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Ellery Queen, Master Detective (1940)

Approved | | Adventure, Crime, Drama | 30 November 1940 (USA)
Famed detective and crime novelist Ellery Queen solves a case involving the suspicious death of a rich man whose inheritors fight over his estate.


Kurt Neumann


Frederic Dannay (story) (as Ellery Queen), Manfred Lee (story) (as Ellery Queen) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview:
Ralph Bellamy ... Ellery Queen
Margaret Lindsay ... Nikki Porter
Charley Grapewin ... Insp. Queen
James Burke ... Sgt. Velle
Michael Whalen ... Dr. James Rogers
Marsha Hunt ... Barbara Braun
Fred Niblo ... John Braun
Charles Lane ... Dr. Prouty
Ann Shoemaker ... Lydia Braun
Marion Martin ... Cornelia
Douglas Fowley ... Rocky Taylor
Morgan Wallace ... Zachary
Byron Foulger ... Amos
Katherine DeMille ... Valerie Norris


The mysteriously ill John Braun makes a new will, leaving out his daughter Barbara, over the protests of his wife. The trouble began when the daughter wanted to marry Mr. Braun's doctor, James Rogers. Mrs. Braun asks Inspector Queen to help find the long-missing Barbara. The inspector's son, Ellery, works on the case. He goes to a home frequently visited by Dr. Rogers where the bell is answered by Nikki Porter who Ellery mistakes for Barbara and insists she return to the Braun home. Nikki does, to protect Barbara, and a short time later finds herself alone in a room outside Braun's bedroom. She finds him dead - his throat cut. No weapons are found and the door to the room where Nikki had been is locked, and she is suspected. Ellery hides Nikki in his apartment. Braun's body, sent for an autopsy, disappears and in its place is a life-sized statue of the dead man. Elley finds the body in a closet, the police prepare to send it downtown but someone drives off with the ambulance. Ellery, ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


HE'S ON THE SCREEN NOW! (original poster-all caps)


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Release Date:

30 November 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

John Braun's Body See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The Film Daily - Hollywood - Tuesday, Feb. 20, 1940: Producer Larry Darmour has closed on the film rights to more than 30 "Ellery Queen" mystery novels and the weekly transcontinental radio broadcasts. He has exclusive picture rights for three years and will make two or three pictures a year, possibly for distribution by Columbia Pictures Corporation. See more »


Ellery Queen: You are not much of a talker... for a woman.
Nikki Porter: The company, no doubt, for a private dectetive, you are rather dull.
See more »


Followed by Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

This time it's Ralph Bellamy as Ellery Queen
4 September 2016 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Ralph Bellamy stars as Ellery Queen in Ellery Queen, Master Detective, from 1940. Margaret Lindsay plays Nikki Porter, here a competitor and a potential love interest of Ellery's. Charles Grapwin plays Inspector Queen.

John Braun, who owns a fitness company and is a perfect specimen, finds out from his doctor that he's terminally ill. The next day, he changes his will, disinheriting his family and putting everything in the hands of the company.

His daughter (Marsha Hunt) is estranged from him, and Nikki goes to talk to him about the situation. He's signed the will and locked himself in his study.

Nikki waits a while and then finds out that she can't leave as the other door is locked. When she and Ellery finally get the door open, they find Braun dead from stabbing. The will and the murder weapon are gone. Ellery tells Nikki that as of now, she's the only one who could have done it.

I haven't seen all the actors who have played Ellery Queen by any means - I remember George Nader when I was a child and Jim Hutton later on. The Jim Hutton series was marvelous. The George Nader version may have been live TV -- for some reason I distinctly remember him saying murtel and then correcting himself and saying murder.

Bellamy is excellent, giving a spirited, light performance. He has good chemistry with Lindsay and with Charles Grapwin. His Ellery is super-smart and on the sarcastic side. "There's a door," Nikki says. "Oh, thank you," Ellery says. "I never would have found it."

Margaret Lindsay is marvelous as Nikki, who goes after a plot that Ellery wanted to use in his next book, that of this locked room mystery. He hides her in his house, and the next day introduces her as their new cook. She can't even boil water and incurs the ire of Inspector Queen.

I liked it - director Kurt Neumann keeps this 65-minute film moving. The plot is clever, and the film is enjoyable. Look for Charles Lane, who died in 2007 at the age of 102.

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