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The New Adventures Of Nero Wolfe Show Summary

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The New Adventures Of Nero Wolfe Show Summary Empty The New Adventures Of Nero Wolfe Show Summary

Post by Seamus on 3/9/2019, 3:13 pm

Written By StrobeSML

'The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe', 'In American mystery, there is probably no better known house than the little brownstone on W. 35th street that is the home and office of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. The only mystery residence that surpasses it in fame is the Baker Street flat of Sherlock Holmes (which unlike Wolfe's home, can actually be found on the map). It is no coincidence that mention the most famous British detective when talking about Wolfe, because the Nero Wolfe stories, written by Rex Stout, are a compelling blend of the British-style "drawing room" mysteries and the American "hard boiled" mysteries.

Rex Stout, the author of the Nero Wolfe mysteries, wrote more than 40 books starring the gargantuan detective starting with 1934's Fer-de-Lance and ending in 1975 with Family Affair. He had written several other books (that never had the same success) including a book featuring Inspector Cramer Red Threads and a couple with a female detective, Dol Bonner. However, his most enduring stories are the ones involving Wolfe and Archie.

Nero Wolfe, a man born in Montenegro (later part of Yugoslavia) is a large figure, often stated by Archie as being "a seventh of a ton" in bulk. Aside from being a genius in detection, the large man was also a gourmand with expensive tastes in food, a gardener of orchids, and a voracious reader. He rarely leaves his home, and never on business, preferring to solve the crimes in his office, in a style similar to the British drawing room mysteries. His daily schedule is inviolate, including two 2-hour periods up in the plant rooms and time set aside for lunch and dinner. (Business is never spoken during meals.) While he is superb at his detection, he is indolent to the point of needing a prodding from Archie to work for money.

Archie Goodwin, on the other hand, fits the mold of standard hard-boiled detective to a "T". He is sarcastic and witty and far more the man-of-action. Acting as Wolfe's legman (as well as Boswell, similar to Watson's penning of Holmes' stories), he is the one to go out and get the facts (and bring home the suspects for questioning) while Wolfe tends to his orchids. His is the voice that can prod Wolfe into taking a case, and his skill and knowledge brings the pieces of information that Wolfe needs to solve the crimes.

Of course, Wolfe and Goodwin don't live in a vacuum. There are other characters that round out the cast and give the stories a true richness.

The aforementioned Inspector Cramer is a good example. At times a help and often a hinderance to Wolfe, Cramer is often distrustful of Wolfe's intervention in a case that he is working on. (Admittedly, with the tricks that Wolfe and Archie play during a case, he has some reason to be.) Still, he can often be counted on to gather suspects to Wolfe's office and take his place of honor in the red chair near the desk.

Fritz Brenner, a chef of great skill, keeps Wolfe's appetite filled with fine food and the bottles of beer Wolfe drinks when solving the case. He is an understated and indispensible member of the Wolfe household.

Saul Panzer, Orrie Cather and Fred Durkin fill in as operatives when more help than Archie can provide is needed on a case. Highly dependable, but each with their own style, they are often essential in narrowing down a case.

Seargent Purley Stebbins, another homicide cop, is perhaps Archie's greatest foil in the stories. He's as distrustful as Cramer but not as smart.

Other characters come and go, but these represent the core characters of the series of Rex Stout stories and make their appearances on the radio show.

The radio show had a run of several years, starting with Santos Ortega playing Wolfe in 1943. In 1945-46, Francis X. Bushman took the role of the orchid fancying detective with Elliot Lewis as Archie. Finally, in 1950-51, Sydney Greenstreet (best known for his roles in Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon took the role as Wolfe. Due to failing ratings, the network went through six different actors playing Archie: Wally Mahr, Lamont Johnson, Herb Ellis, Larry Dobkin, Gerald Mohr, and Harry Bartell. (Some say that it was Greenstreet's overacting that was the cause of the slumping ratings, but since he couldn't admit that he was the problem, he just kept changing Archies.) These were original stories written in the same style of Rex Stout's Wolfe stories (and they caught the style nicely).

Of course, this isn't the end of Wolfe stories on the radio. In 1982, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation created 13 one-hour episodes of Nero Wolfe that were based, directly, on the stories by Rex Stout. This was said to be a great version (that I hope to get my grubby little hands on soon).

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