"Calamity Town" by Ellery Queen

ewrjk
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ewrjk
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July 6th, 2018, 8:49 am #1

In the 30s and 40s, if a mystery story was filmed, it was generally done as a low-budget B-movie.

Does anyone else here think that Calamity Town by Ellery Queen should have been filmed in the early forties as a full-length film which would have been very faithful to the novel?

I think it would have worked. This tearjerker of a mystery story has everything to it which would have worked back then: small-town atmosphere, wartime background, the mystery itself, a love triangle (a young lady, her boyfriend, and Ellery), tragedy during the story, a court case, and a good ending (parts of which were predictable, but still good). 

I wish that this story had been filmed in the early forties. A lost opportunity. It's one of the best Ellery Queen mysteries out there, in my opinion.
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will
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July 6th, 2018, 9:27 am #2

I bummed out on Ellery Queen when I tried to read The Roman Hat Mystery.
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ewrjk
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ewrjk
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July 7th, 2018, 5:42 am #3

I found that the Ellery Queen stories (which I read) were either very good or very irritating.

In the early stories, Ellery seemed to function like a robot. However, I did like both The Siamese Twins Mystery and The Spanish Cape Mystery.

The Door Between is a brilliant story with one of the best mystery endings ever (right up there with Chesterton's The Eye of Apollo).

Calamity Town has a completely different feel to it. Ellery is actually human in that story. It's a story which would have worked perfectly as a two-hour long movie back in the day.

The Ellery Queen radio plays are worth hearing. They have a light-hearted mood to them. Ellery, his dad, Sgt Velie, and Ellery's secretary Nikki team up to solve the crimes. I think that the 70s EQ series captured the mood/style of the radio plays.
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Salzmank
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July 19th, 2018, 1:12 am #4

will wrote: I bummed out on Ellery Queen when I tried to read The Roman Hat Mystery.
That one’s worse than bad—it’s just absurdly boring. I suggest trying one of the ones ewrjk suggested; I’d particularly suggest the books from Halfway House on. 
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Salzmank
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July 19th, 2018, 1:23 am #5

Long time no see, ewrjk!

I’d be interested in seeing a Calamity Town movie too… I did imagine a Ten Days’ Wonder adaptation the other day:
Ten Days’ Wonder (1949, based on a book by Ellery Queen)

Ellery Queen…………...Franchot Tone
Howard van Horn…….Burt Lancaster
Diedrich van Horn……Ray Collins
Sally van Horn…………Rita Hayworth
Wolfert van Horn…….Henry Daniell

directed by Orson Welles
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ewrjk
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ewrjk
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July 21st, 2018, 7:04 am #6

Long time no see, Salzmank!

Wishful thinking films....one that has popped into my mind a number of times is the following:

Poirot's Christmas, with Alec Guinness in multiple roles (as the various family members). Wow. Wishful thinking!

As for Franchot Tone, he was superb in the 1936 movie The Unguarded Hour. I recommend this great thriller.

(Aside: hey, Salzmank, did you by any chance sign up on the tcm site? I thought that I saw you there once. The forum did go through a brief period of awkward upgrades, but that's all over. Hopefully that didn't discourage you from posting...)
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Jojo Lapin X
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July 21st, 2018, 9:54 am #7

Salzmank wrote: Long time no see, ewrjk!

I’d be interested in seeing a Calamity Town movie too… I did imagine a Ten Days’ Wonder adaptation the other day:
Ten Days’ Wonder (1949, based on a book by Ellery Queen)

Ellery Queen…………...Franchot Tone
Howard van Horn…….Burt Lancaster
Diedrich van Horn……Ray Collins
Sally van Horn…………Rita Hayworth
Wolfert van Horn…….Henry Daniell

directed by Orson Welles
Oddly enough, there was an adaptation, but with Orson Welles acting rather than directing.
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will
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July 21st, 2018, 9:58 am #8

Ellery Queen wasn't in the movie, though. Was that the novel ghost written by Theodore Sturgeon?

EDIT

I confused it with On the Eight Day which was ghostwritten by Avram Davidson. Lee and Danay split up in the late fifties. Lee did all the actual writing while Danay plotted. So after the split the actual writing on EQ novels was by ghosts, many of them known for science fiction. Sturgeon wrote another EQ. The first Columbo series episode had Martin Milner and Ted Cassidy playing a writing team based on Danay and Lee.
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blufeld
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July 21st, 2018, 12:41 pm #9

will wrote:
Columbo series episode had Martin Milner and Ted Cassidy playing a writing team based on Danay and Lee.
I must have missed that.
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will
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July 21st, 2018, 2:07 pm #10

That was the one directed by Steven Spielberg.
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Blaster
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July 21st, 2018, 2:26 pm #11

will wrote: The first Columbo series episode had Martin Milner and Ted Cassidy playing a writing team based on Danay and Lee.
Er... Jack Cassidy.  

