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

From: Jim Beaver (
Date: 08 Mar 2000

>He mentioned that
> Columbia Pictures once optioned a couple of the books with the idea of
> Humphrey Bogart and Sidney Greenstreet. Then they made the movies with
> actors (Edward Arnold and Walter Connolly played Wolfe, Lionel Stander was
> Archie). He wasn't pleased.

With all due respect to Stout, his memory must have been a little hazy. The two Columbia Nero Wolfe films, MEET NERO WOLFE and THE LEAGUE OF FRIGHTENED MEN, were released in the summers of 1936 and '37, respectively. Bogart, at the time, was still a contract player at Warner Bros., doing second leads in programmers like CHINA CLIPPER and KID GALAHAD. It's not impossible but fairly unlikely for Columbia to have considered him for anything at their studio at the time, both because he was not then considered much of a property and more importantly because, valuable or not, he was under contract elsewhere.

Sydney Greenstreet, though a wonderful idea for Wolfe, is even more unlikely, since not only did he also spend most of his career under contract to Warner Bros., but he was a total cinema unknown in 1936 who wouldn't make his first film for another five years yet.

It seems impossible for Stout to have been disappointed at not getting Bogart and Greenstreet in 1936. In hindsight, yes, but in 1936, I think not.

Jim Beaver

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