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#14: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 12/21/57
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book (Revised)
There's something funny going on with Carol Stanley's trust fund. Mr. Dawson is concerned; as is Carol's quasi-guardian, the inestimable Abigail E. Leeds. Perry gets $2,000 in cash and one half of a $10,000 bill as a retainer in case his services are needed to defend a mysterious, veiled woman. Then, in one of the most macabre scenes ever on the show, he finds a wide-eyed corpse in a closet. The unseen Hamilton Burger orders an arrest. During it all, Perry has a miserable cold and would rather be in bed. Della comes to the rescue. She nurses the pajama-clad lawyer in front of his fireplace, and we get to see his apartment for the first time.
Starring Raymond Burr
in Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of Baited Hook
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins
Directed by Christian Nyby
Teleplay by Richard Grey
Ben Brady | Producer
Produced by CBS Television in association with Paisano Productions
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
Geraldine Wall as Abigail E. Leeds
Willard Sage as Robert Dawson
Judith Braun as Carol Stanley
Alfred Hopson as Richard Ellis
Mary Castle as Enid Shaw
George Neise as Albert Tydings
Connie Cezon as Gertie
Peg Whitman as Receptionist
Lyle Latell as Officer
Frank Marlowe as Janitor
Maurice McEndree as Operative
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 … Otto W. Meyer, A.C.E.
Makeup … Mel Berns
Hair Stylist … Annabell
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
This has been a CBS Television Network Production
Filmed in Hollywood by TCF Television Productions, Inc.
CARS: 1957 Cadillac convertible, black w/ black & white int., top down (Mason); 1957 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible, top down, medium color; 1954 Pontiac Star Chief 4-Door Sedan, light color, photo&brochure; 1957 Chevrolet 150 4dr sedan, black (Police). From The Cars by Greg Cockerill.
Continuity Error: Watch the night cleaning man that Della convinces to let her into the Tydings & Dawson office. As he graciously opens the door for her, he magically acquires a pair of black rimmed glasses as the camera angle changes to inside the office. See here. Submitted by “BB,” 2/4/2004.
Shortly after Abigail E. Leeds leaves Perry’s office for the first time, Della takes a call from Paul and relays the message to Perry. He says “Call Paul back. Tell him I’ll meet him downstairs.” Della replies “Oh, that’s where he is. Down at Clay’s Grill.” I think that this is the first mention of "Clay’s Grill" in the series and that we don‘t encounter Clay or his Grill again until the last season. Submitted by Mitch English, 6/28/2005.
+ Actually Clay’s Grill figures prominantly in ep. 8: The Case of the Crimson Kiss. Perry is eating there when he receives the call that involves him in the case. Later he has a meeting with Burger and Tragg there, and later still Perry meets Della and Paul there. Submitted by R Dean, 5/12/2008.
Phone numbers: Perry’s office number, MA 5-1190, makes its first appearance as the number for the Tydings and Dawson office. Paul gives it to the operator when he makes his warning call to Perry from the phone booth. Submitted by D. A. Supernaw, 12/13/2006.
+Correction: Further examination indicates that the number in this episode is MA 5-1199, very similar to Mason’s number, but one digit off. Submitted by alan_sings 10/01/2010.
+ See more discussion of this among the next episode trivia. Submitted by gracep, 11/21/2010.
Anomaly: Near the beginning of this episode, when Leeds first visits Perry’s office, she introduces herself as “Leeds, Abigail Esther.” Near the end of this episode, when we see the birth certificate for Leed’s daughter Carol, her name is listed as Abagail Edith Leeds. (Of course, either name fits with the ending credit of Abigail E. Leeds.) Submitted by Charles Richmond, 10/9/2008.
When Tydings first shows Dawson the papers he intends to use for blackmail, as Dawson leafs through them we can clearly see that they are photostats, white printing on a black background. But the birth certificate that Mason takes from Ellis and shows to Abigail is now a standard document of black print on white paper. Submitted by FredK 7 April 2014
One of the few Perry episodes where there is no trial, no courtroom, no judge, and no Hamilton Burger. The guilty party is determined before a trial can take place. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 25 August 2009.
