To Hell And Back

The dramatic representation of the hero is partially a consequence of the structure as a common soldier in North Africa and Italy and France while also an American in the last quarter of the Second Thirty Years War 1914-1945.

His experiences are seen to coincide with those depicted in Milestone’s A Walk in the Sun and Hawks’ Sergeant York. The magnitude of the work is therefore indicated, although the speed and skill of Hibbs and Doud have always prevented critics from grasping it in their central confusion over the star performance.

Everything about the film is deliberate, at the Volturno there is a discontinuity of time in the rapidity of events, at the death of Pvt. Brandon the battle stops for a moment of cold reality, the high morale of the Division is seen even in its lowest passes, the general course of the war is acknowledged almost obliquely even though maps are shown, the soldier’s tactics are an everyday affair like his bravery.

Pvt. Murphy learned to shoulder responsibility as a boy in Texas during the Depression. Circumstances fail him, he responds instantly.

The cast are given perfect direction and some of the best jokes going (“I invented women”) in an exceptionally fine script introduced by Gen. Smith of SHAEF.


The Case of the Crippled Cougar
Perry Mason

Mitchell’s arrangement of the theme builds dramatically to the revelation that the oil man’s gun is not the murder weapon, then drops the bombshell in court that it is. The embezzlement and double-dealing of the junior bank executive is covered by the murder, then the barrel is switched by a middleman whose dummy company is meant to supply the oil man but serves his own chicanery as well.

These two financiers stand to gain by seeing the oil man put away, though he blames his troubles and his limp on defective equipment and larceny from a tool manufacturer.

The plan is to cap the new well just short of production, thus luring the manufacturer into a bid for the land with stolen securities. But it was the banker who stole them. The oil man’s drilling partner makes a bid for quick cash, and is killed when he recognizes the gunman.

A decisive, advanced and well-developed teleplay, closely related to “The Case of the Unwelcome Well”, and directed with terse evocativeness by Hibbs.


The Case of the Promoter’s Pillbox
Perry Mason

An astonishing prevision, if you will, of Rowdy Yates’ departure from Hollywood.

A promoter double-tickets a divorcée’s chattel mortgage to finance a television pilot, Mr. Nobody, which he stints and plans to abandon, reserving the bulk of the cash for a film unit in Spain.

In response to calls for rewrites, the promoter answers that Rod Serling himself (“the best”) has been hired, and goes on dictating them to a secretary.

There is a great deal of huggermugger surrounding the director’s chagrin, the charming producer, an absconded appraiser, and a pharmacist who claims his script was stolen.

The promoter gives poison to the conscience-stricken mortgage broker, who switches drinks on him. The scribbling pharmacist, who had been expected to take over the family drug store, is accused of the crime but defended by Mason, a friend of whose happens to be Serling, to whom the pharmacist is cheerfully recommended for counsel on literary matters.


The Case of the Hateful Hero
Perry Mason

A police officer is killed during a robbery, his partner is observed fleeing the scene. Evidence suggests that one of the two was in collusion with the robber.

The company treasurer initiated the robbery himself, to destroy records he was using to blackmail an embezzling board member. The object of the blackmail was to secure a vote for acquisition and expansion, then profit by trading stock with inside knowledge.

The two policemen are both innocent, framed by the treasurer’s accomplice, a security guard with a grudge from his days on the force. The guard is found dead after a time, the surviving cop is accused of his murder. Lt. Anderson, the defendant’s cousin, asks Mason to take on the case.


The Case of the Weary Watchdog
Perry Mason

The “honorable” C.C. Chang operates a restaurant favored by Perry and Della. He runs an extortion racket on the side, torturing his countrymen in China to exact large sums from their families abroad.

Chang heroically takes the rap for his son on a charge of speeding, only to give himself an alibi for the murder of his henchman, who has exceeded his authority by dealing in a little straight blackmail on his own, photographs of a drunken spree, that sort of thing.

The cap to this excoriating view of a familiar situation is the Weary Watchdog itself, a stone carving not recognized by Chang as Japanese in origin.


The Case of the Polka Dot Pony
Perry Mason

A variant on the theme of twin heiresses, this time more abstract and personal, a secular version of Martha and Mary.

