Monday, May 16, 2011

Ellery Goes to the Carny

To continue today’s Ellery Queen theme, I’m embedding below a full episode from The Adventures of Ellery Queen, a half-hour, black-and-white series broadcast by the now long-defunct DuMont Television Network, beginning in October 1950. This installment of the program, titled “The Hanging Acrobat,” was shown originally on December 21, 1950. It stars Richard Hart, a mustachioed stage and film performer who appeared as Ellery until January 1951, when he died suddenly from a heart attack at age 35. He was subsequently replaced on the series by Lee Bowman.

“The Hanging Acrobat” is more than a little melodramatic, and I defy you to figure out whodunit before Ellery confronts the killer. But as a historical piece, this video is pretty remarkable--not available on DVD, and not often seen otherwise. The Adventures of Ellery Queen was the first of four Queen series to appear on the small screen.

READ MORE:Ellery Queen: Long May They Reign,” by TomCat
(Detection by Moonlight).


Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating relic from the days of Live TV. "The Hanging Acrobat" was a Queen short that appeared in the 1933 collection The Adventures of Ellery Queen. The clues, motive & culprit are the same here but that's about it. The story is set in vaudeville, not a carny, and the usual supporting cast of Dad Queen, Velie & Doc Prouty are on board. The melodramatic last third of the tv episode is all made-for-tv.

But I've got to ask, what does a "Hurdy Gurdy" have to do with any of this? A hurdy gurdy is a sort of mechanical violin you hang around your neck and play by turning a crank. Maybe you were thinking of a steam calliope, associated with circuses & carnivals, which the organist is vainly trying to imitate on his cheesy organ.
Art Scott

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Hey, Art:

Yes, when I came up with the original title for this post, "Ellery and the Hurdy Gurdy," I was indeed thinking of a calliope, in reference to the background music from this TV episode. I guess I haven't attended enough old-fashioned carnivals to know the difference. I have changed the title, rather than live with the eternal shame of getting my musical instruments mixed up. ;)