The Case of the Restless Redhead
Perry Mason

The vigorous invention begins with a careful homage to The Maltese Falcon, then when it’s established clearly in the form, there is a question of two identical revolvers switched by a suspect, and the thing enters another realm.

Hollywood, to be absolutely precise. The murder is that of a drama coach, the former husband of a movie star. He's killed because he stiffed a motel proprietor, whom he hired in another capacity to bully a redhead from the sticks he had previously stiffed on her acting lessons.

The movie star marries a millionaire.


The Case of the Sleepwalker’s Niece
Perry Mason

This is a variant of Arthur Lubin’s Impact (or vice versa), in which the earlier film’s greatly involuted symbolism of marriage and business is viewed from a different angle altogether, that of buyout and divorce.

The young assassin hopes to inherit the business through his fiancée, the niece of the title character, a man who enters his wife’s bedroom with a knife unconsciously, they’re in the midst of a divorce, she’s leaving him for another partner who offers his share of the company to the others at an exorbitant price, or no divorce.

One partner is stabbed, the sleepwalker is arrested.


The Case of the Nervous Accomplice
Perry Mason

As in “The Case of the Restless Redhead”, a dual structure. The opening is a stunning bit of surrealism. Husband leaves wife for blonde pushing oil deal, wife spies on them in their hideaway, the model home on bare acreage zoned for housing, now sought for drilling.

The second phase of this involves a rare and perhaps unique introduction of Thirties comedy in the form of a highly-refined double take played to the camera in court, evidently indicating a source film.


The Case of the Drowning Duck
Perry Mason

A woman murders her husband when he plans to leave her for his mistress, and sees his business partner convicted of the crime. Years later, she murders a blackmailing private investigator and frames the partner’s son.

The figure in the title comes from a chemistry demonstration by the boy, removing a duck’s protective oils with a sprinkled solution. The murder weapon is hydrochloric acid and potassium cyanide, implicating him and turning his small town quickly against him.

Peculiar points of elegance include the wife’s second husband, who was her first’s admittedly incompetent defense attorney, and an unsigned unaddressed “Dear John” letter found in the partners’ office.


The Case of the Angry Mourner
Perry Mason

The man who came to dinner at a cabin in Bear Valley is Mark Cushing. He had an accident while waterskiing.

Mr. Delano (“De--no”) has come from Los Angeles to visit Carla Adrian.

Perry Mason is there “for a rest”.

The angry mourner is Marion Keats in Los Angeles, whom Cushing has promised to marry, she is discovered at his funeral, refuses to answer questions and hires an attorney to decry Mason’s “fishing expedition”.

Cushing is killed by a neighbor, Sam Burrows, who believes he has been “swindled” in what the sheriff simply describes as “an everyday business deal”.

The defendant is Carla’s aunt, Belle Adrian, who found the body and removed traces of Carla’s presence.

Carla and Cushing are watching a film of his accident in the opening scene, after dinner with Belle. He tears her blouse, she slaps him.

His cook, whom Della guesses did more than dust, keeps an eye on him for his betrothed.

“Some vacation,” says Della.

An extraordinary sketch by Mason shows the relative position of the three cabins (left to right, Burrows, Cushing, Adrian), the arc of the road above them, Carla’s car on it (flat tire) between the first and second, with tracks left by the parties after heavy rain.


The Case of the Wary Wildcatter
Perry Mason

The opening is propitious in a way that can only be grasped when all the ships it’s launched have come in. There are two parts, the first shows game in crosshairs, revealed to be a camera mounted on a gun handle (this is the blackmailer). The second has a man push a car over a cliff, inside it is a woman already dead or unconscious. This man is the wildcatter who oversells shares in his well. As in The Producers, the scheme backfires when the nominal venture proves a success, especially as he has taken a loan from a mobster who in return asks for an equal partnership. The wildcatter is murdered, his girl is accused, but having been the mobster’s mistress as well, she is the motive instead.

There is a particularly fine scene of her discovering the body in the blackmailer’s rooms. Suddenly the door is locked, the lights go out, she climbs down a fire escape and is met by arriving policemen, who escort her upstairs, find the door unlocked, the lights on, the body there, and arrest her.

It may be that the blackmailer recites these lines of Matthew Arnold,

And though Fate grudge to me and thee
The Poet’s rapt security,
Yet they, believe me, who await
No gift from Chance, have conquer’d Fate.

A witty script by Robert Bloomfield, realized by Russell.


The Case of the Fan-Dancer’s Horse
Perry Mason

A game of pairs, briskly surreal, as one or the other is placed before the viewer, revealing nothing, until the final image of the nightclub table reveals all, a miniature horse’s head and a fan made of feathers.


Just 86 Shopping Minutes to Christmas

The admirable construction whirls around its Christmas theme from envy to repulsion and consciously stands on the very brink of Dickens by way of O. Henry, before it finds a totally unexpected solution.

Mr. B’s old pal has a young wife who’s getting a full-length mink stole on Christmas Day. Mr. B’s off the whole idea, exchanging gifts, entertaining the families (Mrs. B has scrimped all year to buy him cuff links).

The fur is hidden in the Baxter home and found by Mrs. B. The contretemps when it is explained leads to tears.

Hazel opens a charge account to buy that negligee for Missy. Mr. B gets a call at the office, routine confirmation of her employment for the account.

He brings home a gift “that ain’t no negligee”.