But I love the idea of Martin Milner and Lurch as a writing team.  
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will
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July 21st, 2018, 2:28 pm #12

Right.
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Salzmank
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July 22nd, 2018, 3:22 pm #13

Jojo Lapin X wrote:

Oddly enough, there was an adaptation, but with Orson Welles acting rather than directing.
Right, that’s Chabrol’s adaptation. It’s a very Wellesian story, the killer particularly recalling Charles Foster Kane and Gregory Arkadin. In fact, the EQ-Welles connections are curious: the victim in The King is Dead is not only based on Kane, he’s also named “Kane” (“Kane Bendigo”). Not sure exactly what the Queen cousins were going for, but it’s kinda a neat touch… 
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Salzmank
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July 22nd, 2018, 3:25 pm #14

ewrjk wrote: Long time no see, Salzmank!

Wishful thinking films....one that has popped into my mind a number of times is the following:

Poirot's Christmas, with Alec Guinness in multiple roles (as the various family members). Wow. Wishful thinking!

As for Franchot Tone, he was superb in the 1936 movie The Unguarded Hour. I recommend this great thriller.

(Aside: hey, Salzmank, did you by any chance sign up on the tcm site? I thought that I saw you there once. The forum did go through a brief period of awkward upgrades, but that's all over. Hopefully that didn't discourage you from posting...)
I did log on to the TCM site. I asked the infamous Sleuth question, which Will here knows well (and which is still going strong without an answer, Will! ;) ), and then tried to help with some INTK requests. I do check in from time to time, but I’m mostly on IMDb v2.0.

I haven’t seen The Unguarded Hour. I’ll check it out, thanks. And I think an Hercule Poirot’s Christmas with Guinness would be a hoot! (It could be a trouble cluing- and hiding-the-murderer-wise, though, if you know what I mean.)
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ewrjk
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ewrjk
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July 25th, 2018, 7:13 am #15

Salzmank wrote:
ewrjk wrote: Long time no see, Salzmank!

Wishful thinking films....one that has popped into my mind a number of times is the following:

Poirot's Christmas, with Alec Guinness in multiple roles (as the various family members). Wow. Wishful thinking!

As for Franchot Tone, he was superb in the 1936 movie The Unguarded Hour. I recommend this great thriller.

(Aside: hey, Salzmank, did you by any chance sign up on the tcm site? I thought that I saw you there once. The forum did go through a brief period of awkward upgrades, but that's all over. Hopefully that didn't discourage you from posting...)
I did log on to the TCM site. I asked the infamous Sleuth question, which Will here knows well (and which is still going strong without an answer, Will! ;) ), and then tried to help with some INTK requests. I do check in from time to time, but I’m mostly on IMDb v2.0.

I haven’t seen The Unguarded Hour. I’ll check it out, thanks. And I think an Hercule Poirot’s Christmas with Guinness would be a hoot! (It could be a trouble cluing- and hiding-the-murderer-wise, though, if you know what I mean.)
Good point about Poirot's Christmas. I think that this is one of the stories which would be hard to film. No matter how they do it, they'll either be deceiving the audience or they'll make the ending too obvious.

I did see the Suchet version (the only version out there, to my knowledge) and it really did require me to stretch my imagination a bit. Nothing wrong with that, of course. 🙂🙃

Good to know that you made it to the TCM site. Since I'm on several forums, I only have time to hang out on one or two subforums of each forum. Maybe that's why I haven't seen you there since that one time.

I spent some years on IMDb (different username), and I don't have any interest in v2.0. I'm very happy here, and I'm amazed at how much in common I have with some folks here (mystery-wise, of course). I did say a lot about mysteries on IMDb, but I'm afraid I didn't attract too much attention. Not many folks there who were interested in 1930s isolated house mysteries, or even knew the titles of such films. Sadly, when discussing suspense, most of them only knew Hitchcock....ah well.
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Blaster
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July 25th, 2018, 2:46 pm #16

Speaking of Poirot, John Malkovich will be portraying the Belgian snoop in a 3 part adaptation of THE ABC MURDERS.
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will
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July 25th, 2018, 3:05 pm #17

I thought that one was the best Poirot novel. I figured they never made a movie from it because it didn't have enough opportunities to fill the supporting cast with big names. The Suchet adaptation was a good job.
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Blaster
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July 25th, 2018, 3:37 pm #18

They did make a movie of it, back in 1965.  Frank Tashlin directed THE ALPHABET MURDERS and Tony Randall played Poirot supported by Robert Morley and Anita Ekberg.   It was from the same producers who had made the Margaret Rutherford MISS MARPLES.  
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Salzmank
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July 25th, 2018, 3:41 pm #19

Blaster wrote: Speaking of Poirot, John Malkovich will be portraying the Belgian snoop in a 3 part adaptation of THE ABC MURDERS.
Interesting. I hadn’t heard that… Is there a Christie renaissance or something, with Branagh’s MOtOE and, apparently, DotN and then multiple BBC miniseries?

I’m not much of a Malkovich fan, but either way that’s unusual casting.
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will
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July 25th, 2018, 3:42 pm #20

They just used the title. It has nothing to do with the novel. It looked like they were trying to turn Poirot into Clouseau.
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