The Case of the Singular Double
Perry Mason

A crooked public official has a pipeline to a New York factotum, secretary to secretary, funneling funds cross-country from a tract-home builder. One of the girls wants out, fakes a suicide that actually kills the other.

And there you have it, politics.


The Case of the Wintry Wife
Perry Mason

She nearly froze to death, once, and never got over the shock. Her husband has an undersea navigation device the Navy wants to buy, but she’d prefer to see it destroyed.

Her murder puts his new mistress on trial.


The Case of the Cowardly Lion
Perry Mason

It would not attack, but there’s a man in its cage apparently clawed to death. He had been smuggling pharmaceutical drugs from Europe, secreted in the cages of animals shipped to the zoo. One of the staff asks for a larger share and is refused, with the result as described. The lion is implicated only to deflect blame from its trainer.


The Case of the Duplicate Daughter
Perry Mason

Two heiresses, twin offspring of a Greenwich Village romance, are traced by a Las Vegas private investigator (the unseen murder victim, Vera M. Martel) to Northern and Southern California.


The Case of the Impatient Partner
Perry Mason

Arson is the crime at first, then murder. The partner has a plan to embezzle company funds and sell patents away. The accused believes his wife’s having an affair with him, knows nothing of the scheme, and has been out of the country preparing a business deal entirely unaware his foreign partner’s negotiating behind his back.

The scheme is undone by the greed of an accomplice, the partner’s partner, as it were.


The Case of the Travelling Treasure
Perry Mason

This extraordinary composition is in two parallel lines that never meet but are mirror images of each other. A theft of ingots from the Alchemy Gold Mines and an absconding promoter come to a stop in the waters of Ensenada when he is murdered, but he knows nothing about the gold on his chartered boat, and the thieves know nothing about his murder.

The promoter’s wife kills him lest he leave her penniless south of the border after collecting insurance on their property. The owner of the boat, a friend of Mason’s, is accused after an argument over back payment for regular weekend trips by the promoter to survey Mexican kelp beds for harvest. A research chemist is brought along each time, who also is not paid. The regular diver is replaced ingeniously on the last trip, and his substitute ingeniously hides the gold in a kelp bed.

Mason’s fishing trip on this same boat is canceled at the last moment by the thieves’ plan, but he takes a Coast Guard cutter to find the solution, and gets his fishing trip after all.


The Case of the Absent Artist
Perry Mason

Lumet’s Bye Bye Braverman refines this blunt satire into a rarefied joke. The Hollywood cartoonist is an artist in Port Harmony and dies there en route to Majorca with the betrothed of his head studio assistant (the strip is called Zingy), but his body is found “expelled from the temple of art,” that is to say in Hollywood.

Victor Buono as a sculptor has some pungent lines to begin. “In art, logic is the enemy of intuition.” A chum agrees, to his displeasure. “Why must you always intellectualize? Lash out at me. An artist must first of all be an anarchist.” A rival is praised, the one shortly murdered. “A yogi. I repudiate him.” The sculptor is a hanger-on of his.

Zasu Pitts tries the patience of the court in a comic routine as the artist’s landlady that would make a cat burglar laugh. Perry Mason is inspired, however, to heights of gravity by it.

The double life of the artist/cartoonist is overseen by his accountant, a juggler who murders him.


The Case of the Ancient Romeo
Perry Mason

Down through the years, Juliets have come and gone in the actor-manager’s troupe, and some have stayed. The latest has a check to start her off. The company hasn’t paid investors for years.

Perry and Della are in the audience on opening night when Paris knocks Romeo down in the fight scene. The house lights come down, and go up on the actor-manager as Romeo like “the county slain”.

His old friend Paris is defended by Mason of course. Who financed the break of Juliet is found at length to have been no-one at all, a forger trying to cover shortage of funds to the tune of dock fees for the crates of costumes shipped in from Johannesburg, their last stop. The costume department is owed money by the management and thought smuggling in real jewels on the costumes would rid itself at last of the despised and scornful actor-manager, whose discovery of this plot and subsequent call to the police made a sudden act of murder deeply desirable.

