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<< Unwelcome Bride | Episodes | Shapely Shadow >>

#138: The Case of the
Roving River
Original Airdate: 12/30/61

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
When Perry is called on to settle a land claim in Manzana Valley, he soon finds himself involved in a murder case when the key witness in the boundary dispute is blown up by a homemade bomb and our hero’s client is charged with the killing.

Credits Edit

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


Starring Raymond Burr
Based upon Characters Created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg


Directed by Jerry Hopper
Written by Samuel Newman

“Perry Mason”
Arthur Marks | Producer
Gail Patrick Jackson | Executive Producer
Jackson Gillis | Associate Producer
Produced by The CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions
Samuel Newman | Story Consultant

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


Sarah Marshall as Judy Bryant
Bruce Bennett as Matt Lambert
Paul Fix as Prosecutor
Philip Ober as Harvey Farrell
Karl Held as David Gideon
June Vincent as Chloris Bryant
J. Pat O’Malley as Seth Tyson
Harry Carey, Jr. as Frank Deane
Kelly Thordsen as Sheriff Ward Vincent
Robert Lowery as Amos Bryant
Dirk London as Neil Gilbert
Sherwood Price as Ralph Ordway
Lewis Martin as Judge Libott
Ed Prentiss as Judge Holmes


Director of Photography … Robert G. Hager
Art Direction … Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Robert G. Stone
Film Editor … John D. Faure
Casting … Harvey Clermont
Makeup … Irving Pringle
Hair Stylist … Annabell
Wardrobe Supervision … Ed McDermott, Evelyn Carruth
Set Decoration … Charles Q. Vassar
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Herman Lewis
Script Supervision … M.E.M. Gibsone
Sound … Glen Glenn Sound Co.
Automobiles Supplied by … Ford Motor Company
Titles and Opticals by … Pacific Title

Perry Mason \ A Film Presentation
A CBS Television Network Production

Trivia Edit

Location: The courthouse is in fact Santa Monica City Hall which does have some court rooms. Submitted by Eric Cooper, 3/30/2009. Pictures here and here.
+ Much of this episode seems to have been filmed at the Green Tree Golf Course, Victorville, CA. You can see the attractive modern building on their website. 01/04/15 Welshwoman.
+ Wow!! That little river must have been working overtime: what was a cacti studded desert in the episode seems to be a lush greensward today. Submitted by Notcom, 010616.

According to the IMDb, the real name of actor Dirk London is Ray Boyle. Submitted by gracep, 12/7/2010.

Although credited, Ray Collins (Lt. Tragg) did not appear. Submitted by gracep, 12/7/2010.

Both Harry Carey, Jr. and Pat O’Malley were regular cast members in Disney’s Spin and Marty series. Submitted by Masonite, 7/11/2011.

+ Don't leave out the 'J': Just as Michael J. Fox had to add the 'J' to his name to distinguish himself from Perry Mason actor Michael Fox whose career was active through 1995 just a year before his death, J. Pat O'Malley had to have a different name than Pat O'Malley, an actor whose career spanned the years 1908-1962. The two O'Malleys paths came close on The Twilight Zone: While J. Pat O'Malley appeared on four episodes, Pat O'Malley only appeared on three. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 4/20/15.

Some other cast appearances: Paul Fix appeared on the original Star Trek as the first doctor on Capt. Kirk's Enterprise before DeForest Kelley's Dr. McCoy appeared. (John Hoyt had appeared as the doctor on Capt. Pike's Enterprise. All three actors have appeared on Perry Mason.) Sarah Marshall (later wife of Karl Held) played Capt. Kirk's former love interest in "The Deadly Years" in 1967. Both actors also appeared on The Twilight Zone, Paul Fix in 1964's "I Am the Night-Color Me Black" and Sarah Marshall as the mother of the "Little Girl Lost" who got lost in another dimension in 1962. Philip Ober appeared in 1964's "Spur of the Moment" and J. Pat O'Malley played "The Fugitive" in the 1962 episode along with Wesley Lau. June Vincent appeared in a 1967 episode of Ironside and Paul Fix in a 1970 episode. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 4/20/15.

