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<< | Episodes | Sleepwalker's Niece >>

#1: The Case of the
Restless Redhead
Original Airdate: 09/21/57

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Perry drives to the scene of a shooting and finds the police recovering the body of Harry Merrill from a car that went over the side of a mountain. Merrill has a bullet in his body and a pillowcase over his head. This is a coincidence, because Perry’s client, Evelyn Bagby, claims she was chased by a hooded man in a car near the same cliff that day. She fired two shots at the man’s car to scare him off, and now the police want her for murder.

Perry appears interested in more than the charges when he takes on Evelyn’s case. He makes numerous comments about her big blue eyes. Is it those peepers, money, or dedication that spurs this young lawyer on to the cause of justice? We have 270 more winning episodes to figure it out.

PMESG

Credits Edit

Random actor from episode. Click for page of all available.

Opening

Starring Raymond Burr
in Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of The Restless Redhead
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins

Trailing

Directed by William D. Russell
Ben Brady | Producer
Produced by CBS Television in association with Paisano Productions
Teleplay by Russell S. Hughes
Gail Patrick Jackson | Executive Producer
Sam White | Associate Producer

Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
William Talman as Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg

Cast

Whitney Blake as Evelyn Bagby
Vaughn Taylor as Mr. Boles
Jane Buchanan as Mrs. Boles
Ralph Clanton as Aldritch
Dick Rich as Sgt. Holcomb
Gloria Henry as Helene Chaney
Grandon Rhodes as Judge Kippen
Clark Howat as Policeman
Norman Leavitt as Mr. Redfield
Helen Mayon as Mary Thompson
Jack Gargan as Court Clerk
Lorraine Martin as Drake’s Operator

Uncredited Actors

Lee Miller as { Plainclothesman
Courtroom Spectator
Bess Flowers as Woman Departing Magnum Studio

Crew

Gene Wang | Story Editor
Production Supervisor … J. Paul Popkin
Director of Photography … Frank Redman, A.S.C.
Art Direction … Lyle Wheeler, Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Art Marks
Editorial Supervisor … Art Seid, A.C.E.
Film Editor … Richard W. Farrell
Makeup … Mel Berns
Wardrobe Supervision … Dick James
Set Decorations … Walter M. Scott, Charles Q. Vassar
Properties … Ray Thompson
Recorded by … Alfred Bruzlin
Rerecording Mixer … Harry M. Leonard
Script Supervisor … Cosmo Genovese

Trivia Edit

CARS: 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner retractable, black (Mason), 1957 Ford Custom Fordor, black. From The Cars by Greg Cockerill. Some pictures here.

+ Evelyn drives a late 1940's car, a Ford I think. It has "three on a tree", a 3 speed, column mount manual transmission. You can clearly see this when she runs out to the car from her apartment and drives away. She smoothly throws it into reverse and backs out. It was assumed, in the 50's and 60's, that every driver could drive a standard. Many Mason episodes feature stick shift cars, from 1950's Ford and Chevy models (taxis, police cars etc) to Jeeps and VWs. My wife and I learned on a "three on a tree" (yes, I'm that old). I drove a 3 speed until 1989, and finally switched to an automatic in 2007! Submitted by Bill-W2XOY on 08/13/2013.
+I believe Evelyn is driving a 1941 Mercury Eight Convertible. Added by oldgray on 02/25/2014.

Goof: In the office scene after Tragg impatiently arrives, look for a T-shaped mark on the floor when Della goes to pour the coffee for Tragg. Oops! Posted by Dedra Kaye DeHart to the Della-Perry group, 10/14/07. Picture here.

Did you notice? The Court Clerk is also the Court Reporter. Seems odd. Submitted by daveb, 10/6/08.

