Watching the detective

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Watching the detective

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1AdonisGuilfoyle
Jan 12, 2008, 9:43 am

Or just imagining him. How do you 'see' Archie, if at all, when reading the books? Does he have the red-but-not-quite hair that Stout gave him, or darker hair like Timothy Hutton? I think Stout only followed up his narrator's physical description in one novel, Mother Hunt, where Lon Cohen comments on Archie's sunburn, which is in keeping for someone with fair hair and a pale complexion. 'Grey' eyes (as with nearly every other character) or blue? I personally can't picture Stout's Archie, so I just think of a generic 'gumshoe' figure - tall, dark, ruggedly handsome, etc. - with perhaps a slightly larger build! I'm also pleasantly biased towards Timothy Hutton ;)

2MrsLee
Jan 12, 2008, 2:51 pm

Hmmm, in my mind he has darkish hair and eyes, slim muscular build, graceful, like a cat. I never picture him as tall or short, mostly average. Timothy Hutton certainly has the sparkle of mischief in his eyes that I see in Archie's. Hutton isn't dead on for me, but not bad.

3cogitno
Editado: Jan 12, 2008, 8:02 pm

I have never shaken my early impression of Archie as a William Holden look-a-like: the William Holden of the 1940's or early 50's. Maybe I'd just seen one of his movies (Stalag 17, Bridge on the River Kwai, or Sabrina). Timothy Hutton bears little physical resemblance with my perception of Archie; though his characterisation is terrific, if a little exaggerated.

Rex Stout's description of Archie, from a "Not or Publication Confidential Memo" dated 15 September, 1949:

"Height 6 feet, Weight 180 lbs. Age 32. Hair is light rather than dark, but just barely decided not to be red ... then stuff about shaving and hair dressing habits. His feature are all regular, well- modeled and well-proportioned, except the nose. It is not a true pug and is by no means a deformity. He escapes the curse of being a move actor type only through the nose ... a detailed anatomical exploration of his nose follows. The eyes are grey, and are inquisitive and quick to move. He muscular both in appearance and in movement, and upright in posture, but his shoulders tend to stoop a little in unconscious reaction to Wolfe's repeated criticism that he is to self assertive."

4AdonisGuilfoyle
Jan 13, 2008, 1:51 pm

Yep, that's the description that defeats me! It's the nose - I can't imagine such a nose (although I'm glad it's not a pug nose. Ugh.) And every other character in Stout's stories has grey eyes, bar those that are 'dark', so I've mentally retouched Archie's eyes with the brilliant blue of Timothy Hutton's!

I saw William Holden in 'Gilda', and immediately nominated him for a fantasy casting of Archie, but then I thought him a little creepy ... The physical appearance is close, though, with the tough yet handsome features, and the mix of vulnerability and hardness in his expressions. I've always thought that Archie's attractiveness comes from his personality and self-confidence: he plays it like he doesn't care what anybody thinks of him, but then reveals a hidden sensitivity, something in his eyes, and people - particularly women! - fall for him.

I've overanalysed this, perhaps!

5MrsLee
Jan 13, 2008, 10:12 pm

I could go for the William Holden Archie. I will never see Archie as fair haired, I don't care what Mr. Stout says. :) I suppose I simply put the nose on him I want too. Pug would not be good, but most others wouldn't bother me.

6AdonisGuilfoyle
Jan 14, 2008, 4:42 am

No, I didn't see William Holden in 'Gilda', that was Glenn Ford *headdesk* That's why he didn't get a callback on my fantasy casting list, Glenn Ford *is* creepy! (Think first, then type!) Both Holden and Ford were in 'The Man From Colorado', weren't they? Anyway, I think Holden has the look that Stout was aiming for, bar the colouring - wasn't Humphrey Bogart's name mentioned? (I can't imagine Bogart as Archie - too slow.)

7MrsLee
Jan 14, 2008, 10:23 am

Watch him (William Holden), in Paris When it Sizzles. Very fun. Audrey Hepburn is in it too.

8etrainer
Jan 16, 2008, 1:20 pm

I know I have something to say about this topic, I just can't think of what it is.
(Distracted by a sudden plant closing and impending loss of employment - most of my computer time is spent on a job search - anybody need a good chemical engineer out there?)

