RARA-AVIS: RE: Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe movies

From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 08 Mar 2000

 One of the first pieces of journalism I ever did was interview Rex Stout at his home in the mid-Sixties. Spent the afternoon talking with him about the books and his contemporaries (he felt Chandler was over praised and complained too much, while Hammett was a better writer than Hemingway and expressed a much better understanding of women). I imagine if I'd even suggested his own books might be mistaken for cozies, as old as he was (and recovering from an operation), he'd have thrown me out of the house.

He said that Orson Welles wanted to make a series of Nero Wolfe movies, but that he'd turned Welles down. Said Welles was a genius and he didn't want to do business with geniuses because they were undependable. He mentioned that Columbia Pictures once optioned a couple of the books with the idea of using Humphrey Bogart and Sidney Greenstreet. Then they made the movies with other actors (Edward Arnold and Walter Connolly played Wolfe, Lionel Stander was Archie). He wasn't pleased.

After his death, a TV movie based on "The Doorbell Rang" was made for ABC-TV. It was all right, but that particular book was built around a gimmicky ending that didn't really work on screen. Then Paramount tried a short-lived series with William Conrad and Lee Horsley that was okay. The episodes are shown every so often on "TV Land." The series version of
"Golden Spiders" covers pretty much the same material as the new movie, but there's a whole lot of difference in the details.

Dick Lochte

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