Ultimate Guide To Best Ellery Queen Movies, Books And Shows

The Ultimate Guide To Best Ellery Queen Movies, Books And Shows

We developed this guide on the best Ellery Queen movies, books and shows for a simple reason: He is one of the most beloved characters in the classic mystery space.

Ellery Queen is a pseudonym created in 1929 by American crime fiction writers Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee and the name of their main fictional character, a mystery writer in New York City who helps his police inspector father solve baffling murders.

Dannay and Lee wrote most of the more than thirty novels and several short story collections in which Ellery Queen appeared as a character, and their books were among the most popular of American mysteries published between 1929 and 1971.

In the following guide, we provide an overview of the most notable movies, answer to key questions, and the most notable books featuring Ellery Queen.

Best Ellery Queen Movies

What follows is an overview of the most notable movies featuring Ellery Queen:

  • The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935)
  • The Mandarin Mystery (1936)
  • The Crime Nobody Saw (1937)
  • Ellery Queen, Master Detective (1940)
  • Ellery Queen’s Penthouse Mystery (1941)
  • Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime (1941)
  • Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941)
  • A Close Call for Ellery Queen (1942)
  • A Desperate Chance for Ellery Queen (1942)
  • Enemy Agents Meet Ellery Queen (1942)
  • Ellery Queen: Don’t Look Behind You (1971 TV Movie)
  • Ten Days’ Wonder (1972)
  • The Three Undelivered Letters (1979)

*****

The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935)Sleuth Ellery Queen (Donald Cook) finds murder and romance while vacationing with a judge (Berton Churchill).

This is the first movie featuring Ellery Queen and it’s available for free on YouTube (see below).

The Mandarin Mystery (1936). Two murders are committed and a $50,000 Chinese Mandarin stamp is stolen, tossed around and eventually recovered as an aggregation of costly-stamp counterfeiters are uncovered through the mastermind investigation by Ellery Queen.

The Crime Nobody Saw (1937). This is not a 100% Ellery Queen story. Ellery Queen  collaborated on a play with Lowell Bretano. When it died a quick death, it became The Crime Nobody Saw.

Ellery Queen, Master Detective (1940). Famed detective and crime novelist Ellery Queen solves a case involving the suspicious death of a rich man whose inheritors fight over his estate.

The film was directed by Kurt Neumann and written by Eric Taylor. The film stars Ralph Bellamy, Margaret Lindsay, Charley Grapewin, James Burke, Michael Whalen and Marsha Hunt. It was released on November 30, 1940, by Columbia Pictures.

Ellery Queen’s Penthouse Mystery (1941). The plot centers around jewlery being smuggled into the United States from China. This film is directed by James P. Hogan and written by Eric Taylor. It is based on the 1939 play The Three Scratches by Ellery Queen. The film stars Ralph Bellamy, Margaret Lindsay, Charley Grapewin, Anna May Wong, James Burke and Eduardo Ciannelli.

The Spanish Cape Mystery 1935 (complete movie)

Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime (1941). The famed sleuth helps his inspector-father solve the murder of a shady utilities promoter. Several days after one of his company’s dams burst, ruining the life savings of several investors, a shady power company president is found stabbed to death. Ellery Queen gets to the bottom of the mystery.

Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941). A hospital owner who requested Ellery Queen’s help is found strangled to death after an emergency operation.

A Close Call for Ellery Queen (1942). The amateur sleuth (William Gargan) learns the truth about a businessman’s two long-lost daughters.

A Desperate Chance for Ellery Queen (1942). Detective Ellery Queen tries to find a missing man, and gets embroiled in a case of murder and embezzlement.

Enemy Agents Meet Ellery Queen (1942). An investigation into international smuggling leads Ellery and his police inspector-father to a nest of Nazi spies.

Ellery Queen: Don’t Look Behind You (1971 TV Movie). Detective Ellery Queen has to solve a series of murders where the victims were killed in numerically descending ages, the male victims were strangled with blue cords and the female victims with pink ones.

Ten Days’ Wonder (1972). A bizarre adaptation. Ellery isn’t in the film and is replaced by “Paul Regis”. In the film, a philosophy professor is investigating the sudden demise of one of his students, who had mental problems.

The Three Undelivered Letters (1979). A young Japanese-American man arrives at his grandmother’s old hometown in Yamaguchi, begins to stay at her family’s elite but dysfunctional household, and gets entangled in a sinister plot of murder.

