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I first came across Nero Wolfe in the excellent 2001 TV series starring Maury Chaykin this set in stone my image of the man I even pictured him when I read this Rex Stout story Fer-de-Lance. Back in the '30's Edward Arnold was a fine and serious actor but he over-egged Wolfe's character in all departments for this one, making him totally unsympathetic and a wonder anyone put up with him. Nowadays of course the character would sneer and laugh at us "fools down on the street" for not using the internet to do everything for them.
A man has a heart attack on a country golf course sedentary guffawing beer guzzling orchid growing New Yorker Wolfe proves it was murder and the wrong man without moving a muscle but with a lot of help from his comic stooge (in this) Archie. The only person he seems to care for is Marie who supplies him his booze, she plays a significant part as Wolfe's helper in return for finding her brother's killer. There's some ingenious detective work going on here taken at a breakneck speed, but it would have been much better had it been at a more lugubrious pace. And Maisie's repeated question to Archie "When are we gonna get married?" wears awful thin! Favourite bits: John Qualen making up the kitchen table for Archie to sleep on with very mixed emotions in the crowded house; Wolfe's treatment of the young and spry Victor Jory throughout.
All in all some fun moments and I enjoyed it, although utterly unlike the recent TV series - I'm not surprised it didn't work back then based on this screenplay.
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