ELLERY QUEEN: THE ADVENTURE OF AULD LANG SYNE {SERIES PREMIERE} (TV)

Summary

The premiere of this 1970's television revival of this mystery series detailing the investigations of mystery writer Ellery Queen and his father, police inspector Richard Queen.

Richard attends a New Year's Eve party for New York City's rich at the Astor Hotel, celebrating the upcoming year of 1947. Ellery has yet to arrive. At the party, millionaire Marcus Halliday sits at a table with his group, composed of his son Lewis, Lewis's fiancée Lady Daisy Frawley, his secretary Emma Zelman and her fiancée Howard Pratt, his business partner Donald Becker, and his nephew Paul Quincy. He announces to them that he is removing all of them from his will, for various reasons: Paul has been embezzling from his company, Donald has secretly funneled funds from Halliday into his own company, he believes that Lady Frawley is a gold digger marrying Lewis only to get access to the family fortune, and he is mad at Emma for getting married after many years working for him. Marcus leaves and, upon realizing that he is not joking, the remainder of the group separate, somewhat disturbed by this revelation.

Richard makes multiple attempts to call Ellery, who is asleep and does not answer the phone. As he returns to the phone booth to call again, he finds the door wedged shut with a steak knife and Marcus's dead body inside. As Richard calls for hotel security he picks up the unhooked phone and finds that Marcus was on the line with a man named Joseph Kemmelman. Kemmelman, confused, seems to be concerned about his mother-in-law and is unaware of both Marcus's identity and the murder which has just taken place. Richard asks that the hotel seal off the floor to prevent the killer from exiting the building, and he asks the police to pick up Kemmelman and to alert Ellery of the situation. Sergeant Velie goes to Ellery's place and wakes him up, asking him to get to the hotel to aid in the murder investigation.

The police guard every exit to the building, confining the unaware partygoers inside. Richard discovers that the steak knife used to jam the phone booth's door was the murder weapon, and that it came from the table where Marcus and his party were sitting. Meanwhile, Ellery has difficulty getting a taxi ride to the hotel. Richard assembles all the members of Marcus's party, and they immediately start accusing each other of being the murderer. It is confirmed that Marcus was attempting to call his lawyer to finalize the removal of all the members of his party from his will. One of Richard's officers discovers a shirt stud near the scene of the crime and it appears to belong to Lewis's shirt. However, an examination of a photograph from earlier in the night reveals that the stud was missing from his shirt long before the murder, although Richard notes that this does not excuse him as a suspect. Ellery manages to bribe an off-duty cab driver into taking him to the hotel, although they soon become stuck in traffic.

Kemmelman arrives at the hotel, greeted by Richard, who soon learns that he is an undertaker and does not recognize any of the suspects. On the way to the hotel, Ellery remembers that he had a date scheduled with Kitty McBride and frantically tries to salvage the situation by getting her flowers from a closed boutique. Kemmelman explains to Richard that he was sitting in his apartment with his wife preparing for New Year's when he received Marcus's call. All he heard was Marcus wheezing, and he believed it was his mother-in-law suffering a heart attack. He has no prior knowledge of or association with Marcus. Ellery asks the taxi driver to bring him to Kitty's address in the hopes of placating her. Emma pulls Richard aside and explains that she suspects Lewis of being the murderer, since he was supposed to have inherited the bulk of Marcus's estate and the two had recently been having violent quarrels over Lewis's relationship with Lady Frawley. During all this, Howard says he feels queasy and asks to use the men's room. However, when Richard enters the bathroom to retrieve him, he is held at gunpoint by Howard, who plans to use Richard as a hostage to help him escape the hotel. However, with some unintentional aid from Sgt. Velie, Richard manages to disarm Howard and draw him out of the bathroom.

Howard explains the reasons behind his panic: he reveals that he dodged the draft in 1918 by running away to New York and changing his name; he was afraid that if the police took his fingerprints they would discover this fact. He insists that he did not kill Marcus. Meanwhile, Ellery tries to smooth things over with Kitty, but she is bitter at being stood up and rejects Ellery. As the suspects continue to accuse each other, Ellery is delayed by the taxi driver suffering a flat tire. A nearby policeman drives Ellery to the hotel after realizing who his father is. Several guests, mainly ones with important political ties, start asking to leave the party, but Richard cannot let them go yet. He is warned by the police commissioner that if they remain there much longer, the police department could suffer serious trouble. He is given until midnight to solve the case, leaving him very little time.

Ellery finally arrives at fifteen minutes to midnight. Richard quickly brings him up to speed on the details of the case. After briefly questioning Kemmelman and the suspects, Ellery believes he has determined the identity of the murderer. He assembles everyone and explains his conclusion after letting Kemmelman call his wife and return home: Marcus saw the murderer and, lacking paper or writing utensils, used the phone itself to provide a clue as to his killer's identity. He dialed a six-digit phone number, which turned out to belong to Kemmelman, and the numbers corresponded to the letters of one of the suspects' names: Donald Becker, whose last named translated into the number "Beakman-2537." Upon hearing this, Donald attempts to flee but is quickly captured. The clock strikes midnight and the party welcomes in the year 1947. The episode ends as Ellery and Richard drink champagne in celebration, and Kitty arrives to make up with Ellery. Includes commercials.

Details

  • NETWORK: NBC
  • DATE: September 11, 1975 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:57:24
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: B:03521
  • GENRE: Drama, mystery/suspense
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Drama, mystery/suspense
  • SERIES RUN: NBC - TV series, 1975-1976
  • COMMERCIALS: TV – Commercials – Triscuit wafers^TV – Commercials – All bleach^TV – Commercials – MG automobiles^TV – Commercials – Johnson's shampoo^TV – Commercials – Kodak cameras^TV – Commercials – Sherwin-Williams decorations^TV – Commercials – Glade air fresheners^TV – Commercials – Burger King restaurant^TV – Commercials – Volkswagen automobiles^TV – Commercials – No Nonsense pantyhose^TV – Commercials – Alka-Seltzer antacid^TV – Commercials – "The Best of Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures" motion picture

CREDITS

    • Richard Levinson … Executive Producer, Developed by, Writer
    • William Link … Executive Producer, Developed by, Writer
    • Michael Rhodes … Producer
    • David Greene … Producer, Director
    • Peter S. Fischer … Producer, Writer
    • Ellery Queen … Based on characters created by
    • Elmer Bernstein … Music by
    • Jim Hutton … Cast, Ellery Queen
    • David Wayne … Cast, Inspector Richard Queen
    • Joan Collins … Cast, Lady Daisy Frawley
    • David F. Doyle … Cast, Donald Becker
    • Herb Edelman … Cast, Taxi Driver
    • Farley Granger … Cast, Paul Quincy
    • Guy Lombardo … Cast, Himself
    • Karen Machon … Cast, Kitty McBride
    • Charles Knox Robinson … Cast, Lewis Halliday
    • Barbara Rush … Cast, Emma Zelman
    • Ray Walston … Cast, Howard Pratt
    • Tom Reese … Cast, Sgt. Velie
    • Arch Johnson … Cast, The Commissioner
    • George Wynner … Cast, Joseph Kemmelman
    • Peggy Rea … Cast, Madge Velie
    • Joseph Perry … Cast, Rawson
    • Lou Guss … Cast, McCoy
    • William Lanteau … Cast, Avery Dickson
    • Thayer David … Cast, Marcus Halliday