Swordfighting by the numbers is shown to the audience, and the view-obstructing side-curtains known as a tormentor.


The Case of the Lonely Eloper
Perry Mason

A Freudian fairy-tale, in which the grandmother’s diamonds are withheld from the heiress by her guardian aunt and stolen by her suitor, who gives them to his mistress, the slayer of the guardian. All the heiress has in her suitcase is a bloody knife.

The aim of the murder is to secure the guardian’s husband, from whose knife collection the exotic instrument was taken. The heiress hides the knife, wrapped in a lovely slip such as she herself has not been permitted to wear, so as to protect her uncle.

In the opening, the heiress innocently sleepwalks next door to her cousin, a jovial bachelor. In the end, she has “a big kiss for everybody”.


The Case of the Bogus Books
Perry Mason

The Borgesian plan is matched with a striking image that might have sprung from Sherlock Holmes’ deductive reasoning.

First editions of great value are purloined and replaced with lesser subsequent editions, then slightly altered and sold as finds.

Mason solves the locked-room mystery with a demonstration in court. Flies drawn to the window were asphyxiated with gas, thus a murder by daylight. The bookseller dies along with them, supposedly at night, by means of a fuse box and a gas meter outside.

The opening flurry of customers in the bookstore establishes a miser in his destitute realm. The closing shot of Mason has bookstore departments lit up behind him (“Law” and “Arts”), and an American flag.


The Case of the Capricious Corpse
Perry Mason

A wealthy man has an heir who conspires with a disinherited nephew to share the legacy, no matter which of the two inherits. Both are stricken from the will in favor of the heir’s wife. She is intent on maintaining the founder’s youth foundation despite her husband’s debile unconcern and the nephew’s desire for extravagant gallivanting abroad.

The husband is found dead of his heart ailment. A scheme is hastily devised to sustain his existence during the founder’s last illness, so that the terms of the will can be met.

A samurai suit of armor is missing from the estate, one of a pair. The body is tossed in a lake, a charade is played in its name at a hotel, the founder dies, his late heir that was is made to vanish over a seaside cliff.

A police investigation finds the armor rusting at the bottom of the lake, and the body out at sea. An unfaithful husband but loyal for the sake of an inheritance, hence given the wrong heart medication by a jealous mistress, the wife of a physician who exchanged the body and armor to conceal her involvement.

This is the sort of genius (the script is by Jonathan Latimer) for which television writers are seldom if ever noted, let alone praised.


The Case of the Dodging Domino
Perry Mason

A fellow writes a tune, it’s borrowed by an academic who wins the girl, a show composer lifts it (with lyrics, as “Pearls and Jade”) to save his flop in tryouts, a movie producer wants the girl to star in the film version.

The original composer wants money, he’s in debt. Everybody’s jittery over the authorship, except him.

It’s Halloween. Trick-or-treaters come to the door, one of them drops an electric heater into the author’s tub, killing him.

It’s the agent and sometime angel, a short man with a tall chance, wearing a devil costume.


The Case of the Lurid Letter
Perry Mason

The Summit Inn of beautiful Placer Hill, where Mason is fishing, sells liquor to underage local boys, the motorcycle set. One of them attacks the high school principal there, who accidentally kills him. The body is taken to Cactus City and made to look like a road fatality.

A teacher at the high school had taken an interest in the boy, and seems likely to ferret out the truth about the Inn. Therefore she is smeared with an anonymous letter alleging immoral conduct with her students. Some of the boys claim personal knowledge.

The town is in an uproar, the Board of Education holds a meeting presided over by the judge. In the course of these proceedings, the owner of the Summit Inn is found murdered, having been unwilling to stay silent about the boy’s death even after receiving hush money to refurbish the place.