Lt. Tragg crosses paths with Perry four different times at four different locations (outside of Perry’s office) during this episode, surely a record! Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 25 August 2009.
Sighting: Distinguished Lady #2 gets a lot of exercise in this episode. In the opening scene, she walks by the Greybar Building. Later on, while Paul and Perry talk outside Clay’s Grill she passes behind them on the footpath no less than 3 times! Then, once again she is outside the Greybar Building, right behind Ellis. Phew! Submitted by evelyne, 15 February 2011.
Character Names: The Officer in the credits is named Bill Duggan. He even spells it for us. Submitted by gracenote, 8/28/2011.
Sightings: Distinguished Gentleman #2 plays some kind of attendant or guard at the office building where Tydings & Dawson is located. Submitted by gracenote, 8/28/2011.
Goof: As Perry enters his office through the private door, someone else’s hand reaching for the knob is visible. Submitted by gracenote, 8/28/2011. Some pictures here.
Goof: After Perry and Paul discover the body, Mason says "That's not the same man that came to see me at the office." But Dawson met Perry at his apartment not his office. (In the novel they met at his office. An earlier version of the script may have had them meet at the office as well, and this line wasn't changed when the scene changed.) Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 5/19/13.
+ Good catch. The novel IMHO handles the meeting much better. Aside from the front door of Perry's apartment having neither peephole nor lock, why would a prominent attorney with enemies invite in to his apartment a total and suspicious stranger at 12:05 AM? The scene begins (at about 07:19 on the 2006 Region 1 Paramount DVD) with Perry asleep in his chair, papers in his hand, next to an ashtray and cigarette lighter. At least the firefighters will not have to break down his door to get in. Submitted by (lowercase, with a comma and period) masonite, 07/17/13.
Whose body? Now I'm confused. When the body falls out of the closet, Perry says "That's the same man who came to see me at the office." (My colleague above may have misheard that line.) But at any rate it's not Dawson but Albert Tydings, whom Perry never met, at his office or anywhere else. Submitted by francis, 5/29/14.
+ I think the problem is Raymond Burr's delivery of the line. Even though the line should have been "that's not the same man..." he says "'snot the same man..." which sounds more like "that's the same man..." In any case the closed-captioning reads "that's NOT the same man..." Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 5/30/14.
Law Books: When we see Perry's apartment, there is a stack of law books near his clock and phone. It is from the same set (Corpus Juris) that is seen in the closing credits through "The Fan Dancer's Horse" (including this episode). In fact one of them is the same volume, number 51, "Public Utilities to Railroads." Also in Perry's apartment is Volume 34 ("Judg... to Judi...") (Judge Judy? LOL) and two unidentifiable books. Seen in the closing credits with Volume 51 is Volume 39 from Corpus Juris and Volume 21 from the Pacific Reporter series. The publisher's name is crudely and not entirely successfully covered up. Other first-season episodes display different series: "The Demure Defendant" through "The Deadly Double" show books from the American Law Reports-Annotated series (Volumes 5 and 6) along with the aforementioned Volume 21. "The Moth-Eaten Mink" and "The Haunted Husband" have smaller sponsor-size books later seen full sized in "The Haunted Husband" production notice ("The Moth-Eaten Mink" production notice has the old CJ books) and in the closing credits in episodes from "The Empty Tin" to the end of the season from the darker Corpus Juris Secundum set, Volumes 82 ("Statutes to Stipulations"), 97 ("Wills to Witnesses") and 98 ("Witnesses to Workmanship"). Do we see any other identifiable volumes from any of these sets in the actual episodes? Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 5/30/14.
