Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 24th, 2012
It’s hard to beat the last release for classic episodes of Perry Mason. I can assure you that Mason fans still have a lot of great episodes to look forward to with this release of the second part of the 7th season. You can bet that Perry will be up to his old tricks for a while to come thanks to these DVD releases from Paramount. Erle Stanley Gardner wrote crime fiction, and while many of his 100 or so works are unknown to most of us, he created a character who has become as identified with criminal lawyers as any other in fiction. It was in these crime novels that Perry Mason first faced a courtroom. He developed a style where he would investigate these terrible crimes his clients were on trial for. He would find the real killer, and in what has become a Hollywood cliché, reveal his findings in a crucial moment during the trial. While we may not remember the novels, we all remember the man in the persona of Raymond Burr. Burr had a commanding presence on our screens and enjoyed a well-deserved 11-year run as the clever lawyer. What makes this run so amazing is that the show followed pretty much the same pattern the entire time. We always know what’s going to happen, but we wait eagerly for that gotcha moment when Perry faces the witness on the stand. We know when he’s got the guy squarely in his sights, and we can’t sit still waiting for him to pull the trigger. OK, so maybe that’s a little over the top, but so was Perry Mason. From the moment you heard that distinctive theme, the stage was set. To say that Perry Mason defined the lawyer show for decades would be an understatement. Folks like Matlock and shows like The Practice are strikingly similar to Perry Mason. If you haven’t checked this show out, this is your chance. See where it all began.
Raymond Burr did not carry the show on his own. There was a very fine cast of supporting characters. The most famous has to be his faithful secretary Della Street, played by Barbara Hale. The two were inseparable. Perry had the help of a good private investigator in the Raymond Chandler style. William Hopper played the tough-as-nails Paul Drake. One of Orson Welles’ famous Mercury Theater Players took on the part of Police Lt. Tragg. Ray Collins starred in Citizen Kane as the political party boss Gettys. He was a fine example of top talent working in television. Mason was often pitted against prosecutor Hamilton Burger, whose name too often reminded me of hamburgers. There wasn’t anything funny about Burger, however. He was a worthy opponent who drew the short straw most of the time because he was up against Perry Mason. The task was accomplished with a lot of style by William Talman, a one-time evangelistic preacher.
Here you’ll find the last 15 episodes of the 7th season on four discs. It all starts with The Case Of The Ice-Cold Hands. Perry gets himself involved in murder when he agrees to hold on to a winning horse ticket for a client. He should be cashing in on a long-shot. Instead he’s defending the client from murder charges. In The Case Of The Nervous Neighbor Perry has to defend a client who suffers from amnesia. Once in a while Perry’s called in before the murder even happens. That’s the deal with The Case Of The Woeful Widower. A housekeeper thinks her boss is trying to murder his wife, and she hopes Perry might be able to keep it all from going down. In The Case of the Illicit Illusion Perry must defend a client who is being driven insane. In The Case of the Antic Angel, Perry has a client accused of killing his wife. The only trouble is the woman had already been killed a year earlier in a plane crash. Talk about double jeopardy. Perry has to sift through 20 years of evidence to defend a man accused of killing a mayoral candidate in The Case of the Drifting Dropout.
Guest stars this season include: Don Haggerty, Victor Buono, Jerry Van Dyke, Ryan O’Neal and Lee Miller.
Seven seasons down and five more to go before we can finally call this “case closed“.