Harry Carey, Jr. is Paul Fix's son-in-law.

Paul Fix played Micah the sheriff on The Rifleman, submitted by OLEF641, 1/18/2017

Word of the day: Perry Mason used the word “riparian,” which refers to river banks and/or adjacent wetlands. Submitted by gracenote, 7/12/2011.
Deliciously dapper David Gideon (Karl Held) delights us again with his carefully memorized detailings of legal doohickeys and, of course, his dandy dress and dazzling smile. Eight appearances down, one to go. Submitted by gracenote, 7/12/2011.

Character Names: Although Paul Fix is credited here only as “Prosecutor,” we know from Fix’s other four PM appearances that his character’s last name was always Hale, and his first name was either Jonathan (“TCOT Barefaced Witness”) or Darwin (“TCOT Angry Mourner”). He was mainly used when Perry would try a case outside of the city. Submitted by cgraul, 11/9/2011.

Raymond won the 1961 Emmy for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role [IMDb Awards]. Mike Bedard 3.8.15.

This is the only PM appearance for Sarah Marshall, who was born in London, England, in 1933. Sarah Marshall married PM regular Karl/Carl Held in 1964 and they remained married until her passing in 2014...MikeM. 10/11/2016

This is the third of five PM appearances for Bruce Bennett, who won a silver medal in the shot put at the 1928 Olympics. Bruce Bennett passed in 2007 at the age of one hundred...MikeM. 10/11/2016

This is the final of five PM appearances for June Vincent, who also appeared in five episodes of Have Gun - Will Travel...MikeM. 1/17/2017

Sarah Marshall was the daughter of renowned English actor Herbert Marshall and his actress wife, Edna Best...MikeM. 1/17/2017

Comments Edit

The opening credits are a little different in that the title, “Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner” takes up the greater part of the screen. In previous episodes, it is to the right of the Justice statue, just like the episode name. Submitted by gracep, 12/7/2010.

+ Also in the previous episode "The Unwelcome Bride." Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 4/20/15.

This was one of the more convoluted episodes in that most of the discovery occurred in the courtroom, and the events that led up to the murder were quite an entanglement—very difficult to follow. Submitted by gracep, 12/7/2010.

I like this episode but the prosecution's theory of the crime in my opinion was preposterous! A 28-year-old woman wants to kill someone so she builds a bomb? In 1 day, with no evidence that she knew how, could get the materials, or had ever done anything illegal in her life? There was no internet back then--believe it!--so she'd at least have had to make a trip to the library, then the hardware store, and then carry it around all day without fear of it blowing up in her golf bag in David's car. She's so independent she probably thought if a man could build a bomb, so could she. Perry should have lectured her about her independence before the crime! But i wonder, is there a resort in Manzana Valley? Near the lime mines? Submitted by DyNama 12/13/2013

To pile on the complaints, another major premise of this show - that the surveyor's intent is crucial to determining the boundary - just doesn't hold water either (though admittedly my background in riparian accretion is lacking). Certainly intent is crucial, but it would be the intent of whoever conveyed the deed, as expressed in the property description; the surveyor simply follows directions (determining the dimensions if the description is vague - e.g."from the road west to the middle of X River" - or actually marking the land if the description is explicit - "from the road 150' west")...there's nothing for him to "intend". Submitted by Notcom, 010616.

+Agreed, Notcom. I was a draftsman for a surveying company for 30 years, and while our surveyor testified in several land disputes, he was merely supporting what he had written. The whole point of a legal description is putting it in writing, unambiguously we hope. Descriptions would say "with the meanders" but specify actual corners in the river at the time of the survey. A definite line is needed to calculate area. I suppose a person could do something to prevent the river moving into his property if he wanted. Submitted by DyNama, 1/9/2016.

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