Monday, 9 July 2012


Nero Wolfe, the literary detective created by American novelist Rex Stout in 1934, has been adapted several times for cinema, radio, and television. The orchid-growing gourmet sleuth, who rarely leaves his house and sends his trusted assistant Archie Goodwin on the crime scenes, is particularly appreciated in Italy.

Between 1969 and 1971,
Italian pubcaster RAI produced ten Nero Wolfe TV movies based on the books published in Italy by Mondadori in its collection I Classici del Giallo. Hugely popular, they starred Tino Buazzelli as Wolfe and Paolo Ferrari as Archie. 43 years later, RAI brings back the detective duo in a 8 X 90-minute series.

Aired between april and may on RAI Uno, the new Nero Wolfe is made by actor Luca Barbareschi's prodco Casanova Multimedia (Zodiaco, the Italian version of the French miniseries Zodiaque) for RAI Fiction. Francesco Pannofino and Pietro Sermonti, who both played in the sitcom Boris (2007-2010) and its subsequent film, are the new Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.

« Salve! Mi chiamo Archie Goodwin. »

1959, the great American detective and his assistant arrive in Rome from New York. Wolfe is in a "voluntary exile" because of some disagreements between him and the boss of the FBI. His priorities are to set up a greenhouse for his precious orchids and to find a cook able to satisfy his refined palate, but he rapidly also gets food for his deductive genius. Goodwin provides the field work and gathers information as usual. Nero Wolfe 2012 is adapted from the work of Rex Stout by Piero Bodrato (La Piovra 10), Graziella Giardello, Roberto Jannone and Alessandro Sermonetta. Bodrato is also head writer.

The production from Casanova Multimedia intends to maintain a bond with the beloved previous RAI version although the 1969 adaptation was set in "New York", thanks to insert shots of the town, but filmed by director Giuliana Berlinguer in Italian soundstages. Nero Wolfe keeps the atmosphere of the classic series while transplanting the main characters in the Rome setting for a period crime drama. Not unlike what French detective series Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie did with classic Christie stories set in 1930s and later 1950s France.

This process works rather well, helped by the physique of Francesco Pannofino, the way he portrays Wolfe and his proven teaming with Pietro Sermonti. The 2012 transposition of Nero Wolfe is very pleasant, like its cool and stylish score composed by La Femme Piège (Andrea Toso and Mattia Donna). Other cast members include Andy Luotto as Nanny Laghi, the new chef of the Wolfe household, Giulia Bevilacqua (Distretto di polizia) as reporter Rosa Petrini, and Marcello Mazzarella as Commissioner Graziani.

Saverio D'Ercole is the creative producer and Claudio Gaeta exec produces. Lorenza Bizzarri produces for RAI and Luca Barbareschi is the producer for Casanova Multimedia. La traccia del serpente, the premiere episode, is adapted from the novel Fer de Lance and directed by Riccardo Donna (Nebbie e delitti, Un medico in famiglia).

See also: (Mattia Donna - Official website)