Attention is paid rather to the various personages who gather around the course of their young lives. The orphanage director, the foster father, a supposed uncle, an investigator, and others.

The question, who was the girl put in the orphanage, is turned in court by Mason, who is their mother? She is found to have died in Europe, leaving a hired companion without resources, who returns for the trial in the guise of her employer.

This secondary theme is from The Man with the Gray Flannel Suit (the father died in a submarine during the war).

The characterizations of the peripherals are extraordinarily acute. One of the girls remembers with pleasure the toy in the title, the other (a stewardess) recalls at the sight of it her nickname, Buttons.


The Case of the Prankish Professor
Perry Mason

He teaches his English students observation by having an assistant shoot him with blanks, then dash out. This time, someone’s put live rounds in the clip. He narrowly escapes.

He’s the author of L’Affaire Annabelle, cribbed from a melancholy student who died pregnant (“it smells but it sells,” his literary agent says). His nom de guerre is seen through by the girl’s sister, who wrote the original outline.

The bullets came from a boyfriend in the bookstore, described as “immature” by the professor’s murderer, the alcoholic wife of the dean of English, who took the poor girl to parties and was blackmailed by the professor, about to lose his income from the book.


The Case of the Deadly Verdict
Perry Mason

Mason’s client is well on her way to the gas chamber by the time he finally cracks the case with sufficient probing and sifting of the likely suspects.

An invalid aunt is attended by and shelters a wayward niece. The nightly medicine is tainted.

An actress and a socialite in the family ponder the fame and disgrace accruing to them respectively, and demand their money. The housekeeper thinks the condemned woman is evil, having caused a lover in Rome to fall off a balcony, then crippling her sister in a car accident.

It’s guilt over this that drives the woman to conceal her alibi, thinking she’s spied on a romantic encounter at the time between her sister’s doctor husband and his nurse.

The last heir has a father in the Amazon, a doctor who prescribes to the aunt. Drake flies south to meet him, but too late, the son is in line to inherit once the defendant has been convicted.

There is an elaborate scheme to substitute the tainted medicine which is revealed to Mason in the killer’s ignorance of a new prescription by the victim’s doctor.

The housekeeper, who had seen a woman fleeing the house, confronts the male heir and is nearly strangled by him shortly in travesty (an effect recalling Hitchcock’s Psycho, or even Huston’s The List of Adrian Messenger).


The Case of the Reluctant Model
Perry Mason

A dealer arranges for her to take painting lessons in Cuernavaca as payment for her unwitting collusion in his slander of a Gauguin Bathers owned by a wealthy but ignorant collector who prizes it from his wife’s bedroom to adorn the saloon of his motor yacht, an invitation to the press gives occasion.

The bohemian painter who has more than one Gauguin under his belt praises the “seagoing pad”, he makes small profit on the deal, whereas the dealer has an opulent fee but winds up dead in the student’s bathtub.

The costly Gauguin was sold as genuine by a lady dealer who stands to lose her reputation, Mason prepares to defend the painting.

It never goes to court, Gauguin died poor, Jonathan Latimer has an extremely intricate artifice to represent the whole equation, calmly accepted as par for the course by Hibbs.

Latimer’s orchestration of the novel identifies its two main strands and presents them as anecdotes.

An art expert uses an art student as a beard to suggest that the Gauguin Tahitian Bathers in a private collection is a fake, and countersues the owner, saying his initial remarks were misconstrued (Mason realizes he’s fallen into the “false-suit trap” and is a “prize boob”). At the gallery that supplied the Gauguin, the owner wants to buy a nude and is informed it’s been sold, though the buyer has changed his mind since hearing of the Gauguin. The nude model was the art student, whose tuition to the American Art School in Cuernavaca is paid by the art expert.

The owner and his wife are divorcing. Each buys a copy of the Gauguin through the expert, to deceive the other. The beatnik painter is given $300 for each copy, from the expert’s $10,000. The inequity of this drives the painter to murder.