The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe
Perry Mason

The story is mainly refracted through the eyes of the defendant’s niece, Virginia. Uncle George, an overgrown child, goes on binges that begin with putting his keys in an envelope addressed to himself and end with drinking and gambling. Aunt Sarah covers him by making a show of shoplifting at Bon-Ton, a department store.

Valuable diamonds are missing from the office. They are stolen gems peddled by a once-honest broker who murders Uncle George when confronted. A Mrs. Bedford is the pawn in this transaction, the jewels are sold in her name.

Her estranged husband kills the broker. Aunt Sarah is found struck by a car, her purse bears the diamonds and a small pistol.


The Case of the Two-Faced Turn-A-Bout
Perry Mason

The accused is an opposition leader in exile, the victim a hated Interior Minister who has killed the top man in the opposition at home and called it a suicide for the press.

An emissary from the minister offers to sell the murdered man’s papers for a high price. The sale is arranged during a State visit to an amusement park, where the minister is murdered, the money and papers stolen. The emissary denies all.

The attorney in the case is an OSS man from the war, known as Herr Umdrehen. A consortium of businessmen have put up the money for publishing rights. One of them was an OSS commander, who arranged a secret wartime deal with the minister by obtaining a lookalike for his wounded subordinate from the Army. The unpublished papers threaten to reveal that illicit transfer of patent rights, but neither he nor his company is named in them after all.

The papers are published with a dedication to the OSS man and attorney, “Mr. Turn-A-Bout”.


The Case of the Golden Oranges
Perry Mason

The unassuming richness of Jonathan Latimer’s teleplay is like the “handsome retainer” Mason is given for his services, a bowl full of oranges, in the face of freebooters and malfeasants in a deal worth several million.

His client owns a few acres of orange groves needed for the Sunrise Hills project of homes and a shopping center. Without those acres for a parking lot, stores won’t invest.

The orange grower is a Medal of Honor winner at San Juan Hill and has a shotgun at the ready, also a hound dog, setting up a nice reference to “The Hunt” on The Twilight Zone.

The contractor’s wife is having an affair with the developer, the architect is having second thoughts, the bank manager is eyeing the bottom line, and a rival developer wants vengeance for a deal gone sour in Fresno. Furthermore, the question arises if the grower ever was on San Juan Hill, actually Kettle Hill, as he likes to point out.


The Case of the Witless Witness
Perry Mason

An amazing, totally fabricated allegation of fraud against the government (in wartime, yet) is put before the witness in the dock at a Senate Sub-Committee hearing in Los Angeles, striking him dumb.

It’s a plot by a newspaper publisher to oust his rival for the nomination as Lt. Governor, a judge in the District Court of Appeals who has just handed Mason a second defeat at the opening.

What emerges is the story of a party in 1943 where the judge, an Assistant Attorney General one month before his public appointment to the bench and one month after his official naming, describes a case of fraud to a lobbyist or two.

A bit of chicanery and a bitter woman have the judge nearly off the ticket and the bench before Mason and Drake (with “an army, if necessary”) get to the bottom of it.


The Case of the Shifty Shoe-Box
Perry Mason

For most of its duration, the episode paints a seedy, depressing picture (out of A Taste of Honey) of anglers and derelicts around a small boy staying with his aunt, who works in a trucking company branch office. Petty swindles, larceny, embezzlement on a small scale, a little theft and the local bully are the substance of this, until one of the owners is murdered.

The box is brought to court by the boy, whose view of the city as he walks along the street is an up-angle dolly-shot from Resnais, twice.

The MacGuffin of an office robbery is half-shown at the opening, and in fact conceals grand larceny by the other owner, dwarfing the crimes of their employees.


The Case of the Simple Simon
Perry Mason

This tribute to O’Neill has The Company of Four touring by bus with a program of readings from Shakespeare. There’s a question of the leading lady’s long-lost son, a fan in Flagstaff or her colleague fresh from shooting in Rome and referred by a drama instructor in Santa Barbara.

