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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An excellent case study in which the murder has already happened before
the show really starts. The episode starts in the court room. Michael
Constantine does well in one of his few roles as an attorney in court.
Ceasar Romero, a fine character actor who was the Joker in the 1960's
Batman series has a small role here.
The story has Lawyer Constantine making an unlikely plea to a jury to defend his client from an unfair murder rap. It takes Ellery and scandal reporter Frank to sort out what really happened. This one has a few twists and turns and is really quite a yarn when all is said and done.
Ellery & Inspector Queen do their first court room appearances in this one as they are usually out side trying to track down evidence in most of the series.
Episode 15, "The Adventure of the Wary Witness," may be considered the finest entry in the entire series (one could make such a claim for every episode, they were all excellent). We begin in the courtroom, where Linville Hagen (Dwayne Hickman) is on trial for the cold-blooded murder of notorious gangster Nick Danello (an unbilled James Demopoulos). The defense attorney, Leo Robert Campbell (Michael Constantine), contends that an unseen assailant fired the fatal shot with Hagen's stolen handgun from the fire escape, and that there was a female red-haired witness who disappeared when Hagen retrieved his gun (conveniently tossed into the room) and fired 2 additional shots himself in the direction of the killer. Locating the missing woman, Dottie Lomax, proved fruitless in the months leading up to trial, so the District Attorney (Richard Sargent) has proceeded on the assumption that there was no witness. In the meantime, the Danello family has vowed revenge for Nick's death, while the missing witness turns up shot by another assailant on another fire escape, just as the jury begins its deliberations. Ken Swofford makes his fourth appearance as Gazette columnist Frank Flannigan, less intrusive than usual, who aids Inspector Queen by publishing the story of the wounded witness, without revealing the knowledge that the killer was successful in his fatal task. It is also Flannigan, due to a barroom fracas, who provides the final clue in the solution of the case. Lovely redhead actress Jackie Russell is actually seen for only a few seconds in a silent bit as Dottie Lomax (erroneously listed in the credits as 'Virginia') in the opening sequence depicting the Danello murder (she wore a fetching bikini in episode 5 of KOLCHAK:THE NIGHT STALKER, titled "The Werewolf"). Cesar Romero is a welcome presence as Armand Danello, Nick's father, while Nick's brother James is played by the dependable Sal Mineo, in his next-to-last TV appearance before his untimely death on Feb.12 1976 (this was broadcast on Jan.25).
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