, George Pleskot, Dalimil Flap, Ota Sklenčka, Ferdinand Krůta, Frantisek Nemec, Jirí Zahajský.

Source novel: "The Glass Village"

Ellery Queen

Click on left and/or right sidePublicity shot of the 'Dynamic Duo' David Wayne & Jim HuttonNBC, 1975-1976

Creator/Executive Producers: Richard Levinson, William Link
Music: Elmer Bernstein, Hal Mooney 
Ellery Queen: Jim Hutton
Inspector Richard Queen: David Wayne

Sgt. Velie: Tom Reese

Simon Brimmer: John Hillerman
Frank Flanagan: Ken Swofford
Deputy Commissioner Hayes: Arch Johnson

In 1975, Levinson and Link, lifelong Queen fans, were allowed by NBC to do Queen the way they wanted. The result was "Ellery Queen" ran one full season and the producers went back to the radio show, setting this series in 1947. Although the pilot was based on a Queen novel and one episode on a short story. Jim Hutton played Ellery as a good-natured, absent-minded young man for which there were legitimate bases in the books for most of the characteristics that Jim Hutton displayed in the role.
Frederic Dannay said Hutton's portrayal reminded him not so much of the fictional Ellery, but of himself at about Hutton's age. Hutton's charm and natural manner played perfectly against David Wayne's crusty Inspector (despite lacking the moustache so often mentioned in the books, the definitive depiction of 'The Old Man'). The show had a sense of good humor, and its setting in 1947 made nostalgia an important component of its success.
Though the episodes varied in quality, none was poor, and even the weakest of them are redeemed by the plots, the production values, and the marvelous casts.

  In September 2010 the DVD box was
with the complete pilot and an
  Ellery Queen Featurette with
  participation by series Co-Creator
  William Link (see left).David Lambert of
  tcshowsdvd provided this sneak preview.

According to Fred Dannay, the series drew as many as twenty million viewers per week. Unfortunately the networks do not consider such numbers sufficient, and Ellery Queen was taken of the air after a single season.
After the final aired episode of the series, there were a number of scripts waiting to go - some of them quite excellent. Many were given over to a short-lived NBC series called The Eddie Capra Mysteries starring Vincent Baggetta. A show that tried to mix elements of Columbo with elements of Ellery Queen but achieved neither as the star was totally miscast. Another of Richard Levinson and William Link's creation: Columbothe unused scripts and one of the best, "The Adventure of the Grand Old Lady" (in which a famous mystery writer dies and Ellery recalls a old case that the writer was personally involved in..) was re-tooled and used as a Murder, She Wrote with Jessica Fletcher in the EQ role. The same writer team that made the Hutton-series is also responsible for the immensely popular Columbo and in the first episode of that series "Murder by the Book" (9/15/71), directed by Steven Spielberg, they had a world-famous mystery writer murder his collaborator in perfect crime fashion, only to be detected by the shambling Lieutenant. It was no secret this was based on Dannay and Lee (although their detective in the teleplay Mrs. Melville clearly was a Miss Marple-clone).

Click for list of episodesList of '75 episodes - List of '76 episodes

Tragedy of Y (Y-no-higeki) (Japan)

Photo from the Japanese TV-drama The Tragedy of Y (dvd cover)
Fuji TV, 1978
Director: Shigemichi Sugita
Producers: Tani Kou Qian / Ken
Scenario: Kunio Shimizu
Music: Masaru Sato
Nango (Drury Lane): Koji Ishizaka
Inspector Sahara: Nobuo Kaneko
Kiyoko Sahara: Masako Natsume
and also with Kaoru Yachigusa, Sachiko Hidari, Ehara Makoto, Muramatsu Eiko, Takeshi Hara

This is a first. A television play about Drury Lane. Masako Natsume plays a daughter of an assistant police inspector. The Drury Lane part is called Nango. The 6 episode series is available as a 3 DVD box.

Ctvrtá Strana Trojuhelniku
             aka The Fourth Side of the Triangle (Czech Republic)

TV film, 1986
Director: Jana Semschová
Květa Fialová, Radovan Lukavský, Zdeněk Žák, Dana Batulková, Jan ČenskýScreenplay: Milos Smetana
Dramaturge: Eduard Verner
Music: George F. Svoboda
Starring: Radovan Lukavský (Ashton McKell), Kveta Violet (Lutetie Mc Kellova) , Jan Censký (Dane McKell) , Petr Stepanek (Ellery Queen), Dana Batulková (Judy), Jan Kanyza (Inspector),  Paul Soukup (Sergeant), Hana Maciuchová (Sheila), Jaroslav Satoranský (Heaton), Otakar Scrimgeour Wed , Jan Skopecek , John Spark , Zdenek Zak (Ramon), Otokar Brousec (Barton)

Source novel: "The Fourth Side of the Triangle"
80 min

Supposedly fairly decent TV-drama, with detective Petr Stephanec playing Ellery Queen. (Click here to see the movie)

Dáma a smrt 
             aka  Wife or Death (Czech Republic)

TV film, 1992
Director: Milan Růžička
Ladislav Kolář (Jim Denton) and Monika Maláčová (Angela) in Dama a smrt (TV, 1992)Screenplay: Marie Loucká
Music: Milan Dvořák
Starring: Ladislav Kolář (Jim Denton), Monika Maláčová (Angela), Vladimír Krátký (George), Hana Čížková (Corina), Zdeněk Dvořák (Norman), Jana Švandová (Ardis), Josef Bek (Trevor), Karel Chromík, (Ralph), Ladislav Potměšil (Augie), Igor Bareš (Harley), Jindřich Hrdý (Ted), Miroslav Vrba (Amos), Eva Bírková (Ellen), Monika Pošívalová (Oliva), Arnošt Proschek (Matt), Josef Šebek (Mac).

Source novel: "Wife or Death"
74 min

Wrongly described as being based on a short story instead it's the plot from a ghostwritten Ellery Queen novel by
Richard Deming.  


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