The old pro is underpaid, the fat Falstaff has tax problems. A former Broadway critic, “not dead, moribund” reviewing films in Santa Barbara, is a drama instructor there and the leading lady’s bête noire.

He’s dead in his office. Fat Jack is the real producer, not Simon Weatherly in a Swiss mental asylum, who serves as a tax dodge ferreted out by the critic for blackmail.

The direction is another invention especially notable in the long dressing-room scene, lit with great virtuosity to pure whites and blacks and every nuance, and a brightness akin to Walter Grauman’s inimitable style.


The Case of the Drifting Dropout
Perry Mason

The Academy sometimes honors itself by awarding an Emmy to such a teleplay, but not often.

Harper Junction has a mayoral election coming up, Mort Lynch the junkman is running against Harper, whose brother saved the family business by printing up counterfeit bills in his newspaper print shop.

News of Lynch’s candidacy has put Mr. Dillingham the insurance agent into the hospital, his car rolled ten times at this apple-cart-upsetting news, Mr. Dillingham lives on a regular income derived from the counterfeit.

The newspaperman has a reputation as a wastrel, to cover his obligation.

Lynch once had a partner, the counterfeiter who passed bills down in Mexico and died there mysteriously. The title character is the late crook’s nephew, averse to work and fond of surfing, but given a job in the busy junkyard where the counterfeit plate in Mr. Dillingham’s totaled car turns up after the accident.


The Case of a Place Called Midnight
Perry Mason

Mason is alone in Europe, stops off on his way to Paris and looks in on an Army lieutenant with the Corps of Engineers, Germany, the son of old friends, who’s shortly accused of murdering his commanding officer. The case involves top secret documents found in the lieutenant’s possession, identifying the lake at Mitternacht just over the border as the site of Nazi treasure. These documents are fraudulent and part of the victim’s investigation into a rich confidence scheme in which the lieutenant is a patsy (he has surveyed the lake for a power project).

It opens with the lieutenant proposing to a German cabaret singer (“Du bist mein sonnschein”) and watched by his CO, a captain whose duties mainly consist of tracing “UFO invasions” and occasionally acting as babysitter for a junior officer, until he gets a call from a Swiss bank and heads for Mitternacht.

The ringleader of the international expedition isn’t Dr. Kleinman the diving-bell expert, nor the Argentine embezzler Ramirez, nor the obnoxious innocent abroad with cash and a bottle of gin and a revolver in his briefcase, but a former movie star who laments airily on the state of cinema, “the words come between the star and his public,” adding, “those so-called directors!”

In the end, the lieutenant is reunited with his mistress, a woman with no passport like many from the war years.

The direction is typical of Arthur Marks in its brilliance and virtuosity. An aerial shot with impressive music leads to the lake, location footage serves a café scene as the reverse shot, Mason flying in makes the loud American’s acquaintance when the revolver slides under his feet. “Welcome to Mitternacht,” says Mason to himself.

An amusing idea in the teleplay by Jackson Gillis is the pleasure of a foreign tongue, another performer shares the singer’s dressing-room, she tells the lieutenant off with relish, his girl has gone to “a place called Midnight.” Similarly, the movie star finds nothing more amusing than ordering in French four double cognacs for himself and Ramirez at a sidewalk café.


The Case of the Wooden Nickels
Perry Mason

An amazing composition, related to “The Case of the Bogus Books”. A chevalier d’industrie named Parsons orders replica coins from The Numismatic Shop, uses his fiancée to substitute them for the real ones in Howard Hopkins’ collection, which he then sells. The last item is an extremely rare 1861 Confederate 50¢ piece. The shop’s owner, Homer Doubleday, won’t sell it to Hopkins, who sends his man Rexford Wyler as an intermediary.

Parsons and his girl get the jump on the deal, which is handled (as Mason observes) in the fashion of a “spy melodrama”, Paul Drake in a phone booth before midnight in front of the Central Library, code word “Jefferson Davis”, etc. Parsons is found dead in the shop, the coin continues its career all the way to the witness stand, where Hopkins palms it for the replica.