Frequently asked questions about Ellery Queen

For those mystery fans who are not very familiar with this character, here is more background:

Is Ellery Queen a real person? 

No, he is not. Ellery Queen is a pseudonym created in 1929 by American crime fiction writers Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee and the name of their main fictional character, a mystery writer in New York City who helps his police inspector father solve baffling murders.

Is there a TV series featuring Ellery Queen?

Yes. There is 1975-1976 series which was made based on this character and ran for 23 episodes. Unfortunately the series didn’t continue beyond season 1.

Who played Ellery Queen in the tv series?

Jim Hutton. He was an American actor in film and television and is best remembered for his Ellery Queen role. He is the father of actor Timothy Hutton.

Where can I watch Ellery Queen TV series online?

Amazon has the episodes listed on the streaming section but they are not yet available in the U.S. The DVD edition of the series is available on Amazon (see here).

Books and Magazines Featuring Ellery Queen

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

Ellery Queen’s name is still on an active magazine: Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine or EQMM is the longest running mystery magazine (at least in the U.S.). The first issue was published in the fall of 1941 and contained 7 complete mystery stories from Dashiell Hammett, Margery Allingham, T.S. Stribling, Anthony Abbot, Cornell Woolrich, Fredrick Hazlitt Brennan and Ellery Queen himself.

It’s currently is a bi-monthly American digest size fiction magazine specializing in crime fiction, particularly detective fiction, and mystery fiction. From 1993, EQMM changed its cover title to be Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (without the ‘s), but the table of contents still retains the full name.

Ellery Queen Books

For a complete list of books by Ellery Queen, you can go here but what follows is some of our most favorite titles:

The Roman Hat Mystery. A murder in a crowded Broadway theater presents a full house of suspects—the first in this classic mystery series starring Ellery Queen! Despite the dismal Broadway season, Gunplay continues to draw crowds. A gangland spectacle, it’s packed to the gills with action, explosions, and gunfire.

In fact, Gunplay is so loud that no one notices the killing of Monte Field. In a sold-out theater, Field is found dead partway through the second act, surrounded by empty seats. The police hold the crowd and call for the one man who can untangle this daring murder: Inspector Richard Queen.

With the help of his son Ellery, a bibliophile and novelist whose imagination can solve any crime, the Inspector attacks this seemingly impenetrable mystery. Anyone in the theater could have killed the unscrupulous lawyer, and several had the motive.

Only Ellery Queen, in his debut novel, can decipher the clue of the dead man’s missing top hat.

The Siamese Twin Mystery (American Mystery Classics). When Ellery Queen and his father encounter a raging forest fire during a mountain drive, the only direction to go is up ― up a winding dirt road that leads to an isolated hillside manor, inhabited by a secretive surgeon and his diverse cast of guests. Trapped by the fire, the Queens settle into the uneasy atmosphere of their surroundings. Things become even more tense the following morning when the doctor is discovered dead, apparently shot down while playing solitaire the night before.

The only clue is a torn six of spades. The suspects include a society beauty, a suspicious valet, and a pair of conjoined twins. When another murder follows, the killer inside the house becomes as threatening as the mortal flames outside its walls. Faced with a complex set of alibis, motives, and evidence, Ellery Queen must rely on his powers of deduction and logic to uncover the murderer’s identity ― but can he solve this whodunnit before the fire devours its subjects?

Featuring bizarre circumstances, eerie atmosphere, and a dazzling solution, The Siamese Twin Mystery is a fair play mystery in which the reader has all the necessary information needed to solve the puzzle. The seventh Ellery Queen novel (which can be read in any order), it finds the legendary sleuth facing one of the most memorable cases of his career.

The Dutch Shoe Mystery. When Ellery Queen, described by the London Times as “the logical successor to Sherlock Holmes,” is invited by his friend, a doctor, to witness an operation, he accepts the offer in hopes of furthering his capabilities as an amateur detective, but soon ends up testing those same skills.

The patient who is about to undergo the delicate procedure is Abagail Doorn, the richest and most famous woman in America; the doctor who will perform it is her protégé, one of the leading surgeons on the East Coast. It will all take place in the main operating theater of the vast hospital that she founded.

Relatives and friends, and even some enemies, wait with bated breath to learn the outcome of the operation. The institution is hushed, the audience seated, the theater ready. The surgeon calls for his distinguished patient, and the doors swing open. A still form covered in a white sheet is wheeled into the theater.

