Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 17, 2011



"It's incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial."

Perry Mason continued as a solid series for its second season [For season one click here]. One change in the opening was that Perry's secretary Della Street (Barbara Hale) and his P.I. Paul Drake (William Hopper) were not seated in court at the same table with D.A. Hamilton Burger (William Talman) and Lt. Arthur Tragg (Ray Collins), which was the case in the first season opener. Despite a few merely mediocre episodes, the quality of the writing -- and acting-- remained high. Raymond Burr gave a particularly good performance in "The Spanish Cross," which also featured a superb Arthur Space and Josephine Hutchinson and emerged as one of the very best Mason episodes ever. Other excellent episodes include: "The Purple Woman" with a fine turn by Robert H. Harris [this episode has one of the most loathsome murder victims ever]; "The Shattered Dream" with Osa Massen and a huge diamond; "The Borrowed Brunette" with a terrific Paula Raymond; "The Glittering Goldfish" with Cecil Kellaway, as usual, stealing the show; "The Foot-Loose Doll" with a very young James Kirkwoood [who later became a playwright and novelist] and Robert Bray; "The Lost Last Act" with a notable Jerome Cowan and David Lewis; and "The Howling Dog" with Ann Rutherford and Gregory Walcott. With the exception of maybe five episodes, the rest of the bunch are all at least B+. Perry faced other D.A.s in out of town courtrooms in a couple of episodes, and some stories had him roaming about a bit more than usual.

Verdict: Definitely not "incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial." ***1/2.

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