The third TV adaptation of the adventures of super-sleuth Ellery Queen, this time set during the 1940s. Queen was a mystery writer who assisted his father, a detective with the New York Police Department, in solving murders. Sgt. Velie was Inspector Queen’s assistant and Simon Brimmer a rival detective. Queen’s methods were arcane and intellectual rather than action oriented, and he always astounded his father by arriving at a correct solution by purely deductive reasoning. In this version, just before he revealed his solution to the crime, Queen always turned to the camera and asked the TV audience if they had figured out the identity of the killer yet — they had all the clues — because he was about to reveal the correct killer as we met the entire slew of suspects in one room for the ending.
Season 1 Ep.02: The Adventure Of Auld Lang Syne
The time: 10:00 pm, New Year’s Eve, 1946. The place: The ballroom of the Hotel Astor. The victim: Mr. Marcus Halliday. And the suspects: the son (and his gold-digging girlfriend), the untrusted nephew, the long-time secretary (and her brand new fiance), and the new business partner stealing from the company behind the victim’s back. The soon-to-be victim has just announced that he plans to disinherit all of the above before the night is out – only to be found minutes later, slumped over in a nearby phone booth.
This is one of the classic TV whodunits — with a twist. The show’s format was such that the audience would see everything that the show’s namesake character would see, including all of the clues, and then, right before the final… More scene started (you know… the one where all the suspects are brought into the room for the “YOU… killed the victim. And you did it because…” scene, the star (Ellery Queen, of course) would turn to the TV audience and state “Okay, you’ve got all the clues. Do you know who did it? I think I do. Can you guess?” And the audience had the chance to be part of the show. Quite unique and half the fun.
Cast and Crew:
Jim Hutton, David Wayne and Tom Reese
Production Company: Fairmont/Foxcroft Productions, Tom Ward Enterprises, Universal TV
Audio/Visual: mono – color
Date Release: 1975
Additional details in:
Ahead of its time.
Author: blanche-2 from United States
Ellery Queen, written and produced by the same people who brought us “Murder, She Wrote” nine years later, was ahead of its time with its 1940s atmosphere and mystery plots, older casting and older guest stars. By the time the mid-’80s came around, the demographics had changed enough to make “Murder, She Wrote” a breakout hit — but in the ’70s, that audience wasn’t there yet. It’s a shame because Ellery Queen was a superior show in every way to the Angela Lansbury series. Hutton and Wayne were perfect as Ellery and the Inspector. John Hillerman, in the beginning episodes, was a radio detective and was preferable to the later budinsky, a newspaper man played by Ken Swofford. The pilot for this series, guest-starring Ray Milland, was one of the best ever made, complete with a radio show that had makeshift sound effects. Guest stars in the series included Tab Hunter, Signe Hasso, Howard Duff, Ida Lupino, Susan Sarandon, Anne Francis, Donald O’Connor, many others. A pity it wasn’t a hit – though, done any later, Hutton would not have been alive to play Queen, a role that fit him like a glove.
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