Uncredited Actors: Note that Lee Miller, who has often played Sgt. Brice, makes his first appearance in the opening credits as a spectator. He’s seated near the window. Later we see him in the episode as a plainclothes policeman examining the pillow-case where the victim’s car went off the road. Still later we see him again in plainclothes as a spectator in the courtroom. He’s seated in the section behind the defense, 2nd row, aisle seat, behind Vaughn Taylor (Mr. Boles). Submittd by PaulDrake33, 9 September 2009.

Sightings: Also note in the same section (see above item), in approx. the middle of the last row, is a lady who frequently plays a matron on the series—when she isn’t being a spectator. Does anyone know her name? Submitted by PaulDrake 33. 9 September 2009.
+ I don't know her name, but she is now known as Distinguished Lady #2. See more about her on the “Who Is That?” page. Submitted by daveb, 9/24/10.

Ironic, both Whitney Blake and Gloria Henry sport dark hair in this episode, however each would find their greatest fame as blonde mothers. Whitney Blake as Dorothy Baxter on Hazel, and, of course, Gloria Henry as Alice Mitchell on Dennis The Menace. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 9 September 2009.

Uncredited Actors: Bess Flowers makes one of six appearances on Perry Mason in this initial episode. She’s the Woman Departing Magnum Studio. She also appeared in “Negligent Nymph” (Miss Miller, DA Stenographer), “Fiery Fingers” (Women dining in restaurant), “Lonely Eloper” (Birthday party guest), “Shoplifter's Shoe” (Department Store customer) and “Frustrated Folksinger” (Woman at party). Besides these appearances, she also appeared with Raymond Burr in Rear Window. She’s the songwriter’s party guest with the poodle. This lady appeared in over 779 films! She appeared in more films that won the Best Picture Oscar than anyone else. Submitted by billp, 15 November 2009.

At first blush, “the fatal gun” looks like a .38 Colt Detective Special snub nose revolver to me. (Perry calls it a .38 Colt snub-nose.) This model turns up in countless film noir and early television dramas. However, the serial number Perry tells Paul at the beginning of the episode is 17474LW. LW stands for “light weight,” or aluminum frame, I believe. It appears to be a real Colt serial number. If I understand the “numerology” correctly, this gun would have been made in 1952. However, this serial number would correspond to the Colt Cobra or Aircrewman and not the Detective Special. These guns were also “snub-nose.” So if we go by what Perry says the serial number is, it’s either a Cobra or Aircrewman. At this point, I’m inclined to believe Perry gave the actual serial number of the gun he had. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to find that gun today? Even so, the gun looks somewhat beat up to me. Submitted by billp, 25 November 2009.
+ "One time years ago, I was watching the episode and looked up the serial number in a big Colt coffee table book I had. The Colt is definitely an "aircrewman" according to my book." Submitted by Jim via email, posted by daveb, 6/28/11. The guns used in the episode were early (pre-1933) Colt Detective Specials, as evidenced by their square butts. After 1933 the Detective Special's butt was rounded, for better concealment. The Aircrewman was an alloy frame,aluminum cylinder version of the DS made for Air Force crews to save weight.The aluminum cylinder did not work well in practice,and the Aircrewman was discontinued. They are rare collectors' item. The Cobra,on the other hand, although also alloy framed,had the steel cylinder of the original DS and was made from 1950 to 1981. Most Cobras you see are two inch barreled "snub-nosed" .38 Specials, and were readily available. The "character" gun was almost certainly supposed to be a Colt Cobra,but the prop department,going by the script,brought out the Detective Specials. Regards, SteveP 15 February 2013
+Actually some first generation Detective Specials were produced with square butt Police Positive Special frames even after the introduction of the round butt frame in 1933, and this practice continued through the war years. Evidently when they were short of round butt frames, they just grabbed a square butt and screwed a short barrel on it. Colt and S&W didn't hesitate to substitute components when the need arose. Further complicating figuring out the specific guns on this episode, Police Positive Specials were produced to order with snubby barrels prior to the introduction of the Detective Special in 1927. Submitted by oldgray, 02/25/2014

The absence of 1958 model cars in the episode coupled with Perry wearing a hat places this episode in the first (1957 Ford) set of episodes filmed in the first season. The supposition this is no earlier than the third episode filmed is still looking pretty good. (In fact, I’m thinking it is, more likely than not, the 3rd filmed). Submitted by billp 29 November 2009.

