A street kid interrupts Nero Wolfe's dinner with his eyewitness account of a kidnapping. The next day, the boy is dead and his mother comes to the detective with her son's meager savings and dying wish to hire Wolfe to solve his murder.
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A great who-done-it mystery film told with the true spirit of author Rex Stout's genius detective Nero Wolfe.Perfect in size,girth,and bellicosity Edward Arnold portrays the heavyset armchair private investigator as fans of the novels would expect.His man of all tasks,Archie Goodwin(played here for laughs),is portrayed by gravel-voiced character favorite Lionel Stander. Adapted from the first Nero Wolfe novel'Fer De Lance',the mystery in the film begins with a strange death at a golf course which was actually murder.It is a very young Rita Hayworth who hires Nero Wolfe to solve the crime before the police prosecute a loved-one for the murder.The story moves quickly with marvelous red-herrings,interesting clues,murder attempts,and plenty of suspects to choose from(Victor Jory,Walter Kingsford,Frank Conroy). All of the elements from the novels are included :the brownstone mansion,the huge library and red-leather chair,the orchid room upstairs,the endless beer supply,and Wolfe's personal chef played by John Qualen.Columbia pictures had a winner here and there were hopes of a series but,because of Edward Arnold's commitments elsewhere he bowed out after this entry.There was one more Nero Wolfe film following the success of this one.It was 'The League of Frightened Men'(1937),and starred Walter Connolly as Wolfe and Stander returning as Archie Goodwin.
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