Not even Mason notices this, but he deduces later who is responsible. The title objects are also a rare and valuable commodity.

Phyllis Love’s performance as the shop-owner’s niece Minerva, an introverted girl in love with Parsons, starts the ball rolling. Will Kuluva is her wheelchair-bound uncle, Murray Matheson his rival. One of the replicated coins is a 1776 Continental silver dollar.


The Case of the Telltale Tap
Perry Mason

The secretary of So-Cal Mutual Investors taps the boss’s phone for stock tips to an outside confederate, and meanwhile “den-mothers” a junior executive in love with the boss’s daughter.

The lovers are silhouetted against an ornamental window when they are discovered by the secretary. Push comes to shove at her desk, the cub executive is arrested for murder.

The victim’s confederate is building a skyscraper downtown with unreported income, as Paul Drake discovers. The tapped line is also found by Drake and left in place. A car crash has killed the private detective hired to install it.

The defendant had found a large sum embezzled, considerably less than the one blamed on a mistake by a previous controller fired for incompetence and shepherded from the daughter’s affections as “too old”. Money was taken from her trust fund and later repaid. She has kept quiet about her new lover.

The boss plays the horses, has an arrangement with the confederate, was blackmailed by the detective and threatened by the secretary.

“Answer a fool according to his folly,” is all Mason can say when asked about this calamitous dereliction.


The Case of the Cheating Chancellor
Perry Mason

Perry Mason can hardly recognize the university he attended, what with all the new construction. The new chancellor is fiercely obsessed with security, and is first seen entering a safe at dead of night where test answers are kept, though a watchman’s flashlight briefly interrupts him.

The chancellor keeps a mistress with artistic tendencies, and is a recognized authority in his field on the strength of books researched and co-written by a colleague on the staff but signed by himself.

A failing student tries to filch some answers, measures are taken, students gather in revolt, someone murders the chancellor. His colleague is accused.

Lee Meriwether as the mistress has a fine hard blaze of temperament under cross-examination, and the defendant was properly indignant over his ill-treatment, but the culprit is the chancellor’s wife, whom he was about to divorce.

The cheat sits out commencement, to remarks that are consolatory and optimistic about the future. Lawrence Louis Goldman completes the structure with a fiancée for the colleague who advises him of the usurpation, and a student whom he tutors, who is the son of a friend of defense counsel and proves a crucial witness as well.


The Case of the Hasty Honeymooner
Perry Mason

The Shakespearean MacGuffin is comparable in its terseness to the more discursive grandeur of the one that opens “The Case of the Crimson Kiss”. Here, a man in a Western suit of clothes enters a vault, opens a safe deposit box, removes a pistol from his waistband and puts it inside, and stacks of cash from his right inside coat pocket. From the box he removes a jewel case, opens it and selects a gold ring.

The script by Elliotte-Frankel-Hampton is a beautiful counterposition in the most direct terms, carried out in depth. With its telescope extended, as it were, there is a computer dating service (the Happy Future Association, the scientific road to happiness) whose proprietor arranges with his mistress to bilk a wealthy Oklahoman. The proprietor’s wife only knows the computer has made a mistake, the Oklahoman’s lost two wealthy wives shortly after marriage.

The computer is no better informed about this marriage than the proprietor’s wife about hers. When the bride dies at the “Oklahoma wingding” on their wedding day, the groom is accused. But the murder is a mistake, the groom was meant to die and make the bride a rich widow.

The murderer’s widow is consoled by the ever-hopeful Oklahoman, and here is the rest of the MacGuffin. Gold ring in hand, the man in the Western suit trades his fancy car in for a cheaper model, and his suit for modest duds...

Marks’ deft direction unreels this firmly and effortlessly. The groom’s motives are in question (he wants an honest woman), the camera shows a pair of feet in socks on a desk, moves to the phone on his lap and then to his happy grin.