Sightings: In the courtroom gallery, spotted before we had this tag by PaulDrake 33, is Distinguished Lady #2 seated near the middle of the back row. She’s best seen just as Mr. Boles stands up near the end. She’s also seen walking along the street outside Perry’s office and coming out a door at the studio. Also, Pencil Mustache Man is seated first in the last row behind Lee Miller [see above]. Blue Collar Guy appears as “Joe” the Brent Building parking attendant. More about these people on the “Who Is That?” page. Submitted by daveb, 9/24/2010. Updated by alan_sings, 9/26/2010.
+ Distinguished Gentleman #1 is one of the first people we see in Court. I also like to think that he may be one of Paul Drake’s card-playing friends at his apartment (sitting on his right). Updated by evelyne, 2/1/2011.
+ Little Old Lady #2 appears as Helene Chaney’s dresser “Doris.” She has two scenes, but not a line to say, alas. Submitted by evelyne, 2/3/2011.
+ We can add Distinguished Gentleman #2 to the list of first-timers appearing in the courtroom gallery. Submitted by gracenote, 8/20/2011.

Uncredited Actors: Don Anderson gets his first appearance in the Mason series as a uniformed policeman at the crime scene, a role he played fairly often in the early episodes. He gets to do a bit of business when Mason saunters over to a group of officers examining the pillowcase/hood. Mason asks Anderson for a match then, as he light his cigarette, takes a closer look at the hood and spots the “Villa España” embroidery. Submitted by FredK, 29 September 2010.

Set Dressing: The wood paneling behind Perry’s desk is “pecky cypress”—apparently pretty popular mid-20th century. It may have been considered a high-end or up-market product, thus very suitable for a high-powered lawyer like Perry. Interestingly enough, it was also popular for lodges or cabins. When we consider Perry’s penchant for fishing etc., it fits that aspect of his personality, too. In either case, high-end or lodge, it is appropriate material for Perry’s office. It’s described as having “character,” and I believe it very rough or “textured.” Pecky cypress gets its name from the hollowing of cypress trees by a fungus which destroys the wood. The fungus attacks the core of the trees resulting in “pecky” vertical channels, whence the textured effect. The cross sections of pecky logs resemble swiss cheese. The wood seems to have a reddish blond/yellowish cast. Check out this tabletop to get an idea how the surface looks. Also see here. Submitted by billp, 13 November 2010.

The "horses" bas-relief in Perry's office or its twin appears in the very good 1957 20th Century film "Desk Set" starring Tracy and Hepburn. You see the bas-relief during the "Mr. Azae's office scene" which begins about 16 minutes into the film. A cursory viewing indicates a number of other items in Azae's office also appear in "Perry Mason," e.g., the ceiling lamp over the circular table in Perry's office, the circular table itself and the accompanying chairs. My impression is other items in Azae's office also appear in various episodes of Perry Mason. I'm assuming the scenes in "Desk Set" were filmed prior to the Mason series. I note Lyle Wheeler was the Art Director/Production Designer for both "Desk Set" and these early "Perry Mason" episodes. Submitted by billp, 29 July 2012.

Perry's Rauland Amplicall is also present in "Desk Set." It's the phone Mr. Azae uses to call his secretary. Submitted by billp, 2 August 2012.

Glovebox Guns: Mervyn Aldritch has the distinction of being the first person in the show to have his gun stolen from the glove compartment in his car. Let the count begin! Submitted by evelyne, 2/1/2011.

Ironically, Whitney Blake, the “Restless Redhead,” played the “Black-eyed Blonde” the following season. Submitted by cgraul, 8/22/2011.

