Cast & Crew
Faced with his doctor's diagnosis that death is imminent, John Braun, a physical culturist, prepares a new will that eliminates his daughter Barbara's inheritance in order to thwart her marriage to his own physician, James Rogers, with whom she has run away. To locate her missing daughter, Mrs. Braun summons the redoubtable Inspector Queen, and when Queen's son Ellery, a mystery writer, overhears the disappearance story, he determines to find the missing Barbara and provide himself with a juicy plot. Ellery visits the address given to him by Mrs. Braun and there meets Nikki Porter, an aspiring mystery writer. When Ellery mistakes Nikki for Barbara and orders her to return home with him, she accompanies him to the Braun estate and disappears inside the house, where Braun is announcing his plans to sell the business. Upon returning to his father's office to announce triumphantly that he has found the missing Barbara, Ellery is greeted by the real Barbara and her finace. Realizing his mistake, Ellery returns to the estate and finds Nikki with Braun's dead body. Feeling guilty for involving her in the case, Ellery helps Nikki escape from the police and offers her refuge at the Queen apartment. Soon afterward, Inspector Queen and the police arrive, and when Braun's nurse testifies that she saw Nikki in the house, Nikki becomes the prime murder suspect. To conceal Nikki's identity from his father, Ellery pretends that she is the new maid. The mystery deepens when Braun's body disappears from the autopsy room, sending Ellery back to the Braun estate, where he finds the body hidden in a closet. Just as the corpse is loaded onto the coroner's wagon, however, someone drives off with the vehicle, once more depriving the police of evidence. Later, Nikki and Ellery return to the Braun estate, where Ellery finds a raven's feather in the window and follows the bird to a hidden cache that contains Braun's missing will and the dagger by which he met his death. As Nikki hides in the bushes, Ellery announces that Braun's death was a murder and not a suicide. Someone then kidnaps Nikki and speeds away with her in the coroner's truck. Ellery and the police give chase and drive the kidnappers off the road. An autopsy on Braun's body reveals that he was in perfect health, leading Ellery to conclude that Rogers was the murderer because he falsely diagnosed Braun in order to marry Barbara and inherit the Braun fortune.
Katherine De Mille
The working title of this picture was John Braun's Body, and it was the first of seven pictures in Columbia's Ellery Queen series which ran from 1940-42. The series, which was written by Ellery Queen (pseud. of Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee), featured Ralph Bellamy as "Ellery Queen", Charley Grapewin as his Inspector father, Margaret Lindsay as Nikki Porter and James Burke as Inspector Queen's dim-witted aide. In 1942, William Gargan replaced Ralph Bellamy as the main character and went on to make two more films in the series. The last film in the series was Enemy Agents Meet Ellery Queen. For information on other films featuring the characters, for The Spanish Cape Mystery.