Reviews written by registered user
|3 reviews in total|
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.
Jack Woodford was a prolific and highly talented writer. He was regarded
somewhat scandalous -- if not an outright pornographer -- in his day, but
contemporary standards his books were really rather sweet little romances,
with just a dash of sex suggested, never described in salacious
"City Limits" was one of his early novels, and Woodford fans would be eager to see it, if it were released on tape or DVD. However, they would be disappointed. There is very little resemblance between the film and Woodford's novel of the same name.
Unfortunately, this is apparently a very scarce film, not available on VHS
or DVD, and seldom if ever broadcast. However, as a fan of Vina Delmar I
have read the novel upon which the film is based, and must point out that
the story takes place in 1923. This was the flapper era, the roaring
twenties, the jazz age . . . and the era of Prohibition!
A very different period from that of the Great Depression, which began in 1929, and was two years old when the film was made.
Whether the story line was changed to place the story in Depression-era New York instead of Roaring Twenties New York, is interesting to consider.
I would dearly love to see this film, and to see how well it lives up to the very fine novel by Vina Delmar, BAD GIRL.