But when the sheet is removed, it reveals Ms. Doorn’s corpse, strangled to death with a picture wire. Who among the attendees was ruthless enough to carry out this gruesome operation? It’s up to Ellery Queen―and his most perceptive readers―to uncover the clues and find out.

The American Gun Mystery. When a washed up Hollywood cowboy-turned-circus rodeo actor is shot dead in the midst of his performance at a New York sports-palace, in front of thousands of onlookers, it seems obvious that someone would have seen the perpetrator of the crime―or at the very least, recovered the gun.

But when the ensuing investigation fails to turn up any evidence, even after the newsreels made in the moment are reviewed, the net of suspicion widens across the troupe of performers and the circus staff. Who among them is cunning enough to have constructed such a baffling murder scene?

Unluckily for the murderer, genius sleuth Ellery Queen is among the thousands that witnessed the crime, and he won’t be satisfied until he cuts through the confusion to discover the truth of the execution.

By the time he uncovers all the necessary clues and delivers his patented “Challenge to the Reader,” Queen (and his most careful readers) will be able to expose both the killer and the hiding place of the weapon―the titular American Gun that fired the fatal bullet.

The French Powder Mystery. The windows of French’s department store are one of New York’s great attractions. Year-round, their displays show off the finest in fashion, art, and home décor, and tourists and locals alike make a point of stopping to see what’s on offer. One afternoon, as the board debates a merger upstairs, a salesgirl begins a demonstration in one of the windows, showing off French’s new Murphy bed.

A crowd gathers to watch the bed lower from the wall after a single touch of a button. But as the bed opens, people run screaming. Out tumbles a woman—crumpled, bloody, and dead.

The victim was Mrs. French, wife of the company president, and finding her killer will turn this esteemed store upside down. Only one detective has the soft touch necessary—debonair intellectual Ellery Queen. As Queen and his police inspector father dig into French’s secrets, they find their killer is more serious than any window shopper.

The Greek Coffin Mystery. The scion of a famous New York art-dealing family, Georg Khalkis spent his final years housebound with blindness until he died of a heart attack. After his funeral, his will mysteriously vanishes. Following a thorough search, Inspector Richard Queen’s son, Ellery, suggests checking the coffin, where they discover not one, but two corpses.

When the second body is identified as an ex-convict, it becomes clear they have a murder case on their hands with links to the art world and a da Vinci forgery. It’s up to young Ellery Queen to solve the case in “a lively and well-constructed yarn containing unusual setting, ingenuity of plot, a surprise solution and legitimate use of the analytico-deductive method” (New York Herald Tribune Book Review).

There Was an Old Woman. At the 37th libel suit Thurlow Potts has brought to court to protect the family name, the family’s beleaguered lawyer Charlie Paxton loses the case.

Thurlow seems driven beyond reason to protect the million dollar shoe business of his mother, Cornelia Potts, known to the press as the ‘Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe.’ But some people in the courtroom think Thurlow should be taken seriously, including Ellery Queen, who is looking on while waiting with his father, Inspector Queen of the New York Police Department, for another case.

Afraid Thurlow will make good on his threats, Paxton begs Queen for help. Paxton’s fiancee is Thurlow’s sister, and she secures Queen an invitation to dinner, where Queen meets the extended and unusual Potts family.

But before the meal ends, Thurlow challenges his younger brother to a duel, and not one, but two murders ensue. For the twin victims, and for Queen who must now solve the crimes, the fairytale is over.

The Egyptian Cross Mystery. It’s Christmas in Chicago, and Detective Richard Queen is enjoying a busman’s holiday at a conference on gangland violence – but his son, amateur sleuth Ellery, is bored silly.

Until, that is, Ellery reads of an unusual killing in rural Arroyo, West Virginia. A schoolmaster has been found beheaded and crucified.

Ellery hustles his father into his roadster and heads east, since there is nothing he’d like better for Christmas than a juicy, gruesome puzzle.

When the Queens arrive in Arroyo, they learn that the victim was an eccentric atheist, but not the sort to make enemies. What initially looks to be the work of a sadistic cult turns out to be something far more sinister.

In the months ahead, more victims will turn up all over the world – all killed in the same horrifying manner. It will take several bodies before Ellery divines the clue that unlocks the mystery of the Christmas crucifixion.

*****

Mystery Tribune’s Ultimate Guides provide an overview of major characters and figures in the crime, horror, mystery and thriller world. You can visit our latest guides here.

*****

Photo credit (cover): The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario (TV series)

Log In

Subscribe

Sign up for updates and we'll send you an exclusive story by one of our Edgar-nominated authors.