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.
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A very rare and priceless Chinese postage stamp is stole as its thief claims two victims in a hotel,, both of whom are murdered in inexplicably locked rooms. Young Ellery romances the stamps beautiful owner, Josephie Temple, while working with his father, Inspector Queen to solve the baffling case and expose the killer.Written by
The Mandarin Mystery is what happens when you take a fairly standard locked room mystery, add a little too much romance, and season the mix with an ample supply of humor. Eddie Quillian brings a lot to the role and really makes it his own, despite the fact that his take on Queen is somewhat different from the usual character we are so used to seeing. Quillian's just as bright, not as serious, and apparently has the libido of a teenage boy.
Queen spends as much time pursuing the lovely victim of a theft which appears connected to the murder (Charlotte Temple) as he does the murderer and thieves, and a long deductive chain is compressed into a pithy film with an economical script. The acting talent is somewhat uneven. Ms Temple gives a sub-par performance, Quillian is excellent, and Wade Boteler as the senior inspector Queen does well doubling as Ellery's straight man and a gruff old no-nonsense cop.
Although made in 1936, The Mandarin Mystery's story, pace, camera work, themes, and sets have the feel of a late 1950s TV mystery show.
Because of the way the original novel was adapted, the logic of the deduction which leads to the resolution of the case is not as clearly spelled out as it could have been. Nevertheless, the film will interest mystery fans who enjoy the hardcore analytical aspects of detective work as depicted in traditional mystery novels (Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle fans for example), and, of course, Ellery Queen aficionados.
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