Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nero Nearby

When I've allowed myself a break this past week, it's been to listen to a Rex Stout book on tape that I found in a used book store. I became a big fan of Stout's eccentric genius detective, Nero Wolfe, and his dapper sidekick, Archie Goodwin, after seeing episodes of the A&E series featuring Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton.

Listening to the book, I can picture all the principle characters and settings in vivid color. I can see the office, the orchids, Wolfe's yellow shirts, and Archie's swagger so perfectly in my mind. It's a great way to be immersed in a story.

What, if any, are your favorite casting choices when it comes to books made into movies and T.V. shows?


Anonymous said...

Leo McKern as Rumpole is about a perfect as you can get.
Everyone says that Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes was spot on (but I always pictured Holmes as being more thin).
Frank Conrad was Nero Wolfe in a short-lived series, but that was right after Cannon so I think the casting choice was more about star power than verisimilitude.

By the way, there is a clique that insists that Nero Wolfe was the love child of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler (from A Scandal in Bohemia).

Anonymous said...

My favorite Phillip Marlowe was Powers Boothe in the short lived 80's series. Humphrey Bogart made a much better Sam Spade than a Marlowe.

Can't do much better than Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in Lonesome Dove as Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call.

And Don Cheadle as Mouse in Devil in a Blue Dress is unbeatable.


Kimberly Frost said...

Paul -

LOL. There is no way that I believe that Nero was the child of Sherlock and Irene. Hmm. Now who from literature could be their love child? I'll have to think on that.

I have not seen any Rumpole, but I'll put it in my Netflix queue. Thanks for the tip.

Kimberly Frost said...


What a great list. And this time you don't even have to e-mail. It'll be safely saved in my comments section until I get to my queue.

Anonymous said...

here's what Wikipedia has to say on Nero Wolfe's possible parentage:

In 1956, John D. Clark put forth a theory in the Baker Street Journal that Wolfe was the offspring of an affair between Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler (a character from "A Scandal in Bohemia"). Clark suggested that the two had had an affair in Montenegro in 1892, and that Nero Wolfe was the result. The idea was later co-opted by William S. Baring-Gould, but there is no evidence that Rex Stout had any such connection in mind. Certainly there is no mention of it in any of the stories (although a painting of Sherlock Holmes does hang over Archie Goodwin's desk in Nero Wolfe's office). Some commentators, noting both physical and psychological resemblances, suggest Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes as a more likely father for Wolfe. There is also a curious coincidence: in the names "Sherlock Holmes" and "Nero Wolfe," the same vowels appear in the same order. In 1957 Ellery Queen called this "The Great O-E Theory" and suggested that it derives from the father of mysteries, Edgar Allan Poe.

Some Wold Newton theorists have suggested the French thief Arsène Lupin as the father of Nero Wolfe, citing that in one of his stories Lupin has an affair with the queen of a Balkan principality which may be Montenegro by another name, and that Lupin resembles the French word for wolf, loup.


Kimberly Frost said...

Rick -

That's so interesting. Thanks for posting it! I have never heard of "The Great O-E Theory," and it's just the sort of possible clever buried treasure that appeals to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm listening to a Nero Wolfe novel on my iPod right now. This is my first experience. So far, I'm not too fond the the smart-alecky manner of the Archie Goodwin character, but if it turns out to be a really good story, I can forgive that.

Kimberly Frost said...


Archie is a smart aleck. Oddly, I like that in a character.

Look forward to hearing what you thought of the story overall. :)

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm reporting in again. I've watched both seasons of the A&E Nero Wolfe series. I liked the characterizations a great deal (though I have to say I got lost much of the time when the motives for the crimes were supposedly made clear). I have to say that I think I agree with some commentators that they are really Archie Goodwin stories rather than Nero Wolfe stories. Also, I didn't like the story I listened to on my iPod, but I think that was more due to the reader's interpretation than the quality of the story. I'll probably try Nero Wolfe again in the future.

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