|Index||6 reviews in total|
14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
The portly detective solves a bizarre murder on a golf course., 16 April 2001
Author: Regis Hartdy from California
While this first Nero Wolfe film seems well-intentioned, it's really of
interest only as an historical curiosity. Edward Arnold, one of the great
character actors of all time, looks pretty good as the portly Wolfe, but
portrayal of the detective is way off base. Rex Stout created Wolfe as an
irascible, egotistical, curmudgeonly man who quaffs beer endlessly from a
glass. Arnold portrays him as a jolly, laughing, hale-fellow-well-met who
drinks beer directly from the bottle -- something that Wolfe did very
Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's amanuensis, legman, and sometime tormentor, is supposed to be a tough, smart, courageous detective in his own right. Lionel Stander, also a fine actor when properly cast and directed, turns Goodwin into a clown.
The plot moves rapidly. Too rapidly, in fact, for the charm of the Nero Wolfe mysteries lies largely in the atmospheric familiarity of their milieu. They are written as if they were stately waltzes, and this films zips by like a two-minute jazz riff.
Of all the adaptations of the Nero Wolfe stories, from the Sydney Greenstreet radio version of the 1940's to the lovingly produced A&E network productions almost sixty years later, the nod must be given to the A&E version, and to Maury Chaykin's portrayal of Nero Wolfe.
11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
A missed opportunity, but still great fun for what's there, 14 May 2007
Author: John Esche from Jersey City, New Jersey
In the 1930's, when the motion picture mystery was having a golden age
and studios were sending the latest best sellers straight to film as
fast as the top mystery writers could come up with new characters and
scenarios, Columbia looked at the success of S.S. van Dine's Philo
Vances (First National, Warner Brothers), Dashiel Hammett's Nick & Nora
Charles (MGM), Earl Derr Biggers' Charlie Chans (20th Century Fox) and
others building on the oft filmed legacy of Conan Doyle's Sherlock
Holmes and thought they had a winning entry in Rex Stout's soon to be
classic detective Nero Wolfe.
A combination of the irascible brilliance of a Holmes (even author Rex Stout speculated on the intellectual debt if not direct lineage of Wolfe to Holmes' brother Mycroft) and the hard boiled practicality of a Sam Spade with the narrative charm of a Doctor Watson in Wolfe's side-kick/assistant, Archie Goodman, how could a series based on the new characters fail? It probably shouldn't have, but in producing a relatively faithful adaptation of Stout's first Nero Wolfe novel, "Fer de Lance" (the name of a poisonous snake that figures late in the plot), they just missed the challenging tone that won Wolfe fans on the page.
The casting of character actor Edward Arnold, famed for playing outrageous incarnations of the Devil and devilish industrialists was probably a master stroke, but fearing that such an acerbic character might not win viewers, they softened the character and made him too given to "fat man jollity" and too light on the irritated "phoeys." Legman (in more ways than one) Archie followed the unfortunate studio pattern of consigning "Dr. Watson" side-kick characters to comic relief with the miscasting of fine (all too soon to be blacklisted) character actor Lionel Stander. As conceived in both the Nero Wolfe films Columbia managed, Stander's "Archie" was eager but not the skilled detective Stout had created whose own capability made Wolfe all the more brilliant in comparison.
Failings in tone which ultimately doomed the series notwithstanding (along with the failure to find a definitive Nero - Walter Connolly essayed the role in the second and final Columbia film, the 1937 LEAGUE OF FREIGHTENED MEN, based on Stout's second Wolfe novel), MEET NERO WOLFE is a highly entertaining film in its own right.
The murder on the golf course is beautifully filmed with clues clearly enough laid out the sharp viewer can have the fun of guessing ahead of Archie and Nero "whodunnit" and why. Even with too many self conscious laughs from his character, it's a pleasure to see the lighter side of Edward Arnold for a change, and while wrong for a true "Archie Goodman," Lionel Stander gives one of his best performances, and isn't quite as befuddled as Nigel Bruce's classic (but decidedly non-Sherlockian) Dr. Watson.
1936's MEET NERO WOLFE isn't the great Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodman we would eventually get from Maury Chaykin and Timmothy Hutton on TV's A&E Network, but it's solid entertainment and an interesting "might-have-been" look at what should have been one of the classic 30's mystery series in the hands of a studio more sensitive to the demands of producing a classic mystery series.
9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Meet ( Not Very) Nero Wolfe....., 18 April 2007
Author: parmrh from Chapel Hill, N.C. U.S.A.
What is Nero Wolfe here....
1) Wolfe is a genius... 2) Wolfe prefers to stay at home... 3) Wolfe drinks Beer and tosses the caps in his desk drawer.... 4) Wolfe has an assistant named Archie Goodwin.
What is not Nero Wolfe here.....
1) Wolfe is a generally friendly, avuncular fellow who chuckles and smiles constantly. 2) Wolfe welcomes guests to his home, telling them to return "anytime". 3) Wolfe guzzles Beer...straight from the bottle! 4) Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin is a gravel-voiced moron with a Brooklyn accent, who only wants to get away from Wolfe to marry his stereotype dumb blonde Brooklyn accented "galfriend" and Honeymoon at Coney Island, (then become a furniture salesman!)
I could add the other assorted differences...The lack of Archie's narration ( a blessing given this Comic Relief version of "Archie")... Wolfe's 'cook' named Olaf...The stereotype Irish Detective named O'Grady...etc...
Bottom Line: If you are a fan of Nero Wolfe, you will strain to perceive him here. Stick with the A&E series or the books. If, as a collector, you feel you must see this ( as I did ) do not expect anything of consequence and you shall not be disappointed.
After watching this, it is easy to understand why Rex Stout did not care for Hollywood getting it's uncaring hands on his creations.
9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
In the true spirit of Rex Stout., 16 April 2000
Author: John Braun (kartrabo) from Newbury Park, CA, United States
A great who-done-it mystery film told with the true spirit of author
Stout's genius detective Nero Wolfe.Perfect in size,girth,and bellicosity
Edward Arnold portrays the heavyset armchair private investigator as fans
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
Nero Wolfe novel'Fer De Lance',the mystery in the film begins with a
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
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
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
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Competent potboiler, not twaddle, 21 October 2007
Author: Gary170459 from Derby, UK
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.
Great fun-too bad this never clicked for a real series, 1 March 2009
Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Edward Arnold stars as the house bound large framed detective with a
passion for beer and orchids. The story starts when a college dean dies
nominally of a heart attack after teeing off on a golf course. We
quickly learn that a the death was no accident when a mysterious young
man dies while clutching a newspaper story on the dean's death.
Unfortunately for the killer the second dead man is the brother of a
friend of Nero Wolfe who springs into action...well wanders into action
as promises of money periodically appear on the horizon. Aiding Wolfe
is his aide de camp Archie Goodwin, who as the film begins is
attempting to leave Wolfe's employ so that he can get married.
Amusing 1930's mystery is a good time. No its not perfect, Arnold's Wolfe is often abrasive, and the marriage subplot quickly runs out of steam but the film is otherwise a really good way to spend 75 minutes. First off you have two great performances from Arnold and Lionel Stander as Goodwin. Next you have an intriguing mystery that or the most part works, certainly it holds your attention as you try to find out who's doing what, especially with several red herrings. Lastly the dialog is crisp and witty. The exchanges are very pithy.and often very funny. I really like this film and I regret that this never clicked enough to cause a series to appear, though it did spawn a sequel, though with out Arnold as Wolfe.
Worth a look if you can manage to come across a copy.
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