License plate: The Cadillac driven by Perry has a different license plate (NLU 525). Episode 4 and episode 7 each had a different plate number. Submitted by H. Mason 10/1/14
Actually, I think we saw a bit of Perry’s apartment in the very first broadcast episode, Restless Redhead. Perry is seen reading in what I take to be his apartment when he gets the phone calls from his answering service. Could an analysis of Perry’s apartment be done in the spirit of the one for his office? I realize there’s less material to work with, but it would be interesting to see. billp 12/27/2008
+ I agree! It would be interesting but doing The Office took several years and nearly drove me crazy. I'm afraid, a similar analysis of Perry's apartment by me is not likely. Any volunteers? Submitted by daveb, 2/27/2011.
The $80,000 that is missing from Carol Stanley’s trust would be worth about $589,249.02 today. A fairly tidy sum. Tydings took $60,000 ($441,936.77), Ellis $20,000 ($147,312.26). The $2000 retainer that Perry gets would be about $14,731.23 today. Not too bad. The $150 that Leeds was paying to Ellis would ring in at about $1,104.84 a pop. billp 12/27/2008.
Perry begins and ends this episode wearing a pair of pajamas. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 25 August 2009.
The aforementioned discovery of the corpse may certainly be one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the series. But the reaction that both Perry and Paul have to the body falling in front of them I found to be downright hilarious. Neither one of them bat an eyebrow, and they calmly walk over to the phone. Submitted by Kenmore, 1/18/2011.
+ I daresay if I came across as many dead bodies as Paul and Perry do, I'd probably not bat an eye either. Even so, I found the deadpan reaction - IMHO totally appropriate for the characters - hilarious, too. Submitted by billp, 2 August 2012.
Not only is their reaction hilarious, but one wonders how Tydings's corpse was so compliant in being placed in an upright position inside the closet and remaining in that position until the closet door is opened. Also, once the compliant corpse is placed upright, how does the person who placed the body in that position get out of the closet? Submitted by BobH, 21 December 2015.
And, while the topic is the corpse's odd positioning, how about the difficult-to-achieve "face plant" position in which Tydings's body is first found by Carol Stanley? Actor George Neise wins the award, hands down, for Most Entertaining Performance by a Corpse in the show's nine-year run. Submitted by BobH, 23 December 2015.
It’s odd that Paul Drake’s thorough investigation of Robert Dawson concludes that the man is fanatically honest, while Tydings has a sheaf of papers that prove Dawson is guilty of misdeeds as incriminating as Tydings’ own theft of $60,000 from Carol Stanley. Submitted by FredK, 9 June 2011.
+ The file that Tydings confronted Dawson with was Ellis' file on Carol Stanley, which Tydings had appropriated from Ellis. Since Dawson was in love with Stanley and didn't want to open her to public ridicule, he was effectively checkmated by Tydings and could not tell the authorities about Tydings malfeasance. So Paul Drake's assessment about Dawson was correct. Submitted by billp, 9/29/2011.
How rude! Mason barely, if at all, acknowledges that Jerry brought him his car. He could have said "Thanks." Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 5/19/13.
It's for you, Mr. Mason: Paul tracks down Perry at the office of Tydings & Dawson. Submitted by francis, 5/29/14.
Perry loses a case this time, since he agrees to represent Mrs. Leeds at the end of the episode, even though he knows that she is guilty of murder. Submitted by vgy7ujm, 12/25/14
The blackmail check said: "No 189; April 26, 1956; Mendenville Trust Company; Richard Ellis; 150.00; A. E. Leeds." Mike Bedard 4.8.15
+What I learned from this episode: If you're blackmailing someone, don't let them pay you by check. If you're being blackmailed, don't pay by check. Since neither party wants the blackmail scheme exposed, stick with the anonymity of cash. Submitted by Duffy, 4-14-2015.
"On July 14, 1969, the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System announced that currency notes in denominations of $500, $1000, $5000 and $10000 would be discontinued due to lack of use. Although they were issued until 1969, they were last printed in 1945," www.moneyfactory.gov/uscurrency/largedenominations states. Article 1, US Constitution: "Congress shall have power to...coin money, regulate the value thereof [Sec. 8]." Mike Bedard 4.8.15