The Case of the Fugitive Fraulein
Perry Mason

East Germany applies the “lever of love” to a scientist, Prof. Hans Ritter, who lives in the West. He and his wife have a granddaughter, little Elke, at a school in East Berlin. They try unsuccessfully to spirit her through Checkpoint Charlie disguised as a boy, with the help of a factotum whose loyalties are financial.

Mason advises that no exchange of Ritter for the child is permissible. Frau Ritter suggests offering her husband’s Fermi Prize money.

Ritter is captured, the factotum is killed, Frau Ritter is tried in an East German court. Mason’s credentials are hurriedly assembled, he defends her. The lady magistrate brooks no objections. Prof. Ritter loses his mind on the witness stand.

The idea had been to attract foreign scientists with this bellwether, who now is useless. Mason drives a hard bargain, threatening to publish the story.

Prof. Ritter’s assistant Gerta, an East German agent, committed the murder to frustrate a side deal. The madness was Mason’s idea.


The Case of the Twice-Told Twist
Perry Mason

Della and Mason have a brief errand concerning Bunker Hill, an elderly client is to be evicted by condemnation. They take the Olivet car down Angels Flight and return shortly to find Mason’s Lincoln stripped on blocks.

Fagin is a “civic leader” and “connoisseur of art”, he trains his boys by timing them, they’re all underage to beat the rap, except Bill Sikes, who has a side plan.

One of the gang is ensconced as a Femmes A Go Go parking valet, impressions are taken of patrons’ keys and their homes robbed. The police interrupt such a robbery, Oliver is wounded as the boys flee.

Nancy is a stripper, she’s found murdered in her dressing room, Sikes lies dead at home, Oliver is implicated in both murders.

Fagin’s dealer in Mexico is Donna Reales, she trades pre-Columbian artifacts for his auto parts. Jealousy is the motive for the two killings.

Oliver is freed from the gang and takes some advice from each of his well-wishers (“get an education”, “take a vacation”, etc.) by joining the Marines.

The great pleasure of the color cinematography is in seeing further details of the office and various locales, such as the Travertine marble of the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the bright orange of the renowned funicular.

There is a striking similarity to Nassour & Richardson’s Angel’s Flight.


The Case of the Dead Ringer
Perry Mason

A patent case, Mason’s side is debunked by hiring a double to suborn a witness (one of the startling performances, played to the theme, Arlene Martel on the stand reprising Brock Peters in To Kill a Mockingbird).

Mason’s client has a daughter, she is seeing the son of his adversary, that cunning gentleman is murdered by the double, a blackmailer.


Detroit 9000

A complex masterpiece from the Perry Mason office, written with sterling powers of invention by Orville H. Hampton, superbly directed by Arthur Marks.

The Sheraton Cadillac Hotel, a posh gathering for the Hail Our Heroes Ball. Congressman Clayton drops in from Washington and gets speechified into a gubernatorial candidacy. A voice on the ballroom loudspeakers orders everybody down, masked men rob the basket filled with donations of jewelry elicited on the spot.

The spontaneous campaign has actually been orchestrated, the robbery is meant to secure a better life for a pimp and his whore, the jewels are to be sold to a fence with buyers in Middle Eastern poppy fields.

Hampton’s tight surrealism constructs this very accurately, “after Holly Hill” is a remembrance of high school days and also the gang hideout near the parochial school in ruins. A madam describes the whore as having “a place of her own”, a cut establishes this as the D.P.D. Armed Robbery and Major Theft Section.


Friday Foster

A plot to destroy the black leadership of America by luring them to a black minister’s retreat under the auspices of a black senator whose black executive assistant runs this Black Widow operation with the guidance of the supposedly-popular senator’s real financial backer, a rich white man lying doggo.

“The black Howard Hughes” is nearly assassinated as a prelude. Foster’s on the job as a photographer for Glance. She can’t get a dick up, not even private.

The senator and the billionaire crash the party at Jerico, so spelled.