Syndication Cuts: Minor edits include: Della arrives at the office, Drake phones in and hasn't traced the gun, Mason calls Gertie to have his car brought around, Mason tells Joe to park his car, Miss Chaney calls Aldritch. Also cut is the entire Eucalyptus Grove Motel scene. Hallmark apparently obtains the syndicated version, then adds more cuts of their own: Scenes of Drake's phone operator talking to Evelyn, Mason talking to Miss Chaney outside of the studio (see spoiler notes below) and about 22 seconds during the conversation between Mason, Burger and the judge about a personal relationship Burger and Mason are reluctant to introduce. In addition to the added cuts, the Hallmark version appears to be time-compressed. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 6/30/12.

Comments Edit

This first episode doesn’t paint a particularly flattering portrait of Hollywood: the actress wannabe cheated out of her savings by the “talent scout,” the behavior of Helene Chaney and, at least initially, of Aldritch. A seedy Hollywood inhabited by mostly less than honorable characters seems to be a common theme in the Mason series. Besides the instant episode, episodes like “Vagabond Vixen” and “Promoter’s Pillbox” come to mind. Even the final episode, “Final Fade-out,” rounds out the series on this same note. Submited by billp, 12/26/2008.

In the courtroom scenes, observe the attractive young lady who plays the matron. She is seated behind the defence table. Now consider the actress (Nancy Hadley) who plays Edna Hammar in “Sleepwalker's Niece.” Nancy Hadley may play both roles. Anyone agree? If not Hadley, there’s someone else in the series who plays the matron. I’ve seen her before. Submitted by billp, 12/26/2008.

Lee Miller who appears in this episode as a spectator also was seen in Ironside. I suspect fairly often, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a substantial number of episodes. However, I recall seeing one episode on TV a couple years ago where he was playing a policeman on the show. He was dressed just like Sgt. Brice—black suit, white shirt, dark thin tie and a somewhat rakish, dark pork-pie hat. Physically, he looked pretty much the same as he did on Mason. Particularly interesting was that Det. Sgt. Ed Brown addressed him as “Lee.” Submitted by billp, 12/26/2008.

+ Speaking of Ironside, Whitney Blake appeared in the first (broadcast) episode of Perry Mason, and the last episode of Ironside. Submitted by Bill-W2XOY on 08/18/13..

The $1500 Evelyn Bagby got taken for in approximately 1957 would be about $11,048.42 in 2007 dollars. The $10,000 blackmail money stolen by Boles would be worth about $73,656.13 in 2007. I guess that’s how much Harry Merrill’s life was worth to Boles. Submitted by billp, 12/26/2008.
+ As of 2014, whenever you hear a dollar figure mentioned in the first five years of Perry Mason, multiply it by eight to get a rough idea of the current equivalent amount. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 3-6-2014.

We see a bit of Perry’s apartment when he takes calls from his answering service. We also see, I think, Paul Drake’s apartment/house when he gets a call from Perry to check the serial number of the gun Evelyn found. Submitted by billp, 12/28/2008.

This show is based on a Erle Stanley Gardner novel of the same name. In the novel, in Chapter 1, the trial of Evelyn Bagby for theft, in the city of Riverside is written of. This show starts after the trial and barely references the trial. This causes some confusion as to why the man in the hood is after Evelyn, and why Perry needs to confront Helene Chaney. Not a good beginning for Perry. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 2/9/2009.

I have noticed that the entire first season of Perry (with the exception of shows # 17 and 25) is now available for viewing online at IMDb.com. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 5/14/2009.

