From: "Jim Beaver" <
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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