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The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2000)

TV-PG | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | TV Movie 5 March 2000
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.


Bill Duke


Rex Stout (novel), Paul Monash (teleplay)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maury Chaykin ... Nero Wolfe
Timothy Hutton ... Archie Goodwin
Bill Smitrovich ... Inspector Cramer
Mimi Kuzyk ... Laura Fromm
Colin Fox Colin Fox ... Fritz
Saul Rubinek ... Saul Panzer
Larissa Laskin ... Jean Estey
Gary Reineke Gary Reineke ... Denis Horan
Beau Starr ... Lips Egan
Elizabeth Saunders ... Mrs. Horan (as Elizabeth Brown)
Fulvio Cecere ... Fred Durkin
Nancy Beatty Nancy Beatty ... Mrs. Drossos
R.D. Reid R.D. Reid ... Sergeant Purley Stebbins
Philip Craig ... James Maddox
Gerry Quigley Gerry Quigley ... Lon Cohen


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.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »


Three Perfect Murders. One Perfect Detective.


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 March 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nero Wolfe si cerceii misteriosi See more »

Filming Locations:

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Conrad Dunn plays the recurring role of Saul Panzer throughout the series except for the first case, The Golden Spiders, where that role was played by Saul Rubinick. Rubinick switched to the recurring role of newspaperman Lon Cohen for the rest of the series. See more »


Nero Wolfe keeps the uncashed $10,000 retainer check in order to earn the money, even though the woman who wrote the check was murdered. But an uncashed check written by a person who dies before the check is cashed is not negotiable. It is voided by the death. See more »


Archie Goodwin: Mrs. Fromm extended her hand. Wolfe doesn't usually rise when a woman enters or leaves, but it was lunchtime, and the hand was in the way.
See more »


Followed by A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

superior television production
23 May 2010 | by winner55See all my reviews

This is the first in a television series of adaptations from the writings of Rex Stout. Unlike previous adaptations in English, this series was intended to be faithful to the original material. I don't watch television, so my only experience with this series is this episode, available complete (in some ten parts) at Youtube, and five production scripts available on the internet. It is notable that, visuals aside, the dialog is taken directly out of Stout, which for a Wolfe fan is a big plus.

Visually, like many such ventures - the Granada Holmes series, the cable TV adaptations of Raymond Chandler back in the '90s - the greatest strength of the series is also its most troubling aspect - a painstaking attention to set design detail and an immaculate lighting, coloring, and camera placement - all of which, however, adds up to: "television." There is nothing truly cinematic here, and it's unclear whether such productions can survive for long after their original broadcast. For instance, this production is certainly visually evocative of New York City in the 1950s, but still lacks authenticity - it is evocative in the manner of those museum dioramas of Native American villages; you're always aware that you aren't visiting the village, but merely looking at a carefully reconstructed replica in a glass box.

The acting throughout is impeccably professional. Of course Wolfe fans can argue about the all-important casting of Wolfe and Archie. Frankly, both Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton are fine. (The notion that the perfect Wolfe would have been Orson Welles I find frightful; and actually, the very best Wolfe appears to have been Tino Buazzelli, judging by fragments from the 1960s Italian TV series I've been fortunate to catch here and there. It is well to remember that Wolfe is Montenegran by birth; that is really very important, for it defines what is most lasting in his personality, and Stout himself was aware of its importance and works it into quite a number of Wolfe stories. Montenegro just across a bay from Italy, it is unsurprising that an Italian could both look the part and act it with aplomb.) However, a good interpretation can substitute for perfection. Sidney Greenstreet's radio interpretation of Wolfe is clearly not Stout's at all, but it is an amiable and believable impersonation of some detective named "Nero Wolfe." (On the other hand, William Conrad's Wolfe "interpretation" was so bad, I shudder every time I think of it.) Chaykin's interpretation is still not Stout's, but it is far superior to Greenstreet's, since it is a real effort to capture the character's irascibility without a trace of parody.

Overall, then, this is a high-quality television adaptation, and while still not perfectly Stoutian or perfectly Wolfean, stands as a good introduction to the novels for those unfamiliar with them. Those who complain about the leisurely pacing and occasionally unwieldy plot-twists would not find the novels interesting; those who find the unfolding of the narrative, with its subtleties of character and clues should definitely make the effort to get acquainted with the original novels; they are addicting and worthy of the legendary status they enjoy among mystery fans.

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