The Case of the Reckless Rockhound
Perry Mason

The main action takes place before the teleplay opens. Around the Burgess Mining Co. has grown the desert town of Burgess, which is up in arms when a manager closes the mine. He wrests a fortune from the company, accidentally kills the founder in a fight and makes off to South America. The widow repays the losses from her store of diamonds found as a young anthropologist, the mine reopens “for the People of Burgess, California”.

Some time later, his fortune gone, the manager returns at the behest of the town banker’s young assistant, who has a scheme to bilk the widow, not knowing her diamonds have gone for debts and now are merely rock candy in her safety deposit box. The banker knows, and has been supplying collateral for her loans from his personal savings.

The opening lines are as poetic as Shakespeare’s. Reelin’ Pete, a Burgess employee whose moniker is his own and not his jeep’s, he confesses, laments the time spent parking and walking in town, “horses was better”.


The Case of the Deadly Debt
Perry Mason

Robert C. Dennis’s teleplay is a masterpiece of infolded perspectives which upon examination reveal exhaustive analysis and endless vistas. His model is Chandler’s, his method is tight compression into poetic constructions that tell the tale in few words. Ed Talbert lives in Barstow, lost his orange grove, ran a hardware store. The syndicate enterprise with its various franchises is known as Amusements Diversified.

There are ways of looking at the construction, following a parallel of Talbert’s life and Steve Radom’s, a wealthy mobster now dying; the two sons, a cop and a nightclub pianist; the shifty partners in the crooked scheme. Analysis of this will prove edifying.

But in the final analysis, many of these facets will be seen to coalesce into a feminine image of the world as nexus of temporality and eternity, and this will come as something of a surprise to professors of culture when they tot up the ledger of television’s contribution to their subject.

It will be noted further that Dickens’ Great Expectations and Maté’s Branded figure in the equation.

Hibbs concurs in all this faceted material as the sound basis of the concrete art of images which makes for the classic television style of this series. He exploits, if that is the word, every opportunity for dry expression, as when the bar ornament “frames” Steve Talbert, but is content to marvel at each of these embodiments of the structure as they arise in the way of business.

A beautiful interior of Union Station sets the scene as an establishing shot.


The Case of the Laughing Lady
Perry Mason

An intricate, ornate piece of writing by Orville H. Hampton puts Hibbs through his paces in a tale of an industrialist who invests in a string of art galleries to peddle fakes manufactured in the East. The linchpin is an art writer who blackmails those involved and is murdered. The blame is placed on his poor girlfriend, a troubled young woman who in prison awaiting trial rails against justice that can be bought, vexing her second lawyer, Perry Mason, but moving him to take her case pro bono.

The title refers to the real culprit as believed at first, but the nonexistent female heard at a posh televised art opening for charity and earlier at the murder scene is actually a bird in a cage of Chinese manufacture destroyed in the Boxer Rebellion yet miraculously present in court, where being uncovered at the end of Mason’s cross-examination, the industrialist is convicted on the bird’s characteristic response to light.


The Case of the Carefree Coronary
Perry Mason

Construction workers fake heart attacks for disability payments. The means of inducement is a drug unknown to physicians and discovered in the Mato Grosso by a phony French “cardiopathist”. One of the men is requested to show up for an examination and is killed on the way with an overdose. A coroner’s inquest is held, Paul Drake having secretly filmed the man exercising vigorously at home during his supposed convalescence. The cardiopathist testifies that the strain of traveling even a short distance to see a doctor of Mason’s killed him.

Drake goes undercover, is found out and nearly killed in the same way. He’s saved by treatment for poisoning rather than erroneously for coronary arrest. The construction foreman is found to be the ringleader.

A brilliant, incisive script by Orville H. Hampton, directed to the point by Hibbs with a great cast.


The Case of the Golden Girls
Perry Mason

The literary theme is sprung from “The Case of the Vagabond Vixen” by way of “The Case of the Envious Editor” to combine these two effectively in a clear and limpid metaphor, and a rare second instance of the literary magazine as object of consideration.

Golden Bear Magazine and the Golden Bear men’s clubs are a public company taken over by a promoter of girls. The usurper is made a target of blackmail, he is murdered and the original owner is accused.

