If you’re a fan of Perry Mason you need to approach this 50th Anniversary collection with mixed feelings. With no new announcements of future season or half season releases, this set does have the look of finality to it. The last set was the second half of season 2 released November of 2007. With this commorative release you get 12 episodes spread out from the remaining seasons starting with the third. While
The good news about this release is the entire disc dedicated to extras. Fans are going to simply have to have this collection. From never before seen screen tests to the first of the Perry Mason films starting in 1985, this collection is impressive.
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 that 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
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
For a show that lasted over a decade, pulling 12 “best of” episodes is an almost impossible task. The criteria are entirely subjective, and you are never going to please all of the fans. With that in mind,
The Case Of The Wary Wildcatter: This episodes aired 2/20/1960. Mission Impossible’s Barbara Bain stars as a woman accused of murdering the man who killed her sister. It’s one of those clever locked room mysteries.
The Case Of The Treacherous Toupee: This episode aired 9/17/1960. How about Robert Redford in a rare television role? A head of hair holds an important clue where there’s a ton of suspects.
The Case Of The Envious Editor: This one aired on 1/7/1961. James Coburn stars in this exciting episode. The victim is an unlikable man who is turning a respected newspaper into a scandal sheet.
The Case Of The Barefaced Witness: This one aired on 3/18/1961. Holy guest star, Perry. It’s Adam West. How about a town where every man wears a beard. Talk about your eyewitness minefield. Perry comes to town and takes care of business.
The Case Of The Counterfeit Crank: This one aired 4/28/1962. Burt Reynolds is the featured guest star. Is a murder suspect Looney Tunes, or is it a clever scheme to beat the rap when his nephew is found murdered?
The Case Of The Shoplifter’s Shoe: This episode ran 1/3/1963. Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy, stars in this one. In a rare moment it is Burger who figures this one out. OK, Perry helped a little bit.
The Case Of The Constant Doyle: This one ran 1/31/1963. Bette Davis makes an appearance on this one, proving that some of the biggest stars wanted to be on Perry Mason. Another lawyer comes to Perry for help when he tries to clear a client of murder. Burr was recovering from surgery at this time and needed some limited camera time, so other lawyers were brought in to carry some of the caseload for the show.
The Case Of The Deadly Verdict: This one played on 10/17/1963. Creature From The Black Lagoon star Julie Adams is the featured guest star here. TV Guide once ranked this episode as one of the top 100 episodes ever on television. It’s a great race against time as Perry seeks to prove a woman on death row about to be executed is innocent. It’s also one of the few times Perry actually lost, even though he manages to still save the day.
The Case Of The
The Case Of The Twice Told Twist: This one was seen for the first time on 2/27/1966. Victor Buono guest stars this time. The episode is actually a homage to Charles Dickens and Oliver Twist. Perry takes a young boy under his wing who wants to quit a gang, but the lad runs afoul of the law when his boss is murdered and Lenny has a stone cold motive.
The Case Of The Dead Ringer: This one aired 4/17/1966. Raymond Burr is also the guest star as he does double duty in this episode. He plays another character out to discredit Perry. It also features only the second case Perry would ever lose on the series. It’s bad news for Perry when the guy who beat him turns up dead and his “dead ringer” has him framed nice and tight for the deed. Perry’s biggest client? Perry Mason.
The Case Of The Final Fadeout: On 5/22/1966 the last regular episode of Perry Mason aired. After 11 years, Perry’s final case would involve a
Each episode of Perry Mason is presented in its original full frame broadcast format. The episodes are in black & white. The picture quality is pretty good when you consider the age. Black levels are completely solid, allowing clean definition in the shading so necessary to a black & white presentation. The brightness is a little low at times, but nothing that muddles or damages an otherwise good looking print.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is basically there to service the dialog, and it does. There is some distortion during the theme when the music is considerably loud. If you keep in mind the source material, you can’t expect anything more than this.
Barbara Hale, who played
Perry Mason Returns: This was the first of 30 Perry Mason television films to air over the years starting in 1985. It would also mark the first time a Perry Mason story began without the famous “The Case Of” title sequence. Della’s charged with murdering her boss, and Perry’s a judge. Perry resigns his post to represent his faithful
Perry Mason Talent Tests: This is truly a rare treasure for Perry Mason fans. Recently uncovered film shows Raymond Burr and William Hopper both tested for both roles in these quite extensive scenes. This will blow your mind if you’re used to the way things ended up.
The Case Of Erle Stanley
Charlie Rose Interviews: These appearances on Charlie Rose occurred in 1985 and 1987 to promote the new Perry Mason television films.
Raymond Burr On Person To Person: This interview took place in 1958 and shows Burr from his luxurious home in
The Cast Plays Stump The Stars: The 1950’s game show was a version of charades and the cast of Perry Mason competed here. Burr is an awful charades player. You get the impression he wasn’t very comfortable, while Hale was having a blast.
Interviews: There are 46 minutes of recent interviews with Barbara Hale, Arthur Marks, the show’s producer, and Anne Nelson, a 62 year employee at CBS who negotiated the contracts for the show. Hale and Marks share nearly 20 minutes each while Nelson gets about 6 minutes.
William Talman Anti-Smoking Message: During the 1950’s and 1960’s actors were afraid to speak out against smoking. Tobacco companies often sponsored the shows and saying the wrong thing could find an actor unemployed. Talman died of lung cancer just two years after Perry Mason ended. Before he passed he insisted on recording this message to warn others of the dangers of smoking and to appeal for support for the American Cancer Society. He died just weeks after recording the message. It’s a powerful message and indeed a very moving one. It was ahead of its time for 1968.
Syndication Promos: These 2 clips from the show were used by independent stations that ran Perry Mason for the many years it was in syndication.
Finally there is a nice still gallery of mostly posed publicity shots of the cast.
If this is indeed the end of Perry Mason on DVD, it is a fitting end but a tragic one at the same time. I’ve always questioned