RARA-AVIS: The Golden Spiders

From: a.n.smith ( ansmith@netdoor.com)
Date: 06 Mar 2000

I watched the Nero Wolfe movie on A&E last night, and thought the thing was nicely done. I'm very happy with it, especially Maury Chaykin as Wolfe, who seemed to have the irritable character down cold.

I've always been a big fan of the Wolfe books, seeing them as a blend of hardboiled street work and Sherlock Holmes, with a much more interesting and idiosyncratic detective. I like the compulsiveness of the guy, and I like that Archie and Wolfe form this symbiotic pair that need each other to do the work--and that makes the arguing more interesting. While these detectives never really change from book to book, (I've said here before how much I like the more modern ones that do), I don't mind because, as Lawrence Block wrote about them in an article, the appeal is not so much the mystery as it is being able to spend time in this unique household.

While the hardboiled lingo and street work from Archie is adequeste, the REAL hardboiled stuff here is just in Wolfe's treatment of other people. A real tough attitude, masking something--fear? Whatever it is, it drives this guy. He needs order, control, obsessive handling of details.

All in all, Hutton was a good Archie, Chaykin a great Wolfe, and the whole cast played the thing like an episode of "Remember WENN", but all for the fun of it. I hope they do more of these movies.

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