From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 09 Mar 2000

From: "Jim Beaver" < JUMBLEJIM@prodigy.net>

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. . . . 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.

Since Stout prided himself on his memory, Jim Beaver 's comments prompted me to dig out the tapes from my interview. While Stout did name Humphrey Bogart as the potential Archie, it was my memory that was hazy. Charles Laughton was the actor whom he mentioned for the Wolfe role. (Greenstreet later played Wolfe on radio which is probably why he bounced Laughton out of my recollection.) According to Stout, the reason they were not used was because they were "unavailable." The disappointment he expressed was not that these particular actors were not used. He just thought, no doubt in retrospect, that the films might have been more memorable with Bogart and Laughton. As for the possibility of a second-lead like Bogart being cast, even before his great success he would seem to have had the edge on the actor who was cast, Lionel Stander. But who knows? As for the continuing question as to whether or not the Wolfe books are hardboiled, there were a number of authors whose work, while less tough than the Hammett-Chandler school are far enough away from the Christie-Van Dine type of mystery to qualify. Even Ellery Queen breaks loose in some of his adventures. Perry Mason. Simon Templar. The regrettably neglected Johnny Fletcher and Sam Cragg stories by Frank Gruber. Craig Rice's John J. Malone. You couldn't call any of these soft-boiled, exactly. There's probably even a case to be made for old Sherlock. How many hardboiled heroes are as dark and moody as Holmes, or need a hit of that seven per-cent solution to keep the world in focus? Dick Lochte

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