The defendant’s secretary did the deed out of loyalty. It sounds succinct, and is Love’s Labour’s Lost. The house photographer stays on briefly to shoot “wildlife” as before, and is fired for observing (like Vidor’s Hans Christian Andersen) a quarrel between the new owner and his wife, who is having an affair with the photographer.

The blackmailing girl gets a job as a Teddy Bear at one of the clubs. The new centerfold in the reconstituted magazine is a Golden Bear.


The Case of the Fanciful Frail
Perry Mason

A woman is jilted by a co-worker who absconds with $50,000 of company funds she’s responsible for. She goes off to find him, and crosses paths with another woman who has absconded with $50,000 of counterfeit money from one of the biggest operations the U.S. Treasury has faced. Both being pursued, they agree to exchange identities and meet in Tijuana. The second woman is killed in an accident, and the first now has the false cash.

The script by Orville H. Hampton and Ernest Frankel occupies a place between Hollow Triumph (The Scar) and The Passenger (Professione: Reporter). It gives Hibbs a central scene filmed uncannily with a handheld camera by flashlight: a man searching a dark apartment, killed by another who takes a key from the body, finds a stack of bills in another apartment, carries them to a metal urn on a sideboard and burns them.


The Case of the Final Fadeout
Perry Mason

This is very close to Ellery Queen: The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario, but the PR man didn’t kill the arrogant star by accident, it was the writer (his name is Leif Early), who didn’t like seeing his work cavalierly disregarded.

It’s certainly a serious matter, but the quietly festive atmosphere of this last episode in the series is meant to inaugurate its reviewings as a whole.

Amid innumerable touches of wit is the very first, a fight in a boxcar with audible effort but no sound from another train passing at high speed the other way visibly in the open door, and then the director says “cut”.


The Night of the Lord of Limbo
The Wild Wild West

Hibbs is a very weighty proposition. The theme or device is time travel. West once served as aide-de-camp to Gen. Grant and commandeered a house at Vicksburg for his headquarters.

The owner of Live Oak Manor, Noel Bartley Vautrain, is now a legless veteran of the Confederate Army, the house is dismal. He has “faith that can move the fabled mountains,” by an exhausting effort of will he can exploit “a warp in the fabric of space and go voyaging through its fourth dimension, time.”

As Abu the Magnificent, stage performer, he kidnaps Gordon for an experiment by inviting him to sit upon “King Solomon’s Throne”. All on stage disappear, Abu, Vautrain’s niece Amanda (who was supposed to select West), the throne and Gordon, leaving only “the Sword of Ishtar” (“with this, all things are possible”).

West traces the initials on it to a regimental club in Vicksburg, where he is admitted as a member of a unit that “traded shots with yours during the late unpleasantness.” There is a fight nevertheless, the club’s Negro barman slips him the address with a tight smile.

And so it is that West fights a duel with Jack Maitland, who is Gordon, an angrily affronted man who will not accept an apology (for what offense West does not know). Gunmen rob the dueling party, West’s second and Maitland are killed, a jubilant invention by Vautrain.

Back in time they go, the house is bright, Vautrain’s limbs are restored, Gen. Pemberton (“idiot”) has hidden dynamite in the house, Vautrain will blow himself up to destroy Grant, Lee cannot be defeated by another general.

A shell bursts through and causes Vautrain’s legs to be crushed, a Union shell. West put a tourniquet on his wounds during the war, later remarked upon the bitter fantasist, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” Now he and Gordon consider him to have “fallen while fighting”.

Vautrain’s last act had been to order them out of the house, it burns down and blows up finally. Against West’s advice, Gordon tries to make a factual report of the case but, spluttering, concludes “printing the legend” were the better part.


Two for One Raid
The Rat Patrol

The Allies have a clue where German munitions are to be landed by parachute at one of two locations five miles apart in the desert. The patrol chooses the wrong one and finds an Arab boy wearing an Iron Cross around his neck.

The convoy is already there at the other rendezvous, commanded by the boy’s father.

Sgt. Troy remembers his father’s death, goes in and captures this colonel, before the patrol destroys the convoy and the munitions.

The grateful boy (who is not an Arab, his late mother was French, they lived in Algeria) gives Sgt. Troy his father’s Iron Cross.

A typically recondite composition by Anthony Lawrence, directed by Hibbs.