25 July 2003 | cjwynes
A good, classic mystery novel brought to your TV screen
For you Rex Stout readers, I needn't tell you that many fans consider The Golden Spiders to be a classic in the Nero Wolfe canon. I consider this, and the series that spun from it, to be solid adaptations of the novels.
As for the user comment prominently featured on the main page:
I see you've never read any of the Nero Wolfe mysteries. As a diehard fan of Rex Stout's portly detective, I can fill you in a little.
Archie Goodwin is indeed the protagonist of all the mysteries, he's the central character, the mysteries are told from his viewpoint. That they are called "Nero Wolfe Mysteries" is not a true incongruency that ought to offend a reader, or a viewer of this film or the subsequent series.
It's my opinion that both this movie, and the series that spun off from it, do Stout's novels justice as well as any video adaptation might. Archie gives the city of New York some flavor and style, and perfectly captures the essence of the 40's and 50's in that city, while somehow simultaneously making the portrayal timeless (the Wolfe novels began in '34 and were written well into the 60's.)
Wolfe is not meant to be *anything* like Sherlock Holmes. Wolfe is irrascible, eccentric, has a very short temper and little tolerance for stupidity, and his relationship with Archie is completely different from that of Holmes to Watson. That Wolfe is in his plant rooms with the orchids from 9-11 and 2-4 without fail (excepting Sundays), never leaves his beloved brownstone residence on West 35th street, and continually bickers with his chef Fritz about every recipe brought into the house, well that's the sort of thing that builds interesting characters. For my taste, Holmes is a dry and uninteresting character, for what it's worth. Wolfe has his flaws, and his share of little perculiar mannerisms, enough to make him interesting.
As for the obligatory scene, where the detective assembles everyone concerned into his office and solves the mystery, well....sure it's not realistic, but it's FUN. At least, for mystery readers it is. Since Wolfe (almost) never leaves his house, and it tickles his enormous vanity to set up such a scene, and Inspector Cramer knows Wolfe can deliver the goods in such a situation, they arrange for one.
I leave this comment so that future mystery novel enthusiasts, and fans of Rex Stout, will know that this film, the subsequent full-length feature (The Doorbell Rang), and the series is indeed quality material worth checking out.