9MrsLee
Jan 16, 2008, 2:40 pm

So sorry etrainer! Hope you find something very soon. *Hug* Oh, I don't even know what a chemical engineer does, let alone have any money to employ one. ;)

10laytonwoman3rd
Jan 25, 2008, 1:45 pm

When I first started reading Stout (early teens), I envisioned Archie as my Uncle Edgar, who was not that tall, had very dark hair, brown eyes and fairly thick glasses. He was handsome in a kind of a geeky way, but his attitude was all Archie. I hadn't seen too many movies at the time, so my models for fictional characters were mostly real people. I loved Timothy Hutton's portrayal. Nobody is mentioning any of the other characters, but I thought Maury Chaykin nailed Wolfe, too.

11MrsLee
Jan 25, 2008, 4:08 pm

#10 - After the first few episodes, I would agree. Also liked the Fritz character, and I think that the Saul and Cramer characters, or Lon Cohen and Cramer, switched, and I liked it better after the switch. It's been a long time since I've watched.

12ostrom
Fev 7, 2008, 11:32 pm

I liked Hutton as Archie well enough, but I see Archie as a bit scrappier than Hutton, a little more hard-bitten. Archie came to be, after all, not long after the Great Depression. Hutton had the patter down, but he was a bit too graceful and elegant. I thought Chaykin was terrific; through no fault of his own, he just wasn't physically immense enough. Saul Rubinek first played Lon Cohen, and then he switched to playing Saul Panzer, and the Lon Cohen character disappeared. In the books, Cohen usually helps advance the plot, but for a screenplay, he's probably extraneous.

13etrainer
Fev 8, 2008, 2:47 pm

I've watched about 6 of the 8 DVD's in this series. As I said somewhere else here, I did not quite buy Hutton's Archie. I admit he did grow on me however and I am enjoying the series. I think ostrum is pretty well on the money in the message above. I'm not so sure about Chaykin, however. He seemed a little too much like he was acting. And I don't think Wolfe barked and rushed about as much as Chaykin does in the series. I guess I imagined both Archie and Wolfe as more restrained and sarcastic. Not so animated as the actors played the characters. Maybe I didn't read closely enough, but that is my impression.

14MrsLee
Fev 8, 2008, 6:21 pm

I guess I imagined both Archie and Wolfe as more restrained and sarcastic. Not so animated as the actors played the characters.

I read them the same way, but I think I made allowances for the performers because the whole show was more like theater than movies or TV. Once I was in the "drama" mode, I didn't mind them so much.

15MrsLee
Ago 9, 2011, 7:29 pm

I just caved and bought the first season of the A&E shows on DVD. Had to. I don't have a VHS player anymore. :)

16TLCrawford
Ago 10, 2011, 9:49 am

When reading the books I see Archie most often as a sober version of William Powell’s Thin Man. Tim Hutton worked for me except when he had to stare down Crammer or some random tough guy. In the book I saw the twinkle in Archie’s eyes disappear down a black abyss when he had to confront someone. (William Powell also always failed with this in the Thin Man movies)

Wolfe is described as having a rough beginning in life; I pictured the same for Archie. That commonality is what, in my mind, drew them together and gave them both the fortitude to never back down.

17MrsLee
Ago 10, 2011, 8:11 pm

Interesting, TLC. William Powell doesn't do it for me, but I agree with the eyes. I need to go ponder my lists of modern actors again, because, let's face it, Timothy Hutton is now too old to play Archie!

18AndreaKHost
Ago 10, 2011, 10:09 pm

In some ways he'd be wrong for it, but I do think Guy Pearce would make an interesting Archie.

19MrsLee
Ago 11, 2011, 10:04 pm

Andrea, yeah, I can see that, wonder if he can dance? :)

20etrainer
Ago 13, 2011, 9:13 pm

Wow, life in this topic. Hi, MrsLee - long time no type. New job with long hours keeps me off my computer these days.

21AndreaKHost
Ago 13, 2011, 10:54 pm

Well, he did manage a few snappy numbers in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. :)

22MrsLee
Ago 14, 2011, 2:31 am

Hi etrainer. Long hours here too. I've only managed to watch "The Doorbell Rang" so far. I love that show, but the actor for Wolfe blusters too much. He improves later, if I recall.