As a Nero Wolfe fan, one who has read the entire series twice, I found this movie offensively awful. Wolfe is portrayed as a man who can’t stop laughing and Archie Goodwin is a buffoon. This mess is based on the first book in the series, “Fer-De-Lance” written in 1934. I absolutely hated this disgraceful presentation.
E.J.Kimball and his son Manuel are going to play a round of golf. Because it’s Sunday the rule is foursomes only since the course is so crowded. The Kimballs are joined by professor Edgar Barstow and Claude Roberts (Victory Jory).
Barstow’s caddy is sent to get the prof’s eve shade. He’s not back in time for the tee off so Kimball lends Barstow his driver. Just as he takes a swing he’s says he was bitten by a mosquito. Minutes later he falls down dead. It’s ruled a heart attack. That night a man cuts an article out of the paper about the death and then he dies.
Outside Nero Wolfe’s house Archie Goodwin (Lionel Stander) and his fiancee Maize are waiting to go in. Wolfe (Edward Arnold) is upset that his favorite beer isn’t available. He sent Archie to get some from his favorite bootlegger Marie. Archie said he couldn’t find her. Then Marie walks in with some bottles.
Before she leaves she says she wants Wolfe to find her brother Carlo. It doesn’t take Wolfe long to figure out that there was a poison needle in the driver lent to Barstow. It came out when he swung the club and stabbed him. It was coated with the venom of the deadly Fer-De-Lance snake. Carlo’s body was found. He also died of poison. He’s the one who cut the article out of the paper.
Barstow’s widow Sarah offers a fifty thousand dollar reward to find out who killed him and Wolfe sends Archie over to try and get the money. Wolfe figures out that E.J. Kimball was the intended victim. In order to solve the case Wolfe gathers all the suspects in his house. They include Claude’s fiancee, Ellen Barstow, the Kimballs’ and Claude.
The roots of the case go back to Buenos Aires where E.J. was acquitted of the murder of his wife and Sarah Barstow’s first husband disappeared.
This is a disservice to all Wolfe-Goodwin fans with its inaccurate portrayals of the two and fans of the books will more than likely hate it as much as I do.
Lionel Stander became familiar to TV fans as Max on “Hart To Hart” (1979-84).