The rotund Raymond Burr of the later episodes, and of "Ironside," could never have run the 10 yards he did in the initial office scene here. cgraul 1.30.12

The (shooting?) script for this episode is dated 22 March 1957. I believe this episode is no earlier than the third of the series filmed. (The actual call sheets would likely be useful here). “Moth Eaten Mink” was first and “Fan Dancer’s Horse“ was probably filmed before “Redhead”—or less probably, right after “Redhead.” “Fan Dancer’s Horse” wasn’t aired until about mid-season. However, its look-and-feel obviously place it as a very early episode. For “Redhead,” there was about a 6-month lag between filming and air date. Submitted by billp, 3 November 2009.

BILLBOARD Review. For your amusement, here is the review of Episode #1 by Leon Morse, published in the BILLBOARD issue of 30 Sep, 1957, page 12:

  •     Sharp improvement is needed in this hour whodunit, the first of its kind, if it is to survive the Saturday Night competitive struggle. In spite of fairly good ratings, the debut stanza, "The Case of the Restless Redhead," was a tedious, over-plotted story which steadily grew less suspenseful. A few more like this one, and viewers will overcome their inertia.
        A major fault was the colorlessness of the character of Perry Mason as well as a lack of characterization in the writing of other key characters. And it was not the fault of veteran actor Raymond Burr. He has too many other achievements to his credit to blame him here. As his secretary, another talented thespian, Barbara Hale, was wasted. The trouble seemed to be in the production department and included the director and writer.
        The story was about a girl being set up to take a murder rap until Mason intervened. The best performance was given by Vaughn Taylor. Ray Collins is badly cast as police lieutenant Tragg. More contrast is needed here with Mason. The Purex commercials were good.
    ------Leon Morse.

To see original, go to BILLBOARD archives here, enter "1957" into Search Box, click on Sep 30, 1957 issue (1957-09-30) and scroll to page 12. Submitted by Gary Woloski, 26 May 2012.

+ New York Times Review. To get a second opinion, I searched the microfilm files of my public library and found Jack Gould's review of Episode #1 published in the NYTimes late edition for Monday 23 Sep 1957, page 50. I especially like Mr Gould's opening: "Perry Mason . . . began one of his more formidable assignments Saturday evening: to catch Perry Como in the popularity ratings." You should be able to track it down at your library, or you can read this unattributed reprint of Gould's review in Popular Culture (The Great Contemporary Issues), page 290 (publisher The New York Times Company). Submitted by Gary Woloski, 28 May 2012.

- The aforementioned Pencil Mustache Man was apparently part of a cadre of extras that worked on several television shows of the 1950s and 1960s. You can see him as one of henchmen in "Alexander the Greater Part 1" in the series "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

Spoiler Warning! Do Not Read Below If You Have Not Seen The Episode

The MeTV showing of this episode omits Perry's visit to the Eucalyptus Grove motel, which should follow just after he remarks to Miss Chaney, "Very interesting place, Riverside." This is an unfortunate omission, since two key characters and several key clues are not seen until just before the solution is revealed, and makes the whole thing seem like an unfair surprise for the audience. Net result, two and three-quarters more minutes for advertising. Whether that is true for the original syndication print or is specific to MeTV, I wouldn't know. Submitted by alan_sings, 1/30/2012
+ I too have been watching the MeTV broadcasts. The syndication cuts are infuriating. It's difficult enough following a Perry Mason episode without having sometimes crucial scenes cut out. I don't know how anyone watching the Hallmark version has any idea what's going on. And this is done so we can be assaulted with ads for catheters, reverse mortgages, Medicare, and ambulance-chasing lawyers. (What would Perry think about the ambulance-chasing lawyer ads?). Submitted by Alan Smithee, 3-7-2014.

+ The current syndication version goes from the scene with Paul outside the building to the scene with Miss Chaney with only a minor edit between, followed by the scene with Perry filing a notch on the gun. The version shown by Hallmark skipped the scene with Miss Chaney and jumps from the scene with Paul to the scene with Perry filing the gun. The motel scene is not shown in either version. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 6/30/12.

Perry doesn't demonstrate good firearm safety when he points the revolver at Lt. Tragg. Submitted by billp, 2 August 2012.

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